A series of U.S./Canadian border security changes that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed upon this past week are suppposed to make cross-border travel “smoother” with the  new rules affecting  preclearance procedures, information-sharing, and no-fly lists in the two countries.

Officials says the most important component is the expansion in preclearance which  is the ability to clear American customs and immigration procedures before you leave Canada, so that once you arrive in the United States … there’s no further checking. (Preclearance is already available at a number of airports across Canada, including in major cities such as Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver).  So potentially now…MORE airports could be added to this list.  Also it’s reported that the government is also looking at adding preclearance  for train routes from Montreal to New York and in Western Canada with a plan to look at preclearance options for shipping cargo across the border.

Information-Sharing Changes

On top of the new preclearance measures,Canada and the U.S. agreed to increase the amount of border-crossing information they will share with each other. Information could include names and dates of birth of travellers (this is called “tombstone data”). However this has met with some criticism from organizations like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association who say that this could have a negative impact because potential profiling of persons can occur when large amounts of data are collected.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says however they have been very careful about the privacy considerations, and the sharing of that data between the two countries will enhance security.

Another change is that Canada and US no-fly list information will be shared.

Looking Ahead

There are concerns that although the motives are good for the changes at the border, there may be a shelf life to the new plan if the new American President is not on board with the deals Trudeau and Obama agreed upon during the state visit (Obama’s presidency ends in January, 2017).

What do you think?  Will these changes make things smoother for Canadians when travelling?

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