Beyond the Border: Making the Case
Seattle World Trade Center
Feb. 10, 2012
Thank you. It is my honor to be here today to
speak on behalf of the state of Washington. Our governor, Christine
Gregoire, would be here but is having her annual joint cabinet meeting
in Olympia today with British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. We were
very pleased to give the premier and governor a warm welcome on the
Senate floor this morning.
The joint cabinet meeting is a good
thing. I suspect at least some of the issues that you are discussing
here in Seattle are an important part of their discussions in Olympia
too. In fact I am pleased to announce that this morning’s joint cabinet
session yielded a letter to President Barack Obama and Prime Minister
Stephen Harper that expresses our state and British Columbia’s support
for the Beyond the Border action plan and urge its implementation.
The letter is on top of another measure we are taking in our state
Legislature – a joint memorial to Congress, the Secretary of State, the
Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Commerce, the Canadian
government and others that the provisions of the Beyond the Border
Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness and the
Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation are carried out.
I introduced that joint memorial by executive
request. A meeting with Consul General Stevens brought this to our
attention, and after that meeting we started to think about what we
could do to support this effort and move it forward. I am pleased to
report to you that, as of this morning, this joint memorial has been
passed by our state Senate and is now in the House of Representatives.
Once passed by the House, it will be transmitted to the
aforementioned parties as a way of our being officially on the record in
support of these vital, landmark initiatives. In the days following the
Obama-Harper announcement, Premier Clark issued her own statement of
strong support for improved border security, threat assessment and
In the process of testifying in support of
this joint memorial, which I did together with Consul General Stevens,
here in a nutshell is what I said, and believe.
1. That this
initiative represents one of the most important cooperative agreements
between Canada and the United States in recent memory.
That with implementation of the plans, the vital economic partnership
that joins our two countries will continue to improve, that our systems
of governing and security and regulation will be simpler and more
convenient and will aid, not hinder, our mutual economic development
3. That this initiative will establish joint priorities for
achieving a new long-term security partnership in four key areas, guided
by mutual respect for sovereignty and our separate constitutional and
legal frameworks that protect individual privacy.
So today I
would like to use my time to make the case for gaining support from more
people, including businesses, the farm community and public officials,
to rally those around them and keep this process on track. I know that
the spirit of this meeting revolves around a shared vision for closer
bonds between Canada and the U.S. and, perhaps more specifically,
between the state of Washington and the province of British Columbia.
In many ways it seems odd, especially in this corner of the world,
that we are separated by a border at all. Our commonality goes back many
centuries to the days when our native peoples traveled and traded freely
across the waters of Puget Sound, the Straits and the passages that
surround Vancouver Island and north.
We have shared interests in
natural resources, such as timber, fishing and tourism; our ports serve
common and close markets in Asia and Russia; we speak, more or less, the
same language, eh? A thin, cartographic, line drawn between us is a
reminder of the close and precious nature of our relationship.
Our governments are both democratic in nature. Our families intermarry.
Our cultures are very much the same, with the core value systems that we
have all grown up with based on freedom, mutual respect and goodwill and
an appreciation for lawfulness and order. Even though our Vancouver
Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders may proclaim a fierce rivalry, we often
find ourselves fighting in the same battles, whether it is overseas
where we frequently serve in combat hand in hand; or in working together
to conquer a common enemy, such as terrorists, drug traffickers,
smugglers and their like. We are also working together for the common
good on environmental issues and the allocation of our natural resources
in the form of many treaties and agreements that have been signed over
While some among us may say that good fences make
good neighbors, what this initiative is about is tearing at least some
of those fences down but, at the same time, making sure that we do so in
order to widen the path that crosses our yards, to share the easement
that is our border and to engage in pleasant, neighborly conversations
along the way.
Before we do this we must be prepared to solve
not one, but many puzzles, with interlocking pieces and even some moving
parts. The two big boxes that these puzzles arrive in are the U.S. and
Inside the U.S. box are its 50 states, 13
of which share a border with Canada. Inside Canada’s box are its 10
provinces and territories, about half of which share a border with the
U.S. as well.
