(if terrorist attack was found to originate in Canada)
U.S. border closing plans revealed
Terror attack could force shutdown, documents show
American law might hurt Ontario manufacturing, trade
QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU
The United States would virtually close the Canada-U.S. border if a terrorist attack were launched anywhere near it, according to documents obtained under access-to-information legislation.
"One additional terrorist attack, that had its origins in Canada or occurred at, or along, the Canada-U.S. border, would likely cause Congress to lift the drawbridge," warn the documents from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
The confidential government documents also sound the alarm over newly implemented U.S. anti-terrorism legislation, warning it could wreak havoc on Ontario manufacturers.
The legislation, which took effect Dec. 12, requires trucking firms, air cargo companies and railway shippers to submit electronic data about their deliveries of food and beverage products before they can enter the United States.
"If implemented, as Congress probably intended, entry/exit could create monumental delays at the border, with devastating effects on Ontario's export industries," read the Oct. 23 documents.
Miranda Hawkins, a ministry spokeswoman, said the first phase of enforcement of the new law will begin March 12.
"This ... grace period will give truck drivers and food manufacturers the opportunity to comply with the new regulations," she said.
The internal government documents say Ontario and its neighbouring American states must influence their respective federal governments in talks over border security.
"If we cannot, and if protracted border delays become the norm, then losses to business on both sides of the border will become very significant," the documents warn.
The United States is Ontario's largest trading partner with 93 per cent of the province's international exports going south of the border.
Ontario's economic prosperity is affected by the tenor of Canada-U.S. relations.
"The government believes security need not be curtailed in order to facilitate trade and trade need not be sacrificed in order to be more safe and secure," Hawkins said.
With the recent raising of the U.S. national terrorist alert to orange from yellow, wait times at southern Ontario border crossings have been slightly longer than usual.
The Canada Customs Web site showed motorists waiting up to two hours at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge at 12:30 p.m. yesterday.
"It will cause a delay," Canada Customs spokeswoman Jean D'Amelio Swyer said yesterday of the U.S. orange alert.
Also contributing to delays are enhanced security measures imposed by Canada in response to the orange alert, a hike in holiday travel and the resumption of post-Christmas commercial traffic, she added.
Hawkins said any delays in border crossings attributed to the code orange were minimal and she cited the traditional low volume of commercial traffic at this time of year.
Of course, Canadians will not be happy about this at all. However, it is necessary to protect American security. The US-Canada border is one of the most unguarded (and pourous) borders in the world which might be okay if Canada would get tougher in terms of immigration. However, that will probably never happen. I'd guess that Canada would probably want out of NAFTA if this was to happen. Hopefully an attack originating from Canada will not occur, but its time for the US to get stricter with our neighbors when it comes to immigration.