Thank you, Madam Chair.
Members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to appear before you today.
My name is David McGovern. I am the deputy national security adviser to the Prime Minister. However, I am here today in my previous role as senior adviser to the Privy Council Office responsible for the border action plan implementation from May 2014 until January 2015, when I was named the deputy national security adviser.
After my appointment, I continued to work on the Beyond the Border initiative while we were transitioning toward the current government.
In the Beyond the Border Action Plan of 2011, over 30 commitments were made to improve security and expedite legitimate movement of people, goods and services across the border.
Canada and the United States have a long-standing history of co-operation along our shared border, recognizing that we are each other's closest ally and most important security and economic partner. Included in this plan were two specific commitments that I wish to draw to your attention to, related to implementation and oversight. Responsibility for ensuring inter-agency coordination rested with the Prime Minister and the President, and their respective officials.
In Canada, this responsibility was led by the special adviser and a specially created small team in the Privy Council Office. This approach was mirrored in the United States, where it was led by a senior official in the National Security Council in the White House. The joint leads established an inter-agency “beyond the border” working group called the executive steering committee, comprising executive heads or associates from relevant departments and agencies that were implicated in the action plan.
The executive steering committee was also tasked with reporting on implementation of the action plan through the publication of an annual joint Canada-U.S. implementation report. Four such joint implementation reports were released. These documents describe progress in meeting the action plan commitments. Like all key beyond the border documents, they are housed on Canadian and U.S. government websites.
The Executive Steering Committee met five times, the last time being in October 2016.
In Canada, the Committee of Deputy Ministers on Borders was established to complement the work of the Executive Steering committee. The committee of deputy ministers was chaired by the special advisor and made up of deputy ministers or associate deputy ministers from Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Industry Canada, and other departments and agencies as needed.
The committee of deputy ministers was established to discuss implementation issues, report on progress, identify stakeholder concerns, solve problems and, at a later stage, consider issues related to planning for the 2015 transition.
The deputy ministers' borders committee was also supported by a shadow assistant deputy minister steering committee, which was chaired by the border implementation team's assistant secretary. PCO received temporary funding in 2012 through the beyond the border initiative to support a small secretariat. This secretariat has since been wound down throughout 2016.
By the time the election was called in 2015, a large majority of the initiatives had either been completed or were on track. Of the issues that were not yet completed or were experiencing challenges, two were considered key from both a Canadian and a U.S. perspective, namely entry-exit and pre-clearance.
In March 2016, several key deliverables were announced at the Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama's summit, including co-operation on issues that affect our shared border. The two leaders reinforced their intentions to bring into force the Canada-U.S. agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance.
Building on more than 60 years of pre-clearance co-operation, the new agreement will further enhance both countries' mutual security and facilitate low-risk cross-border movement in all modes of travel. The two countries also agreed to explore the conditions necessary for cargo pre-clearance and to identify opportunities to pilot this approach. Both countries also committed to fully implement a system to exchange basic biographic entry information at the land border. This builds on the process already in place for third-country nationals, and will allow Canada and the U.S. to enhance border security in an effective and responsible way.
This will be done in a manner that respects our respective constitutional and legal frameworks, and protects our citizens' right to privacy.
The legislative provisions related to entry and exit, in this case Bill C-21, were tabled in the House of Commons on June 15, 2016, and are currently awaiting second reading.
The legislative provisions related to preclearance, in this case Bill C-23, were tabled on June 17, 2016. They are also awaiting second reading. President Obama signed the necessary U.S. legislative provisions for the entry into force of the Pre-clearance Agreement on December 16, 2016.
Canada and the U.S. intend to continue our robust relationship. Prime Minister Trudeau has committed the Canadian government to improving relations with the U.S., and to work to make substantial progress on reducing impediments to trade and commerce between our two countries, including by improving border infrastructure and security, streamlining cargo inspection, and facilitating the movement of people.
Thank you very much. I'd be pleased to answer any questions you may have.