President's Message

Summer 2011 CSANews Issue 79  |  Posted date : Jul 08, 2011.Back to list

One of the questions I was asked most often this winter was "when can we expect to see the new, 10-year Canadian passport?" As many of you are aware, the CSA has been lobbying for this for years and I can assure you that it is definitely going to happen. Originally, we were supposed to have them early in 2011, but we all know that government is often not the most responsive institution in the world when it comes to deadlines. 

To be fair to the federal government and Passport Canada, they have involved us in the consultation process every step of the way. This July, they will be revealing their proposed fee structure to a select group of stakeholders, including the CSA. Quite frankly, they are looking to gauge our reaction. 

If the fee increases are reasonable and the reaction of these stakeholder groups is generally positive, they will then embark on a public consultation regarding the fees. Before adjusting fees, Passport Canada must consult Canadians in accordance with the User Fees Act (UFA), a law which states that any federal department that wants to change its user fees must go through a consultation process. If what we are hearing is true, the proposed price increases seem to be reasonable and, if so, we can expect implementation legislation to be tabled in the fall and the new passports to be rolled out early in 2012.

Although this has been a long and sometimes frustrating process, I really think that Canadians will be happy with the end result. Not only are the new ePassports more secure, having to renew them only once every 10 years will be significantly more convenient. 

As you will read more about in the government relations report, on June 9, our Executive Director Michael MacKenzie and I had an opportunity to sit down with newly elected Florida Governor Rick Scott in Toronto. Governor Scott spent one week in Canada on a trade mission in an effort to attract more jobs, investment and tourists to locate in and/or visit Florida. We had a very well-received chat about our proposed retiree visa and he is already assisting us by putting us in touch with some of his key political contacts in Washington, D.C. 

Obviously, the thought of even more Canadians spending more time and money in Florida is something that is very appealing to Governor Scott and I sincerely think that he will prove to be a strong ally in our fight.  You know what? He's a nice guy, too, which is always refreshing. 

Speaking of Florida, the Florida senate has just voted to ask voters to approve lower taxes for second-home owners (snowbirds), businesses and new-home owners. If everything goes as planned, this proposal will appear as a ballot measure in 2012.

The proposed constitutional amendment lowers the cap on non-homesteaded property from 10 to five per cent, affecting businesses, commercial property and second-home owners such as we snowbirds. Republicans had hoped to place the amendment before voters in the 2012 presidential primary early next year, but needed Democratic votes to do so. Instead, the amendment appears headed for the 2012 general election ballot in November. It would need the support of 60 per cent of those voting.

Although this doesn't solve the problem, things finally seem to be moving in the right direction. As most of our Florida members know all too well, it wasn't that long ago that there was no cap whatsoever on snowbird properties. It was a long, hard fight to win a 10 per cent cap and we are now on the cusp of seeing that rate cut in half. Rest assured that we will be heavily involved in this debate over the next 18 months and we will keep you apprised of our progress.

It seems as if it's never too early to start thinking about spending our next winter in the sun, and a great way for you to prepare is to attend one of our annual snowbird Lifestyle Presentations. This September, we will be touring Ontario with stops in Richmond Hill, Guelph, Parry Sound and Brockville. We then head out east for shows in both Moncton and Fredericton, New Brunswick, before wrapping up in beautiful Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Look for dates and box office details elsewhere in this issue of CSANews. Don't forget that all of these wonderful shows are free and open to the public, so please be sure and bring your friends.

As Jim Sherb covered so well in this issue's government relations report, I am about to embark on a five-day visit to Washington, D.C. for face-to-face meetings with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate regarding our proposed Retired Persons' Visa. I'd encourage you to read Jim's column for a more detailed examination of our plan to win this fight.

Lois and I wish you a safe and enjoyable summer with family and friends.