McKenna Warns U.S. Passport Law Sleeper Issue That Could Cost Billions

Posted on Tuesday, September 27 at 16:27 by jensonj
McKenna said the only good news is that the U.S. administration is taking a second look at the passport requirement and may opt for some other form of identification that establishes citizenship. "The devil is in the detail of trying to figure out what that would be and getting it into as many hands as possible in the United states," he said. The problem, McKenna said, is that not many Americans bother with passports. He said Canada would lose out on a lot of casual, cross-border traffic in the form of impulse tourists who cross just to catch a hockey game or do some shopping. "It's a very real fear that will have significant implications for our economy," McKenna said. David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, told the chamber in an earlier address that the passport issue is "a work in progress." "The way the law is written requires passports or similar secure document," Wilkins said of the law, passed just over a year ago. "At every level in Washington, people are talking about that and looking for . . . another secure document that would not inhibit or impede trade or legitimate travellers across our country." But Wilkins made it clear the U.S. law is a serious security matter that will not be watered down. "Securing our border is a paramount concern to the United States and to Canada." McKenna told the business audience that Canadians need to step up pressure in the United States to get the passport requirement dropped. McKenna, the former premier of New Brunswick who was appointed ambassador last winter, said he has discovered that the biggest obstacle in the United States is the "sheer indifference" Americans have towards their northern neighbours. He said the only way to get the Americans moving on an issue is to identify their self-interest. He said the best tactic is to put pressure on U.S. politicians in the northern states who stand to lose the most from cross-border traffic. "We need to get the northern legislators just as excited as we are about the issue," he said. "If they talk, Washington is much more likely to listen." On the softwood lumber issue, McKenna agreed with the U.S. position that a solution ultimately will have to be negotiated. But he said the Americans must show some respect for the dispute-resolution process established under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada has won several critical NAFTA panel decisions on softwood lumber, but that has not been sufficient to get the Americans to drop their punitive tariffs on Canadian imports. So far, the Americans have collected $5 billion from Canadian lumber exporters. "The U.S. has to do something tangible to show respect for the process," McKenna said of the free-trade deal. "It wouldn't be right to return to the table and negotiate a formal agreement absent a tangible demonstration of respect for what Canada has accomplished in the quasi-judicial system." McKenna said one tangible show of respect would be for the Americans to stop collecting the duties, or return them. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 27, 2005]


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  1. Wed Sep 28, 2005 5:30 am
    > "Securing our border is a paramount concern to the United States and to Canada."

    Only half right. It is of paramount concern only to the USA.

  2. Wed Sep 28, 2005 2:37 pm
    "Keep it over there lord, keep it over there, famine and disease lord keep it over there" and war mongering terrorist wanna be isralies, KEEP OUT!

  3. Wed Sep 28, 2005 4:42 pm
    "war mongering terrorist wanna be isralies, KEEP OUT!"

    Like I said before...anti-semetic, anti-American racism and bigotry, nothing more. Welcome to Canada, "eh"?

  4. Wed Sep 28, 2005 6:25 pm
    It should be made possible for Canadians to travel to Mexico (and further south) without going through US customs before boarding (just because the plane lands somewhere in the US). It is not possible at the moment as US Customs have forced their presence into Canadian airports. In Europe, this "in transit status" was the rule before the Treaty of Schengen.

  5. Wed Sep 28, 2005 7:33 pm
    Why do I suspect the two posts above are written by the same person. A Canadian-baiter.

    On a different note, why do Americans assume that other nations ought to like them? Don't they realize that they have to earn respect in order to get respect? Having a big army, and using it to threaten others will ALWAYS have the opposite affect.

    History gives us good reason to be suspicious of nations that build up big armies -- they tend to use them! That's not anti-American -- it's just smart!

    Maybe keeping the Americans out will have good side effects on Canada. It might encourage Canadians to do their own travelling in country, or beyond the bog down south of us.

    Top ten destinations in Canada
    1. Ottawa: all Canadians must make the pilgrimage at least once
    2. Quebec City: the only walled city in NA, built (ironically) by the British to keep the French out! Still, beautiful, and the Plains of Abraham an amazing historical site
    3. St. John's, NL: Colour, delightful, fun. Something you've never seen before.
    4. Toronto, ON: Entertainment choices, cultural swirl, and unbelievable nightlife.
    5. Calgary/Banff: fun city right on the edge of the mountains -- go in winter and ski, go in summer and explore the grand beauty of the Rockies AND the prairies. (Maybe Wateron Lakes for the mountain/prairie effect)
    6. Vancouver/Victoria: mild in winter, and golf in February
    7. The Yukon: history, amazing stories everywhere, and so many great people. A wonderful place for adventures (and bike friendly)
    8. Nova Scotia: rent a cottage and soak up the beach culture, head into small towns and soak up the pseudo-Celtic suds culture. Too much!
    9. Montreal: best street life culture in the country. The perfect mix of raunch and verve. Too bad about the Forum.
    10. Sable Island: okay, I know people aren't allowed to visit, but I just love the fact that Canada has an island out in the Atlantic Ocean given over to wild horses. How cool is that?

    If I had to come up with a legitimate 10th place to visit:

    10. Ellesmere Island: one of the fiercest mountain coastlines in the world. Staggering rock faces, icebergs, and marine life like nowhere else. Narwhales! Blue whales! Polar bear and more.

    Welcome to Canada indeed!

  6. Wed Sep 28, 2005 8:53 pm
    "On a different note, why do Americans assume that other nations ought to like them?"

    Ummm, this has not a jot to do with the article. The article is about Canadians complaining, under some bizarre misconception that the sheer force of whining might change an act of the US Congress.

  7. by mk
    Wed Sep 28, 2005 9:42 pm
    "The article is about Canadians complaining, under some bizarre misconception that the sheer force of whining might change an act of the US Congress."

    No, the article is about the status of various trade-related disputes between the U.S. and Canada, and identifying possible future impacts on Canadian domestic interests. Does the Canadian ambassador seemed displeased? He'd freakin' well better or he'd be out of a job!

    Whining indeed. Ironic statement.

  8. Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:11 pm
    It will never end. The effect of 911 on the US has imposed restrictions on that country forever. The war on terrorism is to late. For decades Europe has excepted terrorism like natural disastors. Bush and American pride are now synonymous with fear. Every year more restrictions will be placed on the American people and sadly will be accepted by them. The fence grows higher while the rest of the world celebrates the fall of the Berlin wall.

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