with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on U.S. - Canada Smart Borders
September 9, 2002
11:41 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thanks. Thank you, all. Thank you for
joining us today. It's a pleasure to be back in Detroit -- just across the river
from Windsor -- to reaffirm a special relationship, an important relationship,
and to address a common challenge. America and Canada face new threats to our
security. It's the new reality of the 21st century, and we can't forget that.
And some of those threats must be stopped at our borders. This great and peaceful
border must be open to business, must be open to people -- and it's got to be
closed to terrorists and criminals. (Applause.)
And so today we're taking two steps to turn this vision into reality. I appreciate
so very much the Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, for joining us here. He has
been a steadfast friend. I really enjoy dealing with him on a personal basis.
He's a plain-spoken fellow, with a good sense of humor. Probably won't go too
good up here in Canada, but he'd be a great Texan. (Laughter and applause.)
I appreciate Tom Ridge joining us. Tom is my advisor for Homeland Security,
former governor of Pennsylvania. I want to thank Tom for working hard. (Applause.)
With the Deputy Prime Minister John Manley from Canada, who both these two men
work hard to (applause).
The Prime Minister and I, of course, get the credit if it goes well. (Laughter.)
They get the blame if it doesn't. (Laughter.) The truth of the matter is they
did a lot of the work, and I want to thank both of you men for working hard
for what's best for our countries.
I appreciate so very much the members of our congressional delegation who have
shown up here. Congressman Joe Knollenberg, Carolyn Kilpatrick. I had a chance
to say hello to Congresswoman Kilpatrick's little boy at the airport. (Laughter.)
He's doing a fine job as the mayor of Detroit. I know she's proud of what a
fine job he is doing.
I want to appreciate very much Congressman John Conyers as well, and Sander
Levin and Nick Smith from the both Republicans and Democrats, who share deep
concern about our border and what transpires here.
So I thank the members of Congress for coming today.
I also appreciate so very much our ambassador from Canada, Paul Cellucci, my
close friend, for being here as well. Mr. Ambassador, thank you for coming.
I want to thank Robert Bonner of the Customs, U.S. Customs, for being here.
And Rob Wright, who's the Commissioner of Canadian Customs. Thank you both for
I appreciate Jim Ziglar so very much, the head of our INS, for being here. He's
got a tough job and he's handling his job in fine fashion. Jim, I want to thank
you for your service to the country.
I appreciate very much our friend, the governor from Michigan, John Engler,
for introducing me. (Applause.) Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus is with us today.
Lieutenant Governor, thanks for coming. (Applause.) And Candice Miller, the
Michigan Secretary of State, is here, as well. And I want to appreciate all
the officials for coming. (Applause.)
This bridge right here is a symbol of the close and unique relationship -- close
and unique relationship -- between our two nations. This single bridge carries
more trade than any other border crossing on this continent. And that's saying
a lot. This is a -- (applause) -- this is an active bridge. Thanks to the North
American Free Trade Agreement, more than 500,000 people, and over a billion
dollars worth of goods cross the U.S.-Canadian border every day.
The ties of trade and travel and family between America and Canada are closer
than ever. And our countries are better for it. Yet, nearly a year ago, we saw
the terrorists, cold-blooded killers, using our openness, the openness of our
societies against us. We were awakened to threats that can arrive across our
borders. We realized, at least in our country, that we had become a battlefield.
And we've got to confront those threats. We have no choice but to confront the
threats head-on, while we preserve the freedom and the openness of our societies.
We have hard working inspectors at this border, and I want to thank all the
folks who work hard to expedite the traffic here. (Applause.)
I believe my job is to -- at least on the American side, is to make sure that
you're able to do your jobs more effectively, and to figure out how to use technologies
and the system necessary so that you can do your job in a better fashion. You
see, we want our inspectors to be able to focus on the greatest risks, not on
legitimate trade and travel. We want their time focused on stopping terror,
criminality. We've got to recognize that inspections create bottlenecks on both
sides of this bridge. That's one of the realities. When you start looking closer,
you're going to start creating bottlenecks, and that's not good. It's not good
for families that want to be together, it's not good for trade and traffic.
