On June 1st another chapter in the story of George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden comes to fruition. The last part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) went into effect on June 1st and anyone coming from Canada to the U.S. by any transportation means will now need a passport. This final act will make the longest undefended border in the world a wall, the last spike of a slow and steady determination by the paranoid Bush administration to make Canada a completely foreign country after over a hundred-and-fifty years of peaceful crossings.
Border Slow Downs
For those of you who don’t understand what the problem is about needing a passport to get from Canada to the U.S. do not understand the amount of goods and services that flow between Canada and the U.S. And since 2001 the major border crossings have been like rush hour in any major city. The introduction of a passport will slow this down to a crawl as overzealous border guards grill more Canadians.
American Group Paranoia
This paranoid thinking about Canada is instilled in the American psyche. It persists because many American leaders, although they publicly deny it, still think that more than a few of the perpetrators of 9-11 came through Canada. And even though a public commission in 2004 announced that no terrorists of that awful day came through the Canadian-U.S. border many Americans, like John McCain, do not believe it. They see that the Canadian authorities have captured terrorists and so think that Canada is a training base for them. The reason they hear about it is that the Canadian law enforcement agencies have grabbed them before they became dangerously embedded.
Many Americans Do Not Embrace Passports
An estimated 70% of Americans do not hold passports. this includes those who take their RV’s into Canada or just drive or fly here for a holiday. They pump untold millions into the Canadian economy as do Canadians who cross the border to shop or weekend in the U.S. But passports take time and are not cheap. And those Americans who have never had one are not lining up to get them as they do not want the hassle. Instead they will go to the Grand Canyon or see Mount Rushmore again. And Canadians will go to the national parks, Niagara Falls or see Nova Scotia.
Passport Canada Drops the Ball at the Wrong Time
And just when you though it couldn’t get any worse Passport Canada suddenly stopped its online passport application site on April 30th. So now as the tourist season begins the slow mail-in process and lining up at the offices will be come common place.
Bad for U.S Tourism/Good for Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia and Canadian governments keep very good records of the economic activity of tourists. This is for a good reason. Tourism is a huge industry and a larger part of the Canadian GNP than tourism is on the U.S. economic scene. But as the U.S. goes through its first full summer in a recession they will see fewer people from Canada and this will hurt their theme parks and other sites. These are not only Canadian tourists who do not want to get a passport but those with expired passports who do not want to stand in line to pay $ 87 to get a new one.
Nova Scotia has been benefiting from Canadian tourists who are getting frustrated by the heavy-handed U.S. security procedures at the borders and in airports and are coming to Nova Scotia for their holidays.
But it will take hard figures to convince the American protectionists. And these will be coming when border traffic slows down.
Kim Kinrade invites you to to his website and blog on the many wonders of Nova Scotia, Canada’s Atlantic Playground. http://www.traveltonovascotia.com There is so much to see and do in Nova Scotia within a small area that it has become an optimum destination for many travelers.