Speaking notes for the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, to the International Civil Aviation Organization High-Level Conference on Aviation Security
September 12, 2012
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Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Ministers of Transport and Heads of Delegations, Friends and distinguished guests.
Thank you for joining us in Montreal — it’s a real honour to welcome all of you today.
Before I begin, let me first extend our condolences to our American friends on the loss of their diplomatic colleagues, including their representative to Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens. I know we are all deeply saddened by this tragic turn of events.
Canada and ICAO have had a long and productive partnership, and since 1945, we’ve been proud to host your headquarters here in Montreal.
Over the years, we have accomplished a great deal in promoting aviation around the world and bringing nations closer together.
And we look forward to working with you here for many years to come. Alongside a strong aviation industry in Montreal, you’re a great fit.
Ladies and gentlemen, today we are here to focus on security — and it is critical to air travel.
This week, we not only remember the tragic events of September 11th, 2011, but also later attempts to sabotage aviation and undermine our confidence.
Friends, we were forced to work together to keep aviation secure, we redoubled our efforts and we have made substantial progress.
And we must continue to work together because travellers count on us. They are our number one priority.
Aviation security is of great importance to all of us not only for travel and tourism, but also for international trade and economic development.
Our work to enhance security also strengthens the global economy, because the two are deeply intertwined.
Canada’s economic future is directly linked to reaching beyond our borders for new trade and investment opportunities.
I am sure this is true for all countries represented here today.
I am pleased to tell you that our government is providing free trade leadership on the world stage.
We are pursuing the most ambitious pro-trade expansion plan in our country's history. Our aim is to deepen ties with large, dynamic and high-growth markets around the world.
We could not do this without a safe and secure aviation system to rely upon.
Friends, we are all links in a global chain of security. And each link must be strong for the entire system to function.
To do that, we must continue to focus on our own security while at the same time working together to ensure the integrity of the whole.
Friends, we recognize the critical role that ICAO plays. And we are very pleased that security has received such a high priority in ICAO’s mandate.
The efforts of the last few years—the 2010 Security Declaration; regional security meetings; and collaboration through the Security Panel and its working groups—all demonstrate a strong commitment to security and an effective process for improving it.
Here in Canada, I am pleased to tell you we have taken a number of steps to acknowledge the 2010 Declaration.
For example, we are streamlining regulations and aligning them with international standards to reflect current and emerging threats.
We are also applying risk-management and performance-based approaches to regulation that provide better ways to maintain security—and allocate resources—more efficiently.
As well, our government is investing in new technology to improve passenger security and convenience. This includes installing full-body scanners and upgrading baggage-screening equipment at all major airports.
Canada is also taking innovative measures to make travel documents more secure. We will begin issuing internationally recognized, ICAO-compliant electronic passports—commonly referred to as ePassports—in mid-2013.
In addition, we are providing international assistance to ICAO members to help strengthen each link in the global security chain.
Our government is also taking steps to enhance air cargo security by modernizing screening and supply chain security requirements.
The latest figures from 2010 show that approximately 100 billion dollars worth of goods were imported to and exported from Canada by air.
We are focusing on the supply chain in order to give industry the flexibility to screen and secure cargo where it is most efficient.
These are targeted measures to facilitate cross-border trade and spur economic growth.
To give one example of how we’re working within ICAO and bilaterally... As friends and neighbours, Canada is working closely with the United States to manage threats and ensure that two-way trade continues to grow.
Our joint “Beyond the Border” initiative provides an excellent example.
In December 2011, Prime Minister Harper and President Obama announced ambitious agreements to increase trade and facilitate travel, while keeping our nations and our shared perimeter more secure.
In May this year, we reached a new milestone in this initiative by recognizing that our national air cargo security programs achieve the same high levels of security.
This mutual recognition will reduce delays and cut costs caused by both countries screening the same cargo twice.
Friends, with the largest two-way trading relationship in the world, our economies depend on a modern and efficient border.
An efficient border remains secure, yet open to the legitimate delivery of people, goods and services.
Still, while strong bilateral accomplishments are important, we recognize that international aviation security requires a broader, united effort.
Let me emphasize—ICAO is the right organization to deal with safety and security, environmental, and a host of other issues facing global aviation today.
The progress that ICAO and its members have made has been exemplary, and we strongly encourage all Member States to continue to support a high level of international cooperation and assistance.
While coordinating measures between so many different partners can be a challenge, all of us here today know that this is ICAO’s strength. And this is the reason we are here today.
Canada is proud to be working with ICAO and all of you to maintain and enhance the integrity of the global aviation system.
Together we are improving the conditions for cross-border trade, economic growth and long-term prosperity for generations to come.
Thank you again for your important contributions to improving aviation security, have a productive conference and enjoy your time here in Montreal.
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