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Ottawa proposes change to rules for importing U.S. vehicles into Canada

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Ottawa wants to add more U.S. anti-theft devices to its list of vehicle immobilizers that meet Canadian standards, a move designed to make it easier for Canadians to import U.S. vehicles, said Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.

The federal government proposed changes Friday to add more electronic anti-theft immobilizers from the States to a Canadian list that the Registrar of Imported Vehicles checks each time a U.S. vehicle is imported into Canada.

Under the current importing rules, which came into effect Sept. 1, Canadian-made vehicles, or vehicles imported from the U.S., must have electronic, anti-theft immobilizers.

The proposed changes _ which take effect Dec. 16 after a 15-day consultation period _ would add more U.S. immobilizers to that list, so long as they meet a certain Canadian standard.

``The only thing we're doing is we're recognizing that the motor safety vehicles that are in the United States have a compatibility with what we have here. That's what we're recognizing,'' Cannon said.

He bristled at suggestions the government is lowering its standards when it comes to the immobilizers that make Canada's list of approved devices.

Data from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles released earlier this week showed that Canadians have imported more vehicles than ever this year from the U.S.

Canadians imported a record 136,666 new and used vehicles from the U.S. through October as the loonie overtook the slumping greenback at the very end of September. The Canadian dollar has largely traded above US$1 since then, giving consumers an incentive to cross the border to shop.

Last year, Canadians imported 112,826 vehicles from the U.S., Transport Canada said.

The government held two conference calls this week to discuss the proposed changes with auto makers, immobilizer manufacturers and other interested parties, said Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association.

Nantais, who said he was on the call, said he was surprised the government went ahead with the proposed changes so soon after the telephone conference.

``We have a concerned that they've required us to do this, a considerable amount of effort went into developing these immobilizer systems and putting them into our vehicles,'' he said.

``A good deal of resources, therefore, have been wasted. Product development resources that are pretty scarce at this point in time.''

Cannon's office said the government went with a 15-day consultation period rather than the traditional 60 days because of bottlenecking at the border as Canadians venture south to shop.

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Ottawa proposes change to rules for importing U.S. vehicles into Canada
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