I was reading my Washington Post this morning while waiting for my car to be inspected when I came across an article on how the United States and Canada are cooperating on security measures for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
This makes lots of sense. Vancouver is only a few miles from the border. Cooperation is essential. There are some sensitivities; there always are when the US and Canada seek to cooperate. Take a look at the map and tell me you don’t think it makes sense.
Now think about this. The United States and Canada share the world’s longest continuously peaceful border. We share a common sense of values and an outlook on the world that, in the context of world politics, could not be more similar. Every time I go to Canada, it seems, I see a story about a Canadian soldier who died fighting next to ours in Afghanistan.
Yet, our government spends billions of dollars and untold man-hours on a set of largely redundant security measures aimed at Canada. Do you know that when you fly from Montreal to Minneapolis (or ANY connecting point in the US) and then switch planes to go on to a further point inside the US, your bag must be re-screened? It was secure enough to get from Canada into the US on the first leg, what happened to it that made it so much more dangerous at the transfer point? Nothing, of course. Indeed, if you started your trip at one of Canada’s eight largest airports you already went through customs in Canada and, for all intents and purposes, are a domestic passenger.
Yet the bag must be re-screened. This costs TSA millions each year, and diverts attention of personnel away from what might be real security threats.
It is time to end the redundant re-screening of bags of passengers originating in Canada and transferring in the US. It is time to understand that it makes no sense to continue to treat Canada the way our laws, regulations and processes do today.
It is time to understand that it makes perfect sense to view the US and Canada as a single security perimeter and to begin working toward that goal.
The biggest lesson I learned from the aviation security tour I took in Israel last year is that we must focus on real threats, manage and understand risk, and apply common sense. The way we treat Canada? Well, it just doesn’t meet those tests.