Kenney, Moe join forces with U.S. governors calling for end to border vaccine mandate

Click to play video: 'Ottawa occupiers remain defiant as Emergencies Act targets their funding'
Ottawa occupiers remain defiant as Emergencies Act targets their funding
As the Emergencies Act is invoked to stop the convoy protests in Ottawa, the federal government is aiming to cut off the movement's financial resources. But as Abigail Bimman reports, hundreds of disruptive occupiers are undeterred by the sweeping new measures, while the capital's residents remain frustrated – Feb 15, 2022

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe joined forces with multiple U.S. governors on Wednesday calling on the federal government to bring back a vaccine and quarantine exemption for cross-border truckers.

In a letter addressed to Prime Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden, the premiers and governors say they understand the importance of COVID-19 vaccines and continue to urge eligible people to get vaccinated. They also claimed that the restrictions have negatively impacted residents in Canada and the U.S. by driving up inflation and the cost of living.

The letter is signed by governors in Montana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming – all historically Republican states.

“We are deeply concerned that terminating these exemptions has had demonstrably negative effects on the North American supply chain, the cost of living, and access to essential products for people in both of our countries,” the letter states.

Story continues below advertisement

“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 letter comes after Canada and the U.S. reinstated cross-border vaccine and quarantine mandates for truckers on Jan. 15 and Jan. 22, respectively.

Truckers entering Canada must be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantine requirements, and unvaccinated U.S. truckers can no longer cross the Canadian border. Unvaccinated Canadian truckers crossing into the U.S. will be forced to turn back until they are fully vaccinated.

The letter also comes after protesters in Ottawa have paralyzed the nation’s capital for 20 days, a movement that was sparked by the cross-border vaccine mandates.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Protesters are ‘organized, driven by extremist ideology,’ says public safety minister following arrests'
Protesters are ‘organized, driven by extremist ideology,’ says public safety minister following arrests

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday in response to the so-called “freedom convoy” in Ottawa, giving the government never-before-used emergency powers to support provinces in ending the blockades and public disorder.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has previously stated that “the vast majority” of Canadian truckers are vaccinated. They have opposed protests on public roadways, highways and bridges, particularly ones that interfere with public safety.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

In a tweet, Moe said the measures are “ultimately unnecessary” and place significant pressure on Canadian and American families.

Click to play video: 'Kenney, Moe join forces with U.S. governors calling for end to border vaccine mandate'
Kenney, Moe join forces with U.S. governors calling for end to border vaccine mandate

Prior to the letter being released to the public, Moe told reporters on Wednesday his government encourages the federal government to put forward a plan to eliminate all public health measures.

Story continues below advertisement

“We feel that would go a long way in de-escalating a number of protests across this nation,” Moe said.

“We would urge the federal government to once again reconsider where their vaccine mandates are today and at least communicate with Canadians when they are going to be removed. They can’t be there forever, they will need to be removed at some point in time,” Moe added.

Kenney made similar remarks, calling cross-border vaccine mandates and restrictions “public health theatre” in a tweet on Tuesday.

Prior to the letter, he said he has been asking the federal government to work with the Biden administration to lift the cross-border vaccine mandate for truckers. He also previously travelled to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual National Governors Association meeting where he talked about cross-border trade issues.

He also said those peacefully and legally protesting against Washington and Ottawa’s quarantine requirements for non-vaccinated truckers have his support.

Click to play video: 'Alberta loosening COVID-19 restrictions as border protests resume'
Alberta loosening COVID-19 restrictions as border protests resume

“I went down to Washington in large part to make that case,” he said. “I’ve made it to the prime minister. I will continue to. For those who feel that way, I’m on your side. But part of the argument we’re making there is that the restriction on unvaccinated truck drivers doesn’t make sense and it’s going to further force up food prices and create challenges for supplies, including food,” he said at a COVID-19 press conference on Feb. 1.

Story continues below advertisement

Gov. Kristi Noem (R-N.D.) also called for the reinstitution of vaccine and quarantine exemptions for cross-border truckers in a tweet on Wednesday.

“In the middle of a supply chain crisis, these mandates are only causing more pain and aren’t doing anything to stop the spread of COVID,” the tweet read.

Story continues below advertisement

In an emailed statement, Gov. Kay Ivey (R-Ala.) said she supports the protesters in Canada.

“The truck drivers we have seen peacefully protesting in Canada simply want common sense reinstated and freedoms protected. I support them and am joining my fellow governors in calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden to immediately allow exemptions for cross-border truck drivers. These types of unnecessary mandates would continue to exacerbate supply chain and economic issues,” she said.

A statement from the office of Gov. Mark Gordon (R-Wyo.) said he has been clear about his opposition to vaccine mandates.

“Canada is Wyoming’s largest trading partner and this mandate is exacerbating already challenging supply issues,” the statement read.

Trudeau maintains that the Canadian government will continue to follow the science when it comes to border restrictions and vaccine mandates. The federal government announced on Tuesday that it will eliminate its pre-arrival COVID-19 PCR test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers at the end of the month.

“We know how difficult these past two years have been for Canadians… We also have demonstrated that throughout it, Canadians have each other’s backs just like our government has had Canadians’ backs with vaccines, rapid tests and supports for small businesses, workers and families,” said Trudeau in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon.

“We will continue to have people’s backs and follow the science. That’s why we were pleased to announce loosening restrictions on borders as travel is more available to Canadians.”

Story continues below advertisement

— with a file from The Canadian Press

Sponsored content