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article imageThe U.S. - Canada disconnect on reopening the border

By Karen Graham     Oct 18, 2020 in Politics
Ottawa - Although Canada and the U.S. have agreed to close their shared land border to non-essential travel, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they don't appear to agree on several related issues - like what to do on October 21.
The Canada-US border has been closed to all non-essential travel between the two countries since March, and the border closure has been extended several times over the course of the pandemic. The latest closure is due to be lifted on October 21, according to the Times Union.
CBC Canada is reporting that it appears that President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are voicing contradictory messages about what will happen next.
Back on September 19, Digital Journal reported that Trump told reporters the border restrictions between Canada and the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic would be lifted “pretty soon”, contradicting an agreed-to extension until October 21 just hours before.
We're looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it open, and, you know, we want to get back to normal business," Trump said at the White House, adding that "we're going to be opening the borders pretty soon" to take advantage of the renegotiated NAFTA."
"We're working with Canada. We want to pick a good date, having to do with the pandemic. And I happen to think we're rounding the turn," Trump said.
However, in an interview Wednesday on Winnipeg podcast The Start, Trudeau said Canada plans to keep the border closed as long as COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. remains high.
“We have committed to keeping Canadians safe and we keep extending the border closures because the United States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders,” Trudeau said.
The Canadian government is looking at the science and health statistics in its efforts to keep Canadians safe during the coronavirus pandemic, and with the U.S. being the worst-effected country in the world, there is no desire by most Canadians to reopen borders.
In a poll conducted by Research Company last month, out of 1,000 Canadians surveyed online at the end of August, 90 percent agreed with the current restrictions.
Foreign affairs expert Edward Alden suggests the disconnect between Truseau and Trump may mean there have not been any "ongoing discussions" between the two countries.
"With the Trudeau government saying, 'No, don't open' ... and President Trump saying, 'Oh, I think we'll reopen sometime soon,' that's no grounds for a serious government-to-government negotiation," said Alden, a professor of U.S.-Canada economic relations at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash.
It is more likely that Trump was just saying what he thought the reporters wanted to hear. Most Americans are well versed in what to believe or not believe when Trump speaks.
More about USCanada border, Trudeau, Trump, mixed signals, covid19 cases
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