March 25, 2009

New U.S. Passport Requirement Will Not Be Delayed: "Janet Napolitano has a message for Canadians: It's a border. Get used to it."

If the U.S. government is doing anything right these days it is trying to inform the public about the new requirements when crossing into the U.S. As I said before, except for a few alternatives (including a less-expensive U.S. passport card) you will need a passport to enter the United States from countries in the Western Hemisphere that have been exempt. As the new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, there is going to be a “change the culture of no-border to border" on June 1, 2009 when the Passport Requirements go into effect.

I applied for and received my passport well in advance of the deadline because I remember the chaos and ranting that happened when passports were first required for Canadians to fly into the U.S. The fact is the requirement has been publicized for a very long time now, and was even extended a year from last June to about two months from now, and they will not be delayed again. There is a press release advertising this Saturday a nationwide "Passport Day" with no "appointments and expedite fees" required. There is even a website set up by the U.S. Travel Association with links for Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans (although they already are required to have a passport and visa to enter the U.S.) to apply for passports. The name? GetAPassportNow.com. It's something that's usually on the bottom of a list...something to do sometime in the future. Well if you're planning on crossing the into the U.S. on or after June 1, 2009, apply for a passport now.


From the State Department:

Passport Day In the USA - Saturday, March 28, 2009
BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 20, 2009

On Saturday, March 28, the Department of State will celebrate “Passport Day in the USA,” a national outreach event to inform the public about the upcoming changes to U.S. travel document requirements, provide passport information and accept passport applications from U.S. citizens from coast-to-coast and border-to-border. All Department of State Passport Agencies, and many Passport Acceptance Facilities around the country, will host passport application acceptance events. U.S. citizens without a valid passport book or passport card are encouraged to apply on this day.

U.S. citizens will receive passport information and can apply for their passport at “Passport Day in the USA” events. For this day only, appointments and expedite fees are not required for those applying at a Passport Agency. Applicants can expect to receive their passport in approximately four weeks for routine service and about two to three weeks for expedited service.

The hours of operation for each Passport Agency for this event may vary across the country. Citizens should check our website at travel.state.gov for official times. Times may also vary for Passport Acceptance Facilities, so U.S. citizens should check with their local acceptance facility for event information.

Information on the cost and how to apply for a passport book and/or a passport card is available at travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens may also obtain passport information by phone by calling the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778.

As of January 23, 2007, everyone traveling in and out of the United States by air needs a passport. On June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens must present a passport book, passport card, or other travel documents approved by the U.S. government to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry. Additional information on travel requirements is available at www.getyouhome.gov.

The Department of State, together with the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Service, and non-postal Passport Acceptance Facilities, are working together to ensure that citizens are aware of the new requirements effective June 1.

For further information contact:
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Policy Coordination and Public Affairs
Press inquiries: (202) 647-1488.
Internet address: travel.state.gov


And from the Globe and Mail: (emphasis mine)

Casual days of the past are over at Canada-U.S. border
There will be "pure chaos," a congresswoman predictsJOHN IBBITSON
Globe and Mail Update
E-mail John Ibbitson | Read Bio | Latest Columns
March 25, 2009 at 8:55 PM EDT
WASHINGTON — Janet Napolitano has a message for Canadians: It's a border. Get used to it.

The new Homeland Security Secretary had only stern comments yesterday about the state and future of the Canada-U.S. border, at a symposium hosted by the Brookings Institution.

Her goal seemed to be to throw a bucket of reality on anyone who hoped that the arrival of Barack Obama's new administration would herald a loosening of new restrictions on cross-border traffic.

The days when Canadians and Americans moved back and forth across the border—“it's as though there's not a border at all,” as she put it— are over.


U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is giving no indication that travel across the U.S. border will be smooth come June. (Larry Downing/Reuters)


“It's a real border, and we need to address it as a real border,” Ms. Napolitano said, calling on both Americans and Canadians to accept this “change of culture.”

