Originally Posted By: rcooke
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.
This could change the great visitation we have between our two countries .
We have the longest open border in the world and will stop a lot of people from visiting back and forth.
I expect most Americans do not even know this is coming.
Roy Cooke sr
McKenna fears U.S. plan for passports
CHARLOTTETOWN?Canada's ambassador to the United States says many Americans will stop travelling to Canada if new U.S. entry laws make it too much of a hassle to get back home.
Frank McKenna told the annual meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the U.S. policy requiring passports to enter the United States by Dec. 31, 2007, could spell disaster for Canadian tourism operators.
"This is a big sleeper issue," McKenna said.
``It could result in the reduction of 7.7 million visits to Canada (annually), with a loss of almost $2 billion in revenue, mostly tourism revenue from people who won't cross the border because they can't return home without a passport or something similar."
McKenna said the only good news is that the U.S. administration is taking a second look at the 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 is that not many Americans bother with passports, McKenna said. Canada would lose out on a lot of casual, cross-border traffic in the form of impulse tourists who come here to shop or catch a hockey game.
"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 the passport issue is "a work in progress."
"The way the law is written requires passports or a similar secure document," he said of the law passed last year.
"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 on the United States to get the passport requirement dropped.
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 toward their northern neighbours.
He said the only way to get the Americans moving on an issue is to identify their self-interest, and 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.
"If they talk, Washington is much more likely to listen," he said.
Roy Cooke Sr.