TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Canada's ambassador is urging the United States to expand its pre-clearance of tourists from his country so southbound Canadians can get to Florida in time for lunch - and a beer.
Ambassador Gary Doer also touted a proposed oil pipeline between Canada and the United States on Tuesday at an international trade gathering sponsored by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Conducting customs, immigration, agriculture and other screenings before passengers depart from foreign ports and airports is designed to reduce congestion and delays upon arrival.
The United States has eight such pre-clearance facilities at Canadian airports.
Canadians "want to leave early in the morning to they can have a beer by lunch," Doer said. "More pre-clearance people will mean more tourists having more beer earlier."
The wisecracking ambassador also took a shot at actress Darryl Hannah after complaining that her opposition to the pipeline is getting more publicity than pro-pipeline comments by U.S. Energy Secretary David Chu.
"I was on a panel with Darryl Hannah in Copenhagen and I noticed that she said she's weaned herself completely off fossil fuels, which begs the question: How long is that kayak ride from Hollywood to Copenhagen and back again?" Doer said.
Hannah was among anti-pipeline activists arrested while protesting outside the White House.
Chu, meanwhile, has said the pipeline would offer the advantage of buying oil from a close ally rather than less stable sources in the Middle East or South America and that new technology makes such operations safer.
President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last month. Obama said his decision was not based on the merits of the issue but on the "arbitrary nature" of a Feb. 21 deadline set by congressional Republicans as part of tax legislation he signed into law.
Canada has begun looking at other options such as a pipeline to the Pacific Coast so oil could be shipped to China, but Doer said his government hasn't given up on getting U.S. approval of the north-south route.
He was followed to podium by U.S. Commerce Undersecretary for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, a Florida State University graduate who got his start in government working for then-Florida Lieutenant Gov. Wayne Mixson, who was in the audience Tuesday.
"I have every confidence that we will work together to find a solution" to the pipeline issue, Sanchez said.
Gov. Rick Scott also addressed the International Days conference.
Attendees applauded when chamber president and CEO Mark Wilson noted Scott has gone on more trade missions in his first year than his predecessor, Charlie Christ, did during his entire four-year term.
Scott has visited Canada, Panama, Brazil and Israel, and he plans to take three more trips this year to Spain, England and Columbia.
The Republican governor, in a rare instance of agreement with Obama, cited the president's signing of an executive order designed to promote foreign tourism.
It increases nonimmigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent this year and expands a visa waiver program that lets foreign travelers stay in the United States for 90 days or less without a visa.
Obama visited Walt Disney World last month to make the announcement. Scott said it's a big opportunity for Florida to attract more tourists from Brazil.
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