RCMP ‘to ease Canadians into the idea’ of U.S. agents in Canada

The main headquarters of the FBI, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, is seen in Washington on March 4, 2012.Uncle Sam could soon be coming after you on Canadian soil.

According to an article in Embassy Magazine, the Harper government is moving forward on several initiatives that could give U.S. FBI and DEA agents the ability to pursue suspects across the land border and into Canada.

But, according to a RCMP officer, they're doing it in "baby steps."

"We recognized early that this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy, and civil liberties of Canadians," RCMP Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver, the Mounties' director general for border integrity, told the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on May 14.

"We said 'Let's take baby steps, let's start with two agencies to test the concept, let's demonstrate to Canadians and Americans that such an approach might work."

Baby step 1, according to Embassy Magazine, has already happened in the form cross border pilot projects allowing Canadian and American agents in each others waters.

Step 2 is the 'Shiprider' program which will make it permanently legal for U.S. agents to be certified as police in Canadian waters.  This is on track to be passed into law by the Harper government's omnibus budget bill, C-38.

And step 3, is to roll out cross-border policing over land.

Embassy also notes that the government is not ruling out U.S. aerial surveillance over Canadian territory.

These initiatives are part of the much-touted perimeter security initiative between Washington and Ottawa, designed to provide a thicker wall of security around the continent while easing trade barriers at the borders.

Critics have bemoaned the loss of Canada's jurisdiction and sovereignty over the new policing measures but Canadian officials insist it's needed.

"Criminals are exploiting the fact that we have to respect our boundaries and we have to stop at the border," Oliver said.

"We've had instances where we've engaged in the attempts to interdict vessels in our shared waterways, and the vessel has fled into the other territory and has escaped apprehension."