The Canadian and American flags are seen on top of the Peace Arch is at the Canada/USA border in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. A new online poll suggests COVID-19 has damaged the trust Canadians have in their American neighbours, while U.S. residents have more faith in their northern counterparts than they do in themselves. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Trudeau not ready to talk about extending U.S. travel ban, even as deadline approaches

Prime minister says conversations with U.S. president are ongoing

Canada’s prime minister called collaboration with his U.S. counterpart “exceptional” during a briefing Wednesday (May 13) but did not commit to extending border restrictions past next week.

The border between Canada and the U.S. has been closed to non-essential travel since March 21, having been extended once. The ban will expire May 21 unless it is extended.

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. border restrictions extended another 30 days until May 21

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was peppered with questions about the border ban at the same time as many states begin reopening and President Donald Trump has hinted he would like to see restrictions lifted.

“Our relationship with Canada is very good – we’ll talk about that. It will be one of the early borders to be released,” Trump said during a press briefing last month. “Canada’s doing well, we’re doing well – so we’ll see.”

On the flip side, both B.C. and Ontario have said unequivocally said allow non-essential travel from the U.S. would be against Canada’s best interests.

Speaking Wednesday, Trudeau said he had talked to Trump multiple times in recent weeks.

“As we manage the spread of COVID-19, we want to make sure we’re not becoming vulnerable from travellers arriving [from] elsewhere,” he said.

“Different countries are facing different challenges.”

Trudeau neither disputed nor affirmed a Reuters’ reporter statement that both sides would agree to keep border restrictions in place until June 21.

However, the prime minister said that “right now, we’re making decisions for right now” and did not clarify how he would respond if Trump tried to reopen the border to non-essential travel before Canada was ready.

“We’ll take the necessary decisions at every step.”

READ MORE: Opening B.C.’s border to U.S. travel ‘is not in our best interest’: Dr. Henry

READ MORE: Increased border traffic likely as Canada, U.S. economies reopen: Freeland

READ MORE: Abbotsford couple proves love knows one border in COVID-19 era

– with files from The Canadian Press


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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