As an election looms, popular support for U.S. border closure will mean it gets renewed again

Despite pleas from Canada’s tourism industry and politicians from border states calling on Ottawa to re-open the border with the United States, the closure remains popular with Canadians and with signs of a federal election coming soon, chances are good that it will remain for a while longer.

Federal politicians have been crisscrossing Canada this summer in what is likely a runup to an election in August or September. The ban on non-essential travel with the United States that has been in place since March of last year could be lifted as early as July 21 or it can stay and become an election issue.

In a recent opinion poll conducted for The Globe and Mail, a majority of Canadians want pandemic-related restrictions at the Canada-U.S. border to be lifted by the fall.

The poll found that only 15 per cent of Canadians wanted them removed immediately with another 14 per cent some time this summer. More people, 34 per cent, said they would prefer the fall.

Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said that Canada needs a re-opening plan in place before an election or the country risks further delaying its recovery from the pandemic.

“We need this plan today – not after an election. And it needs to be based on medical science, not political science,” he told The Globe and Mail.

The next opportunity to re-open the closure, which has been renewed on a monthly basis since it began, is July 21. In the weeks ahead of that date, various Canadian tourism organizations have been holding near daily press conferences to pressure Ottawa to come up with a re-opening plan.

On Wednesday, they were joined by a coalition of border-state legislators calling on Ottawa and Washington to re-open the border. Even France is asking Canada to let its citizens in.

When asked about the issue during an appearance in Quebec Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister was non-committal, reported Politico.

“The reality is we know how unbelievably costly and heartbreaking it would be to fall into a fourth wave of this pandemic,” he said.

Reports that the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling a rise in cases in the United States among unvaccinated Americans could affect the decision to re-open the border.

“I think it could have an impact on the border reopening,” Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa told Global News. “Trudeau already said unvaccinated tourists are not welcome.”

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