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Rethinking the North American Frontier After 9/11

Stuart Farson


This paper is primarily concerned with changes to the border dividing Canada from the U.S. after 9/11. Two arguments are made: that these changes were sufficiently profound to warrant a re-conceptualization of what constitutes a border and how it operates; and that for Canadians, border relations with the U.S. have become a highly complex, multifaceted business managed both horizontally and vertically by a full range of governments and their various departments on both sides of the border. In policy terms, the line drawn to distinguish foreign from domestic policy has become decidedly blurred, melding into what some have called the "intermestic." In order to understand these changes, it is necessary to contextualize them. The method chosen is to begin by examining the changes that occurred in Europe and North America in the period after the cold war, with an emphasis on matters such as the process of democratization, the significance of peace dividends, new security paradigms, the forces of globalization, distinctions between internal and external borders, and migration. This is followed by an analysis of the period after 9/11 through three lenses: changing values, perceptions of the threat, and new policies and structures. In the first case, the goal is to contribute in a small way to the old debate over divergence or convergence between Canada and the U.S.; in the second, it is to explore the possibility that the U.S. and Canada came to quite different conclusions about the threat posed by al-Qaeda to the West. The goal of the third part is to suggest what the key changes to the structure of government portend-whether they truly represent breaks from the past and have broader implications for the development of security, intelligence, and foreign policy. By way of a conclusion, the means by which developments along the Canada-U.S. border might lead to a broader re-conceptualization of borders are suggested.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
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