Sunday, September 04, 2005

Passports, Please!

Delay in U.S. passport requirement will affect Canadians

Last Updated Thu, 01 Sep 2005 18:31:59 EDT
CBC News

The United States government said Thursday it will go ahead with plans to require travellers from Canada, Mexico and other allied nations to show a passport or other secure document to enter the country. A Canadian spokesman said this is the way it's going to have to be for a while.

The U.S. departments of State and Homeland Security said they expect to officially adopt the new policy -- which drew complaints from travellers, Canada and Mexico, and even President Bush -- by the end of the year. But it'll be a year after that before the new requirements will begin to affect travelers.

Under the new timeline, all who travel by air or sea to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda and South and Central America will have to show a passport or one of four other secure documents by Dec. 31, 2006.

Those who drive, ride or walk into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada, will have to comply with the new rules by Dec. 31, 2007.

After the rules were announced in April, Bush said he was surprised by the passport requirement, which drew sharp criticism from the Canadian government, and said he had ordered a review of the plans. (Emphasis here is mine. And the burning question is: who's running things down there? I mean, really?)

Jasmine Panthaky, spokeswoman for the Canadian embassy in Washington, said the Canadian government will continue working with the administration to develop a new document for widespread use on both sides of the northern border.

Asked if Canada was disappointed that a compromise had not yet been reached, Panthaky said: "We would have liked to have seen something. ... But this is the way it's going to have to be for a little while."

Our "good neighborship" notwithstanding, I do think it's within any country's right to say who needs a passport to get in and who does not. The US has allowed cross-border traffic for Canadians without passports since forever, and I guess we've gotten spoiled. It's not the fact that we will now need passports to visit back and forth across the border...

...it's the hoop-jumping and red tape of getting a Canadian passport in the first place!

I don't have mine, yet. I took one look at the requirements and I'm trying to decide if it's worth it. I mean, I'm not a Christian, so where in Tartarus am I gonna find a priest or minister who will vouch for my "good character?" I'm also not Jewish or Muslim. I do not belong to one of the "book" religions.

Ditto with getting my "family doctor" to say I'm not a dangerous person -- what's a "family doctor?" With our laughable health care system, if anyone at my house gets sick, it's off to one of those clinics. Or the *shudder* hospital. Fewer and fewer of us have a family doctor anymore, but we are required to have one to get a passport?

And then there's the economics of it. A Canadian passport is good for five years. Every other country in the world issues ten-year passports. And cheaper, too. But in Canada, you have to renew twice as often, and you pay more.

And don't let me get started on the "this photo is not passport qualified" argument that some friends of mine had to go through last year -- even after they had had their photos done three times (and paid for three times) by the photographer they were sent to by the passort office!

I'm beginning to wonder if there aren't more tunnels out there like the one connecting the grow-op in BC with the wanna-be distributor in Washington.

Where'd I put that shovel...

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