Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 18, 2005

A US-Canada fence? Loonie-cy

Filed under: Border Security,International HLS — by Christian Beckner on December 18, 2005

Canadian politicians are rightfully annoyed by an amendment in the border security bill (Amendment #113, by Reps. Hunter, Dreier, Royce and Goode) passed by the House on Friday night that proposes a study of building a security wall along the US-Canada border:

The study “on the use of physical barriers” was slipped into an amendment to a bill on border security and illegal immigration passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The amendment, sponsored by California Republican Duncan Hunter, also approved building security fences with lights and cameras along more than 1,000 kilometres of the U.S.-Mexico border in four states to keep out illegal aliens and drugs.

The move comes amid heightened bilateral tensions arising from Canada’s election campaign. But U.S. sources said it was prompted by southern U.S. politicians anxious to assure constituents they’re not penalizing one border over another.

Alex Swann, spokesman for Canada’s Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan, said the U.S. administration has never discussed the notion with Canada during regular meetings on border security.

“This is not a priority for us,” said Swann.

“There’s all sorts of things we want to do. This just isn’t one of them,” Swann added.

Don’t worry, it’s not a priority for America either. Both the Senate and the Adminstration are strong barriers to the passage of this into law.

I’m trying to think of a security measure that would provide a lower return on investment than a wall on the US-Canadian border, and my mind is blank.

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Pingback by Homeland Security Watch » Blog Archive » More US-Canada border fence angst

January 31, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

[…] I referred to the idea of a US-Canadian border fence or wall in December as “loonie-cy”, and I stand by this statement. Instead of considering a wall, we’d be much better off working with Canada to improve intelligence-sharing and trying to convince them to strengthen their entry procedures and asylum laws. The new Harper government in Canada is likely to be more receptive to these ideas than the outgoing Martin government, and loose talk of a wall can only serve to alienate the new team. […]


Comment by Colin Kilgour

February 2, 2006 @ 10:44 am

Agreed that a fence is a stupid idea and impractical given both the length of the border as well as the nature of the geography (tough to fence off the Great Lakes, for instance). Hovever, even a focus on the US asking Canada to strengthen its entry procedures and asylum laws as you suggest is a bit silly.

Such an attitude perpetuates the surprisingly resilient myth that the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada. This is simply not true. It’s also worth noting that they didn’t come through Mexico either. They landed at US airports and were granted US visas by US INS. Further, all the 9/11 planes took off from US airports on domestic routes.

Take responsibility for your own security lapses. Don’t try to blame Mexicans or Canadians.


Comment by Christian Beckner

February 2, 2006 @ 11:38 am


Thanks for your comment. I never suggested, nor would I, that the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada. I did mention Ahmed Ressam, and I think the facts of his case are relevant.

And I’m not trying to shift responsibility from the United States to Canada. As many of my other posts point out, the US has a lot of work to do. But I do think it’s in the long-run economic and political interest of US and Canada to form a common security perimeter, so that we don’t harm mutually beneficial cross-border movement and commerce.

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