Published: May 26, 2021
Even as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has moved to roll back some of the COVID-19-inspired restrictions to allow Canadians to enjoy their all-too-brief summer, the latest reports suggest that the US-Canada border – the world’s longest undefended frontier – will remain closed until at least September. And even once it does reopen, most Canadians appear to support requirements for proof of vaccination before any unvaccinated American heathens are allowed to enter Canada.
According to Bloomberg, roughly half of the respondents to a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute said that the border should remain shut until September, and more than three quarters of respondents said they would support a vaccine passport.
The border with the US has been closed for more than a year, but now that Canada is accelerating its vaccination program, Trudeau is facing growing pressure from business groups (not to mention the opposition Conservatives) to come up with a concrete reopening plan. And as Trudeau mulls whether to trigger an early election in an attempt to win back his parliamentary majority, the politics of the border reopening are suddenly critical.
More than half of Canadian adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the country’s three largest provinces – Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – have announced phased reopening plans.
During a recent press briefing, Trudeau stressed that Canada still has a long way to go toward reopening.
“There are lots of reasons to be hopeful but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down yet,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
“Ultimately, the freedoms of a ‘one-dose summer’ may prove inadequate to a pandemic fatigued country, and that may well extend to border reopening timelines as well,” Kurl said. “The next month will be telling.”
Last week, Trudeau’s government announced another month-long extension of border restrictions until June 21. According to the poll, there isn’t much support for an immediate reopening after a recent flareup in cases last month. But as case numbers continue to slow, and vaccination tallies rise, public opinion might shift sooner than the PM expects – especially as Canadians are forced to watch as their American peers return to a state of near-normalcy, which is already happening across all 50 states.