Cornwall Ontario. MP Guy Lauzon writes: Given the fragile state of the global economy, trading nations like Canada should be doing all we can to increase legitimate cross-border and international commerce. I know firsthand that our Government understands this. That is why we are pursuing an ambitious, pro-trade plan that is facilitating more trade and commerce, and less red tape at the border. Our commitment to free and open trade has helped Canada weather the global economic downturn better than other G-7 nations. Canada has been the envy of other countries but we can’t relax and rest on our laurels.
It is in that spirit that I strongly oppose a border fee proposed by our closest trading partner and neighbour. President Barrack Obama’s 2014 budget request to Congress proposes to study the feasibility of charging a fee to anyone crossing the American border by land. I believe such a fee would be very ill-advised as it would hurt the $1.9-billion in trade that flows between our two countries every single day, including the significant trade and shipment of goods at the Cornwall-Massena Crossing. Our Government believes that the proposed US border fee would be bad for jobs and bad for the economy on both sides of the border. It would certainly have a very negative affect on all the progress we have made here in Canada on growing the economy and creating jobs.
A number of U.S. politicians whose districts are in Border States have already vocally opposed such a measure. Some of these opponents are in the President’s own party. Even New York Congressman Bill Owens is opposed to this idea. I am sure all MPs in the opposition parties also oppose this action.
I am working hard, along with Prime Minister Harper and all Ministers to urge decision-makers in Washington to consider the damaging impact of this job-killing border fee. Indeed, this kind of fee has been proposed before and not enacted. We lobbied against the fee then, and we will continue to strongly make our case for open and free trade at the border. Anything that thickens the border is counter-productive to both Canada and the USA. It makes no sense to enact this fee hike.
That’s why the Harper Government is vigorously advocating against such a proposal – from Cabinet Ministers to Canada’s front-line diplomats. We continue to work with the Obama Administration to implement the Beyond the Border Action Plan to improve the flow of people and goods across the border. That should continue to be our focus. And people in both countries will benefit.
Instead of this fee hike we should look at ways of facilitating trade and commerce between our two countries. I am fully aware that the Obama administration, like other governments, are looking at ways to increase revenue but I believe that this would have the opposite effect. All 165 Conservative Members of Parliament are strongly opposed to this proposal and we are sending a strong message to President Obama that this is a bad idea.