Mr. Speaker, my petition calls upon the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The number of American tourists visiting Canada is now at its lowest level since 1972. It has fallen by 5 million people in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009.
Passport fees for an American family of four can be over $500. Fifty per cent of Canadians have passports but only 25% of Americans do.
At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, attended by myself and 500 other elected representatives from 11 border states and 3 provinces, a resolution was passed unanimously and reads:
...that [the] Conference calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian] Prime Minister...to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism; and be it further
RESOLVED, that [the Conference] encourage[s] the governments to examine the idea of a limited time two-for-one passport renewal or new application;
To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border.
Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to work with the American government to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism and finally, promote a time limited two-for-one passport renewal or new application fee on a mutual basis with the United States.