Joint Border Strategy

Archived - Way Forward Together

The Canada Border Services Agency
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police

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Dear Reader,

We are pleased to present the first Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Joint Border Strategy (JBS).

The JBS is the product of a collaborative effort between the two organizations that will be implemented over the coming months, and governed by our Joint Executive Committee (JEC). The Committee will provide oversight and guidance to those responsible for implementing the Strategy. The JEC will also have the authority to seek report updates on discrete activities that support the JBS, but are managed independently.

Ongoing support and conviction will be key to the Strategy’s success. Over the years, the CBSA's and the RCMP's collaborative work has taken different forms, both in the operational and administrative environments. We are committed to ensuring that all efforts are made to continue fostering a long-standing relationship built on mutual respect.

With this in mind, the Strategy captures: our collective understanding of the threat environment; the Conceptual Framework that identifies strategic objectives for which new collaborative activities will be undertaken; an overview of current joint organizational interactions; and, our approach for improving coordination and cooperation at all levels through a number of specific activities.

In order to make this Strategy all encompassing, the RCMP and the CBSA conducted joint regional and national focus group sessions, bringing together various levels of border security experts. To the over 70 individuals who took part we greatly appreciate your participation. Your input was critical in developing the Way Forward Together on our agencies’ joint mission – to ensure Canada’s continued security and economic prosperity through strengthening operational and strategic partnerships.

Bob Paulson
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Luc Portelance
Canada Border Services Agency

I. Introduction

Securing Canada’s border is extremely complex. As one of the longest and most geographically challenging in the world, it has hundreds of land, air and marine Ports of Entry (POEs) with thousands of kilometers between them. Ensuring only the legitimate movement of people and goods into Canada is a daunting responsibility. This is especially true in today’s fast-moving environment of international travel, global ‘just in time’ delivery and the criminal networks that are looking to exploit Canada’s border.

The respective mandates of the CBSA and the RCMP enable the two organizations to play leading roles in protecting Canada’s border and keeping Canadians safe. With shared border responsibilities comes a fundamental need to work together to oversee the movement of people and goods to and from Canada, investigate offenses, and work with other police and law enforcement agencies within Canada and abroad.

Quick Facts

The CBSA and RCMP workforce consists of approximately 14,000 and 29,000 employees respectively.

With this in mind, the President of the CBSA and the Commissioner of the RCMP released a joint Statement of Cooperation symbolizing their desire for both organizations to work towards greater cooperation at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The expectation is that such efforts will result in: reduced interagency gaps; improved communication at all levels; enhanced service delivery to all Canadians; and, ultimately, strengthened border security. To this end, the Joint Border Strategy (JBS) has been created to provide an organizational-wide plan to guide operations, policies, and priorities in pursuit of our shared objectives.

There are three distinct operational environments, which are captured in the following ‘pillars’:

Pillar 1 - Protect Canada’s border from threats – pre-border environment;
Pillar 2 - Safeguard the flow of lawful trade and travel – at the border environment; and,
Pillar 3 - Ensure safety for all Canadians – post-border environment.

Based on input from focus groups at national headquarters and select divisions/regions, this document provides over 30 recommendations that should, among other things, strengthen relations through a series of tangible and actionable joint recommendations that will:

  • Formalize working relations for collective priority setting and planning;
  • Enhance information and intelligence sharing;
  • Support opportunities to co-locate employees;
  • Leverage each organization’s existing infrastructure; and,
  • Formalize training and secondment processes.

The JBS is being introduced at a time of monumental change. Over the next several years, the CBSA will be investing significant resources to implement many of the Beyond the Border Action Plan deliverables, as well as other modernization initiatives. At the same time, the RCMP is re-engineering Federal Policing to build a more agile, integrated and innovative program.

