Canada: Office recalls almost 10,000 defective passports : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Office recalls almost 10,000 defective passports `Technical glitch' behind problem with North York papers Peter Edwards STAFF REPORTER

Thousands of Canadian travellers are in danger of missing flights overseas because of defective documents issued through the Passport Office's North York bureau.

Almost 10,000 faulty passports, which cannot be scanned by inspection machines at the border, are to be returned in the only recall of its kind in Canadian history, Passport Office spokesperson Sheila Liston said yesterday from Ottawa.

``It's the first ever,'' she said, blaming the problem on ``a technical glitch with some new equipment.''

A letter was sent out this week to thousands of people who received their passports from the North York office between Oct. 2 and Nov. 7 of this year, telling them their passports were recalled.

There have been no reports of Canadians overseas experiencing difficulties with the faulty passports, Liston said.

The letter says new passports can be returned within 10 working days.

To accommodate the expected flood of customers, hours have been extended at the North York office and extra counters have been set up.

The North York office, at 4900 Yonge St., Suite 380, will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays until at least Dec. 22, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 16 and Dec. 23.

``We have informed our network of Canadian officials around the world about this defect, which will prevent border control authorities from being able to `machine-read' your passport,'' states a copy of a letter obtained by The Star from the Passport Office to the holder of a faulty passport.

The letter was signed by Carol Hensley, director of Ontario operations for the Passport Office, an agency of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The letter continues: ``Although they will be able to reassure border control authorities that your passport is valid, you may experience serious difficulties, such as missing a flight, if a Canadian official is not able to confirm your passport's validity.''

The letter urges anyone travelling before Jan. 2, 2001 to call ahead to arrange a time to come in for a new passport.

``Should you choose not to replace the passport, be advised that the Passport Office expressly denies any liability for any damage that could ensue, directly or indirectly, from the use of the affected passport,'' the letter continues.

-- Martin Thompson (, December 14, 2000

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