Canada

LILLEY: Trudeau’s big three lies on Canada’s leaky border

More foreign nationals are flying into Canada than citizens

A woman arriving from overseas has been charged with allegedly using a fraudulent COVID-19 document after arriving at Pearson Airport.

There are three big lies told about Canada’s border situation during COVID. Unfortunately, too often, they are being repeated rather than challenged.

First off, there’s the claim that we have the “most stringent” measures in the world, that non-essential travel is banned and, finally, that only Canadians are allowed into the country at this time.

The Trudeau government repeats these claims often to defend itself from accusations of not doing enough on the border.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc responded to the Ford government in Ontario this week by ignoring its requests for stricter border measures, saying, “Canada has the most comprehensive border measures in the western world.”

Well, we aren’t stricter than Britain, Australia or New Zealand — all countries that are part of the western world.

In Britain, foreign nationals who have even transited through one of more than 40 countries on their red list aren’t allowed to enter, while in New Zealand, outsiders are restricted and even citizens must undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government-run facility.

Hong Kong is stricter still.

In Canada we have a system that requires people who arrive by air to spend up to three days in a hotel, but there is no such requirement for those arriving by land. As for quarantining at home, the system doesn’t require travellers to isolate from others in their home.

It’s why we’ve seen whole homes contract COVID after a single person travelled. It’s why 90% of Ontario’s COVID cases during the third wave are the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the U.K. The Liberals say travel accounts for less than 2% of cases but, somehow, the “most comprehensive border measures” couldn’t contain the U.K. variant from getting into the community and spreading.

The Trudeau government banned flights from the U.K. for a period in December, stopped flights to vacation hot spots over the winter and currently has a ban on flights from India and Pakistan.

But ask them about other problems on the border and they will claim travel is not an issue.

As for non-essential travel being banned, that’s simply not the case. Overall travel in the week of April 12-18, not counting commercial truckers, was 113,221 people compared to 53,515 during the same time period in 2020. While travel is down compared to the pre-COVID period, it’s up compared to last year.

  1. A car waits to enter Canada at the Canada-United States border crossing at the Thousand Islands Bridge in Lansdowne, Ont., Sept. 28, 2020.

    LILLEY: Land border crossers not being tested

  2. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a news conference in Ottawa, March 30, 2021.

    LILLEY: Trudeau dismissive of border concerns as fear of fourth COVID wave looms

  3. A commercial truck heads for the Ambassador Bridge during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, at the international border crossing, which connects with Windsor, Ont., in Detroit, Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

    Cross-border travel up in 2021, but still far below 2019 numbers

So too are the number of foreign nationals entering Canada. Between Feb. 22, when the mandatory testing and quarantine hotels started, and April 18, 105,042 Canadian citizens or permanent residents entered the country by air compared to 110,955 foreign nationals.

If just Canadian citizens are allowed in, why are there more foreign nationals flying into Canada than citizens?

Stopping all flights into Canada is not the answer to dealing with COVID seeping through the leaky border, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have problems. The list of exemptions on who can enter is too long and the quarantine system is a joke.

That’s just for starters.

Since we are going to continue dealing with this for the next while, we could look to other countries for best practices, like Britain determining your risk level and how strict your quarantine is based on where you’re travelling from.

Instead, we have a government that lies to us about how strict the system is and media that refuse to look into the claims Trudeau makes. It’s time to face and deal with reality, and the need for our system to improve.

NEWS REPORTS CONTRADICT BORDER BOASTS

While the Trudeau government continues to maintain that Canada has “the most stringent” border measures in the Western world, recent headlines would say otherwise.

Last Thursday, the Sun reported just 16% of people crossing at the land border are actually tested for COVID-19 before being allowed to enter the country. More than 750,000 people crossed into Canada by land between Feb. 22 and May 4, but just over 120,000 people were tested.

The Public Health Agency of Canada declined to provide a reason for the difference in the high number of crossers and the low number of tests.

