Polls taken this month reveal that more than 80% of Canadians want the border to remain closed.
 / A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo

Published Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Canadians favor keeping the border
with the U.S. closed, says report

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials in Canada and the United States have agreed to keep the vast international border between the two countries closed for a least another month, reported Voice of America Journal, VOA, on Tuesday.

According to a VOA report, the two recent surveys of Canadians indicate they overwhelmingly want that border to remain closed due to record high numbers of coronavirus infections in the U.S.

In making the announcement, officials in both Washington and Ottawa agreed to keep the 8,893-kilometer-long border closed to all but commercial and essential traffic. This means only commercial goods and people such as nurses and doctors who live in one country and work in the other can cross the border. Travel for tourism or activities like retail shopping are banned.

Since the March 20 border closure, two separate opinion polls taken this month reveal that more than 80% of Canadians want the border to remain closed to non-essential traffic.

One of the polls, done by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail newspaper, found that only 3% of respondents think the border should open immediately.

Nik Nanos, chief data scientist at Nanos Research, finds the results remarkable, considering how reliant Canada is on access to the United States.

“It kind of suggests that people who want to open the border immediately are less than a fringe of the population, basically less than one out of every 20. And we don't usually see this type of consensus in the polling data where, you know, upwards of eight out of every 10 agree to such, what I would consider a drastic action, which is to close the border to nonessential visitors, “ Nanos said. “So, it's very unusual, but it speaks to the time and the threat that Canadians feel.”

Differences in coronavirus infection rates are stark along the westernmost portion of the border.

Washington state reported its highest level ever of infections at 1,267 cases and six deaths on July 16. On the same day, the Canadian province of British Columbia had 21 new cases and zero fatalities. Nearly 6% of those tested in Washington state were positive, compared to only half-a-percent in British Columbia.

Besides being the longest undefended international boundary in the world, the Canada-U.S. border also sees a considerable amount of business. The U.S. Trade Representative estimates that $718.5 billion in all types of trade crossed the border in 2018. That works out to just around $2 billion a day.

Should Canadian and the U.S. authorities keep borders closed until a covid-19 vaccine is released? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com