01/25/2012 04:28 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Defence Agreements Signed With U.S.

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Canada and the U.S. have finalized one agreement and renewed another to better co-ordinate civilian and military forces against threats.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking Tuesday night to a group of defence officials, diplomats and civil servants, said the two countries were expected Wednesday to renew the Civil Assistance Plan and sign off on the Combined Defence Plan.

His office confirmed Wednesday they had been signed.

The civil assistance agreement lets military personnel and equipment deploy rapidly to humanitarian events, MacKay said in notes prepared for his speech to the Permanent Joint Board on Defence.

"In the event of floods, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, or to assist in the aftermath of a terrorist attack — military members from one nation will be ready to support the armed forces of the other, all supporting lead civilian agencies," he said.

The defence agreement sets out the authority and means for the two countries to approve homeland military operations against threats, as well as the process for sharing information.

"This has already been done to a certain degree, but there is still room for more integrated collaboration — domestically and bi-nationally," MacKay said.

"I think that we need to begin to consider partnerships from the ground up – from the local first responders to international organizations."

The Beyond the Border agreement signed Dec. 7, 2011, set out some of the ways Canada and the U.S. were looking to better co-ordinate security.

The wide-ranging agreement, designed to improve co-ordination to speed up border crossings and improve security, requires the two countries to look at both broad and specific ways to work better together. That will include everything from making sure border agents have radios that can communicate, to having a plan for managing traffic between Canada and the U.S. in emergencies, to preparing for international cyber security and health threats.

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