Van Loan works Washington

We catch up to the Public Safety minister, who is in DC for a few high-level meetings

Public Safety minister Peter Van Loan is in DC for a few days and has some high-level meetings on his schedule with members of congress and members of the new administration including DHS secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder.

I spoke with him this morning.

He said he would like to get Napolitano to come and see the northern land border, and will raise border cooperation issues such as the business-group backed proposal for truck pre-clearance at busy land border crossings that was nixed under the Bush administration because of a dispute over fingerprinting.

Van Loan said, “I hope to have put in place the beginnings of good working relations with the new administration on border issues and questions like combating organized crime, and on new emerging issues like cyber-security.”

Also: “It’s a question of agreeing on an outlook and approach — a more cooperative approach, where we can share resources and share border philosophy,” he said.

The idea being more integrated Canada-US initiatives at the border.

We’ve seen over the years that the philosophical question is in this area has practical consequences.  Is the philosophy “security trumps trade” or “security includes economic security”? Is the approach one of checking everything and everyone, or one of “risk management”? Is it one of bilateral cooperation or of unilateral initiatives that the other side has to adapt to.

Canadian officials complained about a shift to unilateralism under Napolitano’s predecessor Michael Chertoff, after a cooperative start with Bush’s first DHS secretary, Tom Ridge. It will be interesting to see if that changes.

From Napolitano’s recent chat with reporters, it was unclear to me exactly which way she’ll go.

Tuesday, March 17

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) Chair of the Sub-Committee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology

Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) Ranking member of Committee on Homeland Security

Wednesday, March 18

Janet Napolitano Secretary of Homeland Security

John Brennan Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, National Security Council

Eric Holder Attorney General of the United States

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) Chair of Sub-Committee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.