We Need a Plan to Open the Canada-US Border

There are growing calls from across the political spectrum for Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to open the Canada-US border.

The border has been closed to travelers since March of last year.

I have witnessed firsthand how the heavy-handed (often haphazard) measures put in place by the Liberal Government have affected those Canadians who need to travel, particularly those living in our border communities.

I remember, vividly, the plight of one young woman. She was a Canadian, new to the area with no family or connections nearby, about to have her first child. All she wanted was for her husband (an American citizen stuck on the other side of the border) to be able to be there for the birth.

Others, who needed to travel for medical treatment or for an end-of-life situation faced similar quandaries. All to be coldly informed their travel—and by extension their family needs—were “non-essential”.

Thousands of Canadian families have seen their world turned upside down. As have thousands of Americans who rely on Canadian tourism for their businesses.

Last week, US Senate Majority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote a letter to the US Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, calling for a “transparent, bilateral and public plan” for re-opening the Canada-US border. He went on to say that a plan with “clearly defined benchmarks will provide clarity and transparency to a confusing and frustrating process.”

While it is exceedingly rare that my views align with those of Senator Schumer, on this we agree.

In fact, regular readers of this column will recognize that his words echo my own ongoing calls for a plan with clear metrics to move Canada (and Manitoba) beyond the endless cycle of restrictions, back to a safe resumption of normal life.

To that end, Canada’s Conservatives have been asking for months, why the Liberal government has not procured and mass-deployed rapid tests? Doing so would allow provinces to ease restrictions and help to solve the issue of cross-border travel. The Liberals have failed to do so, touting, instead, their deeply flawed vaccine rollout.

As a result, Mr. Trudeau insists the border measures should stay in place until 75% of Canadians have been vaccinated—though given how many times governments have moved the goal posts on Canadians, I’m not holding my breath.

Justin Trudeau and the Liberals should look around them. The world is re-opening and Canada is being left behind.

I understand the initial need to put measures in place, when we didn’t know what we were facing. But a year has passed. Governments have had ample time to study this virus and formulate a plan.

By setting out a clear plan, we can move forward on re-opening. We can re-open the border, the province, the country. We can do it responsibly and safely.

Canadians have been patient. They have done their part. It’s time Justin Trudeau and provincial leaders did theirs.