Borders and COVID-19 | When her friends avoid Canada

Ouch! Can you feel them, two beautiful big blouses on our pride?


The first contender came from the United States, which decided to keep its land borders closed to Canadian tourists. The second is from the UK, which is relaxing quarantine rules for US visitors, but keeping a hard line for Canadians.

In this allied transatlantic triangle, Canada finds itself in the role of the kid we don’t want to be chosen to make up its own shuffle ball team. And who waits wisely on the sidelines.

But either way, the Trudeau government has demonstrated its desire to be a good player. Starting August 9, US visitors who have been double vaccinated will be able to come into the country — by air or land — without being quarantined. Britons who have been vaccinated twice will be able to do the same from September 7.

Of the three countries, Canada has the most enviable health situation, with a rate of COVID-19 infection 20 times lower than that of the United States, and 30 times lower than that of Great Britain. And our full vaccination rate is higher than the other two Anglo-Saxon countries.

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Under these circumstances, it is perfectly legitimate to ask our immediate neighbor and our nearest neighbor on the other side of the Atlantic why they are avoiding us in this way.

Unfortunately, the answers given to us are far from convincing.

The Biden administration, which was supposed to coordinate the reopening of its land border with Canada, now says it cannot do so without simultaneously opening the Mexican border. That the country deals with its neighbors in the same way.

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Ah good ? Mexicans should be happy to hear that! While the border between Canada and the United States is the longest peaceful border in the world, the border between the United States and Mexico has looked like a military zone for decades. And unlike Canadians, who can enter the United States without a visa while on a leisure or business visit, Mexicans all require permits to enter the United States. Not exactly a perfect fit.

This weak explanation emerged from the US at the last moment, moreover, as if someone was looking for a way to keep up with appearances.

It’s no better than the British side. Why drop quarantines for immunized travelers from the US and EU while leaving Canada on the sidelines? No explanation has been officially given.

Behind the scenes Britain is said to want to revive its economy and is counting on the most important tourism markets to make it happen: the United States and the European Union. However, Canadians are among the dearest people in Britain.

During the year before the pandemic, up to 800,000 Canadians visited Britain, contributing to a fallout of £734 million (1.3 billion), a contribution similar to that made by many countries in the European Union.

Of course, in the face of seemingly very arbitrary decisions, we can shrug our shoulders. After all, is this the best time to go to the US and Britain when the pandemic is out of control there? Mostly not. And those who are keen to go to the United States can do so by plane.

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It is impossible to ignore the annoyance. Because what is worrisome is not these temporary travel rules, but what they reveal about the state of our relations with two nations that we consider to be members of the immediate family, but which we seem to see in us..a distant cousin.

After the Trump years, Canada hoped to restore a more friendly and accommodating relationship with the coming to power of Joe Biden.

It’s time to lower our expectations. Of course, President Biden doesn’t get up at night to tweet insults to Justin Trudeau like his predecessor, but we don’t see much progress on issues close to the heart of Canada. Nor about the imprisonment of two Canadians in China for political reasons linked to the United States. Nor in the case of the protectionist trade measures rife south of the border, particularly through the Buy American program, which continues to grow. Resolution on the border adds another layer.

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How does Canada respond to the recent US and British decisions? The Trudeau government swallowed its mouth and says it continues to work with its partners. He is very shy.

However, Canada may bear inviting its “friends” to organize and assert its national interests in a more forceful way. In diplomatic circles, but also in the public arena.

Friendship is all well and good, but to make it last, a minimum of reciprocity is required. -30

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