Never before has the Chicoutimi passport office been so popular with passport applicants from outside the region.
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They stood in line for more than a hundred on Tuesday morning. “I saw there were about 500 in Laval at 4am this morning, so I went to Saguenay,” said a Laval resident whose flight is scheduled for Wednesday evening.
Another Laval resident, Alain Lavoie, arrived in Saguenay yesterday morning and spent the last night away from the office. “I slept in my car for maybe three hours. There weren’t many people there, but around 4 a.m. it started to cluster,” he said.
By early afternoon he was disillusioned. “I don’t think I’ll pass today. My trip is threatened, but I have no choice but to stay here,” he explained annoyed.
For the sake of efficiency, the authorities of the Chicoutimi office had divided the queue into two parts: those whose departure occurs within a maximum of 24 hours and the others within 48 hours or more.
Those who got their passports were also in a new race against time. “Our flight is at 7:30 p.m. tonight, so we’ll leave right away,” said one woman around 11:30 a.m.
“They told us that we would have priority because our flight is tonight,” added Greenfield Park’s Hélène Labarbe. The staff is very nice here.”
However, there was a small setback at lunchtime. Bureau officials have alerted travelers that the most urgent cases need to be dealt with, including for the rest of the day, depending on the date of the request.
“Our flight leaves at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. Even if we get our passports at 8:30 tomorrow morning, we will never be at the airport on time unless we drive at 200 km/h, which is impossible,” lamented another person.
Two men of Algerian origin feared having to cancel their flight, one on Thursday 23 June and the other on Saturday 25 June. “Two thousand four hundred dollars,” one of them sighed.
“I’m preparing mentally not to travel and lose my ticket,” said his friend.
A Montrealer whose departure is “not until” July 3 has been invited to return next week. “We’re going back to Montreal,” she said, her eyes watering.
Alain Lavoie summed up the plaintiffs’ general spirit well. “I can’t believe no one is being held accountable for this mess,” he hissed. There are leaders up there who haven’t done their jobs. When we talk about a banana republic, we are right in the middle of it!”