Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The border mess

Not surprisingly the voices of discontent are building in the corporate world. The Canada-US border forces an increasingly costly tax on important flows of commerce. The time is nigh for a proper accounting of the costs of the border on our economy, and our people. A report by the Coalition for Secure and trade-efficient Borders was published today, to much media notice. The report, authored by major corporate interests states clearly that the current system of managing security and trade along the border is extremely costly, taxing trade efficiency and threatening the $2-billion-a-day cross border commerce. Thankfully, the report, entitled "Rethinking our Borders" quantifies this burden, most notably stating that it addds about $800 to the cost of a North-American made automobile. Of course, we know that this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The misallocation of resources in almost every industry handicaps producers and consumers alike.

Clearly, the solution is to create a single perimeter security zone around the continent. The cost of impeding commerce is far too great, and it is important that Canadians in particular take special heed of the security needs of the United States. Security integration is an important step toward harmonizing commercial trade. In fact, as I have always maintained, establishing a security perimeter, integrating our security forces, will enable an opening of the border to cross-border flows of commerce. Further, the proper allowance for migration of labour flows across the border will elevate our economic efficiency. It is time for Canadians to embrace their future in a continental economy.

Sadly, there is much fear to overcome. An example of that fear, I suppose, is the current legal wrangling of CNR and its union. The union does not want to allow CNR to transfer maintenance jobs across borders. The "multinational" CNR, not so long ago a crown coporation, shows us that times have changed, and that we had best put in place the political framework that accommodates the the economy at work. Hopefully, the process of educating the population about the costs of confederation will make the political choices more clear. We need leaders to speak the truth, and be done with the nationalistic approach.