MASSE IN THE HOUSE: Masse Questions the Minister on Border Concerns and the Tourism Industry

Hansard – June 1, 2009
Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today the Canada-U.S. border became thicker. The U.S. passport policy that took effect today will cause travel delays, gouge Canadians and damage our tourism industry.
The present Prime Minister hoisted a white flag instead of the Canadian flag when he first agreed to this policy on March 31, 2006 with President Bush himself. His record of advocacy was best exemplified when former Presidents Bush and Clinton spoke in Toronto last Friday. They were not even aware of this new passport policy. This from the policy's architect.
Could the minister tell us why he would accept a border policy that threatens our Canadian tourism industry and jobs when he is not even being taken seriously?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. In no way did we accept the policy. In fact, we worked very effectively once we became government to try and correct the deficiencies that were allowed to arise under the previous government.
We did that in a number of ways: by putting in place a number of extensions on implementation of the western hemisphere travel initiative; by creating the opportunity to utilize alternative documents such as an enhanced driver's licence.
We actually engaged the Americans in a way that no other party did, and in doing so we were able to significantly advance Canadians' interests.
We will continue to do that on a number of fronts because our relationship and our trade across that border is very important.