Government Relations Report Issue 43

Summer 2002 CSANews Issue 43  |  Posted date : Apr 06, 2007.Back to list

There's never really a "restful" time for members of the CSA board of directors. When we're in our winter homes, we are quite busy with our Annual General Meeting, Snowbird Extravaganzas and Winter Information Meetings. When we're here in Canada, we're busy with our many home-based advocacy initiatives.

Right now, one of our main areas of focus is the National Evaluation, which is our report card on the provincial and federal governments. We have completed the information-gathering stage and have now started on the next. Our legal research has been completed and approved by the board of directors. I am pleased that the National Evaluation is proceeding according to plan and we anticipate an autumn 2002 release.

We have just awarded Navigator, a national public relations firm, the contract to grade the provinces on our specific issues, as well as to plan our "launch" of the Evaluation. A number of areas must be addressed in order to plan the release of the information ­ the political climate of the time, the economic climate...all in all, this is a very exciting project. Five companies tendered on the project and all presented excellent qualifications. The decision was quite difficult, as each firm had qualities that could enhance our project.

With all the recent border talk, thoughts have obviously turned to border crossings ­ and how to get across as easily and quickly as possible. Our office had an interesting discussion with Danny Yen, communications manager for Customs at Windsor/St. Clair. We asked, point-blank, how the NEXUS program worked, and was it of benefit to snowbirds.

We were told that, while the program is open to all travellers (provided they pass stringent screening), it is most effective for those who live along the border and travel into the United States on a frequent basis. Saving some time each way, every day, adds up but considering the enrolment process, saving the same amount of time twice yearly is worth giving the program a second thought.

The NEXUS program is not national in scope ­ according to the NEXUS Web site, www.ccra-adrc.gc.ca, the project is in place at the British Columbia/Washington border at Pacific Highway/Blaine, Douglas/Peace Arch

and Boundary Bay/Point Roberts beginning in late July. It is in operation at the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia and Port Huron, Michigan. Further expansion into Ontario and Quebec is imminent.

In order to apply, travellers must fill out a comprehensive application and submit a non-refundable fee of $80 (due every five years). Background security checks will be done by both the Canadian and American governments before the application can be approved. A letter will be mailed out, and then the candidate will proceed to an enrolment centre for an interview. A "fingerprint biometric" (electronic print of your two index fingers) will be done to check against a U.S. database for American immigration violations. If approved, photo identification will be taken and NEXUS cards will be issued.

If you are still interested in applying, the process takes between four and six weeks for completion. Hours of operation for the NEXUS lanes vary greatly by location. For more information, call 1-866-NEXUS-26.

An interesting note ­ over the years, we have made requests to the INS to provide a list of documents which travellers should carry to make the passage over the border as trouble-free as possible. If Canadians knew in advance what paperwork could be demanded of them, it would make it much simpler for all involved. We asked for such a list once again in April/May of this year and again in early July. We have just heard back from an INS spokesperson and it is as we expected ­ there is no list. We were told that if a traveller approaches the border and states that he/she is going south to his/her condo or home in the U.S. and the official, for whatever reason, feels that further information should be forthcoming, that traveller is going to need documentation proving where he/she is going. If you can possibly carry a copy of a deed, rental agreement, campground reservation or hotel information, etc., it can only be to your benefit. Also, your supplemental medical insurance indicates when you are planning to leave the United States, as it has a firm end-date on it. Travel prepared and use common sense.

I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of our Special Action Fund (SAF). Every government advocacy move we make is funded by the SAF ­ and your generosity in the past has enabled us to make great strides. Without your support, we absolutely could not have achieved the successes that we have enjoyed. If you can, please make a contribution to this very important fund which enables us to continue working on your behalf.