Research Paper Number



Alison Forrest

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Civil rights - Canada; Civil rights - United States; Emigration and immigration law - Canada; Emigration and immigration law - United States


This paper is a part of a larger research project that looks at the balancing of security interests and civil liberties in Canadian immigration policy-making post 9/11. The argument presented in this paper counters the frequently proposed assertion that Canadian policy-makers are unduly influenced by U.S. policies and politics in this area. Rather, it will be argued, Canadian sovereignty is asserted through active co-operation with the U.S. in such policies as the Smart Border Agreement, Integrated Border Enforcement Teams, and Safe Third Country Agreement. Through this active co-operation with the U.S. the Canadian Government is able to assure the U.S. of its ongoing commitment to security issues, while diverting American interest from more extreme measures such as the proposed perimeter security project. A further argument demonstrates that the very different Constitutions and political traditions of the U.S. and Canada necessarily result in very different responses to the terrorist threat. In Canada there is active public debate around the balancing of security interests and civil liberties, an independent judiciary, and independent review agencies operating at arms'-length from the executive, while in the U.S. the system of constitutional checks and balances has effectively broken down. The Canadian response to the terrorist threat - including immigration policies - is not perfect, but it a genuine Canadian-made product.