Masse Calls for Public Hearings on New Border Pact

PM tells Canadians Concerned about Sovereignty...Drop Us a Line

[WINDSOR, ON] With on-going secretive meetings between Stephen Harper and the United States around the creation of a North American Security perimeter that threatens to cede Canadian Sovereignty to America the Conservative Government is ready to allow Canadian to weigh in…via email. Call it Harper’s ‘drop us a line and we’ll get back to you’ approach to transparency.

NDP Border Critic Brian Masse condemns this approach: “This is completely unacceptable and inadequate. Mr. Harper is about to move forward with a range of policies that could potentially compromise our national sovereignty and Canadians’ personal privacy. This is nothing more than a whitewash so the Conservative Government can claim to have been consultative on this issue. If the Prime Minister wants to cave into these irrational demands he should be willing to explain it directly to the Canadian people in Public Meetings. This approach to public accountability is cowardly and a sham.”

The case for giving the Americans access to this information is built on false pretenses in US policy-making circles. Recently an alarming number of inaccurate and alarming positions have been articulated by a range of US policy makers. Senator Joe Lieberman—Chair of the Homeland Security Committee recently indicated that he felt the US government should consider a Visa requirement for Canadian Travel to the US. Department of Homeland Security Secretary in a 2009 interview incorrectly indicated that the 9/11 terrorists entered the United States through Canada.

“Mr. Harper needs to let Canadians know what exactly is on the table with respect to these negotiations and why we have to negotiate away our sovereignty to pander to the worst kinds of fears and fallacies. We’ve seen this approach to border policy before—the eleventh hour tabling of C 42 at the end of the Parliamentary session last summer shows you exactly how this Government approaches transparency on border issues. Mr. Harper prefers backrooms, obfuscation to any real consultation—this ‘drop us a line’ initiative is completely consistent with that approach and offers Canadians no real opportunity to meaningfully express their position to the Government in situations where their personal and private information is compromised.” Masse added.

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Letter to Minister Van Loan:

March 15, 2011
The Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade
House of Commons
Ottawa, On
K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Van Loan,

It is with disappointment and concern that I write you today. Your recent announcement asking Canadians to write into the Ministry website to express their views on the proposed North American Security Perimeter between Canada and the United States is simply insufficient. It is my hope that you will reconsider this half-measure and give Canadians the opportunity to engage the Government directly in this process by conducting public consultations across Canada.

Given the magnitude of this undertaking and the impact that this decision will have on individual Canadians—particularly with respect to the handling of their personal and private information, it is incumbent on their Government to communicate in the clearest terms possible what is being negotiated and why it is necessary to surrender this information. Equally important however is the need for the Government to hear directly from Canadians their concerns about this policy initiative and to be available in person to listen to their views and respond to their questions.

The concepts of transparency and accountability are vital to any well functioning democracy and I believe that your proposal falls well short of that standard. Again I hope you will reconsider this decision in the interest of promoting openness and public engagement in governance.
I will look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Brian Masse M.P.
Windsor West