At a White House press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new bilateral agreement on border security and trade. Harper met for an hour with Obama in the Oval Office to discuss the idea of a North American security perimeter that would secure the border while allowing for more open trade. “It is in both of our interests to ensure our common border remains open and efficient,” said Harper, who addressed the White House press conference in English and French, noting that 8-million U.S. jobs are dependent on Canada-U.S. trade and that Canada was the largest and most secure supplier of energy to the United States. The new plan will combat bureaucratic inefficiencies by using modern technology, harmonizing inspection procedures and increasing shared information between the two countries. Harper rejected that the agreement will infringe on Canadian sovereignty, while Obama remarked that the U.S. and Canada “are not simply allies, not simply neighbours,” but “are woven together like perhaps no other two countries in the world.” Opposition critics have accused the Conservative government of having a “secretive” approach on the issue by not debating the terms of the agreement in Question Period.