The previous day, a National Post story revealed more than 88,000 people who arrived in Canada via air had been deemed exempt from the supposedly mandatory quarantine hotels. This accounts for roughly 30% of all air travellers since the hotel stays were brought about on Feb. 22. Again, the government did not provide an explanation.

The same day, a CBC story showed almost 900 flights involving private jets, recreational aircraft and helicopters had landed at a sampling of nine Canadian airports that did not have quarantine hotels. At 572 flights, Hamilton, Ont., had the highest number, followed by Ottawa and London with 53, St. John’s with 52, Abbottsford with 48 and Winnipeg with 45.

The story also showed 883 flights of private aircraft into Pearson Airport with some services promising a COVID test to ensure you can skip the quarantine hotel.

HOW DOES CANADA STACK UP WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD?

To enter Canada, you must provide a negative COVID test before boarding your flight. Upon arrival, you must submit to a second COVID test conducted before you can leave the airport. You must stay at a government-approved hotel until the results of your test come back, which could take up to three days. After your test comes back negative, you are allowed to return home for the remainder of your 14-day quarantine period.

GREAT BRITAIN

If you have been in any of more than 40 countries currently on the U.K.’s red list, you will be denied entry unless you are a British or Irish national. Anyone else who has even transited through a red list country will not be allowed to enter. People who are entering from amber list countries, like Canada, are required to do two tests and must self-isolate for a period of 10 days. People in self-isolation will be visited by trace and test officials. Anyone who tests positive on their second test must self-isolate for a further 10 days.

HONG KONG

Hong Kong is being extremely strict at the moment and limiting entry.

“All non-Hong Kong residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane will be denied entry to Hong Kong,” the government website reads. They are even restricting travel from mainland China if travellers have been in outside countries and regions in the previous 14 days.

NEW ZEALAND

With limited exceptions, travel to New Zealand is limited to citizens and residents and those coming from select quarantine-free zones such as New South Wales, Australia. Those entering are required to go through managed isolation, meaning a two-week stay at a government-run facility. Dr. Jo Kennelly, a dual citizen of Canada and New Zealand, is documenting the strict measures she must follow to return home to visit her mother. The measures make Canada’s rules look weak and full of loopholes.

AUSTRALIA

The Australian government will allow you to enter the country “if you are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia.” A short-list of immediate family members are also permitted entry

WHO’S EXEMPT FROM CANADA’S RESTRICTIONS?

Canadian citizens, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent residents, are all able to freely enter Canada. But so can asylum seekers, people participating in single-sport events and those given clearance by the government. There is also a long list of people who can enter if they are immediate or extended family members of Canadians.

An immediate family member is defined as:

– Spouse or common-law partner

– Dependent child (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

– Dependent child of a dependent child

– Parent or step-parent (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

– Guardian or tutor

Under the category of extended family, the government website says you must be:

– In an exclusive dating relationship, have been in the relationship for at least one year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship

– You and the person you’re in the relationship with must both be 18 years of age or older

– A non-dependent child (adult child)

– A grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child)

– A sibling, half-sibling or step-sibling

– A grandparent

(Source: Government of Canada)

AIR TRAVELLERS TO CANADA, FEB. 22-APRIL 18

(week — Canadians — non-Canadians)

April 12-18 — 15,210 — 18,591

April 4-11 — 15,762 — 17,772

March 29-April 3 — 16,093 — 15,354

March 22-28 — 13,149 — 12,874

March 15-21 — 12,618 — 13,321

March 8-14 — 11,810 — 11,684

March 1-7 — 11,529 — 12,462

March 15-21 — 8,871 — 8,897

TOTALS: 105,042 Canadians, 110,955 non-Canadians

(Source: Canada Border Services Agency)

AIR TRAVELLERS, 2020-21

(week — 2021 — 2020)

April 12-18 — 113,221 — 53,515

April 4-11 — 111,222 — 49,821

March 29-April 3 — 105,641 — 72,835

March 22-28 — 87,405 — 200,246

March 15-21 — 97,256 — 906,815

(Source: Canada Border Services Agency)

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