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Canadians push back hard as U.S. Congress pressures them to reopen border

PortandTerminal.com, July 11, 2020

OTTAWA – An overwhelming majority of Canadians do not want the shared US/Canada border reopened any time soon despite pleas this week from members of Congress.

A recent poll done in Canada found that 81 per cent of Canadians say the Canada-U.S. border should remain closed as the death toll approaches 135,000 stateside.

Members of US Congress ask for phased reopening

Highway. Truck. Signs showing bridge to Canada
81 per cent of Canadians say the Canada-U.S. border should remain closed

In a letter this week shared by New York Congressman Brian Higgins, 27 members of Congress called on the U.S. and Canadian governments to begin a phased full reopening of the border when the current agreement expires on July 21.

Restrictions on the border were first introduced in March, and have renewed them three times over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The members of Congress, who represent the northern states along the border, also implored the Canadian government to consider easing restrictions on family members and property owners impeded by the border closure.

“We understand the importance of prioritizing the safety of our communities as we all navigate the complex calculation of minimizing public health risks and resuming economic activity. However, the social and economic partnership between our two nations necessitates a clear pathway forward,” the letter read.

They crafted the letter following the latest joint Canada-U.S. agreement to extend the current border closure until July 21. This is the third time the agreement to maintain the border closure has been extended.

Canadians want nothing to do with opening the US/Canada border for now.

There is a general sense that Canada has handled the pandemic better than the United States. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June there was “broad consensus” among provincial leaders to keep current measures along the 5,500-mile frontier in place.

“Our borders, as long as the goods and products are flowing, which they have been, and I love our American neighbours, but not right now. Come visit us when things calm down, especially south of the border.” – Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario (July 10, 2020)

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So despite the United States’ recent plea, a spokesperson for Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told CTVNews.ca in a Friday statement that the health and safety of Canadians is “absolutely priority.”

“Decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians,” said Freeland’s spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, in the statement.

Freeland’s office wasn’t alone in pushing back against the call. Higgins posted the open letter in full on his Twitter page and he was swiftly met with backlash on the social media platform.

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