Vancouver Island MP says it’s too soon to reopen Canada-U.S. border despite pressures from down south

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Despite calls from the United States to fast track reopening the Canada-U.S. border, one Island MP says we're not there yet.

A Vancouver Island Member of Parliament says it’s too soon to consider reopening the Canada-U.S. land border, despite receiving pressure from down south.

Former Green Party leader and current Member of Parliament for Saanich and the Gulf Islands, Elizabeth May, says many discussions surrounding the matter have taken place in Ottawa but she feels there’s still a ways to go.

“We’re not there yet,” said May.

With Canada fighting through the third wave of COVID-19, May says risking a fourth would be devastating.

“Any decision we make that miscalculates and throws us into a fourth wave means that we’ll have the net effect of more damage to the economy than saying ‘it’s time to open up the border so we can get the economy going again.'”

In the United States, however, there are growing calls to fast track the reopening of land borders between the two countries, which have been closed to non-essential travel since last March.

On Thursday, top U.S. Senator, Chuck Schumer, sent a letter to President Joe Biden’s administration calling on them to release a reopening plan.

“Having endured one of the deadliest chapters in New York’s history, the residents along the border are ready to turn the page and re-establish the familiar links to their loved ones, their property and their prosperity,” Schumer’s letter said.

“It is now incumbent on the federal government to do their part and aid their desperate desire to fully rebuild and recover. This recovery cannot be done, and I will not rest, until bilateral collaboration to safely reopen the United States and Canadian land border is an utmost priority and a plan for a full reopening is publicly released.”

With just 36 per cent of Canadians having received their first dose of a vaccine, it’s hard to picture a scenario where a border reopening happens anytime soon.

May says in the meantime, she’ll continue fighting for those industries hardest hit by the closure.

“I’m still arguing very hard in parliament, that the measures in the budget be augmented to provide relief to the tourism sector. It’s been the hardest hit, and as long as border stays mostly closed, that’s a very large part of our economy.”

Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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