“When you enter July 1st, Canada Day, and July 4th, Independence Day, these target dates are real pressure points to want to be normalized,” said Easter, Canada-United States co-chair. Inter-parliamentary group said in an interview. “The heat is on and I think we need to have a plan.”
The front man: Since March 2020, land crossings between Canada and the USA have been closed for unnecessary travel. The neighbors agreed last week to keep the restrictions in place until June 21st.
But with vaccination numbers rising, June 22nd could be a different story.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told POLITICO this week that US authorities were ready to begin lifting restrictions on both US borders in June. “All the signs are that they will open next month,” said Cuellar, whose district borders the Mexican border. “We’re almost there. But I don’t know if they’ll do it all at once or if they’ll take it step-by-step.”
The plan: Easter said Canada was approaching the border with greater caution. When asked if Canada could begin opening on June 22nd, he said it would depend on how the pandemic evolves and vaccinations on both sides.
However, through June 22, Easter said it was crucial to make schedules and benchmarks available to the public.
“You have to interpret the plan regardless of this uncertainty. People have to know where they are going. They have to be given that hope,” Easter said. “At this point it is absolutely essential that the plan is fully worked out.” ”
Canada, for example, has caught up with the US in administering the first vaccine doses, but is declining in the percentage of people who had both shocks. As of Thursday, more than 53 percent of the Canadian population had received at least one dose while only 5 percent were fully vaccinated.
See Beyond the Ottawa Bubble: The lack of a plan, Easter argues, is due in part to the legislature’s shift to virtual gatherings during the pandemic. Zoom’s caucus meetings just weren’t the same, he added.
“You can’t rub your shoulders … and say to someone,” See, that’s the problem, and let’s get into that together today and put the pressure on, “said Easter, who is adding a lot of American real estate to his Prince Edward Island Constituency and often spend up to five months a year there.
“They have the Ottawa bubble mentality to some extent and that can be part of the problem. Just like the Washington, DC mentality – they’re two different worlds. I say both [are] a bubble in which reality or common sense does not exist. “
Easter also said he believes Canada has not yet revealed a plan because of the “flow and uncertainty” of the pandemic. The province of Manitoba is grappling with an increase in Covid-19 cases. Home-based restrictions still apply in much larger provinces like Ontario.
Cross-border discussions: Last week, Easter co-chaired a Canada-US meeting. Inter-parliamentary group that focused on a number of issues including the safe reopening of the border. US participants included Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
He said the Americans in The meeting wanted to put more pressure on the US government and the Canadian government to get started Remove border restrictions.
“They’re fueling their administration and they’re trying to heat ours too,” he said, adding that he thinks this resonates with Trudeau’s ministers. “I speak to cabinet ministers in various caucus meetings. The discussion is still ongoing. There [are] Cabinet discussions about how we do it. That’s a good sign. “
American pressure has raised the prospect that the US could begin reopening the border off Canada.
A senior Canadian government insider recently said that official discussions were ongoing at the border and that no decisions were expected in the short term. The insider also said the rules could relax as the summer progresses.
Trudeau has suggested that at least 75 percent of Canada’s population will need their first shots and 20 percent their second doses before the country begins easing public health restrictions. He did not provide detailed guidelines for the border.
The prime minister is still under domestic pressure. For example, provincial leaders like Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford have urged him to maintain the border measures.
The political pressure: The restrictions have affected businesses, tourism and family reunification on both sides of the border. So far, most of the public pressure has come from the US.
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, was one of the most vocal lawmakers pushing President Joe Biden and Trudeau. He wants border measures lifted for those who have been fully vaccinated.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took office last week an explanation Directly urging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to coordinate with his Canadian colleagues as soon as possible.
Easter said political pressure from the US had been increased in large part because Canada public health officials and the media added a greater “fear factor” related to the pandemic.
“We did a pretty good job on the Canadian side of creating fear,” he said, noting that the goal was to get people to stay home. “If you ever watched [the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] for a period of 16 hours you would be depressed. “