Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So what exactly is "perimeter security"?

As in Steve and Barry's new Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness?

None of our fracking business apparently, says the Public Safety Ministry.
Rather, it's "a matter of cabinet confidence."
Researcher Ken Rubin used federal Access to Information legislation to ask the Public Safety department for documents related to the definition of the term "perimeter security” in the context of the Canada-U.S. border.

Rubin also asked for documents defining the physical geographic borders, analyses that explain the implications of using the term “perimeter security,”and just how the term might be sold to us - but mostly he was just asking for a simple definition.
The department’s response was an unequivocal “no.”

In a letter written March 4, Public Safety officials said: “The records pertaining to your request have been entirely withheld.”

The department said the information could be injurious to international affairs, that it contained information developed for a government institution or minister, that it would provide an account of a government consultation, and that it is a matter of cabinet confidence."

No, it's a matter of public confidence.

Back in the fall Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ officials prepared a 14 page secret strategy for "big business groups and others" to "align supportive stakeholders to speak positively about the announcement" of the Shared Vision they were still keeping under wraps.

Even after a draft of it was leaked to the press in December, Steve still mustered the gall to stand in the House and deny opposition demands for more info by unequivocally denying its existence :
"There is no secret deal" and
"Canada already operates under what is called the Security and Prosperity Partnership with the United States and Mexico, something negotiated by the previous Liberal government."
Notable you should mention the SPP here, Steve, a deal designed to function entirely outside the purview of either Parliament or Congress.

So despite the fact Steve really really wants our input this time :
“We are committed to consulting with Canadians on the implementation of the shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness,” said Minister of State Lebel.

... well, up until April 21st anyway ... Rubin wonders how we can possibly respond adequately if they don't want to tell us what perimeter security is.

Fortunately David Emerson has come up with a partial answer for us : "The primary security perimeter should ultimately be continental."


West End Bob said...

You know: It is so GREAT that you are back to doing what you do best, Dear (Almost a) Lady Alison . . . . ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ah another access to info debacle.
I wonder if we'll ever find out which hapless con staffer interfered with this one.

opit said...

"The primary security perimeter should ultimately be continental."

Should be about as comfy as sleeping with a porcupine.
Given that the Brits were told in no uncertain terms a while back that their people were not safe from arbitrary U.S. warrantless kidnapping and indefinite torture without appeal, what consessions do you think Steve-O wants on our behalf so as to uphold the Charter of Rights? ( I jest. Mini Me would not dare. )

ron wilton said...

I suspect 'perimeter' is a decoy. The real issue is access to oil, and eventually water.Part of the deal is to remove the U.S.'s own restriction on using dirty oil.

Kev said...

The ruling elite will never give up on their quest for absolute power,which is why we need people like Alison and Ken Rubin to keep us focused on this most important issue.

Antonia Z said...

Thanks for your clairty, Alison

Sixth Estate said...

"I wonder if we'll ever find out which hapless con staffer interfered with this one."

Whoever it was, I think we can be absolutely sure that (we will be told that) they did it entirely without their minister's knowledge or approval.

I've always thought that the best way to hold a public debate is to claim that the definition of the thing being debated is classified. :-) We badly need a strengthened ATI act. Not that the Harper Government™ will ever pass any such thing.

Anonymous said...

(After much effusive gushing about our gorgeous Alison returning to the blogosphere with such gusto and ooomph - hurray!) I have to say..
I met Ken Rubin in Ottawa, just after his house had burned down, at the premier screening of Sicko. He has an amazing history and connection with the coolest activists of the last half century. I was pissed when the film started and we had to quit talking. If Ken's on it: it's a problem.
Ken needs us all to work on this issue because he's frequently denied access just as a matter of course. I believe he holds the record for the most Access to Information requests in Canada. Good for him but maybe we should be spreading the work around.
I'm submitting a fresh request this week for the same information. You can too!

Peace, babies!

mae said...


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