Dig in the boxes a little further and you have the
cities, counties, towns, boroughs, villages, ports and, just as
importantly, the respective jurisdictions of our tribal and aboriginal
populations. Scattered all over the place are the businesses, the
transportation systems, telecommunications systems, buildings, houses
and other infrastructure.
And finally, you have the glue, the
bolts and nuts and other framework that somehow holds it all together,
friendships, family, and business relations. Complicating it all even
further is the fact that there are really no clear set of directions on
how to put these puzzles all together, or at least in a way that is
logical to everyone who will be a part of the final result.
is our job to make these puzzle pieces interlock in a way that is both
functional, fitting and a source of pride. We want to look at the
finished product and be proud of not only its appearance, but that it
will be linked together as a solid framework for generations to come.
So how do we do it?
Neighborly cooperation can truly
start with the small things, such as the burying of old grudges and
starting anew. Some of you may be familiar with the story of Louie Sam,
a 14-year-old Sto:lo youth from a native village near Abbotsford who was
lynched by an American mob in 1884. That was five years before
Washington became a state and just 13 years after B.C. joined the
I first became aware of the story of Louie
Sam during a 2005 meeting with then Lt. Gov. Iona V. Campagnola in
Victoria. Louie Sam was wrongfully accused of the murder of Nooksack
area shopkeeper James Bell, and turned over to a B.C. deputy and held in
The vigilante mob of 100 or so stole across the board,
kidnapped Louie Sam, rode back to Washington territory and lynched him
from a tree. It was later proven that Louie Sam did not commit the
murder and that a great injustice had been done. In 2006 we were able to
pass a resolution in the Washington state legislature that offered our
state’s deepest sympathies for this injustice, which we presented to
Sto:lo tribal leaders in our office in Olympia. Several tribes in
Washington and aboriginal bands in Canada also took part in a number of
healing drum circles, including one in the rotunda of our Capitol
A whole lot of positive things happened after that,
all of which brought us closer together, but the bottom line is that it
is a story of how people of different cultures and backgrounds can work
together to right even an old wrong and further solidify a strong and
lasting friendship. If we can work together on repairing damage that was
caused by an incident of more than a century and a quarter ago now, we
can work together on resolving the big issues that are between us today.
And what I am talking about, really, is that the U.S.-Canada Beyond
the Border Action Plan can begin with everyone in this room and then
move with deliberate speed to convince those at the state/province and
federal policy making level. The good news is that Washington and
British Columbia have already staked their claim, proving that there is
a vital role for a political subdivision to have input into the
federally created Beyond the Border Action plan. In fact, many aspects
of plan implementation depend on cooperation of sub-national
We have many examples where we are either leading
the charge, or are certainly beginning to be engaged, right here between
the border of Washington and British Columbia. Examples of what is
possible, what can be done.
A prime example can be found with the
Washington Enhanced Driver’s License, or EDL. This was an initiative
first proposed by Governor Gregoire and then-Premier Gordon Campbell in
2006 to offset the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which required
passports with radio frequency identification chips rather than lesser
forms of identification to travel between our borders in the wake of the
9-11 terrorist attacks.
It took a lot of hand-holding of the
Department of State and the White House, and a series of high-level
discussions for both sides, to agree to accept an equivalent document
but in the end the EDL was created – along with a similar card for
British Columbia residents, that would be less expensive and burdensome
than a passport, but just as secure.
In fact the EDL contains an
RFID chip, just like the U.S. passport, that is scanned electronically
as travelers approach border crossing stations. More than 320,000
Washington residents have purchased these EDLs since they were
established and they are now selling at the clip of 9,000 to 10,000 each
month, constituting about 4 percent of all state driver licenses.
The cost is just an additional $15 onto a $25
license, which is a considerable savings over the cost of a passport.
British Columbia has a similar license, as do four or five other border
states in the U.S. But we pioneered the EDL right here, and it was
delivered well in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. While
the higher-priced Nexus pass is still preferable for most frequent
crossers, we would like to see an even higher rate of adoption of these
enhanced drivers licenses on both sides of the border, so perhaps a
little more marketing is needed to help make our residents more aware.
