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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07OTTAWA1126
2007-06-13 12:52:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Ottawa
Cable title:  

Ottawa to make it easier for Canadians to get passports

Tags:   ECIN  ECON  SOCI  PGOV  PREL  KHLS  CPAS  CA 
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VZCZCXRO3946
RR RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #1126/01 1641252
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131252Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5876
RUEAHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 001126 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN and CA/PPT
DHS FOR INTERNTIONAL AFFAIRS (Brown and Fontela)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECIN ECON SOCI PGOV PREL KHLS CPAS CA
SUBJECT: Ottawa to make it easier for Canadians to get passports



1. Summary: In a relaxation from previous policy, Canadians will be
able to renew their passports without submitting proof of
citizenship or a guarantor declaration after August 15. The
"guarantor" process will also be simplified for first-time
applicants so that most citizens can act as guarantors; now only
professionals in certain occupations can do so. The new application
measures, announced June 8, are intended to simplify the process,
and to allow Passport Canada to cope with increased demand triggered
by WHTI. Currently, mail-in applicants must wait an average of
10-weeks for their passport. Foreign Minister MacKay said he would
ask Secretary Rice for more relief for Canadians from the
requirements of WHTI. Ambassador Wilkins released a press statement
on June 8 noting, for the record, that DHS/CBP continues to allow
Canadians to fly into the U.S. based on other evidence of identity
and citizenship. End summary.



2. The new application procedures for Canadians, that are aimed at
easing a huge backlog of passport applications in the wake of
announcement of the WHTI, include two important provisions: as of
August 15 a simplified passport renewal policy that will allow
Canadians who already hold a valid passport, and who meet
eligibility criteria, to be able to renew it without submitting
proof of citizenship or a guarantor declaration; as of October 15 a
new guarantor policy that will allow most Canadian adult passport
holders to act as guarantors for first-time applicants. The new
measures also include a series of "Passport Clinics" to be held
across the country with a special focus on border areas and areas
far from large urban centers. At these Passport Clinics Government
of Canada (GoC) officials will be available to answer questions from
the public about applying for a passport, review passport
applications to ensure they are complete, and accept completed
applications for processing. There are now about 170,000
applications being processed in Canada. For those who have applied
by mail, the wait averages 10-weeks, some six weeks above the norm
before the flood of applications received in the wake of WHTI
implementation.



3. As part of a broader effort by the GoC to modernize Canadian
passport services and increase the capacity of the Passport Office,
the government also pledged to hire hundreds of new passport staff
and extend office hours in some cities. An additional 65 post
offices and government service centers will now also receive
passport applications. According to Foreign Minister MacKay, the
government has ruled out extending the validity of the Canadian
passport to ten years from five. In a press conference last week,
he noted that "many countries are reducing the length of their

passports to five years from ten." (Comment: We do not know which
specific countries the Foreign Minister was referring to, because
the worldwide trend seems to be moving from five-year to 10-year
passports. End comment.)



4. Earlier on June 8 after the announcement by the State Department
to suspend the current rule requiring Americans to carry passports
for air travel to and from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, NDP MP
Libby Davies demanded that Ottawa press the United States to also
suspend passport requirements for visiting Canadians. Davies said
Canadians are seeing delays in acquiring passports that are just as
long as those that Americans face. In response, Foreign Minister
MacKay said, "We are disappointed that thus far it (the USG) has not
QMacKay said, "We are disappointed that thus far it (the USG) has not
extended that to Canadians, and we are taking this matter up with
officials in the United States in the hopes that we can bring about
some greater alleviation with respect to the implementation of the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative." He promised he would call
Secretary Rice to discuss the matter.

SIPDIS



5. To clarify the USG policy Ambassador Wilkins issued an Embassy
statement late on June 8 noting that "the U.S. Customs and Border
Protection made clear that it has and will continue to exercise its
current authorities in unique circumstances to allow Canadians
subject to the WHTI requirements into the U.S. based on other
evidence of identity and citizenship." The statement added: "I
would still recommend to Canadian citizens that you get your
passports, but under this provision, the U.S. government has shown
its willingness to be flexible for Canadian air travelers."




6. Ambassador Wilkins spoke with Foreign Minister MacKay on June 11
to reiterate USG flexibility for Canadian air travelers. MacKay was
appreciative and indicated they were studying the possibility of
giving Canadians a receipt for their passport application which
would allow for equal treatment. MacKay said that Canadians who
apply in person get a letter of receipt but those who apply by mail
do not. Currently MacKay thought that 80% of applicants had this
letter-receipt. Both privately and publicly, MacKay has said the
new flexible rule would help an ailing Canadian tourism industry in
making it easier for Americans to come to Canada.



7. DCM spoke with Greg Goatbe, Vice President of CBSA and Canadian
lead on WHTI to ask if Canadians were willing to accept US passport

OTTAWA 00001126 002 OF 002


application receipts for travelers here. Goatbe said that all US
citizens needed were their birth certificate, but when told that
applicants handed in their birth certificates to get their
passports, Goatbe said he would "study the matter" and get back to
us.



8. Comment: Post will continue the public outreach and dialogue
regarding WHTI requirements for Canadian citizens.

Wilkins