II. Operating Environment

Canada’s coastline is 243,000 kilometers and is the longest in the world. Our shared border with the United States (US) is close to 9,000 kilometers and cuts through mountains, fields, towns, and large bodies of water. In addition to geographic challenges, there are a number of major issues and developments that impact Canada’s border security operating environment, and how law enforcement and border officials must respond. These include:

  • Due to warming trends and resource development, there is the possibility that Canada’s North will become a more accessible and desirable trade route, as a result attracting a transient labour force.
  • Canada is experiencing a shift in international travel and trade patterns impacting its POEs, resulting in the CBSA observing a steady increase in the number of travellers processed annually. Of note, commercial aviation plays a critical role in driving economic growth and development, and continues to be the fastest developing and most dynamic mode of transportation globally. However, both organized crime and terrorist/extremist networks have increasingly exploited its vulnerabilities as a means to achieving their operational goals.
  • Passenger and cargo traffic growth has been the strongest to and from developing regions of the world, notably Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This represents a shift from traditional regions, such as North America and Europe, thereby altering the risk landscape.
  • Technology has made it easier for people and businesses to connect and has fundamentally altered the global marketplace. Similarly, these same technological advancements have afforded criminal entities increased access to exploit new marketplaces.

In total there are:

  • 119 land border crossings
  • 13 international airports
  • 5 major marine container facilities
  • Numerous remote, smaller marine ports as well as in-land rail, postal, immigration and commercial operations

To keep pace, both organizations need to undertand and predict how criminal entities will exploit technological advancements in the future. Similarly, innovation and the use of technology will be key to improving our own capabilities to ensure our challenges are met over the long-term.

Organizational change

In response to the continuously changing environment, both organizations recognize the need to adapt, and have taken significant steps to modernize and re-engineer programs and operations.

CBSA Modernization - Over the coming years, the CBSA will be fundamentally transformed as it goes through a process of modernization unlike any other in the history of the organization. Investments made by the Government of Canada through the Beyond the Border Action Plan and other modernization initiatives will improve the CBSA’s ability to address issues before they arrive at the border (“push the border out”) and assess travellers and goods seeking to enter Canada long before they arrive in the country.Footnote 1

RCMP Federal Policing Re-engineering - the RCMP is re-engineering its Federal Policing program to ensure that operations are priority driven and results focused. The model allows for better operational flexibility by realigning operational resources, breaking down traditional commodity-based work, and implementing a new structure that supports horizontal integration of subject matter expertise pertaining to major files in national security, financial crime, and serious and organized crime. Simply put, Federal Policing re-engineering will better address today’s law enforcement challenges, and effectively support national and divisional operational priorities.

III. Threats to Border Security

The threats impacting Canada’s border are evolving at a considerable pace. CBSA and RCMP frontline officers working at and between the POEs have to adapt their responses to address emerging national security threats, transnational organized crime networks, and shifts in illegal migration patterns. Those working inland to tackle transnational offenses have the added challenge of investigating cases more complex and significant than in the past.

Their efforts have identified a significant trend concerning Canadian-based threats that are heading outbound. In the past, organized crime and national security threats originated abroad, requiring attention mainly to inbound traveller and cargo traffic. Recently, however, terrorism, drug trafficking, and proliferation trends require the RCMP and the CBSA to incorporate outbound travellers and cargo in their investigations and strategies.

Terrorism activity

Terrorism continues to pose a significant threat to Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests abroad. The global terrorist threat - from individuals and groups - is becoming more diverse, complex and decentralized. The RCMP and the CBSA place the utmost importance on counter terrorism activities, and are acutely aware that they play a pivotal role in Canada’s aim to counter domestic and international terrorism.

Al-Qaeda Supported Attack Thwarted

In April 2013, following an international multiagency investigation led by an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), the RCMP arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto. The men were charged with conspiring to carry out an Al-Qaeda supported attack against a VIA Rail Canadian passenger train. According to the RCMP, had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured.

The evolution and increasing support for terrorist activities is highlighted by the increasing number and scope of counter-terrorism investigations. The RCMP and the CBSA continue to monitor a number of concerning trends.

Highlighted terrorism threats

High Risk Travellers

Canada is home to some individuals who are radicalized to violence, who have the intention of travelling abroad to participate in terrorist activities, or possibly carrying out domestic acts of terrorism. Several recent events underscore these national security concerns for law enforcement; most notably, the 2014 shootings at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill; the 2014 hit-and-run death of a Canadian Forces Warrant Officer; the 2013 arrests of two foreign-born individuals living in Canada and accused of plotting to blow up a VIA passenger train; and, the suspected involvement of Canadians in the 2013 Algeria gas plant attack.

