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VIEW: ‘Harper must freeze the EDL program now’, says Trew and Tassé

Stuart Trew, the Council of Canadians’ trade campaigner, and Roch Tassé, the coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, had their op-ed ‘Enhanced driver’s licences too smart for their own good’ published in today’s Toronto Star (with 436,694 weekday readers).

They write, “A common refrain coming out of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano’s visit to Ottawa and Detroit last week was that the Canada-U.S. border is getting thicker and stickier even as Canadian officials work overtime to implement measures that are meant to get us across that border more efficiently and securely. One of those measures – ‘enhanced’ drivers licences (EDLs) now available in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba – has been rushed into production to meet today’s implementation date of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This unilateral U.S. law requires all travellers entering the United States to show a valid passport or other form of secure identification when crossing the border.

“But as privacy and civil liberties groups have been saying for a while, the EDL card poses its own thick and sticky questions that have not been satisfactorily answered by either the federal government, which has jurisdiction over privacy and citizenship matters, or the provincial ministries issuing the new ‘enhanced’ licences…The Harper government owes it to Canadians to freeze the EDL program now and hold a parliamentary hearing into the new technology, its alleged benefits and the stated privacy risks. Napolitano has repeatedly said that from now on Canadians must treat the U.S. border as any other international checkpoint. It might feel like an inconvenience for some who are used to crossing into the U.S. without a passport, but the costs – real and in terms of privacy – of these provincial EDL projects will be much higher.”

Their op-ed can be read at http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/642860.