Masse Questions Safety of Border

Canada-U.S. Border

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, this past summer this government did nothing when the United States tore up a treaty that had been in existence from the War of 1812 that prohibited gunboats on the Great Lakes system.

Since that time, the American coast guard has indicated it wants a firing range flotilla to be set up that will conduct live fire exercises on a regular basis on the Great Lakes. This is dangerous for the environment, as well as for boaters and the tourism industry.

I want to know from this government, will it stand up and demand a cessation of this? The militarization of the border, including more helicopters, drone planes and watchtowers are what the Americans are moving toward. When will the government stand up and make sure that this is not going to put Canadian citizens at risk?

Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the treaty that was referenced goes back to 1817 and actually allowed for armaments on vessels. However, the amendment to that treaty allowing what is happening today with machine guns on the coast guard vessels was done by the former government in April 2003.

I can tell members that from the point of view of border security, there is a 60-day comment period on this new process by the U.S. coast guard. On the point of border security, we are going to raise the concerns that Canadians have raised, the possible dangers in those particular waters. The ministry of the environment has also raised issues of environmental concerns. We are raising those concerns.

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