Canadians who desire to travel abroad for terrorist purposes, known as high risk travellers, are active in a number of countries where terrorist activities and training are being carried out (e.g. Syria, Iraq and Somalia). The Government of Canada recognizes that no single department or agency can combat this issue, and has embraced collaboration and collective action to manage this threat. Canada’s response is based on coordinated interdepartmental actions that leverage the capabilities of different departments and agencies to intervene at different stages. Collaborative efforts among security partners, such as joint actions by the CBSA and the RCMP, have successfully mitigated such threats, including preventing Canadians from leaving the country to participate in terrorist activities.

Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

As leaders in scientific research and advanced technologies, Canadian industries, as well as learning and research institutions, have access to a vast array of strategic and/or controlled goods, which are used for legitimate purposes. These goods include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and other sensitive goodsFootnote 2, and can be targeted by proliferators for illicit use (e.g. countries that cannot produce or legally acquire the technology, such as Iran, North Korea, rogue states and groups). The potential proliferation of dual-use goods and technologies for WMD programs represents one of the most serious threats to global security and stability. Rogue states, terrorists and other criminals who strive for the ability to cause extensive and large-scale harm to societies and populations utilize many means to obtain these advancements, in whole or in part.

In 2010, a Toronto businessman, Mahmoud Yadegari was convicted of attempting to ship to Iran highly specialized, controlled equipment that could be used to enrich uranium and make nuclear weapons.

Yadegari’s arrest took place on April 16, 2009, following a joint Canada-US investigation, involving the RCMP and the CBSA. It was the first conviction under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, and the first Canadian to be charged under the United Nations Act which prohibits sending nuclear-related devices to Iran.

In addition to the national security threat posed by proliferation, there are economic interests that could be damaged if counter-proliferation efforts in Canada fall short. Under the Canada-US Defence Production Sharing Arrangement, Canadian companies are eligible to bid on major US military contracts, provided Canada continues to be viewed as a safe country with which to share sensitive information. Failure to protect those interests would have a negative impact on Canada’s reputation and economy.

Serious and organized crime

The most prolific illegal activities involving our border are carried out by organized crime networks and criminal entrepreneurs. Recent threat assessments indicate that the number of these groups using the border as a conduit for moving contraband and conducting other illegal activities is increasing Footnote 3.

The predominant illegal activity favoured by these groups is drug smuggling and trafficking. Illicit drug movement trends worldwide influence the evolving threat at Canadian borders. For example, the expanding heroin trade in Afghanistan is expected to increase smuggling activity at Canada’s border. The supporting evidence is the growing number of heroin shipments originating in Afghanistan that are being seized en route to Canada. In addition, in the last two years, an increasing number of cocaine shipments en route from Canada to Australia have been seized in both countries. As cocaine consumption continues to rise in Asia, the threat of outbound cargo or passenger mule cocaine shipments is expected to grow.

Another valuable commodity exploited by crime groups is contraband tobacco. Organized crime is involved in all aspects: production, distribution, smuggling, and trafficking. While some view the tobacco black market as harmless, it is not. The profits are often used to finance other illicit activities, such as firearm smuggling, synthetic drug production, and human trafficking. In 2013, at Canada’s POEs, CBSA seized over 40,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes and over 220,000 kg of other illicit tobacco products (e.g. cigars, water-pipe tobacco, etc). While contraband tobacco is entering the country from various locations, annual studies and law enforcement seizures support the conclusion that the contraband tobacco market is concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Of note, in the same year, approximately 88% of the RCMP’s cigarette seizures took place in this region.

In March 2012, two cigarette manufacturing machines and supplies were seized in Mississauga, Ontario, in a joint operation conducted by the RCMP, the CBSA, and the Ontario Ministry of Finance. Additionally, another investigation in the Hamilton-Niagara region in August 2012, led to the seizure of contraband cigarette packaging materials that could have been used to produce more than two million cigarettes.

