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(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of June 19, 2006)

Passport law in these troubling times is quite reasonable

  By John Martin

What exactly is so terrifying about needing a passport to enter the U.S.?  It takes all of five minutes to fill out the form and another five to get a snapshot.  You can even do the application on-line.  All told, itís about as time consuming and challenging as getting a library card.

But listening to all the whining and bellyaching going on, it sounds as though the proposed passport requirement is going to make cross border traffic a thing of the past.

The latest doomsayer is the The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).  Representatives of the countryís largest communities are warning that the passport plan will ďstrangle the economy of this countryĒ and wreck havoc in towns on either side of the border. 

The law, established in the aftermath of 911, would require a passport or some other form of electronic identification for anyone crossing the border into the US.  This includes Canadians heading south and Americans returning home.

Toronto councilor Howard Moscoe is predicting Americans will prefer to vacation in Europe over Canada if they have to spend a hundred bucks to get a passport.

And Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is suggesting the requirement could damage the 2010 Olympic Games.  In a bizarre statement, the mayor warned ďif we permit this initiative to drive a wedge between our two countries we will have given terrorists a victory.Ē 

Kill the passport plan or the terrorists will have won?  Isnít that just a touch over the top?

Somehow itís a bit of a stretch to think someone whoís planning the trip of a lifetime to attend the Olympics is going to bag the idea on account of a passport requirement.

Numerous commentators have already panicked and warn of economic carnage if the law goes into effect.  But itís especially rich coming from the FCM.  These are the people who make you fill out a half dozen forms to get a building permit for a carport.  Restaurant and pub owners spend as much time filling out paperwork and reports for city hall as they do tending to customers. 

Compared to working through all the hoops and hurdles municipalities throw at entrepreneurs, getting a passport is a breeze.

Things changed forever on September 11th, 2001.  New security requirements became necessary and inevitable.  The round up of seventeen suspected terrorists and al Qaeda sympathizers in Toronto confirms this is hardly much ado about nothing.  It would be naÔve and reckless to think a driverís license should continue to be enough to skip back and forth across the border.

A passport application is three pages long.  Thatís about half the length of the form a municipality has to fill out to join the FCM.  Donít these guys have some potholes to fill?

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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