‘Friendli­est’ bor­der in fo­cus

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Derby Line, VT

Last Satur­day, a meet­ing was held at the United Univer­sal­ist Church, in Derby Line, to dis­cuss a pro­ject aimed at mak­ing the Cana­dian/Amer­i­can bor­der eas­ier to cross. Among the roughly fif­teen peo­ple who at­tended were Stanstead mayor Philippe Du­til, lo­cal Lib­eral can­di­date Wil­liam Hogg, and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the New­port De­vel­op­ment Agency. United States Na­tional Con­gress­man, Peter Welch, al­though he couldn’t at­tend be­cause he was in Wash­ing­ton, asked to be kept in­formed if there were any prac­ti­cal ways he could be help­ful re­gard­ing the pro­ject, called the CANUSA Pro­ject. The meet­ing was not at­tended by any bor­der se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

“We all talked about var­i­ous prob­lems we had cross­ing the bor­der, mainly at the Amer­i­can bor­der check­points but some­times at the Cana­dian check­point, too, and the length of time it takes,” com­mented Stanstead East res­i­dent Ge­orge Weller who or­ga­nized the meet­ing along with Brad­ford, Ver­mont res­i­dent Paul Hunt. “I moved here in 1970 when there was lots of back and forth across the bor­der. And I’ve seen the bor­der get tighter and tighter. I’m a dual cit­i­zen with two pass­ports and a pass­port card with a mi­crochip. But when I cross into the United States they ask where I’m go­ing and what I’m do­ing in an of­fi­cious man­ner. I don’t let it bother me but some peo­ple get up­set with that. They just need to know if I am al­lowed to en­ter the United States and if I’m bring­ing any­thing with me,” he added.

The new pro­ce­dures at the Amer­i­can bor­der have not only de­creased the num­ber of times peo­ple now cross the bor­der to visit friends or rel­a­tives, or shop for those great Amer­i­can deals, they have also af­fected busi­ness. Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Weller, some lo­cal busi­nesses have been dis­cour­aged by the lengthy time and en­ergy it takes to “ne­go­ti­ate bor­der rules”, such as Ex­press Elec­tric Ma­gog which no longer ser­vices the Ethan Allen fur­ni­ture fac­tory in Or­leans, Ver­mont.

The next step of the pro­ject will be to con­tact gov­ern­ment and busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tions who might sup­port the ef­fort. “This is a na­tional pro­ject and we hope to reach rep­re­sen­ta­tives and busi­ness peo­ple along the en­tire Canada/US bor­der. It is crit­i­cal to get po­lit­i­cal will and to ed­u­cate peo­ple in the hin­ter­lands on both sides of the bor­der that the new bor­der reg­u­la­tions are a prob­lem and that busi­ness is be­ing af­fected,” said Mr. Weller. A big­ger web pres­ence for the pro­ject is in the works. The site would pro­mote the pro­ject’s aims and high­light check­point abuses. Fu­ture meet­ings have also been planned. “Mr. Hogg said he would get some­one from Ot­tawa to come to the next meet­ing,” men­tioned the or­ga­nizer.

“The goal of the CANUSA Pro­ject is to per­mit cit­i­zens and peo­ple legally en­tered into Canada and the United States to cross the bor­der freely like in the Euro­pean Com­mon Mar­ket coun­tries. There is no def­i­nite time limit for the pro­ject. The aim is to help this ef­fort in a pos­i­tive way. When it works, it works.”

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