BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will discuss their shared border, which has been shut down to non-essential traffic for nearly 15 months, while they are in the United Kingdom for the G7 Summit, Rep. Brian Higgins says.
Higgins says the White House has informed his office the meeting will take place either Thursday or Friday.
“(The) President of the United States (and) the Canadian Prime Minister are the only two individuals that can open this border,” Higgins said. “They should move quickly to do it.”
Higgins, who believes the border should be open to individuals who are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, initially shared the news during a panel discussion hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
“Unnecessarily, the United States-Canadian relationship took a major hit over the past 14 months,” Higgins said during the discussion.
The border initially shut down for non-essential travelers in March 2020, the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. For several months now, Higgins, a Democrat, has been urging both countries to issue a plan for its reopening.
Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican, shares Higgins’ belief that those who have full vaccination status should be able to cross the border as they would have prior to the pandemic.
“This is why people get so skeptical about so called experts and leaders and the way they throw things around without any science,” Jacobs said.
On Wednesday, Canadian public health officials announced they were considering starting an initial phase of reopening in early July. However, it would only impact fully vaccinated individuals who already have a right-of-entry into Canada, such as Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and what happens when they arrive back into the country.
“It’s disappointing and ridiculous that you had public health officials who are giving information that defies what the public health guidance is in the United States,” Higgins said of the announcement. “So it was an announcement that really said nothing.
“The bottom line here is the President of the United States (and) the Prime Minister of Canada have the authority to make the decision. They should move on it.”
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people should not travel internationally until they are fully vaccinated.
Higgins said he was hopeful that at the very least, Biden and Trudeau would issue a joint statement detailing a plan “that is data-specific with metrics”.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.