US congressman demands full reopening of Canadian border, small businesses continue to suffer in the meantime

More than a year later, the international border closure has battered small towns, independent businesses
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WASHINGTON — March 21 will mark one year since the closure of the world’s largest undefended border for nonessential travel. After US President Joe Biden announced that every American who wishes to be immunized can do so by the end of May, Rep. Brian Higgins penned a letter addressed to the president, urging him to work towards the reopening of the border.

In the letter, the congressman asked the president to collaborate with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “a partial re-opening of the Northern Border by Memorial Day of this year with a full reopening by July 4 of this year.”

Rep. Brian Higgins’ letter to US President Joe Biden. (Photo Courtesy of the Congress of United States)

“I believe that now is the time to think boldly and proactively in planning out the incremental reopening of our border with Canada,” Higgins wrote, citing the rollout of the experimental COVID-19 “vaccine” and continued public health measures in the US.

Reducing the economic and the human impacts of the pandemic is another impetus for immediate border reopening, Higgins said, adding that the US-Canada relationship requires “special attention” at the current juncture.

“Even though my district in Western New York sits just across the Niagara River to the Canadian province of Ontario, the distance to Canada is now further than it has ever been in my lifetime,” he wrote.

“This tears at the fabric of our community and is a critical problem for individuals, families, and businesses.

“Given the economic and social costs the border closure has had on the region, we must prioritize efforts to expand essential traveller exceptions and plan for an incremental reopening now.”

On March 21, the restrictions on nonessential border crossings will be extended for another month with no plans for reopening in the foreseeable future, CBC News reported.

While mandatory lockdowns have impacted small businesses everywhere, the prolonged border closures may endanger the economic health of small towns and independent businesses that rely on cross-border traffic, such as pit stops and restaurants, according to CBS News.

In Eureka, Montana — a state where Canadians previously spent about US$200 million per annum — a local bar situated just 200 yards from the border is floundering.

“My income is down almost 60%,” Dave Clark, owner of the First And Last Chance Bar, told CBS. “If I hadn’t had the PPE loan and there’s two grants that Montana gave us, I’d be completely out of reserves.”

The border closure has decimated business activity along the entire 5,500-mile border. The cancelled ferry service on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, for example, resulted in a loss of US$64 million and 110 jobs.

Bernadette Clement, mayor of Cornwall, ON, said that the closure affected cross-border human relationships as well, recalling to CBC News the story of an American woman who struggled to reunite with her dying mother in the Eastern Ontario city.

“Those are the things that hit home,” she said.

Clement added that citizens also want updates from their legislators about any reopening action plans.

“We’re at the point where we’re thinking [reopening is] going to happen sometime this year, potentially. Except we don’t know what the metrics are … What’s the process?”

On February 23, Trudeau and Biden had their first virtual meeting to commit to an “ambitious” scheme that would facilitate the revitalization and expansion of US-Canada relationships, “Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership.”

Trudeau and Biden agreed that they would prioritize ending the COVID-19 pandemic and boosting economic recuperation in both nations, according to the press release.

“The two leaders further discussed the importance of avoiding measures that may constrain the critical trade and supply-chain security between our countries,” the release stated. As CTV noted, neither Trudeau nor Biden have provided a timeline on the roadmap.

“Both leaders shared their vision for building back better by supporting hard-hit small- and medium-sized businesses and creating good middle-class jobs, especially for women and young people.”

Featured Image: Courtesy of the Canadian Press

Wiki Production Code: A0716

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