That culture changes most emphatically June 1, when the United States will require anyone entering from Canada to produce a passport or its equivalent.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, whose district encompasses Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, believes she knows what will happen that day.

“There will be pure chaos,” she predicted. Lines will lengthen, people will be denied entry, tourism and business will suffer. And with the addition of the Olympics it's going to be even more so.”

Tourist industry officials are predicting major declines in cross-border traffic, because only about a quarter of Americans carry passports.

States and provinces now offer enhanced drivers licences, which are an acceptable alternative, but in many cases they cost more and take longer to acquire than a passport.

Ms. Slaughter said she plans to introduce legislation to delay implementation of the passport requirement for one year. Although she has been successful in persuading her congressional colleagues to grant a previous extension, those who know the issue said there was virtually no chance of a further delay.

These days, the Canada-U.S. border faces worsening challenges, as a plethora of new charges, regulations and red tape, mostly imposed by Americans in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, amount to the equivalent of a new tariff on goods and services.

This tariff-in-all-but-name leaves manufacturers increasingly concerned that the integrated Canada-U.S. economy could begin to rupture. Some are already looking at contingency plans, such as additional warehouses or alternative suppliers, in case of disruption in delivery cycles.

Campbell Soup, for example, is moving “from just-in-time to just-in-case,” warned Kelly Johnston, an executive with the company.

Canadian politicians, and industry leaders on both sides of the border, hoped that the arrival of a new, Democratic administration would lessen the emphasis on security that Mr. Napolitano's predecessor, Michael Chertoff, placed on border relations.

It was on his watch that Congress passed the passport requirements, and it was Mr. Chertoff who vetoed a planned initiative that would have made it easier for goods to pre-clear customs, easing lineups.

Ms. Napolitano confessed that, having lived most of her life in either New Mexico, where she was raised, or Arizona, where she was governor, “I've never actually spent much time on the Canadian border,” though she plans to visit it later this spring and this summer.

To educate herself, she commissioned a study of the border, chastising Canadian journalists who speculated that this was an ominous sign.

Nonetheless, Ms. Napolitano said she discovered there were differences in the way the two countries screened people and goods, and in their risk-assessment policies.

And there were also differences that were “nuanced but very real in immigration and visa procedures,” she added.

Given these differences, she said, the challenge was: “How do you make the U.S.-Canada border a futuristic border,” even as the United States moved to “change the culture of no-border to border.”

The day was not entirely discouraging for open-border enthusiasts. Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird assured the gathering that a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit, through which one-quarter of all Canada-U.S. trade flows, “has been and will continue to be the number one infrastructure project for Canada.”

And Roberta Jacobson, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA at the State Department, said that Canada and the United States should talk about border issues without involving Mexico, the third member of the North American Free Trade Agreement partnership.

“This is one where we ought to start with Canada,” she said. This has long been the wish of Canadian officials, who believe that bringing Mexico into border discussions prevents agreements in areas where Canada and the United States could work co-operatively.

But Ms. Napolitano doused that idea as well, reminding the gathering that “one of the things that we need to be sensitive to is the very real feelings among southern border states and in Mexico that if things are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border.”

It seemed to be another lesson learned: when it comes to national security, the Obama administration's policies are often consonant with its Republican predecessor.

March 24, 2009

Fox News: Ignorant and Offensive...what a shock

It should come as no surprise that the hacks over at Fox News are ignorant of the Canadian Military's contribution to operations in Afghanistan, but Greg Gutfeld and his panelists went above and beyond the call of duty to uphold Fox New's reputation for being blatantly offensive.

The Video:


The CBC's reaction:


Note the introduction to the program: "Okay, yes, it's Fox. But even from a cable network that thrives on being controversial , this, it seems, is just too much."