Organized crime groups, as well as individuals, are front and centre in the trafficking of persons. Very different from human smugglingFootnote 4, traffickers recruit, transport, transfer, and harbour persons by use of force or other forms of coercion and deception for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficked persons are always deprived of liberty when they arrive at their destination, whereas smuggled migrants are free to go on arrival. Trafficked victims in Canada are often women and children and exploited typically for sexual purposes or forced labour. Those most at-risk of falling victim to this crime include migrants and new immigrants, those who are socially and economically disadvantaged, Aboriginal females, youth and children.

People who are trafficked in Canada can be Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals. Both organizations are aware of non-Canadian victims who have been trafficked to Canada from countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Criminal networks and individuals also exploit intellectual property rights with the manufacturing and global distribution of pirated and counterfeit goods. These items pose serious safety concerns. Investigators have found imitation safety labels on electrical products, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and fake aircraft parts. Counterfeiters benefit from expanding their foreign markets and will use land, air, marine, postal and courier modes to move their illicit products from one country to another to unsuspecting consumers.

Much like legitimate enterprises, organized crime networks do not solely focus on one particular activity. They are involved in multiple moneymaking schemes, including any possible combination of described criminal activities such as gun smuggling, human smuggling, and various types of fraud. In order to effectively move their illegal goods across the border undetected, these networks/individuals respond quickly to law enforcement pressure by altering their methods, modes and routes.

Highlighted OC threat: illegal and mass migration

Canada has long been identified as a desirable place to live and work. The recent global economic slowdown has amplified Canada’s prosperous status among first world countries. Consequently, there has been a significant shift in illegal migration patterns impacting Canada - a trend often orchestrated by organized crime groups. One example is the surge in refugee claims from Eastern Europe. Investigations have revealed that many of the claimants have been recruited and transported by well-established, internationally-connected crime groups.

Ottawa, June 25, 2012

The federal government has commended the RCMP and the CBSA for their vigilance and diligent work in the latest arrest in the MV Sun Sea case. The MV Sun Sea was a migrant vessel that brought 492 irregular migrants to Canada in August of 2010 as part of a migrant smuggling event.

Another involves the more highly publicized mass migration by boat in 2009 and 2010. Two large cargo vessels originating from Asia landed unannounced on the shores of British Columbia, carrying hundreds of individuals seeking asylum. In between land and marine POEs, groups are caught crossing the border in order to seek illegal entry. Furthermore, at POEs individuals destroy their identification before presenting themselves to a CBSA officer.

Canada will likely remain a target destination for illegal migrants, with only traditional source and transit countries likely to change. Increased information sharing among intelligence and enforcement agencies, along with the increased use of biometric identity verification, will only grow in importance in supplying valuable data regarding the transnational movement of foreign nationals.

IV. Current Collaborative Efforts Against Border Threats

The RCMP and the CBSA recognize that success is linked to our ability to work cohesively and with a sustained effort. For that reason, we must find ways to address our differences in training, operational policies, equipment standards, technological compatibility, and organizational culture - all surmountable with commitment and goodwill. The focus group sessions conducted nation-wide highlighted a mosaic of joint efforts and best practices to be built upon, including co-locations, integrated teams, specialized partnerships, and leadership support. These current collaborative efforts support the common objectives outlined in the Strategy’s Conceptual Framework, and are a starting point for future development.


Integrating and co-locating long-term operational teams has many benefits, including information sharing, realtime communication, and combining multi-disciplinary skill sets, all resulting in expedited investigations.

With these benefits in mind, joint and/or multi-agency initiatives involving the CBSA and the RCMP are in place across the country. Examples include the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) located in regions along the Canada-US border; the terrorism-focused Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET) located in major cities; and the Marine Security Operations Centers (MSOC) on the east, west and Great Lakes, all generating situational awareness, actionable intelligence and/or undertaking operations. Other arrangements demonstrating our collaborative work together include:

Interchange Agreement – A RCMP officer or CBSA officer can either be assigned a specific position or rotate through various positions at the other organization for a specified period.

