Passports and tourism
Fantastic...just in time so that our Mayor can take the credit for it! Obviously the President must have felt threatened by the calling of a border meeting by Eddie so made this concession. I note though that, according to the Star, "Francis said his staff is confirming who will attend the summit and he hopes there will be enough people to proceed with the meeting." It really does not matter if it takes place or not; a headline talking about action is a headline after all that can be used in a re-election campaign! Just like excerpts from today's Star Editorial.
I wonder when the invitation was mailed out. I am sure that the "Sixty-five U.S. city mayors and 170 Canadian mayors [who] have been invited to attend" will drop everything to come to Windsor this Friday, especially the Americans before the Memorial Day long holiday weekend! What a clever ploy to have them stay here for the holiday eh.
Eddie in his note wrote:
- "We would like to invite you to join with other U.S. and Canadian city Mayors on May 26 at a US-Canada Mayors' Summit, Windsor Ontario Canada to speak out on this issue. We want to ensure that our respective federal governments get WHTI right so that the security and prosperity of our communities are not compromised...
The US-Canada Mayors' Summit on May 26, 2006 from 10 am -1 pm in Windsor Ontario directly across from Detroit MI., will bring cities on both sides of the border together to raise awareness of WHTI, discuss its potential impacts, and propose mutual solutions that will enhance security and facilitate travel and trade between our nations. The summit is hosted by the City of Windsor, in cooperation with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Changes are needed along the Canada-United States border to improve security and increase efficiency. This is not in question. The issue is how to do this. The post 9/11 security environment provides the catalyst for real change. We need to take the time to get it right. Join us on May 26 in Windsor to add our collective municipal voice to this important debate."
It's happened before in the US. Actions taken without thinking about the consequences to business and tourism on both sides of the border. As was said "its implications were not fully understood or debated."
Just one excerpt:
On October 14, 1997, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Senator Spencer Abraham, convened a field hearing in Detroit, MI, at which testimony was heard concerning the traffic congestion and delays that would result from the implementation of section 110 as written. ...
Witnesses testifying at the hearing universally voiced concerns that implementing section 110 at the land borders could cause severe traffic delays that would effectively close the land borders. Testimony highlighted that Michigan would particularly be affected because of the relatively large number of high-volume border crossings located in the State. Mayor Archer explained that, of all crossings on the Northern border handling U.S.-bound vehicle traffic from Canada, Detroit's Ambassador Bridge is the busiest U.S.-Canadian crossing, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is the second busiest, and Port Huron's Blue Water Bridge is the fifth.
Implementation of section 110 at the land borders would, he explained, turn `downtown Detroit [into] a virtual parking lot.' Dan Stamper, president of the Detroit International Bridge Co., testified that the Ambassador Bridge handles approximately 30,000 vehicle crossings per day. Mr. Stamper calculated that `assum[ing] the most efficient and remarkable entry and exit procedures in the world [that] will take only 30 seconds' per vehicle, and making the equally optimistic assumption that only half of the vehicles have to go through the procedures, that would amount to an extra `3,750 minutes of additional processing time each day.' As he pointed out, `there are only 1,440 minutes in a day.' Mr. Stamper concluded that, if section 110 is put into place at the land borders, `we are talking about closing the border...'
Steve Facione, group vice president of Olympia Entertainment, which operates the Joe Louis Arena, the Fox theater, Tiger Stadium, and other entertainment facilities in the Detroit metropolitan area, expressed concern that the many Canadians who make day-trips and evening-trips to Michigan for baseball games, hockey games, and other events would be turned away by border delays and would spend their entertainment dollars in Canada rather than the United States. Port Huron Mayor Steve Miller highlighted the fact that many retailers and manufacturers in Port Huron depend on Canadian business for their survival, and that, without that business, jobs that fuel the economy and the taxes provided by Canadians that go to provide services to Michiganians would disappear. As he put it, `the long lines at the bridge will put an end to the long lines at our cash registers.'