News Hounds:

Chickenhawk Red Eye Panel Mocks Stricken Canadian Army As Slackers

Reported by Ellen - March 22, 2009

FOX News' Greg Gutfeld has never put his own fanny on the line for his country but that didn't stop him and a similarly non-serving Red Eye panel from mocking the Canadian military as a bunch of slackers while overlooking the extremely heavy casualties it has received assisting the United States in the war in Afghanistan. As part of the “joke,” Gutfeld also suggested the Canadian military is making us more vulnerable to attack. With video.
UPDATED

The recent YouTube video below, called “How to lose friends and alienate countries,” posted by “taffyincanada,” shows an episode of Red Eye, FOX News' answer to The Daily Show, in which Gutfeld repeatedly smeared and jeered the Canadian military. Gutfeld either was ignorant of or deliberately withheld from the audience the fact that the Canadian military is fighting in one of the most dangerous pockets in Afghanistan and has suffered a disproportionately high number of casualties (In 2007, it was 2.6 - 4 times higher than British or American soldiers in Afghanistan and 2.6 times higher than the death toll of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq). Not long ago, Canada's Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie announced that, the Afghanistan mission is taking a dramatic toll on the military and, due to personnel and equipment shortages, it may need a “year-long break from operations when its current mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011."

With evident disgust, Gutfeld opened the “commentary” by sneering that Leslie was “an unusual name for a man – yes” as the Red Eye panelists laughed derisively. Gutfeld “joked” that the Canadian military wanted to “do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white capri pants.”

“Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country?” Gutfeld asked panelist Doug Benson. Of course, what Gutfeld meant was that someone besides himself should do the invading.

“I didn't even know that they were in the war,” Benson said, adding he thought Canada was where someone went to avoid fighting. By the way, I could find no evidence that Benson ever served his country, either. He quipped that this would be Canada's tourism draw, “Come on by while we nap!”

More uproarious laughter ensued. Gutfeld said approvingly, “Exactly!”

Gutfeld suggested that Canada was just taking advantage of a military tail wind from the U.S. He asked, “Would Canada be able to get away with this if they didn't share a border with the most powerful country in the universe?”

Panelist Monica Crowley, who admires Donald Rumsfeld's “successful effort to bring freedom to Afghanistan,” nodded in sarcastic agreement.

“No, they probably wouldn't,” regular Bill Schulz said. I could find no evidence that he ever served his country beyond sarcastically smearing our ally, either. “Does this surprise any of us?" Schulz asked. "We have police officers and they have Mounties. Our cops ride heavily armored cars. They ride horses. We have bullet-proof vests. They have wonderful little red jackets THAT CAN BE SEEN A MILE AWAY (his emphasis). This is not a smart culture, Greg.”

Crowley, who made it 0 for 4 for military service, giggled. She acknowledged that the Canadians are “good allies” but added, “This is why I'm so disappointed in them.” She joked, “So they're getting manicures, they're getting pedicures. Everybody needs a little time off.” She then agreed that, like Europe, Canada “couldn't take a year off from their military if they didn't have the security backdrop of the United States.”

Crowley continued with the odd joke that Sarah Palin might be in trouble because this might send a signal to the Russians to invade.

Then Gutfeld called on “capitalist pig” Jonathan Hoenig. “J-Ho, should we be worried at all about unguarded borders here or is their military pretty ineffective at all to begin with and it was always a problem?”

Hoenig began, “I have a tremendous respect, Greg, for anyone who serves – Canadian, American...”

“I do too,” Gutfeld said. Sure you do, Grego. You just proved what kind of respect you have.

As readers have probably guessed, business expert Hoenig did not, apparently, break the non-serving record of the panelists. But at least he didn't sneer at the soldiers. “We've tied these kids hands. I mean, after all these years, we can't even say militant Islam... I mean, my God let's win this war! And I think we've been soft for too long. And it's a shame to have to keep them there year after year after year when we're not actually going after the enemy at hand,” Hoenig said.

Schulz then took a swipe at the Mexicans, “joking” that maybe they'll copy Canada and want a siesta while “relying on our army, too.”

Benson was asked for the last word. He replied, “How about evildoers who're saying thanks for the heads up on that year thing, Canada?”