Project-based work – At National Headquarters, joint initiatives at the national level are regularly being considered and implemented to forge new responses to border security threats that would benefit from a collaborative effort. For example, the N19 project has been designed to exchange information about certain travellers of interest from the 19 selected countries of concern in real time to assist the two organizations in preventing possible entry by individuals who may pose a threat to the security of Canada before they arrive. This collaboration has the potential, in the long-term, to improve how our two organizations work together in using our respective mandates to detect terrorist travel.

Ad-Hoc Working Relations – In some communities that are situated close to the Canada-US border, the CBSA and the RCMP have long-standing working relations where resources are automatically combined to respond to an emerging border issue. In these cases, the RCMP may supply information that the CBSA can use at a POE, or the CBSA may have information that assists the RCMP between the POEs.

Specialized partnerships

The Greater Toronto Area Immigration Task Force (ITF) is a joint forces unit focused on apprehending high-risk migrant fugitives, with members from the RCMP, the CBSA and the Provincial Repeat Offenders Parole Enforcement squad. The team, co-located at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, works closely with other police departments and partner agencies to apprehend high-risk migrant fugitives through daily cooperation, collaboration and the effective use of intelligence. As the targets try to evade detection, the ITF is able to access various support units of the RCMP, such as Emergency Response Teams and Police Dog Services to help locate these individuals. The ITF members also undertake joint tactical training together, and have made on average 120 arrests of wanted persons per year - the vast majority being individuals who have committed serious crimes in Canada or in another country.

Since its inception, the ITF has made approximately 3,000 high-risk migrant fugitive apprehensions, including individuals who were on Canada’s Most Wanted list.

National and leadership support

The CBSA President and the RCMP Commissioner have committed to enhancing collaboration between the two organizations by signing the Joint Statement of Cooperation (JEC) in 2012. This is the first senior level commitment of its kind between the two organizations. As an extension of this commitment, the Joint Executive Committee (co-chaired by the President and the Commissioner), and the Joint Working Group (JWG) (co-chaired by the RCMP Deputy Commissioner of Federal Policing and the CBSA Vice-President, Operations Branch) have been formed to provide ongoing leadership and guidance to collaborative efforts between the CBSA and the RCMP at the NHQ and the divisional/regional levels. In addition, negotiations are currently underway to consolidate the 120 existing written collaborative arrangements into one Memorandum of Understanding between our two organizations. This will: ensure national consistency; better manage the complexity of our roles and responsibilities; and, provide direction when interpreting legislation related to our mandates.

In an effort to be more inclusive, and keep senior leaders apprised on each other’s plans and priorities, the RCMP invites CBSA executives, when appropriate, to attend the National Integrated Operations Council (NIOC).

V. The Conceptual Framework

To help frame a discussion that allows for a critical assessment of our current and future working relationship, a Conceptual Framework was developed with three distinct operational environments, or strategic pillars. By focusing our attention on these pillars, while considering the right enablers, the CBSA and the RCMP will be able to address existing gaps in their working relationship and leverage the changes undertaken by both organizations.

Pillar I - focuses on preventing, detecting, denying and disrupting the criminal exploitation of Canada’s border. As such, the CBSA and the RCMP will address threats to Canada’s borders, whether they are terrorism, organized crime or a nefarious individual’s activities. This can be achieved by confronting the threats before they reach Canada’s border, as often as possible. Work needs to be undertaken to find the source of priority threats, and then strategies to mitigate and interdict need to be put into action.

Pillar II – requires collective efforts be made to safeguard and encourage the efficient flow of lawful trade and travel. The CBSA and the RCMP will focus on balancing security concerns with economic imperatives by screening goods and people earlier in the continuum, enabling more efficient processing. The RCMP’s investigative tool box will be enhanced with more timely information on travellers, cargo and those operating within the global supply chain.

Pillar III – broadly addresses the need for the CBSA and the RCMP to ensure community safety for all Canadians. Together, the organizations will enhance targeting of individuals in Canada that are involved in domestic or international crime or pose a threat to national security, with a border nexus. While the RCMP/CBSA partnership is key, they will also need to leverage their relationships with others to improve their capabilities, not only with fellow law enforcement and government entities, but also with communities and citizens.