And so we've got to reduce the backups, and at the same time strengthen our
So today, Canada and the United States are launching what we call the FAST,
which stands for Free and Secure Trade. The Prime Minister and I got to see
the FAST system in operation. It says that American and Canadian companies can
register their goods and their trucks and their drivers with their governments
and then border inspectors can review this information up to an hour prior to
arrival. Once the agents have determined the safety of each shipment, the trucks
can cross in special lanes, using tested technology, technology that the Prime
Minister and I just saw. Border inspectors will be able to instantly verify
the contents and identify each truck as it pulls up. Stop times will be reduced
from a few minutes to seconds, and that's important.
We're also announcing a second initiative for safer and smarter borders that
will benefit individual travelers. We're dramatically expanding a program to
issue special photo identifications to people who are screened to ensure they
are not security threats to either country. These cards entitle people to travel
across the border in dedicated lanes, where there will be little or no delay
for inspections. We're trying to help people cross the borders as quickly as
This kind of program for simplifying travel for thousands of people who regularly
cross the border is now in place in Washington, Washington State, and British
Columbia. And so, starting today, we're launching the program here in Detroit,
accepting applications from Americans and Canadians who want to travel across
the border in faster fashion.
With these two initiatives, we'll ensure faster movement of legal, low risk
goods and faster travel for people across our borders. And we'll be able to
better enhance security. Our inspectors will spend less time inspecting law
abiding citizens and more time inspecting those who may harm us.
We're doing everything we can here in America to protect our homeland. Along
with Canada, we've got some of the finest troops in the world hunting down the
al Qaeda killers in Afghanistan, hunting them down one at a time, to make sure
we can better secure our respective countries.
And at home I've asked our Congress to join with me to set up a Department of
Homeland Security so that we can do a better job on our borders, a better job
with our first responders. I do not need a bunch of rules and regulations trying
to micromanage the process. (Applause.) I want the ability to be able to look
the American people in the eye and say, I'm doing everything -- or we're doing
everything we can to protect you.
And so the Senate, the United States Senate must not focus on narrow, special
interests, but must focus on the security of the American people. (Applause.)
And so I'm -- Mr. Prime Minister, this country is doing everything we can to
address a common problem, and you need to know, sir, that we're determined and
we're patient and we're resolved to win this war against these terrorists, because,
like you, we love freedom. We value our freedoms. We want to leave a legacy
of freedom behind for our children and our grandchildren.
It's now my honor to welcome to the podium a friend, a strong leader, the Prime
Minister of our important neighbor, Jean Chretien. (Applause.)
THE PRIME MINISTER: As we say in English, merci beaucoup, Messieur le Presidente.
(Laughter.) Governor Engler, Governor Ridge, Deputy Minister Manley, Minister
Whelan, Ambassadors, Congressmen, Members of Parliament, madams and messieurs.
I want to tell you Governor that we don't share only the university. You're
going into retirement (laughter) and I'm going in retirement. (Laughter.) You,
you're forced by the Constitution, and I am forced by my wife. (Laughter and
applause.) Mr. President, I see in Canada that the country is run by women.
The Governor General is a woman. The Chief Justice is a woman, and my wife is
a woman. (Laughter and applause.)
But I am delighted to be here with you, Mr. President, because it's a great
occasion. A short distance from here is the Ambassador Bridge. It spans two
great cities, Detroit and Windsor, two great peoples, and two great nations.
More than a feat of architecture and construction, the bridge is a symbol of
the most open bilateral relationship in the world, a relationship based on shared
values of freedom and human dignity, a model to the world of civility and respect.
(Applause.) And, in the context of globalization, a guide to how nations can
develop strong friendships while retaining distinct identities.
