Government Optimistic High Tech Driver's License Will Be Accepted As
TORONTO, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government has successfully taken
another step in its long campaign to defend tourism and trade from being
damaged by the U.S. proposal to require passports to enter or re-enter the
United States, Tourism Minister Jim Bradley said today.
"By working with like-minded U.S. legislators, we have already seen the
deadline for requiring a passport at land crossings pushed back 17 months to
June 2009. Now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is advocating
Ontario's youth exemption suggestions," said Bradley.
Prior to confirming a final rule, the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security is seeking comment on its new proposal to exempt children under 16
and youths under 19 travelling in organized groups from the passport
requirement. The department's new proposed rule mirrors earlier suggestions
made by Ontario.
The McGuinty government has submitted comments to the department in
support of the child and youth exemptions. Ontario also reiterated its
recommendation that an existing, commonly carried document, such as a
security-enhanced driver's license with a citizenship designation, should be
accepted for both Canadians and Americans crossing into the United States.
Additionally, for the first time, Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Michael Chertoff recently commented favourably about using high-tech
licenses as a passport alternative.
"I am optimistic that by continuing to work with our American friends, we
can convince the U.S. Administration to accept enhanced-security driver's
licenses as an alternative to passports so we can keep the border flowing
freely," Bradley said.
Bradley said progress on alternatives to passport requirements is being
made because of the persistence of Canadians and Americans who live close to
the border and understand the importance of a free-flowing border to tourism,
trade, and family and personal ties.
Ontario is discussing with New York State a plan to phase in a more
secure driver's licence. Washington State and Vermont have already begun
voluntary programs to develop an enhanced driver's licence and identification
Ontario's new high-tech driver's license, with many additional security
features, will go into use in December.
Premier Dalton McGuinty and Bradley have traveled to Washington several
times to advocate for a driver's license with upgraded security features and a
citizenship designation be used as a border-crossing document.
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For further information:
For further information: David Oved, Minister's Office, (416) 314-1400;
Gary Wheeler, Ministry of Tourism, (416) 325-8391