The ability to realize the strategic objectives requires manoeuvring through a complex system of enablers. It will take the efforts of both the CBSA and the RCMP to leverage the right enablers to achieve discrete and overall success. This includes: influencing ongoing partnerships; using information and intelligence collectively within the parameters of respective authorities and legislation; augmenting available technology and current interoperability; utilizing current infrastructure and resources; and ensuring that joint training and learning is provided to staff. A depiction of the Conceptual Framework can be found in Appendix A.

While current collaborative efforts are critical to the foundation of the Framework, putting the JBS into action requires the identification of select new joint border security initiatives for implementation.

The Strategy will result in “reduced interagency gaps; improved communication at all levels; enhanced service delivery to all Canadians; and ultimately, strengthened border security”.
President of the CBSA and Commissioner of the RCMP – Statement of Cooperation.

VI. Moving Forward - Together

In building on the good work and innovative ideas of the CBSA and the RCMP in keeping Canada’s border secure and trade flowing, there is recognition that as threats and the current environment evolves, there is more to do.

As evident from the nation-wide consultations, we must strive to proactively and attentively foster and maintain new activities in the pre, at and post border environments. In the 21st century, and for reasons described earlier, border security efforts require more than only focusing enforcement activities on “a line on the map”. For these reasons, the CBSA and the RCMP will seek to implement the following selected activities.

Enhancing the integrated liaison officer networks

CBSA and RCMP Liaison Officers (LOs) are located around the world, including South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The LOs play a vital role by directly engaging with international bilateral and multilateral partners on border integrity efforts. This includes a range of pre-border activities in matters of illegal migration, national security, criminal activities, intelligence, fraud detection, and supply chain security.

The deployment of LOs by both organizations has proven to be very effective in protecting Canadians and Canadian interests. However, the number of officers deployed abroad is limited due to cost. As such, considerations should be given on how to enhance collaboration between the two LO networks, in order to better serve the interests of both organizations within the border security nexus.

Further enhancements to the LO networks include:

  • Outlining clear expectations of roles and responsibilities between the two LO networks;
  • Developing further collaboration in locations where both organizations are deployed;
  • Ensuring that LOs are cognisant of key priorities of their counterparts through formal briefings;
  • Reviewing and amending policies to ensure Los are not restricted when working together - to co-manage customs, immigration or criminality matters;
  • Exploring opportunities to conduct joint field activities within areas of shared responsibility;
  • Conducting joint assessments to determine locations for potential LO deployment (e.g., Detroit, US); and
  • Providing LOs with joint deployment training.

Joint federal policing strategic policy planning and operational priority setting

The CBSA and the RCMP Federal Policing carry out planning and priority setting at the national (NHQ) and divisional/regional levels. Since the mandates of the CBSA and RCMP do overlap at times, such processes would be better informed through improved integration.

While both organizations are structured around a model based on functional expertise and programs, the planning and priority setting processes are different. The CBSA applies a national consistency in program delivery, positioning NHQ to understand, monitor and control the direction, costs and performance of all programs. The RCMP’s recent federal policing reengineering initiative horizontally integrates functional expertise from across old program lines, allowing the divisions, in collaboration with NHQ, to set and carry out their priorities based on criminal networks. NHQ then remains involved throughout the year in the highest prioritized operations that are national or sensitive in nature.

Better integration in planning and priority setting within the border context would improve mutual capabilities for responding in a timely manner to changing threats by:

  • Ensuring that both organizations have the ability to inform the operational priority setting of the other;
  • Ensuring each organization’s operational priorities are communicated and understood at the national and divisional/regional levels;
  • Mandating a formal consultation process during each organization’s joint strategic policy planning process at the NHQs;
  • Identifying threats early through regular intelligence working group discussions whereby risk abroad can be identified collectively, as well as considerations on how to respond to these risks (countries, migrant groups, and criminal networks) can be discussed;
  • Formalizing regular de-confliction meetings at the divisional/regional level; and,
  • Re-examining the traditional way of measuring success, which has been focussed on commodity seizures to help improve joint priority setting.

Ensuring consistency in international fora

Both organizations represent their interests in various international fora. In numerous instances, both organizations have representation at the same fora, and would benefit from going forward with consistent messaging. In other instances, where only one of the organizations is in attendance, it could be beneficial to provide some messaging on the other’s behalf, when agreed to in advance.

