Mr. Trudeau, this is an appeal from a cottage owner about your U.S. border restrictions. I seem to recall that, early in this lockdown, stay-at-home and border restriction period that you yourself completely ignored the Ontario/Quebec border restrictions that were in place between Ottawa and the Quebec Hull/Gatineau regions and you jumped into your helicopter and went to your own cottage across the Quebec border. Well, well, we certainly hope you enjoyed that cottage weekend. But, you must admit it was not a very good respective example for the rest of us to follow. Was it?
Now, let's talk about the current Canada/U.S. Border restrictions that are still in place and have been extended once again. Here is our situation. Now we can't jump into a helicopter but, for over the past 40 years here's what we do. We get into our car, drive for less than an hour and arrive at a small, single-lane border crossing near Herdman, Qc.
At the U.S. Border, the Customs Office, who, after all these many years often know us, asks the usual questions and our usual answer is - “Going from Chateauguay Quebec to our cottage in Chateauguay, N.Y.” We have done this for over four decades, from the time our children were in diapers till now with the grandchildren when they do come into town. It is our home-away-from home.
Once there we do the usual customized agenda. Stop in town and pick up the milk and beer weekend supply. Get to the cottage – a lovely cottage surrounded by six acres of trees – overlooking a pristine small river that has just come down from the Adirondack mountains and out of the Adirondack Park. Unload, set up the house. Say Hi to our neighbours and local friends, but, as always, at a safe 6 ft. distance.
Then that afternoon, take out the usual trout fishing supplies and go visit some of the gorgeous local trout streams and small rivers in search of our supper trout. Now, it is important to remember that stream trout fishing is, in fact,a de-facto “social distancing” exercise. You do not dare get closer to a fellow fisherman who is casting back and forth with a five-six-foot rod with a very sharp hook on the end of that line. Rest assured Sir, trout fishing is, from a virus perspective, very safe.
So, if I bring my own groceries, milk and weekend beer supplies, why can't I go to my cottage? If we don't stop and go into any stores and keep our usual safe distancing from friends and neighbours, why can't we go to our cottage? If I just go fishing, why can't I go to my cottage, just one hour from my current house?
Right now, under your border restrictions, we are paying Land Taxes – but we can't even stand on that lovely land. We are paying school taxes, but we can't be in that community and see our neighbours' kids, who are in that school where the taxes go. We are paying House Insurance, but we can't even enter that lovely cottage with that marvelous view. And we are paying for a local fellow to cut our grass just because we can't be there in person to cut it. And, remember, all of this money is in U.S. Dollars which – given the Canadian dollar exchange very costly. Will you launch a Federal Aid package to help us offset all these costs?
And, if, when, you do allow us to cross to go one hour to our cottage – will you force us to stay there in isolation for 15 days? Why? That is nonsense — we don't go anywhere or see anyone, except for my Virus-free trout?
By-the-way – I seem to recall that when you broke the Quebec/Ontario border restrictions to go to your own “cottage” - you did not have to stay there for 15 days of self-isolation.
Come on Mr. Trudeau – ease-up on your Canadian/U.S. cottage owners. Open the border to cottage owners and ease up on the restrictions – as long as they follow the safety rules.
Best regards Sir – your humble servant!
Howard P. (Buzz) Gibbs is a former telecom senior manager and former vice-president of a major Canadian polling research firm and instructor in issues management at McGill University’s school of continuing studies and a school board commissioner.