a joke with no punchline


It’s time for the Yukon to update its driver’s licence.

No. Let’s revisit that first paragraph.

It’s far-beyond time the Yukon updated its driver’s licence.

The thing is a joke.

It is less sophisticated than the swimming pool pass we used circa 1972. It could be forged by any computer savvy Grade 4 student. That is, it could be forged by any Grade 4 student.

It’s so useless thieves don’t even want it. Recently a Yukoner’s wallet was stolen, and the only thing recovered was the driver’s licence. They thief intentionally tossed it out.

Use it as ID down south, and store clerks will look at you askance.

“Um, what’s this?” they’ll say.

“That’s my driver’s licence.”

“Really,” they’ll say skeptically, as if facing a really dumb con artist.

“I’ll need another piece of ID, please.”

And so back to the wallet you’ll go, fishing around for the library card, or something official looking to prove you are who you say you are.

Sure, our licence is a thing of public ridicule. But these days, the shoddy document is no joke.

Officials, banks and businesses are security crazy and that means personal ID is important. And citizens should have something other than a federal passport that serves as

legitimate identification.

In fact, you need something official to get a passport.

Yukon residents don’t have much to pull on. (Our bush-league health card is another problem, but we’ll focus on one battle at a time.)

“Driver’s licences are widely trusted as ID and, when tampered with, can cost people, business and financial institutions millions of dollars each year,” according to BC solicitor general John van Dongen.

Licences are used as proof of identity for passports, or for entering a bar, he noted.

“The are essential for public safety, financial and other uses.”

So, in March, the province is replacing its old licences with sophisticated photo-ID, incorporating face-recognition technology. The cards will also be available to people who don’t drive.

BC has been working on the cards since 2006.

In the Yukon, the Liberal opposition has been demanding such a system for years.

It is even more pressing because, starting this year, the US won’t even recognize a legitimate driver’s licence at the border. Ours is likely to get US-bound travellers strip searched.

Officials have known about this for years.

Yet, despite this, the Yukon government has done nothing.

“The Yukon has failed to produce such a document,” said Liberal Don Inverarity in a release.

“We are still stuck with driver’s licences that look like they are made in a high school kid’s basement. They obviously will not meet the new American standards” for border crossings.

“We are years away from having these new licences in place because the Yukon hasn’t even started the process,” he added. “I have been encouraging the government to move forward on this issue for the last two years and absolutely nothing has been done.”

It’s a big issue with a simple fix. The Yukon could probably tap BC’s licence process until it got its own up and running.

Walk into the Yukon licence branch and casually ask the clerk when they are getting a new system, and they’ll laugh.

They know there’s a problem. But Archie Lang, the minister responsible for Community Services — which is responsible for issuing vehicle licences — apparently doesn’t.

There’s no excuse for the territory’s joke licence.

Lang and cabinet have known about the problem for years.

They have done nothing to fix it.

It’s time that changed.

The territory needs a new licence.

And it needs it sooner than later.