In order to ensure that both organizations make the most of their opportunities when speaking with key international border security stakeholders, it is important that:

  • Those attending international events meet in advance with impacted Government of Canada counterparts to enhance awareness of the various positions and, where possible, develop consistent messaging;
  • Both organizations work together to influence the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Development and the Department of National Defence when they determine where international capacity building funds are allocated; and
  • Officials from both organizations share the knowledge gained from international fora.

Information and intelligence sharing

The CBSA and the RCMP collect and rely on a vast amount of information and intelligence to support their operations and investigations. The ability to collect, access and share critical data with key partners allows for more successful investigations through information corroboration, advanced risk assessments and the collection of evidence.

The CBSA and the RCMP share information within their authority while respecting Canada’s privacy laws. With criminals using the most technologically advanced tools, the CBSA and the RCMP need to be able to keep pace by ensuring that they have the technical tools and legislative means to legally intercept communications and share information.

Steps will be taken to address these issues by:

  • Completing the Memorandum of Understanding Annex on Information Sharing;
  • Consulting and sharing information with respect to the development of intelligence policies and techniques;
  • Developing creative solutions to allow for the sharing of information between agency and policing systems (e.g. the Automated Criminal Intelligence Information System); and
  • Providing the RCMP Border Integrity Operations Centre (BIOC) access to the CBSA Telephone Reporting Center's (TRC) real-time data to crossreference whether vessels are compliant in crossborder marine traffic.

Co-location and secondment opportunities

One of the most common success stories obtained from the regional focus groups came when discussing the benefits that arise when employees from one organization are co-located either in the other organization or on a Joint Task Force. They gain a better understanding of one another’s roles and responsibilities, how information and intelligence can be shared, and have increased accessibility to individuals and systems required to facilitate operations.

The primary limitations of co-locating an officer in the other organization invariably relate to a question of resources and managerial support. Although the benefits are not always intrinsically linked to the home agency (e.g. Departmental/Agency mandate), according to the individuals on the teams, the value of their contributions to advancing border security efforts far outweigh the costs.

In order to realize the benefits associated with co-location/secondments, the CBSA's and the RCMP's senior management will endeavor to:

  • Establish a simultaneous inter-agency exchange initiative, with assignments and secondments at the national and divisional/regional levels in intelligence, operational and strategic functions;
  • Provide a list of the key competencies being sought for a position and ensure that the host organization participates in the final selection process for personal suitability reasons;
  • Ensure that secondment/assignment MOUs are drafted in such a manner as to allow seconded officers sufficient flexibility to conduct work that may not appear to be directly linked to their departmental mandate, while still linked to border security;
  • Identify a means to measure success that takes into account the results obtained from long-term investigations; and,
  • Ensure those that are on secondment stay for the duration of the agreement.

Joint force operations

In addition to the benefits noted above with secondments and co-location, the use of Joint Force Operations (JFO) has the added benefit of focussing on agreed-upon targets that are known to pose a threat/risk to Canada. These groups have been operating for some time and, when functioning as a cohesive unit, garner significant success.

In order to ensure that JFOs are used to their full extent, senior management will support:

  • Exploring how the CBSA could have a larger role in integrated enforcement team operations in order to advance its customs and immigration mandate;
  • Developing joint operations that target specific risks based on RCMP and CBSA intelligence (similar to Project Concept);
  • Examining the possibility of expanding the use of successful joint task forces to additional regions (e.g. mirroring the Greater Toronto Area Immigration Task Force in Vancouver and Calgary).

Training and learning (enabler)

Cross-training, integrated discussions and courses are important for better understanding of each other’s authorities and roles and responsibilities, and are a valuable resource for networking and learning new skills from like-minded experts (e.g. how to conduct searches, major case management, scenario-based table top exercises, etc).

