Canada has always had close ties to the United States of America. From the beginning, the two countries had a shared history and as America grew in size and power the relationship between the two countries changed. At times Canada has benefitted from the relationship and at other times it has suffered negative consequences.
It is extremely important to look at the relationship Canada has with the United States due to the fact that this relationship plays a big role in the policies this country makes to deal with security issues. As it has been explained in previous posts, security certificates have long been used in Canada even though they did not gain too much attention until after September 11. After the terrorist attacks in the United States the American government took a new stance on national security. The United States strengthened their security laws and implemented strict rules regarding security. They then instigated the War on Terror in their attempts to make the country a safer place. I’m sure we can all remember when George W. Bush made his speech on November 6, 2001 about protecting America and the American way of life. In the speech he stated that "you are either with us or against us in the fight against terror," clearly distinguishing the only two camps other countries could belong to. This meant that Canada would have to quickly decide which camp it wanted to be a part of. Not surprisingly, the Canadian government quickly tried to align itself with the former camp.
As America’s neighbour, Canada plays a very important role in the American War on Terror. Canada’s proximity to the United States makes it strategically powerful. The border we share with the United States is the longest border in the world and one that allows for numerous people to cross each year. As fears grew in America over who was getting into their country and the entry points they used to gain access, the American government quickly looked to their neighbour to the North. The American media wrongly reported that some of the 9/11 hijackers had entered the country through the Canadian border. Border security was given high priority and was seen as something that needed to be tightened in order to prevent potential terrorists from entering the country in the future.
However, putting more security measures at the 49th parallel could have negative consequences for Canada. If the American government imposed measures that were too strict at the Canadian border, the Canadian economy would suffer. The United States is our largest trading partner and having an open border is part of the reason for this. The Canadian government needed to show the Americans that Canada was not harboring terrorists and that Canada would do its part in making sure our country was terrorist free.
The years after 9/11 were an extremely tense period on an international level where countries all over the world were trying to show the global giant that is America that they were on the "right" side of this war. As the Americans criticized the seemingly lacks security measures in Canada, the Canadian government attempted to rectify the situation by proving that we too were doing our part to fight the terrorists. The United States created the Patriot Act and Canada responded with Bill C-36.
This makes me wonder why Canada feels the need to allows follow suite with the Americans. I understand the role American plays in our economy and how maintaining good relations with our southern neighbour are vital to our continued national prosperity. At the same time however it also seems that we often do what America wants us to do even when it is detrimental to ourselves.