US wary of Ontarios high-tech licence plan

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TORONTO, Ont. — US officials have responded coolly to suggestions that Ontario hopes to develop a high-tech drivers licence that could be used in place of a passport when crossing into the US.

US Undersecretary of State, Thomas Shannon, yesterday warned that Drivers licences in the United States arenot primary identity documents for border crossing. He added To create a secure drivers licence requires a lot of work by a lot of different entities. Its complicated.

Ontario Premier, Dalton McGuinty, is travelling to Washington next week where its expected he will float the concept of a high-tech licence to US legislators. Hes hoping Ontarians carrying the new licence would be exempt from a Western Hemisphere Trade Initiative condition that will require all Canadians to carry a passport in order to cross into the US at land crossings beginning as early as January, 2008.

“People in Ontario would be wise … not to count on this new driver’s licence being available before the new rules come into effect,” Ontario Conservative leader John Tory warned yesterday.

But provincial Transport Minister, Donna Cansfield, retorted: “We certainly have the technology and the capability and if there’s something that can be done then we’re quite prepared to talk about it.”

The new licence would have to show a drivers citizenship in order to comply with US requirements.

– With files from the Toronto Star

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