Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back at the prospect of the Trump administration deploying U.S. troops near the border with Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it would be bad for both countries.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa.
Officials in the Trump administration are considering the deployment to prevent irregular border crossings as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, Global News reported. Trudeau confirmed that Canadians and U.S. officials were discussing the proposal.
“It’s benefited our two countries, our two economies tremendously [to have an un-militarized border]. We feel that it needs to remain that way.”
But even as Trudeau made his opposition to the proposal clear, he also faced increasing pressure from within Canada to place further restrictions on border crossings in response to the worsening spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Trudeau left open the prospect of further restrictions at the border, but stressed the importance of leaving supply chains open for essential goods and medicine.
“We continue to look for ways to keep Canadians safe while getting the goods they need,” he said.
Cross-border freight has continued to move freely between the two countries since they locked down their shared border to non-essential travel. Trucks continue to move vital loads, including food, toilet paper and medical supplies between the countries even as large industries shut down.
Trucking companies and their drivers have nervously watched developments at the border. Truckers remain exempt from the restrictions as well as 14-day isolation periods mandated by Canada for travelers.
While no U.S. or Canadian official has publicly floated the idea of shutting down the border for freight, some truckers are worried about it happening.
“I wouldn’t put it past them to close the border,” Canadian trucker Ron McCallum told FreightWaves from Washington State where he was hauling a load of woodchips from British Columbia to a farm in Oklahoma.
Under normal circumstances, more than C$2 billion in goods and services cross the U.S.-Canadian border daily.
McCallum, a driver for Sharp Transportation in Ontario, said both countries would suffer from a full border closure.
“So much crosses the border each day. I don’t know what would happen to the economies,” he said.