The panel broke out in loud laughter again.

“Very good!” Gutfeld exclaimed, as Benson beamed with pride.

What a bunch of disgraces to this country.

Please consider emailing FOX at redeye@foxnews.com.

3/22/09 Update: Gutfeld apologized, though he claims he "may have been misunderstood" because he meant no disrespect to the Canadian military. May have been misunderstood? Now THAT'S funny.


And the Canadian Press:


Fox News jokesters forced into retreat over Canadian military jibes

Mon Mar 23, 7:13 PM

By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - They bashed the Canadian military but an American TV host and his guest were forced into a strategic retreat Monday in the face of a national uproar.

A Fox News host issued an apology over a talk-show segment described by the Canadian government as "despicable" and "disgusting."

And one of his fellow jokesters - a comedian who quipped that he wasn't even aware Canadian troops were in Afghanistan - was forced to cancel scheduled gigs in Edmonton.

Comedian Doug Benson had been slated to appear April 2 to 5 in Edmonton, which is home to a Canadian Forces base, but the venue owner asked him to stay away.

Irate viewers flooded websites with thousands of comments, there were calls for a boycott of Fox advertisers, and several new Facebook groups popped up, including one titled "Greg Gutfeld Can Rot in Hell."

Gutfeld, the host of the controversial segment on Fox's Red Eye show, said he never intended to make light of Canadian military efforts in Afghanistan.

"However, I realize that my words may have been misunderstood," Gutfeld said in a statement released by Fox News.

"It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize.

"Red Eye is a satirical take on the news, in which all topics are addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner."

The recent talk-show segment was taped just before four more Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, and it featured a group of pundits taking turns trashing Canada and its reliability as an ally.

They were spurred by comments from Canada's army chief that the military would need a year's hiatus to regroup and refurbish after its Kandahar mission ends in 2011.

In the Fox News segment, widely accessed on the Internet, Gutfeld said the Canadian military "wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white capri pants."

"Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country?" he said. "They have no army."

That opening crack from Gutfeld prompted his comedian guest, Benson, to chime in: "I didn't even know that they were in the war," he said.

"I thought that's where you go if you don't want to fight - go chill in Canada. I guess that'll be their tourism selling point: We're not in the war for a year. So come on by while we nap."

Swept up the backlash over that little wisecrack was a comedy club in West Edmonton Mall. Benson had been scheduled to perform there next week.

But the owner of the Comedy Strip said he received too many angry messages - including from friends and relatives of soldiers - to guarantee Benson's safety. One person promised to buy a ticket just so that he could throw a beer at Benson.

"We were inundated with emails and phone calls that were bordering on threatening," said club owner Rick Bronson.

"Unfortunately, (Benson) touched a nerve."

The owner's wife called Benson's agent and informed him that the show couldn't go on. The comedian apparently explained that the segment had only been meant as a joke and that he respected Canada's military.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay wasn't laughing.

He requested an apology Monday just before leaving for Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., where he attended a homecoming ceremony with the families of the latest soldiers killed.

MacKay said later that he was satisfied with the apology.

Canadian soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan for eight years and have spent the last four in the country's most violent region. Canada has lost 116 soldiers in Afghanistan, the highest casualty rate among allied countries fighting there.

Earlier Monday, a spokesman stressed that the Canadian government specifically wanted an apology from the panellists who made the wisecracks - and not just from the Fox network at large.

"These are despicable, hurtful and ignorant comments," said Dan Dugas, a spokesman for MacKay.

"I think that so-called comedian should stare in the camera at his first opportunity and apologize to all of the families of people he's hurt with these despicable comments.

"And he's got to say, 'I was misinformed. I was ignorant of the truth and the contribution of the Canadian Forces to the war on terror, and I want to take it back. I know as a comedian that I can fail sometimes; I failed miserably at this so-called comedy.'

"And his panellists should say the same."

Canada says it will withdraw most of its 2,500 troops from Kandahar when its current combat mission expires in 2011.

