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Continental integration will be a tough sell
Biometric identifiers, a common tariff and a common security perimeter - these are some of the elements that could turn North America into a single secure trading unit, says a task force of experts and political appointees from Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Theirs is a sweeping, optimistic vision of how a region that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean could function as a seamless unit. The task force, headed by former deputy prime minister John Manley, former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe and former Massachusetts governor William Weld, calls for a "North American economic and security community" by decade's end.

The idea is full of promise economically, but will be a tough sell politically, at least in Canada.

This North American community would entail unified visa and refugee regulations, joint inspection of container traffic at ports and integrated terror "watch" lists. But whose definition of terror would prevail? Canadians underestimate the feelings of insecurity in the U.S., following Sept. 11, while Americans do not understand how far Canadians feel themselves from such threats. The idea security arrangements would make it equally difficult for a terrorist to enter Mexico, Canada or the U.S. would appeal primarily to the U.S. Source.

March 16, 2005