Americans, Go Home: Canadians Track U.S. Boaters Sneaking Across The Border

Ironic reversal of travel restrictions and related requirements, with Americans being for likely the first time being the ones targeted and thus some of them resorting to irregular or illegal transit:

Canadians are typically seen as pretty friendly people, and until the coronavirus pandemic, most were happy to welcome Americans.

But when the coronavirus began to quickly spread in March, the U.S. and Canada shut their shared border to all nonessential traffic.

Since then, Canada’s border patrol has effectively prevented caravans of Americans — and their RVs and their campers — from surging across the border as they normally do each summer.

But Americans can be crafty.

Some have managed to enter Canada by telling border patrol officers that they are on their way to Alaska. This is known as the “Alaska loophole.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police fined several Americans who were hiking near Lake Louise in Alberta. Lake Louise is not on the way to Alaska.

Fed up, Canada announced last week that it is cracking down on Americans who apparently don’t know which way is north.

The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming

Foreigners are also arriving by boat, often on sailboats and luxury yachts. Many seek refuge in British Columbia’s protected inland waters and marine parks, which are home to pods of killer whales and abundant wildlife.

But the number of American pleasure craft arriving from Washington state has alarmed Canadians living just across the border.

For George Creek, a former insurance agent, whose home overlooks Nanaimo Harbor in British Columbia, it has been a call to action.

“A number of us that are retired boaters and still members of the Council of BC Yacht Clubs started looking at the number of American boats that were crossing our border, in spite of the prohibition by the federal government,” says Creek, president of BC Marine Parks Forever.

And they can do so from their living rooms.

Under international maritime law, every passenger boat must be equipped with an automatic identification system that is to remain on at all times. This allows for tracking boats in real time and helps prevent collisions in fog and bad weather.

Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can click to see what kind of vessels are sailing, where they’ve recently been and which country they are from.

And plenty are from the United States.

Creek estimates that right now some 30 to 40 American pleasure boats are cruising through British Columbia’s pristine waterways.

Lately, however, many have gone dark. Creek says that the Americans have figured out that they are being tracked through their transponders.

“They’re turning them off as they cross the border,” says Creek. “We see them on the computer, and at a particular point a few minutes later, they’re not there anymore.”

The maritime posse of retirees knows the boats didn’t suddenly turn around, or sink. That’s because Canadian boaters up and down the inland coast call and radio in the location of suspicious vessels, i.e., American boats. They report sightings to the RCMP’s marine division, though it’s unclear if any arrests have been made.

“The biggest petri dish in the world”

American yachts sneaking across the border makes Creek, and a lot of other Canadians, angry.

There is widespread alarm at how fast the coronavirus has spread through the Lower 48 and what many Canadians view as Americans’ flagrant disregard for mask wearing and maintaining a safe social distance.

A poll conducted by Nanos Research found that eight in 10 Canadians want the border to remain closed to nonessential U.S. traffic because of fears of the coronavirus.

“When I called the U.S. the biggest petri dish in the world, that was not just off the cuff,” says Creek.

Creek is particularly concerned about the tiny isolated communities, such as Refuge Cove on Desolation Sound, where boaters stop for fuel and food. Many are home to First Nations people and have no medical facilities.

Canadian boaters recently got riled up after a large yacht from the U.S. stopped at one of the small outposts for supplies.

“They wandered the dock,” says Creek bitterly. “Three or four adults and the rest were teenagers with no social distancing, no masks, and went through the store as if they were just shopping at Walmart.”

To boaters sneaking into Canada to enjoy its marine parks and secluded coves, George Creek wants you to know: You are being watched.

Source: Americans, Go Home: Canadians Track U.S. Boaters Sneaking Across The Border

Canadians with foreign national spouses face obstacles at border

Seems a bit pig-headed and contrary to the intent of the measures:

When Canada closed its border mid-March due to the pandemic, John Alan Aucoin and other Canadians were unequivocally assured their spouses from abroad would be allowed into the country despite the travel bans.

Little did they know it would come with a catch. Canada Border Services Agency actually had its own rules when applying the government order.

