“As you move into July 1, Canada Day and July 4, Independence Day, these target dates are real pressure points to want to be standardized,” said Easter, who co-chairs the Canada Inter-Parliamentary Group. -United States, in an interview. “The heat is on, and I think we absolutely need to have a plan.”
The border: Land crossings between Canada and the United States have been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. Neighbors agreed last week to keep restrictions in place until June 21.
But as the number of vaccines increases, June 22 could be a different story.
Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told POLITICO this week that US authorities are set to begin lifting restrictions at both US borders in June. “Everything indicates that they will open next month,” said Cuellar, whose neighborhood is adjacent to the Mexican border. ” We are almost there. But I don’t know if they’re going to do it all at once or if they’ll take a step-by-step approach. ”
The plan: Easter said Canada is approaching the border with more caution. When asked if Canada can start opening things up on June 22, he said it will depend on how the pandemic progresses and vaccinations on both sides.
By June 22, however, Easter said it would be crucial to provide the public with timelines and benchmarks.
“You have to define the plan regardless of this uncertainty. People need to know where they are going. We have to give them that hope, ”said Easter. “It is absolutely essential at this point that the plan is fully defined. ”
Canada, for example, has caught up with the United States in administering the first doses of vaccines, but lags behind in the percentage of people who received both vaccines. As of Thursday, more than 53 percent of the Canadian population had received at least one dose, while only 5 percent were fully immunized.
See beyond the Ottawa bubble: The lack of a plan, Easter argues, is in part due to lawmakers switching to virtual gatherings during the pandemic. Zoom caucus meetings just weren’t the same, he added.
“You can’t hang out … and say to somebody, ‘Look, this is the problem and let’s tackle it together today and put the pressure on,’” said Easter, who adds that many Americans have properties in her Prince Edward. riding the island and often spend up to five months there each year.
“You have the Ottawa bubble mentality to some extent and that can be part of the problem. Same as 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 believed Canada had yet to unveil a plan due to the “flow and uncertainty” of the pandemic. The province of Manitoba is grappling with an outbreak of Covid-19 cases. Much larger provinces, such as Ontario, are still subject to stay-at-home restrictions.
Cross-border discussions: Last week, Easter co-chaired a meeting of the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group that focused on a number of issues, including the safe reopening of the border. The American participants understood the Meaning. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
He said Americans in the meeting wanted to put more pressure on the US and Canadian governments to start removal of border restrictions.
“They’re putting pressure on their administration and also trying to put some heat on ours,” he said, adding that he thinks it resonates with Trudeau’s ministers. “I speak to cabinet ministers at various caucus meetings. The discussion is ongoing, this is not a moot point. The [are] discussions between firms on how to proceed. It’s a good sign.
American pressure has raised the prospect that the United States may begin to reopen the border before Canada.
A senior Canadian government official recently said official-level border talks are underway and no decisions are expected in the near term. The insider also said the rules could ease as the summer progresses.
Trudeau has suggested that at least 75% of the Canadian population should get their first shot and 20% will need their second dose before the country begins to ease public health restrictions. He did not provide detailed guidelines for the border.
The Prime Minister still faces internal pressures. For example, provincial leaders like Ontario Premier Doug Ford urged him to keep border measures in place.
Political pressure: The restrictions have affected business, tourism and family reunification on both sides of the border. But so far most of the public pressure has come from the United States.
Northern Border Caucus co-chair Rep Brian Higgins (DN.Y.) has been among the most vocal lawmakers pushing Presidents Joe Biden and Trudeau. He wants border measures lifted for those who have been fully vaccinated.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer used a statement to directly urge Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to coordinate with his Canadian counterparts as soon as possible.
Easter said political pressure from the United States has been stronger in large part because in Canada, public health officials and the media have contributed to a greater “fear factor” around the pandemic.
“We did a really good job of creating fear on the Canadian side,” he said, noting that he understands the goal was to make people stay home. “If you ever looked [the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] for a 16 hour period, you would be depressed. ”