For months, Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) along with other North Country officials and business leaders have been calling for the United States-Canada border to reopen. In August, the Canadian government reopened the border for vaccinated Americans, but the United States government responded just a couple of weeks later by extending the border closure to at least September 21. Recently at the Council of State Government East’s Annual Meeting, as co-chair of their Canada-US Relations Committee Assembly Jones joined his fellow co-chair of the committee, Member of the National Assembly of Quebec (MNA) Guy Ouellette, to pass a resolution in support of the two federal governments working together to reopen the border.
“The fall tourist season is approaching, and yet Canadians still are not able to cross the United States-Canada border unless they have the money to fly here,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones. “Enough is enough! It has been over 16 months since the border closed, and the federal government must make this a priority to not only help struggling local businesses but to reunite families that continue to be separated due to these restrictions. A 91-year-old woman frequently calls my office in hopes that there has been a change with the border so that she can see her sister for her sister’s upcoming 90th birthday and there are so many more stories like hers across the North Country. The border should not just be open to those who have the means to fly and there are ways for the border to reopen safely so that families can be reunited. Canada opened their borders to Americans, and it is about time that the United States reciprocated.”
MNA Guy Ouellette has also been advocating for reopening the border. “Since our nomination on both sides of the border, Assemblyman Jones and I worked hand in hand to promote Canada-US interests and closely New-York-Quebec economies,” said Ouellette. “The faster borders are freely reopened, the faster we will hopefully return to a normal life. Those are the main reasons the resolution was adopted unanimously. We both hope to meet each other in person soon after the pandemic to continue working together for our citizens’ interests.”
Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for the border to reopen for over a year as well. "It's getting discouraging but we appreciate the continued advocacy by Billy and all of our other federal and state representatives," said Douglas. "The continued lack of any commitment by the U.S. to even planning for progress is mind-blowing, given the growing impact on the most important and special economic and social partnership between two countries anywhere in the world. You would think this would be a priority but, I hate to say it, its place on the current federal priority list seems to be somewhere below pineapple sales in Greenland. But in spite of the frustration, we must all continue to speak out as the stakes are just so high and growing."