Douglas and Canadian counterparts seek passport plan delay

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas and his counterparts in Canada want to delay a plan that requires passports to cross the U.S. Canada border.

Douglas was in Prince Edward Island on Tuesday for a meeting of the New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers.

He said his colleagues are united in their opposition to the passport rules.

(Douglas) “I think it’s pretty well understood how state officials along the border and provincial officials feel about this. There have been some quantifiable estimates of what the impact on trade might be and it’s potentially quite substantial.”

(Host) Douglas co-chaired the meeting of the New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers. The group issued a statement that calls on the US government to delay the passport rules for as long as possible.

(Douglas) “We certainly need to secure our borders and make sure that we have the protection necessary to ensure the safety of our communities. But we also have to make sure the world’s longest undefended border is not so strictly controlled that we can’t have the free and easy passage that we’ve enjoyed historically.”

(Host) Last week, the Bush administration announced a 6-month delay of the new passport rules.

The rules were supposed to take effect in January. Now they’ll take effect no sooner than the summer of 2008.

Douglas said he hopes alternatives – such as a more secure driver’s license can be found.

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