OTTAWA, (July 18, 2003) — The Canadian Trucking Alliance’s lobbying effort to consolidate multiple cross-border security requirements into a single process is now gaining momentum, the association said.
The Canadian government has offered its support in convincing Washington to adopt the driver Free & Secure Trade (FAST) card –which is jointly administered by Canadian and U.S. customs agencies and includes a diligent background check — in recognizing proof of security clearance for Canadian drivers.
Of immediate concern to CTA is the ability of Canadians to comply with new U.S. hazmat requirements and to obtain a U.S. Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC). Under new laws, U.S. truck drivers must pass a mandatory security check before they can receive a hazmat endorsement on their commercial driver’s licences. While no such endorsement mechanism exists in Canada, Canadian drivers hauling to the U.S. will ultimately have to comply. Moreover, there is presently no regulatory or legislative mechanism for Canadian truck drivers to even apply for a TWIC card, which one day will be required for entrance into transportation facilities.
According to CTA chief David Bradley, adopting the Canadian FAST card as an all-in-one driver identification card is the logical approach considering the FAST application process already contains a U.S.-approved security and background check mechanism. He also said “the initial response from U.S. security officials has on balance been positive, but there is still a lot of work to do.” He adds that the American Trucking Associations also appears favourable to the idea.
Bradley said the association has already cleared the first major hurdle in gaining support from Canadian decision makers. “It’s not like the U.S. where you deal with one department, albeit a new and vast one – here we have to convince at least three federal departments,” he said. “But over the last week or so, things seem to be coming together.”
During that period, CTA staff were able to convince federal agencies to consider the use of FAST as a driver security credential. “To this end, we are working with Canada Customs & Revenue Agency (CCRA) to determine the FAST card’s suitability in the context of other clearance requirements and programs that may have an impact on the national transportation system,” Transport Canada deputy minister Louis Ranger wrote in a letter to the CTA.
The CTA, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, as well as senior officials from Transport Canada, and Canada Customs and Revenue Agency will meet with U.S. Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge in the next few weeks to elevate the issue.
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