Americain proposal to require travellers to show a passport to enter the U.S.

Québec Premier hopes to see U.S. Administration adopt alternative measures

Québec City, October 31, 2005 ─ Québec Premier Jean Charest today officially informed U.S. authorities of Québec's serious concerns with regard to the proposal to require Canadians who visit the United States and Americans who return home from Canada to carry a passport. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, Premier Charest also encourages the U.S. Administration to adopt alternative measures.

“The Government of Québec believes that security is a prerequisite for trade and supports the underlying objectives of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). We are however very concerned about the negative impact of the current proposal on trade, tourism and the daily lifestyles of thousands of citizens in border communities in both the United States and Canada.” said Mr. Charest.

Under the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published on September 1, the WHTI, as currently drafted, will require American and Canadians who travel by sea or air to show a passport or other authorized document in order to enter the United States beginning January 1, 2007. As of January 1, 2008, this requirement will also apply to all land travellers at border crossings. Under the proposal published on September 1, the passport is the only document that meets the U.S. government's criteria.

“To a large extent, our mutual economic prosperity depends on our ability to maintain a Canada-U.S. border that is secure, open and free flowing. The WHTI will not only affect Québec companies and citizens; it will also have an impact on our American partners,” stressed the Premier, who feels that the initiative does not fully take into account the economic interdependence between the two countries and could thus have a highly, negative impact on the flow of cross-border traffic and North America's economic competitiveness. The Government of Québec therefore considers that the American and Canadian federal authorities should closely examine the following measures:

  • explicit recognition of FAST and NEXUS member's cards as alternatives to a passport and the enhancement of FAST and NEXUS programs in order to improve citizens' participation;

  • establishment of a binational task force in order to strengthen border management and security cooperation between all pertinent government authorities.

The Government of Québec also recommends that the deployment of the WHTI be postponed.

“This postponement will allow authorities in both countries to continue their consultations, carry out impact assessments and examine alternative measures to the passport requirement, notably the use of other common identification documents and exemptions for certain categories of tourists and border community residents.” added Premier Charest. In order to play an active role in the search for practical solutions, the Government of Québec will set up, in the coming weeks, an interdepartmental committee responsible for consulting and drafting proposals and recommendations on the security of identification documents that fall under provincial jurisdiction.

In 2004, commercial trade between Québec and the United States added up to approximately CDN 81 billion. The same year, over 1.8-million trucks and 5.6-million cars crossed the Québec-U.S. border in both directions.

The Premier's letter to Secretary Rice and Secretary Chertoff (PDF, 178 ko)

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