The Olympics proved to be another success story. Although it did
not create as big of an economic boom as anticipated, it was another
testament to how closely we can work together to accomplish a dream.
Our state’s Department of Transportation completed four major
capital projects amounting to more than a half a billion dollars to
widen roads and build new lanes on our side of the border to help cars
and trucks get through. They also made track and signal improvements on
Amtrak rail lines and in the process were able to better share this
critical rail corridor.
In August, 2009, Amtrak Cascades added a
second-round-trip line between Vancouver, B.C. and Portland, Oregon,
providing an additional transportation option for the Olympics. Advanced
traveler information systems were put into place to let border crossers
know about wait times by both electronic signage, and WSDOT introduced
the use of Twitter on top of its 511 call system to relay wait times.
They have since introduced an “app” for smart phones too.
happened as a result of all of this work during the Winter Olympics of
2010? Basically, nothing. And I mean nothing in a very positive way.
There were few, if any, significant lineups. Nearly 200,000 vehicles
crossed from Washington State into Canada; yet for the vast majority of
the Olympics, border delays averaged less than 10 minutes. There was
just one day, a Saturday, when there was a two-hour wait at the border,
when nearly 16,000 Olympics-bound vehicles crossed into Canada.
Southbound traffic into Washington was estimated at around a quarter
million vehicles during the Olympics.
On the security side, there
was an incredible amount of local and regional cooperation in advance of
and during the Olympics. A security headquarters was set up at the
Bellingham airport to handle air security issues. Communication between
coordinating agencies was constant and complete. As a result, we heard
of very little, if any, major security issues on either side of the
border during this time. We may never know, thankfully, what could have
happened if this security had not been in place.
A little snag
in our relations did come up recently with the introduction by the
Canadian federal government of a border clearance fee for passengers,
which threatened to curtail service for the second Amtrak line. Once
again, after close work between Washington and British Columbia, the
director of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Canadian Minister
of Public Safety announced last August that this fee would be waived,
ensuring that the route would continue to serve our international train
Governor Gregoire hailed this decision, saying in a
“The decision to waive the border clearance fee is
fantastic news for both Washington state and British Columbia, as well
as for those businesses that have greatly benefitted from the second
Amtrak line. There’s no question the second train has helped our
economic recovery – leading to a significant increase in tourism
spending on both sides of the border.”
Governor Gregoire, former
Premier Campbell and now Premier Clark deserve a lot of the credit for
all they have done to facilitate and promote cross-border relations
during their respective administrations. For starters, simply keeping
the lines of communication open, such as their joint cabinet meeting in
the governor’s mansion today is a prime example. These meetings began in
2006, and have been the force behind much of the work that has been done
in cross-border relations since.
Their ongoing efforts are to be
applauded, but there is much more to do.
I’d like to tell you
about Gordon Trucking Incorporated, or GTI. GTI runs about 2,000 trucks
in total and had just shy of $400 million in revenue last year. It is
one of the top 25 full truckload carriers in the nation, and the 17th
largest private company in the state. It has also been named the safest
large carrier in the state of Washington five years in a row, and
recognized as the second safest carrier in North America and safest in
the US by the Truckload Carriers Association.
GTI averages about
50 loads per week into Canada and takes around 35 per week back out.
About 60 percent of their volume is Vancouver area crossing at Blaine,
with the rest at various points throughout Alberta crossing at Eastport.
They primarily ship various paper products each direction. Based in
Pacific, Washington, the business has been in family ownership since
So what is GTI’s biggest challenge? Company president
Steve Gordon tells us in a nutshell it is this: finding drivers that can
and are willing to go to Canada. Not all of them, he says, want to
expend the time it takes for an enhanced license and most don't carry
their passport with them normally, nor do they want to go through the
red tape and hassle associated with trans-border shipments. So for many
it's easier to just say no. Having a severely restricted pool of
available folks makes it much more expensive to position drivers to
support loads going both directions, plus these drivers have to be paid
more on those trips.
