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Policy Idea

Canada-United States
Security and Economic Partnership


In the 1980’s, Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative government initiated negotiations with the United States for a Free Trade Agreement.

What began as an agreement between Canada and the United States evolved to include Mexico forming a true continental agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA is a success. Total trade between Canada and the United States has more than doubled since 1994. Daily trade between the two countries totals $2 Billion per day, by far the most important single trading relationship in the world.

Today, more than 200 million border crossings a year take place between the two countries; 45,000 trucks cross the border daily.

90% of cross border movement takes place at just 20 crossings.

Investment flows exceeds $400 Billion per year between Canada and the United States almost half of it Canadian investment in the United States. We are each other’s preferred place of investment.


There has been tremendous change and evolution in the Canadian and US economies over the past 15 years.

NAFTA focussed on movement of goods between partners. Over the last 14 years there has been a shift toward movement of services, technology and people.

The impact of the unexpected events of September 11th has created a real urgency to Canada’s relationship with its continental partners, and national security is being highlighted for what it is, an important variable to Canada’s economic progress and prosperity.

Even before the attacks of September 11th, NAFTA was inadequate to serve the needs of Canada and Canadians. It’s time for fresh thinking, new approaches and move beyond NAFTA to forge a new partnership with the United States.


Canada plays a leadership role in negotiating a Canada-U.S. Partnership on Security and Economic cooperation where both countries retain full sovereign rights as nations.

Create a strategic framework that links Canada’s national security and defence with its economic goals.

New Border Initiative:

Shift responsibility of border enforcement from the present day internal border to global ports-of-entry to North America.

Streamline or eliminate outdated regulatory and procedural infrastructure barriers at the internal border.

Build a security initiative that will create a seamless border for low-risk cargo and travellers within a common economic space. It will shift the border from the traditional internal, north-south model to a shared checkpoint between Canada-US.

Develop a set of common procedures and a shared system for commercial processing to process and inspect cargo from third countries at the port-of-entry to the continental economic space. Marine containers would be processed for North American travel at the ocean port of entry with all relevant customs inspections done at that time allowing for unencumbered travel within the economic space.

Create a North American Travel Identification System in conjunction with an agreement on the faster movement of goods across the border, that will allow travellers to move easily and quickly between Canada and United States.

Develop a commonly-accepted identification system that includes a travel document that allows holders fast crossing between border checkpoints.

Travel documents would be offered on a voluntary, user-pay basis. Applicants would be required to go through a number of security checks on both sides of the border.

Help to foster development and understanding of a common, North American economic space.

Canada-U.S. Perimeter Security Alliance:

Allocate necessary resources to military and security agencies to fully meet Canada's responsibilities to Canada-U.S. Perimeter security.

Play a leadership role in developing standardized approaches to perimeter security with the United States. These standards will be designed by and trusted by both countries.

Creating Economic Efficiencies:

Review regulations in key continental industries like transportation, telecommunications, financial services and energy to reduce unnecessary overlap.

Initiate negotiations with the US on a ‘tested once’ principle for the Canada – US market. Streamline standards, inspection and certification procedures and other regulatory requirements in industries where appropriate. These include the consumer and industrial goods sector, food safety and pharmaceuticals.

Move Canada towards greater compatibility with the US in critical infrastructure including: telecommunications, computer networks, pipeline capacity, and electricity transmission.

Take steps to mover towards an “open skies” policy for air travel between Canada and the United States.

Canada and the US cooperate to the highest levels of environmental protection with an emphasis on clean water, air, and the handling of toxic waste and hazardous waste.

Resource security pact:

Initiate negotiations with the US on a resource security pact, based on two core principles: open markets and compatible regulatory frameworks.

Reduce threat of trade disputes by resolving the issues of resource pricing and subsidies

Joint Commissions:

Create specialized joint commissions to address the four areas targeted for action in this strategy: new border initiative; creating economic efficiencies; resource security; Canada-U.S. security alliance.

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