Feds want passport views

From the Niagara Falls Review:

The federal government won’t move ahead with its plan to incorporate biometric technology into passports until Canadians have had a chance to weigh in on it.

Pamela Stephens, a spokeswoman for Justice Minister and Attorney General Rob Nicholson, said Friday the minister’s office has been assured by Passport Canada that the agency intends to conduct public consultations, which will likely commence in early April.

The federal government has talked about introducing biometric passports as far back as 2008. The plan was mentioned again in last week’s speech from the throne. However, the government’s proposed 2010 budget, unveiled last week, didn’t provided specific details about funding for the initiative.

Some local tourism officials have expressed support in principle for biometrics, but want to know if the changes will mean Canadians will have to pay more to acquire the important border-crossing documents.

“Before price is established, there will be a public consultation process,” said Stephens. “In the second part of that process, they will introduce a fee structure, so they’re going to consult Canadians on a price before anything is … announced.”

“That will be an important part for people, particularly in the Niagara area.”

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