Border city mayors split over when US-Canada border should open
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The deal to keep the Canada-US border closed to non-essential traffic expires in 11 days, but there are differing opinions from border city mayors about how long these restrictions should stay in place.
Border city mayors recently met by online video with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair on how to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley believes the border should remain closed until at least next year.
“We need to see what’s happening with COVID, in this province with the schools opening and people being in closer quarters. And we also need to see what’s happening with our American partners,” Bradley tells CTV News.
Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens differs in that he believes another month is likely the best course of action, with a month-to-month assessment of the data and circumstances, instead of an indefinite closure.
“It’s quite likely we could get to the end of the year with 30 day reviews, but I would hate to say just close it wholesale until the end of the year without periodic check-ins where the government can review the circumstances and make an informed decision," says Dilkens.
Dilkens tells CTV Windsor the majority of border city mayors agree with that approach.
He also pushed minister Blair to create a formal process to allow compassionate and family cases to cross from the US into Canada.
“The federal government is very alive to the issue that they need to set up a process and it wouldn’t surprise me if an announcement sometime soon is forthcoming about a pathway for people to be able to apply for access to come into the country to deal with certain family related circumstances,” adds Dilkens.
It’s a message Windsor West MP Brian Masse has been communicating to minister Blair for months.
“What’s difficult for people is they don’t even know. They’re just waiting for the next deadline date and that can be cruel,” says Masse.
His office has fielded numerous calls to loosen restrictions on a very limited compassionate basis, even presenting a number of options.
Masse says instead of relying on a border officer’s discretion, a concrete plan needs to be rolled out, and soon.
“I think if we get some of the worst ones out of the way and deal with them and put a high degree of accountability it will ease things a little bit and make them a little better.”
Bradley says the governments should pick the groups they’re willing to allow and determine how they’re “going to do it.”
“It could be property owners. It could be family reconciliation, but just don’t open it back up again,” Bradley says. “That would be extremely dangerous, and even the minister admitted that would probably mean if it backfired we’d have to close it again. And that’s the worst thing you can do, give us freedom and then take it away.”
The call to extend the closure comes amid troubling signs, with Ontario cases trending upward.
Current restrictions are in place until Sept. 21, but the government typically announces any extensions in advance of that date.
With files from CTV London’s Bryan Bicknell.