One of the United States’ most well-known Democratic political figures is calling for the Canada-U.S. border to start re-opening “quickly but safely.”
“We can’t wait any longer,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the senior United States senator from New York, on Wednesday. “The monthly extensions… have no rhyme or reason, they confuse people, they don’t let people plan, they frustrate thousands of western New Yorkers and Southern Ontarians, who depend on the border crossing.”
Schumer appeared Wednesday at both the American side of Niagara Falls and at Massena International Airport, located just south of the St. Lawrence river near Cornwall, to press his case.
“While at the beginning — and in the height — of the pandemic it was understandable for such drastic measures to be taken, we know much more about the virus than we knew in March of last year and are making strong gains against it,” Senator Schumer said in a press release. “Since vaccination rates have risen, overall rates are steadily falling, and New York is ready to reopen, based on the data, it is time to take the first steps towards reopening the Northern Border to non-essential travel.
Schumer did not call for an immediate total re-opening, but for now is proposing to allow certain vaccinated people to cross, for boaters to cross if they’re not docking and to prioritize getting border workers better access to testing and vaccines.
The border closure was initially enacted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 16, 2020 and gets extended on a monthly basis. The current closure is in place until May 21.
However it’s unclear if pressure from American lawmakers such as Sen. Schumer will be enough to sway the Liberal government into evolving their plans.
“Perhaps this summer if everything goes well,” Trudeau said on Wednesday when asked about international travel. “Now is not the time to travel.”