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U.S. open to border ID alternatives

By JIM FOX
Published April 23, 2006


Canada has been given assurances that the United States will allow alternatives to requiring either passports or high-tech identification cards at land border points.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said he was given that message in meetings with U.S. officials discussing border security changes to take effect in January 2008.

U.S. Homeland Security wants to ensure that any document used to enter the United States includes proof of citizenship; Canadian licenses and birth certificates don't.

In place of a passport, the United States has proposed a less costly ID card that will be available to Americans next year.

Canada will "work over the next 18 months to determine exactly what types of documents are going to be acceptable other than the U.S. ID card, other than a passport," Day said.

The Canadian government has been under pressure from provincial leaders who feel tourism and commerce will be hurt by a passport or ID card rule at the busy border crossings.

While acknowledging those without passports could face longer delays, Canada has until next year to suggest the documents that would comply with the changes, Day said.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff plans to travel to Canada within the next two months for further talks.

Bonfire protests delay rail traffic

Passenger and freight rail service along the busy Toronto-Montreal corridor was delayed Friday by native protesters.

About 50 Mohawks from the Tyendinaga reserve near Belleville started bonfires on either side of the CN Rail mainline to show support for native protesters at a housing development in Caledonia. The dispute over a tract of land south of Hamilton sparked the sympathy protest watched over by police officers, who kept their distance.

CN received a court injunction allowing its trains to pass unimpeded and ordering any barricades to be removed, while Via Rail used chartered buses between Toronto and Kingston to move passengers.

Names in the news

Gwyn Morgan has been named chairman of the new Public Appointments Commission by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The former head of EnCana Corp. of Calgary, Morgan will develop guidelines and review and approve selection processes proposed by politicians to fill vacancies within their portfolios. He will also report on government compliance with the guidelines.

Joe Volpe, former immigration minister, has joined the race to lead the federal Liberal Party. Volpe, 58, of Toronto, said he would create harmony among new and future Canadians and aid seniors and families. Others in the race are Maurizio Bevilacqua, Stephane Dion, Martha Hall Findlay and Michael Ignatieff.

Brian Mulroney, 67, received a standing ovation at a gala dinner in Ottawa to honor his selection as "the greenest prime minister" in Canadian history. Corporate Knights magazine commissioned a 12-member panel of mostly environmentalists who selected Mulroney, edging former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau by two votes.

Facts and figures

Canada's annual inflation rate is holding steady at 2.2 percent but is expected to rise as gasoline prices increase.

Analysts expect the Bank of Canada will again increase its key interest rate on Tuesday to keep inflation in check. The rate is now 3.75 percent while the prime lending rate is 5.5 percent.

Canada's dollar was higher at 87.90 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returned $1.1376 Canadian before bank exchange fees.

Stock markets advanced, with the Toronto composite index at 12,437 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 7, 16, 18, 29, 49; bonus 32. (April 15) 2, 3, 9, 21, 26, 29; bonus 42.

Regional briefs

Federal investigators will use a remote submarine to view the wreckage of the Queen of the North ferry in British Columbia's remote Wright Sound. They want to determine why the ship crashed into Gil Island and sank on March 22. Ninety-nine passengers and crew were rescued; two people are missing and presumed drowned.

Saying it's "time to move on," Alberta Premier Ralph Klein tearfully delivered his farewell speech to a dinner attended by 1,500 people in Calgary. He advanced his retirement date by a year after only 55 percent of his Conservative Party delegates backed his continued leadership. Klein was criticized for creating a two-year leadership race to choose his successor.

St. John's, Newfoundland, Mayor Andy Wells has apologized for calling a council member "a stupid old woman" and for other insults. He called his remarks about Shannie Duff "ill-tempered" and "ill-advised." The outspoken Wells has referred to Duff as an elitist snob.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com