Manitoba

Delay passport controls, western premiers urge Washington, Ottawa

The western premiers want Ottawa to lobby the U.S. government to delay a requirement that Canadians and Americans crossing the border have a passport.

The western premiers want Ottawa to lobby the U.S. government to delay a requirement that Canadians and Americans crossing the border have a passport.

Washington has said it will introduce legislation requiring all cross-border travellers to carry a passport starting next year, but the U.S. Senate has said the law should be put off.

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer says his colleagues all agree the law should be delayed to at least 2009.

"The key message today is: 'Delay and get it right,'" Doer told reporters at the western premiers conference in Gimli, Man.

Doer says the premiers believe the U.S. government can be persuaded to postpone the passport implementation.

"We do not believe our national government should assume that 2007 is a fait accompli. We believe that we should continue to be vigorous with the other levels of governance in the United States," he said.

"We believe the more the Americans realize how much this will hurt their tourism industry as well as the detriment it would be for our tourism industry and how many jobs are at stake, we can continue to keep this issue alive."

The western premiers say the cost of obtaining passports for every family member will be prohibitive and will certainly affect the numbers of people crossing the Canada-U.S. border.