July 21st, 2020
Border Closure Questions
I've been getting a few questions about the US border closure and the issue of Americans travelling through Canada on their way to Alaska.
I was glad to hear the border will remain closed until at least August 21st as flare-ups all over the US make it dangerous and risk all that BC has gained to date. The closure of the border to discretionary travel while allowing trade shipments, commerce, and essential workers to continue to move in both directions has been crucial to contain COVID19 and it should remain as long as this measure is needed to keep Canadians safe.
I asked the CBSA about Americans travelling through Canada on their way to Alaska. They informed me that those Americans must present evidence that they have a non-tourism reason for going to Alaska—i.e. that they live or work there. They cannot be going to Alaska as tourists. If they can't provide this evidence they are not allowed to enter Canada.
If they are allowed to transit through Canada to Alaska, they can only go to take-out restaurants; they must pay at the pump for gas. If they are found to be abusing this transit authority, they face heavy fines (and several fines of $1000 or more have been levied), and can be returned to the port of entry they came through. They may also face future restrictions on travel into Canada.
That said, remember that the vast majority of people driving cars with American plates in Canada right now have the right to be here. Many Canadian citizens work in the United States and have vehicles with American license plates.
At this moment, two separate friends of mine who I grew up within Penticton are here, one settling her late mother's estate and another caring for her ailing father. They are Canadian citizens. They own homes in Penticton. They have a right to be here. They quarantined for 14 days after entry. They have cars with California plates. There are many others like them throughout the riding and the country.
Let’s do our best to enjoy our summer within public health parameters, support our local businesses, and above else, be kind and respectful to those around us, regardless of their license plates.
In Ottawa, we’re putting pressure on the Liberal government to be clear with their U.S. counterparts that, despite American pressure to open the border, the number one priority must be the health and safety of Canadians. And that means keeping the border closed for the foreseeable future.