Passport Requirement Would "Disrupt" Border: Bush

Posted on Friday, April 15 at 09:45 by 4Canada
"When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, particularly today's crossings that take place . . . I said, `What's going on here?' " Bush told the convention. "I thought there was a better way to expedite the legal flow of traffic and people," he said. The proposal, announced last week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was widely criticized by those who feared it would disrupt the tourist trade and cost businesses big money on both sides of the border. The new anti-terror measures would end the ability of Canadians to simply produce a driver's licence or birth certificate at the border, requiring instead a passport "or other accepted secure document" by Jan. 1, 2008. People arriving in the U.S. from Canada by plane or boat would need the document by Jan. 1, 2007, while Canadians entering the U.S. from the Caribbean and Bermuda are slated to require a passport at the end of this year. Mexicans visiting the U.S. and American citizens returning home would also need to produce a secure document. But Canadian officials haven't been urging people to rush out and get passports, saying that Canada-U.S. negotiations will determine in a few months what kind of identification will be needed. American officials have said that the NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) cards already used by some frequent travellers will likely be acceptable, and other types of identification are being considered. A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Canada, Rodney Moore, said last week that U.S. officials haven't yet defined an alternative to the Canadian passport. And Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said there will be discussions on the issue with Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff. "He clearly will be working with us to work out what documents other than the Canadian passport will be sufficient," said McLellan, adding that the card issued to permanent residents of Canada would likley meet U.S. requirements. An Alberta driver's licence might also be acceptable, given the document's high security standards, she said. Only 20 per cent of Americans, about 60 million, have passports, compared with 40 per cent of Canadians. And while many air travellers routinely carry passports now, it's less common at border crossings where Canadians often cross over to shop or visit friends on the spur of the moment. Some 45,000 people travel from Fort Erie, Ont., to Buffalo on a daily basis, while 40,000 leave Windsor, Ont., for Detroit at Canada's two busiest border crossings. Bush's comments came after an editor asked if the president supported requiring tourists to produce passports, especially given his pledge at last month's summit with Canada and Mexico to balance security with the free flow of trade and people. The tigher measures, Rice said last week, are intended to screen out "people who want to come in to hurt us." They're part of provisions outlined in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act adopted last year. original:

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  1. Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:12 am
    I think it's funny how he first heard about in the newspaper. This surprises me, and amsuses me, for two reasons:

    1. Bush reads the newspaper

    2. Condi is keeping secrets from Bush

  2. by LMW
    Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:18 am
    Also mentioned was the possibility of using electronic fingerprinting instead of passports. I can't see Canadians submitting to that, not gonna happen. no way.

  3. Sat Apr 16, 2005 6:47 am
    I agree about being fingerprinted, passports are a better way to go when travelling outside Canada.

  4. by avatar Spud
    Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:36 am
    Again I ask.Why does NAFTA exist?Why would we need anything to cross a border if NAFTA was to open things up?
    There is a definite contradiction here.They are up to something.

  5. Sat Apr 16, 2005 4:36 pm
    Well, we know the ultimate goal here is to eliminate Canadian industry, or American subsidiaries in Canada, while increasing the flow of energy and raw materials to the US. But hey, if I was the PM, Americans coming into Canada would suddenly be hit with having to produce a passport too!

    Dave Ruston

  6. Sat Apr 16, 2005 7:49 pm
    The proposed new regulations would effectively require US visitors to Canada to carry passports anyway, since they would need them to re-enter the United States. Like all the recent madness, this whole idea doesn't make very much sense from either a practical or security perspective. Documents, no matter how supposedly "secure" can be forged given adequate resources, and much of the 5500 mile-long Canada-US border runs through wild, sparsely inhabited country, where interdiction of illegals will not depend on documents. This scheme would slow down traffic, virtually eliminate casual travel between the two nations, and destroy the special relationship betwen us that has endured for at least a hundred years. Since any security enhancement would be minimal, and the economic costs to border communities in either country would be very substantial, there must be a political rather than practical objective in all this. What is it I wonder?

    Our problem rests with those politicians and officials in Canada who negotiate such things with the US. They are very easily manipulated by the Americans, unduly influenced by our own greed community, and never stand up for individual Canadians or Canadian values. A good example is the NEXUS program referred to in the article. Canadians are often refused enrollment in NEXUS for reasons which probably contravene our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and which certainly make absolutely no sense at all from a security perspective. We have been unable to muster enough courage to bridle one or two individual fanatics in the US and clean up this situation; how can we depend on such people to negotiate future bi-lateral agreements that will serve us all well? Seems to me this how we got into the NAFTA mess in the first place.

    I still believe the present unhappy situation in the United States will pass sooner rather than later. In the meanwhile we should stand tall for Canada, and not allow the current, hopefully transient, regime down there to inflict foolish things upon us for politicial reasons which may hurt us for years to come. Existing border crossing arrangements work very well and have for a long time. An enhanced and more inclusive NEXUS would do more to increase security than any of the more troubling and intrusive proposals I have heard lately. We've always been good neighbours, it would only take a little courage and a bit of common sense to keep us that way. The million dollar question is "are there any Canadians in decision-making positions who can show enough of those traits?" I have some doubt, but hope springs eternal.

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