The closed border is one of the strangest things about the present pandemic crisis.
The border between Canada and the U.S. has been more open than most for decades, famously the longest in the world without a military presence.
The close ties between nations mean that many families exist on both sides of the line, and there are even those whose daily commute took them across. Most of us are still old enough to remember the pre-9/11 casualness of crossing to grab a few gallons of gas and some ice cream – no passport or Nexus card required.
But right now, the border is shut to all but essential traffic, primarily trucks and trade and workers. No tourists, no family visits, no heading down to check out the deals at the outlet malls.
And that looks more necessary every day.
Our response to the coronavirus here in Canada has not been perfect. Quebec and Ontario, in particular, through a combination of bad luck and a few bad decisions early on, are dealing with the worst outbreaks and highest death tolls in the country.
Here in B.C., we were both good and lucky.
Notably, neither B.C. nor Ontario officials are very keen on the border re-opening fully after the May 20 expiration of the closure deal between Ottawa and Washington.
If Canada’s response has been uneven, it’s at least been a response. Various American states have done well, but the federal government has been largely absent from any role in coordinating efforts to save lives and prevent further spread.
The U.S. currently has the world’s highest number of infections, and a death toll that’s going up by between 1,000 and 2,000 cases a day. By the time the border agreement ends, it could be close to 100,000.
Until the U.S. gets the pandemic under control, we can’t risk giving up what gains we’ve made north of the 49th in stopping the spread of COVID-19.