The CBSA and the RCMP will:

  • Create a list of training opportunities that would be of benefit to the other (e.g. CBSA techniques when searching vehicles, RCMP process of de-stuffing containers) and make this training available to both organizations;
  • Offer training to those who have the basic competencies, but lack specific skills/traits;
  • Conduct Joint Annual Workshops at the divisional/regional and national levels, as well as between the LO networks to discuss and learn about developing issues and challenges, which is also useful for networking and making new contacts; and,
  • Develop joint deployment training for LOs on issues that relate to both mandates.

Joint communications (enabler)

Both organizations devote significant time and resources to ensure that Canadians and border communities are engaged and kept apprised of the work that we do to keep Canada safe. Joint efforts need to be augmented to ensure that information going out to the public is timely and accurately reflects the messaging of both agencies.

Improvements can be made by:

  • Conducting joint community outreach, including “knock and talks”; and,
  • Increasing timely releases of joint communications material, by developing a standard approval sign-off process with timelines for Ministerial and local deliverables to minimize lag time between events and the release of information.

VII. Accountability & Conclusion

The timelines for implementation of each initiative are at the discretion of the JEC. It will be the overseeing body and will request updates on each discrete activity, as required. JEC cannot achieve the ultimate outcome of the Strategy alone. Its success can only be realized if the partnership continues to be strengthened by active, positive engagement of each frontline and administrative officer, as well as at all levels of management. The Strategy is simply a tool that can be leveraged to foster the relationship further.

As previously stated, the JEC and the JWG will provide oversight, input and clarity on the implementation of the recommendations, while supporting administrative functions will ensure timely updates. NHQ and divisional/ regional committees, and those who support/coordinate their work, will be responsible for reporting on results to the JWG and the JEC, and help drive the Strategy forward. While some of the initiatives listed above will be led and coordinated by NHQs, continued divisional/regional participation will be necessary to ensure success.

In conclusion, the CBSA and the RCMP bring together complementary strengths, making Canada’s border more secure and citizens safer. Securing the border in the 21st century, however, is an enormous undertaking, and border security solutions must be uniquely tailored to address the evolving threat environment and the specific gaps and vulnerabilities, yet remain flexible enough to rapidly respond to the displacement of criminality.

Appendix A

CBSA - RCMP Joint Border Strategy - Conceptual Framework

Mission : The CBSA and the RCMP are ensuring Canada’s continued security and economic prosperity
through strengthening operational and strategic partnerships.
Strategic Pillars Prevent, detect, deny and disrupt criminal exploitation of Canada’s border Safeguard and encourage the efficient flow of lawful trade and travel Ensure community safety for all Canadians
  • Push out the border and address priority threats at their source, including terrorism and organized crime
  • Employ enforcement strategies against pathways through which illegal migrants and contraband flow and transnational organized crime operates
  • Interdict contraband and illegal migrants circumventing Canada’s border controls
  • Enhance security while simultaneously accelerating the entry and exit process
  • Screen goods and people at the earliest opportunity to facilitate entry and exit at the border
  • Strengthen the security of the global supply-chain
  • Increase harmonization and membership of trusted traveller and trader programs
  • Target the heads of organized crime in Canada that are involved in transnational crime and/or pose a threat to international security
  • Identify, interdict and remove foreign nationals who pose a threat to national security and/or public safety
  • Leverage domestic and international partners
  • Solicit cooperation and engagement with communities to enhance the security of Canadians
Enablers Partnerships - Build on ongoing collaboration with international and domestic partners to identify
threats, understand trends, and mitigate risks
Information & Intelligence - Leverage expertise related to integrated cross-border
intelligence gathering and information sharing capabilities
Technology & Interoperability - Facilitate integration of existing and future technology
Infrastructure & Resources - Leverage joint training facilities and resources to ensure efficient
Training and Learning - Train front-line officers and decision-makers to recognize risks and threats
related to cross-border and transnational crime
Legislative Tools - Ensure that Canada’s legal framework supports operational requirements and commitments
Joint Communications - Harmonized communications will keep Canadians informed.



Footnote 1

Perimeter security and economic competitiveness /btb-pdf/menu-eng.html

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Footnote 2

Includes electronics, armaments, biotechnology, and related knowledge transfer.

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Footnote 3

The predominant increase is among criminal entrepreneurs.

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Footnote 4

Human smuggling is the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national or permanent resident. (UN Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, 2000)

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