Wed | May 27, 2020

Gov’t tells US not to put troops at border

Published:Friday | March 27, 2020 | 12:21 AM


Canada has told the United States (US) it is strongly opposed to a Trump administration proposal to put troops at the US-Canada border amid the pandemic and said that if it goes ahead, it would damage relations between the two longtime allies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government has been in discussions with the White House about convincing the US not to do it.

“Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarised border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. General James McConville, chief of staff of the US Army, told Pentagon reporters during a press conference that the army has not got any directive to go to the border.

Few people cross into the border into the US from Canada illegally. And COVID-19 cases are surging more in the US than in Canada.

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that they have told the Trump administration there is no justification for troops at the border.

“What we have said is, ‘We really do not believe at all that there would be a public health justification for you to take this action,’” Freeland said. “And we have said ‘We really don’t think is the right way to treat a trusted friend and military ally.’”

Freeland said that the specifics of what the US is proposing is a question for American officials to answer and declined to say what the Trump administration is contemplating.

An entirely unnecessary step

She said that they are “very directly and very forcefully” expressing the view that “this is an entirely unnecessary step” that Canada would “view as damaging to the relationship.”

Freeland stressed that they are talking about a potential decision by the US and said they first learned of the proposal a few days ago. Trudeau’s office has been in direct contact with the White House and Canada’s defence and public safety ministers have spoken to their counterparts.

“This is strictly showmanship on the part of the American president. It will have no practical impact. It is an attempt to impress the American public that the president is doing something,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto.