It would require the elimination of customs tariffs, border crossing fees, and travel restrictions between the federal governments of the United States and Canada — but the concept of an open northern border is more politically plausible in the current landscape than in decades.
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have aligned political interests. Obama is looking to cap a foreign policy legacy that already boasts new agreements with Cuba and Iran. Trudeau is looking to jump-start the Canadian economy and this could be his signature accomplishment that does just that (while dramatically reducing consumer prices on everything from dairy to car parts).
There is no compelling national security interest in maintaining a multi-billion security operation on the vast northern border with Canada. It makes more sense to take a North American security perspective and reallocate those resources to the southern border, where illegal guns, immigration, and the narcotics trade pose more serious national security risks.
Hundreds of billions of dollars in potential commerce between our two counties are hampered with unnecessarily stifling border crossings that suppress business activity, travel, and commerce. Without customs inspections and tariff restrictions, the already enormous trade relationship can be even further evolved.
For a city like Buffalo, it would catalyze an economic boom.
Of course, opening the northern border should be the first step to a more accommodating relationship: allowing citizens of both counties to work in the other; eliminating taxes on repatriating capital; and integrating the banking and monetary systems.
On a very practical level, imagine the ease of travel and commerce at the Peace Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, or the Lewiston-Queenston if vehicles don’t need to stop for customs inspection and tolls. Building out even more gargantuan border patrol and trucking infrastructure is not emblematic of the relationship towards which the two nations should aspire.