Border agreement brings opposing viewpoints on Cornwall’s port of entry

The port of entry at Hogansburg, N.Y. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

HOGANSBURG, N.Y. – There are differing views on whether a new border security agreement between Canada and the U.S. signed Monday could change the future makeup of Cornwall’s border.

The customs pre-clearance agreement would also allow agents from both border agencies (Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection) to work in each others countries. This is part of the Beyond the Border plan signed by U.S. President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in 2011.

North Country Chamber of Commerce Chairman Garry Douglas tells North Country Public Radio the plan would allow the CBSA to set up at the Massena port of entry in Hogansburg, N.Y.

“Anybody who has crossed that crossing knows is the very tight landlocked situation they have on the Cornwall side, which doesn’t have the space to adequately build facilities, to process trucks, let alone growing volumes of traffic,” he tells NCPR.

But Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MP Guy Lauzon doesn’t see it that way. He believes the agreement will facilitate trade and eliminate bottlenecks at border crossings but not concentrate on border location.

A long-term solution to have Cornwall’s border agency on the U.S. side has been long talked about after the CBSA left its Cornwall Island office in July 2009 over a dispute with the Akwesasne Mohawks over the arming of Canadian border agents. It’s been in Cornwall ever since as a “temporary location.”

As to whether the legislation signed Monday would change Cornwall’s port of entry to the American side, Lauzon characterized it as “two different projects…all of that is so premature, the ink isn’t even dry on this agreement yet. I don’t think those kind of decisions have been taken at all.”

On the pre-clearance for trade “we haven’t chosen what ports of entry will be involved. I’m not sure that will involve our port of entry so I think it’s a little premature for this,” Lauzon tells Cornwall Newswatch.

Lauzon was asked whether Cornwall’s port of entry should be on that list. “I don’t know how necessary it is,” suggesting the pre-clearance is more for commercial trade. “I can’t tell you that there’s enough trade in our port of entry to warrant that.”

Lauzon feels the agreement is still good for our country with more jobs and increased trade. “With the American economy – we’re so dependent on it – it’s going to create more jobs and opportunities for Canadians. And by doing this it’s going to enhance our security,” he said.

Actually rolling out the agreement will take some time as legislation has to be passed on both sides of the border.

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