This forum advanced the dialogue on border management in several ways. Speakers demonstrated that the nature of the border use, and therefore the challenges the border presents, vary by geographical region and by user group. The discussion showed how bi-national regional groups can and are working together to resolve problems specific to their region. Businesses, many said, are as concerned about regulations and the costs of complying with new border procedures as with delays at the border.
The forum’s speakers expressed broad agreement that upgrading infrastructure, modernizing technology, and improving data sharing and risk-management processes could improve border operations. Some called for going further on harmonizing regulations and moving more border management to the periphery. Many also endorsed recommendations for decentralizing border management and promoting regional bi-national problem solving of the kind done by the Pacific North West Economic Region.
Several speakers suggested that the convergence of four factors — an economic crisis, a new administration in Washington, a new boldness in Ottawa regarding periphery approaches, and the maturing of the post-9/11 security relationship between the two countries — made the time ripe for policy reform.