Thursday, December 14, 2006

This month's department profile: Canada Border Services Agency

The CBSA administers more than 90 acts, regulations and international agreements on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, the provinces and the territories.

Among them are:

* Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act
* Canada Agricultural Products Act
* Citizenship Act
* Criminal Code
* Customs Act
* Customs Tariff
* Excise Act
* Excise Act, 2001
* Export and Import Permits Act
* Feeds Act
* Fertilizers Act
* Fish Inspection Act
* Food and Drugs Act
* Health of Animals Act
* Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
* Meat Inspection Act
* Plant Protection Act
* Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
* Seeds Act
* Special Import Measures Act

Since December 2003, the CBSA has been an integral part of the Public Safety Portfolio, which was created to protect Canadians and maintain a peaceful and safe society. The President of the CBSA reports directly to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC) - Stockwell Day, and controls and manages all matters relating to the Agency. Alain Jolicoeur is the President of the Agency.

Ok...so you may be thinking so what?

In an era where trade is ever more dependant on free flowing borders, those who monitor Ottawa would be wise to pay close attention to the agency. In fact, if one pays any attention at all to what's going on in world trade these days, security appears to be topping the list in terms of legislative priorities here in Canada and in the US. In political terms, the Conservatives are pressed to show that they can deal with the Americans and move their trade issues ahead in Washington. For this to happen, Minister Day needs to show that security is a Canadian priority.

It's a juggling act that I wouldn't wish on too many. That being said, for the practice of government relations, where there are juggling acts...there exists a definte need to add finesse and skill. CBSA is holding a series of consultations. Three of the current consultations are as follows:

Border Commercial Consultative Committee
Provides CBSA officials and commercial stakeholders with a forum for dialogue on Canada's border operations. The purpose of these consultations, in general terms, is to promote mutually beneficial collaboration between the CBSA and the Canadian commercial trade community on border matters to the benefit of Canada, the Canadian economy and Canada's trade sector. The committee's most recent hearing was on May 9, 2006.

Canada Border Services Advisory Committee
Provides independent advice and serves as a sounding board on major trends and developments that may affect the management of Canada's border, as well as the priorities, business and operations of the CBSA. The committee's most recent hearing was on April 26, 2006.

Fairness Initiative
The CBSA has launched a consultation process to ensure that Canadians and visitors to Canada are treated fairly and can expect to receive the best possible service when crossing the border and in all other dealings with the CBSA. This Initiative includes a series of proposed commitments on how people should expect to be treated by the CBSA. The CBSA will start consulting immediately with clients and stakeholders, including members of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security and Ethno-cultural communities, in order to obtain their feedback. These consultations will be conducted across the country until the fall. The CBSA wants to ensure its clients' views and perceptions are taken into consideration in the development of a comprehensive, unbiased and transparent Fairness Initiative.

Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a public affairs & marketing communications consultancy. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting www.action-strategies.ca and dropping down the newsletter menu.

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