By Brett Rowland, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Two Canadian premiers and 16 U.S. governors asked President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday to reinstate the vaccine and quarantine exemptions for cross border truck drivers.
“We understand the vital importance of vaccines in the fight against COVID-19 and continue to encourage eligible individuals to get vaccinated,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wrote in the letter. “However, we are deeply concerned that terminating these exemptions has had demonstrably negative impacts on the North American supply chain, the cost of living, and access to essential products for people in both of our countries.”
Sixteen Republican governors signed the letter along with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe. The U.S leaders who signed were Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
“The timing of vour decision to terminate the vaccine and quarantine exemptions could not have been worse as North America already faces grave supply chain constraints,” the letter said. “These constraints, combined with increasing inflation, place significant burdens on the residents of Canada and the United States. Furthermore, transportation associations have informed us that the lack of exemptions will force thousands of drivers out of the trucking industry, which is already facing a significant workforce shortage. The removal of these exemptions is ultimately unnecessary, and we cannot afford to lose any more truck drivers who transport food and other vital supplies across the border.”
The letter comes after truckers blocked key border crossings between the U.S. and Canada to protest vaccine and quarantine rules. The blockades garnered worldwide attention and caused some automakers to temporarily limit production. Trudeau used Canada’s Emergencies Act to help end the blockades in Ottawa after local efforts failed. Similar blockades in Alberta and Manitoba ended peacefully.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance applauded Trudeau’s decision.
“These illegal blockades have had a detrimental impact on our members and customers’ businesses. These blockades have also had a very significant negative impact upon our professional driving community. CTA very much welcomes the Prime Minister’s leadership today in helping to bring an end to these illegal blockades,” CTA President Stephen Laskowski said in a statement. “Order must be restored to our borders and critical infrastructure that are being blockaded.”
Other group’s decried use of the Emergencies Act.
“The federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act. This law creates a high and clear standard for good reason: the Act allows government to bypass ordinary democratic processes. This standard has not been met,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said. “Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives. Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.”
The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.