He says the additional requirements to clear
customs electronically in both directions has made it more challenging
in the last few years. It is not a harmonized process going both
directions, so it means that the company must spend a lot of extra time
to fill out information that their customers don't always readily
And, because the company has its federal C-TPAT
(Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certification, they are
required to ask sometimes uncomfortable, security-related questions of
their customers that their non-certified competition may not ask, such
as the backgrounds of employees at the paper recycling plants Gordon
tells us this sometimes will steer their Canadian customers to other
Other issues Gordon has identified is the need for
them to charge the $300 to $400 per load charge they are assessed at the
border as the result of random security checks back to the customer.
That creates an unexpected charge and another wedge between carrier and
Gordon says having similar crossing systems on both
sides would diminish confusion at border crossings. It is also sometimes
difficult to get ahold of a border broker at all hours, even though
trucking is a 24/7 operation. There are occasions when trucks have to
wait until the next business day in order to clear customs with the
We may or may not be able to help GTI with their
driver’s refusal to carry a passport or an EDL, but I really see ways
this Beyond the Border initiative can help out companies like Gordon
Trucking. Let’s use the tenants of regulatory improvement to sync these
processes and help them reduce the amount of paperwork that is required.
Let’s make the movement of goods hauled by trusted carriers as seamless
and as transparent as possible, and in both directions.
mentioned security in terms of the Olympics a few minutes ago, and would
be remiss if I did not bring up the incredible amount of cooperation
that is going on between the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), U.S.
and Canadian customs, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the
Drug Enforcement Agency on keeping our shared border safe and protected.
There is an incredible amount of coordination that goes on
within both sides of the border to stop the flow of illegal substances,
especially marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy. That alone is a huge job, and
part of the challenge is just for them to be able to all talk to each
other on the same radio frequency. This action plan will help.
One area I haven’t spent too much time on is trade and tourism. This is
critical and of significant joint interest.
While our state’s
tourism office no longer exists, we know that Canada represents a
substantial and important market for Washington’s travel and tourism
industry, and it works both ways. The fact that our dollars have been
nearly on par means that many Canadians from the high population center
of Vancouver and vicinity are coming south to do their shopping.
One of my staff members is among the thousands of American citizens
who venture north to Canadian waters every year in pursuit of the wily
Pacific salmon, halibut and trout each year, or go on hunting trips for
the adventure of a lifetime.
There is a great need for both sides
to work together on ensuring ways that our international visitors,
especially those from China and the rest of Asia, are welcomed equally
on both sides of the border by the establishment of mutually-recognized
visa documentation. While we may compete with one another for their
tourism dollars, we need to make it easy for them to travel across both
sides of the border in the first place.
Another key area where
this initiative strikes home is in agriculture as our countries have $33
billion in the trade of agricultural products between us. One of the
pilot projects that is in the works has to do with the need for
implementing electronic export certification for livestock and meat that
crosses the US/Canada Border, just as it is now for plant-based
I could go on and on about other joint and
cooperative efforts but for the purpose of time I will leave that to
others. I would like to give praise to those organizations that are
actively engaged in cross border issues and cooperation, such as the
Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the Border Policy Research Institute
at Western and so many more.
It is with optimism and pride that
I look ahead at the promise to come, while issuing the challenge: What
can we do to reduce red tape and confusion in order to enhance trade,
economic development, security, and ease of travel.
believe we are on the right course and I thank everyone here for all
that you are doing. The Beyond the Border initiatives will certainly get
us further along and it is with passion and sincerity that we need to
each do our part to make sure our respective governments are on board.
We can make things easier for companies that do business on both
sides. We can cut the hassles for tourists and travelers who want
nothing more than to see our beautiful lands and comfortably share in
our bounty. We will work together to put the bad guys where they belong.
We are here, together as friends and family. As with any familial
relationship, there will be occasional tough times and friction, but as
long as we are sitting at the same table and sharing all that is
important, we can work together and make this relationship as vibrant,
meaningful and productive as ever.
Drug smugglers, terrorists
from Al Queda and other organizations and other events may have
diminished our freedoms, but now we have an opportunity to take back
what was stolen from us. With your guidance the border initiatives we
have in front of us will help us to return us to that time.