The British Columbia/Washington State Partnership on Enhanced Driver's Licences

Article excerpt

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative originally adopted in 2004 is a US policy requiring everyone entering or re-entering the United States to present a valid passport or other secure identity document. This article outlines steps taken by the province of British Columbia and the state of Washington to implement provisions of the WHTI by use of specially designed enhanced drivers license thereby facilitating trade and other relations between these neighbouring jurisdictions.

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The United States and Canada are longstanding allies and friends. We share social and cultural ties, transportation links, cultural references and ecosystems. Our countries have developed side by side, along similar but unique paths: two experiments in democracy and development unlike any other two nations on earth.

The similarity in the relative strength and influence of our provincial and state governments also contributes to the opportunity for unique relations when we have the vision to seize them. Relations that between British Columbia and the State of Washington have never been stronger.

British Columbia and Washington share a combined population of 10 million people, a GDP of almost $450 billion, and approximately $10 billion in bilateral trade. We also share close personal and family ties, with social and business connections that travel regularly across the border.

Our governments have taken this close connection even further, and since 2005, Washington and British Columbia have worked to forge what is arguably the most successful formalized cross-border partnership network in North America, both multilateral and bilateral, with partners across our borders.

These relationships help us identify and respond to common concerns and take advantage of common opportunities.

Both British Columbia and Washington are strong supporters of and active participants in the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. This bi-national, multilateral public-private partnership brings together legislators, private sector leaders and communities from the region to discuss how we can work together on shared priorities, such as open and secure borders, economic development, energy, environment, and trade. Member jurisdictions also include Alberta, Yukon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon.

The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region's 2008 annual summit will take place in Vancouver, July 20-24. This occasion will showcase British Columbia and highlight top international priorities of jurisdictions in this region, including how we can strengthen security at the Canada-US border while ensuring smooth and open legitimate travel and trade; the challenges of labour mobility across borders in the face of aging workforces; the region's role as gateway to the Asia Pacific, not only for North America, but also for western Europe; and the imperative of action on climate change, as climate change and greenhouse gas emissions respect no border.

Through our involvement in the PNWER, Washington and British Columbia have successfully pursued priorities and achieved actionable results that span borders, build partnerships, and have driven national agendas--particularly to help support borders that are secure, but open to legitimate travel and trade.

Washington and British Columbia have also established an important bilateral partnership through High Level Dialogues between the Governor and Premier and senior cabinet members. Over the past two years, our governments have reached agreements to collaborate to take action on climate change and Pacific Ocean conservation, to cap and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and collaborate on the innovation and implementation of clean technologies. We have improved passenger rail service between Vancouver, Washington, and Vancouver, B.C. And we are cooperating on border security and cross-border transportation, and are working to improve the marketing and physical infrastructure at the border for the NEXUS and FAST programs. …