Long-Delayed Canada-U.S. Border Information Sharing Plans Moving Ahead: Obama

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OTTAWA — U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and Canada will proceed with full implementation of long-planned systems to track border entry and exit information from travellers.

The measures — almost two years behind schedule — are intended to help stem the flow of foreign fighters to conflicts in the Middle East. 

barack obama justin trudeau
U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin shake hands following the conclusion of their joint news conference on Thursday. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

During a news conference at the White House, Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced plans to share more no-fly list information and to move ahead with planned customs pre-clearance initiatives.

New system was promised in 2001

For the moment, the border tracking system — promised in 2001 as part of the perimeter security pact — involves exchanging entry information collected from people at the land border, so that data on entry to one country serves as a record of exit from the other.

The first two phases of the program have been limited to foreign nationals and permanent residents of Canada and the United States, but not citizens of either country.

The initiative was to be expanded by June 30, 2014, to include information-sharing on all travellers crossing the land border.


Both countries will 'uphold privacy and civil liberties'

In addition, Canada had planned to begin collecting information on people leaving by plane — something the United States already does — by requiring airlines to submit passenger manifest data for outbound international flights.

During the news conference, Obama said the countries would "uphold the privacy and civil liberties of our respective citizens" as they proceed with the entry-exit system and greater sharing of no-fly list information.

Trudeau said the countries would establish a working group in the next 60 days on how to resolve errors of identity on no-fly lists. Many Canadian travellers — including several youngsters — have experienced airport delays when the names of people on security lists that are similar to their own turned up during check-in procedures.

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