Former Quebec premier joins task force to look into border re-opening

Click to play video: 'Jean Charest on the Canada-U.S. border re-opening'
Jean Charest on the Canada-U.S. border re-opening
WATCH ABOVE: Former Premier Jean Charest is part of a joint Canada-U.S. task force to make recommendations on re-opening the border. The task force is studying the issues of health, security and economic recovery and offer advice to the two federal governments once the borders re-open as both countries grapple with a COVID-19 second wave. Tim Sargeant has more – Nov 29, 2020

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest will be using his diplomatic skills once again to map out a plan and help lawmakers decide how to re-open the Canada-U.S. border.

Charest along with two former state governors and Anne McLellan, the former deputy prime minister, are scheduled to make recommendations to the two national governments by March 2021.

“Does it mean we will have to have a vaccine? Does it mean we’ll have to produce a health certificate? Will we have to have our temperature taken? There is a whole host of issues of questions,” Charest told Global News via Zoom on Nov. 24.

RELEASE: The Wilson Center Launches Task Force on Public Health and the US-Canadian Border

The border has remained closed to all non-essential travel since March – the longest closure in the history of the two countries — and, for now, it’s scheduled to remain closed until Dec.21 .

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During the week of Nov. 16 to 22 non essential travel into Canada dropped by almost 92 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to the most recent data submitted to Global News by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians live within 150 kilometres of the U.S. border, according to data compelled by Statistics Canada. Some citizens live immediately adjacent to the border and share common services. That’s the case in Stanstead, Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont where the border straddles the two communities. The shuttering of the border has been devastating for the two towns as families and friends are separated.

Robin Smith is a reporter at the Caledonian Record, a weekly published in Derby Line but the dual citizen moved from Vermont to Stanstead in July to be closer to her parents.

The dual citizen says despite the divisions the border closure has caused, she insists people in the area are in no rush to see it re-open.

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. border closure to extend into December as coronavirus cases rise: source

“My family members, people I know here, they don’t really want it to open either,” Smith told Global News via Skype.

The closed border has had a minimal impact on the trucking industry as commercial trade remains relatively unscathed by the border closures.

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The owner of LSKL Trucking, a Montreal area trucking firm, welcomes the Canada-U.S. task force to make recommendations to both national governments.

Shawn Lemaire wants some sort of health care guarantees put in place before lawmakers re-open the border to ordinary visitors.

“As partners, Canada and the U.S., I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready,” Lemaire told Global News on Saturday.

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