Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): - Mr. Speaker, the US government will suspend its rules requiring its citizens to carry a passport when flying in and out of Canada because of the massive backlog they have.
But this decision to waive the rule is not being extended to Canadians.
The decision proves the program is dysfunctional and will unfairly hurt Canadians. We know officials here are swamped with passport applications and are not keeping up. Will the government ask for the same exemption for Canadians? Will they stand up for Canada?
Mr. Speaker, this passport fiasco is creating major problems for Canadians and border communities.
Meanwhile, the government is too busy helping George Bush water down G8 commitments to do anything about it.
Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs phone the US ambassador and tell him that if the backlog for passports in the U.S. is a good reason to exempt U.S. citizens for 6 months, then the backlog here in Canada is a good enough reason to exempt Canadian citizens for 6 months as well?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC) : Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member and members of her party are fixated on George Bush, but I will do her one better. I am not going to call the American ambassador. What I will do is call my counterpart, the Secretary of State.
Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that the Canadian passport office is doing everything it can. In fact, we will be making some specific announcements today that will further discuss the streamlining and the efficiency and the production of passports. We are doing this with the cooperation of Passport Canada officials, who have been doing exemplary work. In fact, to date they have been able to produce 40% more passports at this time than they did last year.