WASHINGTON, DC — The US government is said to be softening its stance on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and giving serious consideration to allowing high-tech drivers licences instead of passports at land crossings.
“The reason to be optimistic is there’s been a climate change in Washington,” Jim Bradley, Ontarios Tourism Minister told media yesterday. “They’ve gone from cold to warm on utilizing a secure driver’s licence for identification going across the border. We’ve seen a significant shift in the position of the administration. We’ve also seen … some increased support amongst those who are in Congress and that has had some effect and at the gubernatorial level as well.”
The US House of Representatives recently decided Homeland Security should examine the issue more closely and consider the costs and benefits of allowing high-tech drivers licences in place of passports.
Ontario is introducing high-tech licences by the end of the year which will feature embedded security information such as a holders citizenship. US Ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, has been warning Canadians to get a passport for months now. Yesterday, he told reporters that the Department of Homeland Security is reconsidering its position.
“(The Secretary of Homeland Security) signed recently a memorandum of understanding with the state of Washington to allow a pilot program for enhanced drivers’ licences between Washington and British Columbia,” the ambassador said. “I think he is talking to other (US) states about doing that.”
— With files from the Canadian Press and Toronto Star
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