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Tuesday,  April 23, 2024 5:06 AM 

“More Terry Fox, not less": Canada’s passport redesign sparks criticism

  • Buzz
  •   05-11-2023  7:44 am
  •   Pax Global Media

“More Terry Fox, not less": Canada’s passport redesign sparks criticism
Ottawa is updating the Canadian passport with new designs, but not everyone is happy about the changes. (Government of Canada).
Pax Global Media

The Government of Canada has updated the Canadian passport with new designs and enhanced security features.

As announced on Wednesday (May 10), Canada’s new passport has been revamped, from cover to cover, with new artwork and security features aimed to keep identities safe, such as a polycarbonate data page (a similar technology similar used for Canada's driver's licences).

Passport holders' personal information will now be laser engraved instead of being printed with ink, making the data page more durable and resistant to tampering and counterfeiting.

READ MORE: Canadians will be able to renew their passports online starting this fall

Other features include a Kinegram over the main photo, a custom see-through window with a secondary image of the passport holder, a variable laser image, and a temperature sensitive ink feature.

Celebrating Canada’s heritage

The new passport – the first update since 2013 – also aims to celebrate Canada's heritage and identity with iconic images of Canada's natural beauty throughout the four seasons.

It includes a new cover design with an outline of a maple leaf—the first significant change in decades.

The new passport will start rolling out later this summer, officials says. Until then, “the current passport remains secure and reliable,” the government said in a press release Wednesday.

“Canadians with valid passports will only need to renew them when they are getting close to their normal renewal date,” officials said.

“More Terry Fox, not less"

But the new design isn’t winning the hearts of everyone.

Noticeably absent from the redesign are certain images, a move that has some accusing Ottawa of “erasing” history.

The old design shows images of the Fathers of Confederation, the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France and athlete and activist Terry Fox, but these images to Canada's past will not be featured in the new document, CTV News reports.

A summer scene displayed in Canada's revamped passport. (Supplied)

The new design, instead, focuses on highlighting symbols the government says it hopes will reflect Canadian life, including more images of nature.

The Royal Canadian Legion is one group that is speaking out, telling CTV that it is “disappointed by the decision to remove an image that signifies the sacrifices made for the very sort of freedom the passport provides.”

“The Vimy Memorial was a fundamental image, also representing a defining moment in Canada, a country emerging as an independent nation with limitless potential,” the Legion said. “Removing that image in the context of a design change and without knowing the rationale was, to put it bluntly, a poor decision.”

Brad West, who is mayor of Terry Fox’s hometown of Port Coquitlam, B.C., echoed a similar sentiment about removing historical images, saying Canadians need “more Terry Fox, not less.”

A winter scene displayed in Canada's new passport. (Supplied)

"My thought is that whoever made this decision needs to give their head a shake,” West told CTV National News' Glen McGregor on Wednesday.

“Across this country, Terry Fox inspired and continues to inspire millions of Canadians. And millions of people around the world. And so we need more Terry Fox not less Terry Fox. And I just think this is a really bad decision. It should be addressed. It should be reversed.”

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser was asked why historical images were not included in the redesign, and he said the designs were based on consultations with government departments, such Canadian Heritage and Indigenous communities.

The Government of Canada awarded a 14-year contract in 2019 to the Canadian Bank Note Company to design, develop, and deploy the next generation of Canadian passports and travel documents.

The new passport also contains the former Coat of Arms. The design and manufacturing of the new passport was a multi-year process that began well before the new Coat of Arms was approved by His Majesty King Charles III in April 2023, Ottawa says.

On March 21, 2023, the new online Passport Application Status Checker was launched, allowing Canadians to check the status of their passport application online.

Also, as previously reported, Canadians will be able to renew their passport, pay their fees, and upload their photograph securely online starting this fall.

"The new Canadian passport is more than a travel document; it is a representation of our national identity and values. It is a reminder of the beauty and diversity of Canada, and it reflects the country's commitment to welcoming people from all around the world,” Minister Fraser stated. 

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