CANADA AND U.S. TIGHTEN MARITIME SECURITY: OTTAWA CITIZEN DAVID PUGLIESE

MARITIME SECURITY LEGISLATION FOR THE GREAT LAKES AND THE COASTS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian government is moving ahead to make permanent the “Shiprider” program that deals with maritime security on the Great Lakes on the east and west coasts.

Previously, government officials had been talking about the initiative as part of a plan to improve capabilities against cross-border crime and terrorism. But the focus of the program, according to the Canadian government, will be more specifically aimed at limiting illegal smuggling of guns and drugs.

Terrorism is seen as a more distant threat and secondary role, although potential adversaries could also get caught by the Shiprider program, according to military officers.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson introduced on Friday in the House of Commons legislation to implement the “Shiprider” program. The proposed law is known officially as the Canada-U.S. Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations.

The legislation, according to the federal government, would permit specially designated Canadian and American law enforcement personnel to jointly work on marine law enforcement vessels in boundary waters, such as the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, and off both east and west coasts.  Working together, these officers will be authorized to enforce the law on both sides of the border to help ensure that criminal organizations no longer exploit shared waterways, government officials note.

Several years ago the Senate national security and defense committee labelled the Great Lakes as “Canada’s soft underbelly.” As part of a number of initiatives at the time, the U.S. and Canada launched a pilot Shiprider program.

Also established were marine security emergency response teams, tactical units with an enhanced ability to board ships in Canadian waters and a interim Marine Security Operations Center (MSOC) located at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

In 2008, Inspector Lori Seale-Irving, the RCMP officer in charge of the MSOC project, said the federal police force’s links with other agencies is key for the Great Lakes center to be successful. “We’re continuously working with provincial, municipal and federal partners,” she told me in an interview “As well we’ve had ongoing discussions with the United States Coast Guard in relation to the Great Lakes MSOC.”

That MSOC, along with the MSOCs operated by the Canadian Forces on the east and west coasts, feed information into the Canadian Forces Canada Command as well as to other government agencies.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan says the proposed law is needed to provide Canadian and U.S. law enforcement with the “tools” necessary to prevent organized crime moving back and forth across the border. The focus is on the illegal smuggling of guns and drugs between the two countries, according to Van Loan.

The Framework Agreement on integrated law enforcement operations in boundary waters with the U.S. was signed in May 2009, by Van Loan and Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

Advertisements

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: