There were no blocks and mortar, no fencing or concrete, no cross-border diplomatic skirmish, just two government orders. Also, that was sufficient to basically close down the world’s longest international border for visitors.
When the U.S. what’s more, Canada commonly concurred in March to close down the border to alleviate the spread of the Covid-19, nobody anticipated it would be shut this long. There is still no predetermined date for its resuming, despite the fact that trade has proceeded between the countries.
Bernadette Clement, the mayor of Cornwall, Ontario, said, “There’s a closeness that we’re definitely missing, but I can tell you not anyone that I have spoken to here wants that border opened anytime soon. We miss you citizens of the U.S., but we’re not comfortable opening the border.”
East to the west for thousands of miles, in communities on both sides of the national divide, the border closure is redefining not just economic relationships, but personal lives, in ways no one expected.
“This really is going to have a long-term impact on our communities, economically, socially and on all the things that are really important to us,” said Tim Currier, the mayor of Massena, New York, a “sister” community to Cornwall, just a few miles across the border on the other side of the St. Lawrence River.
No longer. The border is shut tight for any trips that are deemed “non-essential” or discretionary and that includes all recreation and tourism.
Statistics Canada recently reported that cross border car trips are down about 95% across both sides of the border.
For decades in these border communities, people have crossed the border in both directions every day to attend a school or training program, go on a shopping trip to grab a bargain, indulge a craving for a meal at a favourite restaurant or a last-minute trip to the casino to play the slot machines.
In a way, the border closure has been a victim of its own success. Essential goods and services have continued to flow across the border efficiently and easily with supply chains largely unaffected. Canada and the U.S. maintain one of the largest trading relationships in the world, doing about $1.9 billion in trade every day.
Mayor Clement says Cornwall is feeling the economic loss of American clientele but with a larger, more dynamic economy, the damage hasn’t been as acute.
And as infection rates climbed in the U.S., diverging from Canada’s flattened pandemic curve, just seeing cars with U.S. plates alarmed many Canadians.
“It has been challenging to keep everybody calm because residents took note of those plates, yes,” Clement said.
A July poll by Ipsos showed more than eight in 10 Canadians want the border to remain closed until at least the end of the year.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
News source: CNN