NDP MP SAYS AUDITOR GENERAL CONFIRMS PASSPORT SUSPICIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 6, 2008

NDP MP SAYS AUDITOR GENERAL CONFIRMS PASSPORT SUSPICIONS

OTTAWA- Today, NDP Transport and Border Critic Brian Masse (Windsor West) expressed outrage that the Conservative’s government’s passport office has been fleecing Canadians over the cost of obtaining the document while denying that they were overcharging.

The Auditor General’s report, which was released today, confirmed Masse’s suspicions that the price for a passport is not related to the cost of processing or the counsellor services. In fact, the AG’s investigation revealed a large surplus growing from $ 5.7 million in 2003-2004 to $25.3 million in 2005-2006. The report stated that the agency failed not only in properly costing and prices fees for services, but also in public reporting.

“At a time when having a passport is no longer an option but a necessity, the Harper government has decided to exploit the situation by overcharging millions of Canadians to get a passport,” said Masse. “The fact that the passport office has this large a surplus is obscene. The Harper conservatives are acting like the big oil companies: they are gouging ordinary Canadians for an essential product.”

In 2002, the United States Congress passed the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which required all US and Canadian citizens to have a passport or other secured identification document to enter the United States. The implementation of this requirement started at air and sea ports on January 1st 2007 and will be be necessary at land border crossings as of July 2009. Approximately 40 percent of Canadians have passports.

“I have presented two motions on this issue, one calling for an audit of the office (M-124) and another to reduce the cost for Canadians to obtain a passport (M-120), said Masse. “The auditor general resolved the need for the first and reinforced the urgency for the second. Harper’s conservatives display the same old inaction and incompetence of the liberals they replaced. It is time this rip-off ends.”

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