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This article was published 15/8/2011 (3282 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It might seem unusual that the woman charged with keeping America safe from terrorists would swoop into Winnipeg to broach the sensitive subject of U.S. border security with high-ranking Canadian officials.
But then U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a member of U.S. President Barack Obama's inner circle and one of the most powerful women in the world, is no stranger to Manitoba.
On Monday, Napolitano jetted into the city for four hours of talks with her Canadian counterpart, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. They were joined by Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States, David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, and several other officials.
On the agenda: fleshing out an agreement struck by Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February to boost security along the 49th parallel while ensuring that people and goods can still cross the border easily and efficiently.
At a press conference under tight security at the Inn at The Forks, both sides expressed great satisfaction at the progress the two countries are making to achieve that goal. Toews said he and Napolitano will brief Harper and Obama on their progress this fall.
Few details of Monday's bilateral negotiations were provided at the news conference, which lasted for 20 minutes. The American and Canadian cabinet ministers fielded questions on a terrace overlooking The Forks Market after the location was given security clearance by the Winnipeg police canine unit.
Asked about security planning in the United States in light of the fast-approaching 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Napolitano said preparations for the occasion were "very robust."
She added that the attacks that rocked America a decade ago "could not happen in that fashion today."
"Could there still be attacks on the United States from an international source? Yes. From a terrorist source? Yes. From a homegrown extremist source? Yes. But we have done much, much work to maximize our ability to prevent such an attack and to minimize the effect that such an attack could possibly have."
No one can recall, at least in the last four decades, when an American cabinet minister has touched down in Winnipeg.
But given that Doer and Toews are not shy about promoting their home province, it's not a total surprise that the U.S. Homeland Security secretary would talk terror prevention in a city that's happily off the international radar screen when it comes to such extreme acts.
"She said she'd be flying from Arizona to Washington, D.C. I said it's not that much of a diversion if you could come here," Toews said Monday, explaining how he arranged for Napolitano to come to Winnipeg.
"And she was more than willing to come here."
She departed for the U.S. capital Monday afternoon barely four hours after touching down in Winnipeg.
Nobody had to explain to the former Arizona governor where Manitoba was situated on a map of North America. Toews first met Napolitano in 1997 when she was the state's attorney general.
Then four years ago, then-governor Napolitano addressed a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce breakfast while attending a climate-change conference in the city. On that same trip, then-premier Doer also took her on a tour of Churchill.
Doer also recalled with a smile that Napolitano, while working as a lawyer, once experienced Winnipeg in February while representing bus-maker Motor Coach Industries "and found it delightfully warm at that time of year in our great country."
America's secretary of Homeland Security simply chuckled at that memory on Monday.
Canadian officials weren't taking chances with the safety of America's Homeland Security secretary on Monday.
Reporters were told to arrive for a press conference with Janet Napolitano an hour and 45 minutes before its scheduled start.
After registering outside the rear entrance to the Inn at The Forks, media had to place their bags and equipment on the ground so a police dog could sniff out potential security problems.
Later, they were led upstairs to a holding room adjacent to the press conference, which was to take place on a hotel terrace.
Before the media were allowed into the conference room, the city police canine unit also checked it out.
Security personnel dressed in suits and with earpieces guarded the terrace and stood outside each hotel entrance.
Members of the media did not have to empty their pockets nor were they personally searched.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.
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