The Fox News program aired after Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, the Canadian army chief of staff, said the military would need a one-year break from operations once the long and difficult mission in Afghanistan winds down.

The segment was posted online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

under the title, "How to Lose Friends and Alienate Countries."

By Monday afternoon, more than 9,400 people had posted responses to the clip, which also makes fun of RCMP officers and their traditional red uniforms.

Among the myriad online comments were a number of calls for a boycott of Fox advertisers.

"I'm just disgusted," said Toronto resident Gabby Herczeg, 55, after seeing the clip.

"Quite frankly, it's Canadians who've been protecting American lives by fighting in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan.

"I am going to actively find out who Fox had advertising and I'm just going to avoid buying any sort of products from them. It's just a disgusting performance."

March 22, 2009

"Just Watch Me": Pierre Trudeau and the October Crisis of 1970.

I know I haven't posted in a while. I've been really busy finishing up one essay (on the US Embargo of Cuba...which I will post about shortly) and starting on one about Trudeau's invocation of the War Measures Act in October 1970. I'll be busy for a while longer but I thought I'd let you know what I've been working on.

For those who don't know what the October Crisis is...here's a backgrounder:

The October Crisis denotes the kidnapping on 5 October 1970 of James Cross, the British trade commissioner in Montréal, by members of the FRONT DE LIBÉRATION DU QUÉBEC. The kidnappers' demands, communicated in a series of public messages, included the freeing of a number of convicted or detained FLQ members and the broadcasting of the FLQ manifesto. The manifesto, a diatribe against established authority, was read on Radio-Canada, and on October 10 the Québec minister of justice offered safe passage abroad to the kidnappers in return for the liberation of their hostage; but on the same day a second FLQ cell kidnapped the Québec minister of labour and immigration, Pierre LAPORTE.
On October 15 the Québec government requested the assistance of the Canadian Armed Forces to supplement the local police, and on October 16 the federal government proclaimed the existence of a state of "apprehended insurrection" under the WAR MEASURES ACT. Under the emergency regulations, the FLQ was banned, normal liberties were suspended, and arrests and detentions were authorized without charge. Over 450 persons were detained in Québec, most of whom were eventually released without the laying or hearing of charges.

On October 17 the body of Pierre Laporte was found in a car trunk near St Hubert airport. In early December 1970, the cell holding James Cross was discovered by police, and his release was negotiated in return for the provision of safe conduct to Cuba for the kidnappers and some family members. Four weeks later the second group was located and arrested, subsequently to be tried and convicted for kidnapping and murder. Emergency regulations under War Measures were replaced in December 1970 by similar regulations under the Public Order (Temporary Measures) Act which lapsed on 30 April 1971. The federal response to the kidnapping was intensely controversial. According to opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of Canadians supported the Cabinet's action, but it was criticized as excessive by Québec nationalists and by civil libertarians throughout the country. Supporters of the response claim that the disappearance of terrorism in Québec is evidence of its success, but this disappearance might equally be attributed to public distaste for political terror and to the steady growth of the democratic separatist movement in the 1970s, which led to the election of a PARTI QUÉBÉCOIS government (1976).

After the crisis the federal Cabinet gave ambiguous instructions to the RCMP Security Service, permitting dubious acts which were later condemned as illegal by the federal INQUIRY INTO CERTAIN ACTIVITIES OF THE RCMP and the Keable Commission (D'enquête sur des opérations policières en territoire Québecois) in Québec. The federal minister of justice in 1970, John TURNER, justified the use of War Measures as a means of reversing an "erosion of public will" in Québec, and Premier Robert BOURASSA similarly conceded that it was intended to rally popular support to the authorities rather than to confront an "apprehended insurrection."

Author DENIS SMITH

And here's quite possibly the most notable interview of the time in public memory. When asked how far he would go to ensure law and order, he Trudeau responded "just watch me". A few days later he invoked the War Measures Act which suspended civil liberties in Canada and ended in the arrest without charge of hundreds of Canadians.