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A border crossing in the Thousands Island. Photo: Brian Mann
A border crossing in the Thousands Island. Photo: Brian Mann

Obama, Harper praise border agreement

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Canadian Prime minister Stephen Harper says the border security deal unveiled yesterday in Washington DC is the biggest step forward in trade with the US since the North American Free Trade Agreement was penned in the 1990s.

The deal is designed to streamline border crossings and synchronize the way both nations track people seeking to immigrate to North America.

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During Wednesday's summit, President Obama spoke warmly of his relationship with Harper and about ties between the two countries.

“In Stephen I’ve got a trusted partner and I think he’ll agree that perhaps no two nations match up more closely together, or are woven together more deeply—economically, culturally— than the United States and Canada.”

President Obama pointed out that Canada is America's largest single trade partner, and also the biggest foreign investor in companies here in the US. 

But he said both countries have to modernize the border in order to build prosperity.

“Because of old systems and heavy congestion, it still takes too many products too long to cross our borders; and for every business, either Canadian or American, time is money,” Obama says.

This deal would increase cooperation between immigration, law enforcement and intelligence services in both countries.

Prime Minister Harper argued that it will reverse a trend toward stiffening the US-Canada border that began after 9/11:

“Measures to deal with criminal and terrorist threats can thicken the border, hindering our efforts to create jobs and growth. Today our two governments are taking practical steps to reverse that direction. We are agreed, for example, that the best place to deal with trouble is at the continental perimeter.”

During their talk, the two leaders also spoke about the war in Afghanistan, where Canadian troops have served alongside US service-members.  And they talked about a controversial pipeline project that would funnel Canadian oil to consumers in the US.

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