Well, this was seemingly inevitable… the US State Department announced yesterday that by 2007 Canadians will have to show a passport when entering the US by plane or boat and when entering at any other land crossing by 2008.
It’s a sad day for cross-border relations but it seems as though it’s a natural progression that would have happened regardless of 9/11. 20 years ago kids could walk across the border from Surrey, BC and buy cheap candy in Blaine. 15 years ago, people still regularly went across for cheap gas and shopping. 10 years ago you could easily get across with just a drivers license, if that… now, you should really have a drivers license and your birth certificate.
And so it is that in a couple years Canadians will have to shell out $50 to get a passport just to go to a Mariners game… or to the Casino in Vermont.
Many will say that this is all because Canada/US relations have been strained since the Iraq war but I believe it would have happened anyway. Canada and the US seem to have been naturally moving apart in the past 2 decades. Both at a social and political level.
This will not mean that suddenly the door will be closed to Canadians… it will simply only be open as wide as every other nation… and hey, at least we don’t have to get fingerprinted.
For what it’s worth, Canada is now considering matching the policy. I hope they don’t simply because I feel Canada should be more welcoming than that… and we all know that Terrorists and Criminals are going to (and already do!) get across the border with or without valid passport. But, I am resigned to the fact that one day it will happen.
I still have hope that one day there will be no passports in North America… that we will each be secure enough in ourselves that we will not feel the need to erect false borders. Unfortunately, that day is now a lot longer off than it was yesterday.