Across the longest undefended border in the world, we have built by far the
largest two-way trading relationship with a value of $475 billion U.S. a year.
More than a $1.3 billion a day of trade between our two nations. More than 200
million crossings of the 49th Parallel take place every year. Eighty-five percent
of Canadian exports go to the United States, and 23 percent of all American
exports come to Canada. In 2000, Canada bought more U.S. goods than all 15 countries
of the European Union combined, and three times as much as Japan.
Thirty-eight U.S. states count Canada as their largest export market. The Ambassador
Bridge is the fast lane for Canada-U.S. trade. Twenty-five percent of our two-way
trade, or $120 billion U.S. travels the bridge; 7,000 trucks cross it every
day. The value of the trade that crosses this bridge exceeds all of U.S. trade
One year ago, our share value were attacked in an unthinkable way. For most
of our history, we in North America, have lived in peace, untouched by attack
-- 9/11 changed that. And it's changed the world. That terrible day will live
forever as a monument to the worst in human spirit, but the days since will
long be remembered as a monument to the very best.
I would like to pay tribute to you, Mr. President, for the skill and resolve
you showed in rallying the world against the terror network of al Qaeda. (Applause.)
The American people can be proud of what you have accomplished in their name.
And the Canadian people are deeply proud that our Armed Forces have fought side
by side in defense of justice and freedom with American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Mr. President, you and I met at the White House less than two weeks after 9/11.
We understood the urgent need to act, but also the fact that our people will
never, never consent to live life looking over their shoulders in fear. (Applause.)
That they will insist on living according to our values of freedom and openness,
not on terms dictated from the shadows. We want to ensure that the threat of
terror will not undermine the security of our citizens or hold our economies
Both of our nations have taken forceful action in our own ways to enhance the
security of our people. In Canada, we have passed strong antiterrorism laws;
state-of-the-art security technologies are being quickly brought on-line. We
recognized that we could create a smart border, one that was not only more secure,
but more efficient for trade, to permit our businesses to get back to business;
to allow our nurses, engineers and computer technicians to provide their services,
and our students to attend classes; to let our communities continue planning
a shared future together, secure in the knowledge that the border welcomes legitimate
trade and travelers.
The Windsor-Detroit Gateway has figured prominently in our plans. As a sign
of the high priority we place on this goal, we assigned two very able public
servants the task of turning our commitment into action -- Deputy Prime Minister
John Manley, and Governor Tom Ridge. And I compliment them for a job very well
done. (Applause.) They have made extraordinary progress building the smart border
for the 21st century, a border that is open for business, but closed to terrorists.
With their signing last December of the Smart Border Declaration, our governments
began implementing an aggressive and sweeping 30-point action plan. The vast
majority of the people who cross our border pose no risk to either country.
To ensure that such low risk individuals are able to travel with a minimum of
delay, we implemented and are expanding the NEXUS pre-screening program at our
land border crossing.
NEXUS provides FAST lanes for pre-approved travelers and is already running
at seven border -- several border crossings. To speed things up at our busiest
border crossings, we are opening the NEXUS Enrollment Center here in Detroit.
The Free and Secure Trade, or FAST, program provides similar benefits for shipments
of low risk goods. While enhancing security, FAST will make many cross-border
commercial shipments simpler, cheaper, and subject to fewer delays.
Ladies and gentlemen, madams and messieurs, both Canadians and Americans understand
that the goal of the terrorists is not to conquer us by force of arms, but by
force of terror, to intimidate us into retreating from our openness, and to
abandon the pillars of prosperity and freedom which support our quality of life.
But, Mr. President, you and I know that freedom freedom is a very, very stubborn
thing, and that it will prevail. On Wednesday, we will mark the solemn anniversary
of a terrible day. But let us celebrate today together the ingenuity and resolve
that Canada and the United States have shown to ensure that our people can get
on with their daily lives and our business can get on with business, free from
fear and security.