Aucoin didn’t expect his American wife, Adrienne Berg Yorinks, to have trouble coming home to Cape Breton. The couple’s only concern returning from Florida was being able to drive through Maine and New York with those states in lockdown.

But like many foreigner nationals married to Canadians but yet to become permanent residents, Yorinks was refused entry at the border. The couple have been separated for weeks now, one in Florida, the other in Nova Scotia, not knowing when the border will reopen.

“Adrienne was not on a shopping trip. It was not an optional travel. She’s travelling to our primary home with me, a Canadian,” said Aucoin, who met his now wife in 2014. They wed in 2018.

“The fact is Canadian families are being separated notwithstanding of our prime minister’s assertions.”

On March 16, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the border would be closed to non-Canadians, he made exceptions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The travel ban, as stated in the government’s orders, was to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

However, since April, a growing number of foreign spouses and children of Canadians have been refused admission into Canada because their travels are deemed “non-essential and optional” by Canadian border agents at airports and land border crossings, said lawyers.

“The Order-in-Council is very clear that immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are exempted from the travel restrictions,” said Barbara Jo Caruso, a former chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration division.

“It appeared the border was open for a period of time, and then they started tightening it in early April. And now nobody gets in except if (the travel) is of essential nature.”

On Good Friday, after being on the road for hours driving back from Juno Beach, Fla., Aucoin, a retired lawyer, and Yorinks, an artist and author, arrived at the border crossing between Calais, Maine and Saint Stephen, N.B. at 5:30 a.m. A border agent refused to let Yorinks in because her travel was deemed non-essential.

When the couple returned to the United States border entry, American officials refused to let Aucoin in because Washington’s COVID-19 travel ban doesn’t have provisions to exempt foreign spouses accompanying Americans.

“It’s been a roller-coaster for us, and we have tried to keep our spirits up,” said Aucoin, who had consulted a lawyer, obtained a notarized statement from the Justice of Peace who married them in Cape Breton and drafted a quarantine plan upon arrival. Yorinks ended up having to drive home to their winter home in Florida by herself.

Immigration lawyer Rafeena Rashid, who used to represent the federal Justice Department and now has her own practice, said her clients — a British and Canadian couple — boarded a government repatriation flight to Toronto Pearson airport April 13 after Global Affairs Canada cleared them.

However, the border agency seized the British husband’s passport and sent him back to the U.K. the next day. The couple are still separated.

“It is very clear that one thing is said to the public while something else is done behind the scenes by CBSA,” said Rashid. “CBSA absolutely has no oversight. Zero. Who’s CBSA to come up with its own criteria that’s not based on the law?”

In response to the Star’s inquiry, the border agency referred to a provision in the government’s COVID travel orders that says: A foreign national, including a Canadian’s immediate family member, is banned from entry if they seek to enter for an optional or discretionary purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.

However, an internal instruction for front-line border agents obtained by the Star revealed that Canada Border Services Agency actually has set criteria beyond that.

The guidelines include, among other criteria, a ban against a “foreign national coming to Canada to temporarily reside with spouse or immediate family during the pandemic.”

The immigration department last week also posted on its website examples of what are deemed discretionary: visit family on vacation; spend time at a secondary residence; attend a funeral; and birth of a grandchild.

What is not discretionary, it says, is for people to spend the pandemic period with their Canadian family member to ensure each other’s health, safety and well-being. “It would be beneficial to all parties, as the reunification of family members is a key point of the Order in Council,” it notes. “This allows for families to be together during this difficult time.”

Lawyers said the border agency’s own rules go against the spirit of the government order.

“There’s a consistent reference to essential travels, and they don’t see keeping a family together in crisis as essential,” said lawyer Erin Simpson, who has filed a court challenge against a border agency decision to deny one of her client’s entry to Canada.

Nadia Drost of Toronto said her Italian journalist husband, Bruno Federico, was denied entry at Pearson airport on April 22 and sent back to New York City, where he had travelled for an assignment for a documentary about COVID-19. The two had already booked an Airbnb for his 14-day quarantine.

“It’s wrong that border officers are following secret guidelines that are different from what the public is privy to,” said the 42-year-old Toronto woman, also a journalist. “We need oversight of CBSA in the way they interpret the government order. They’ve got to square up.”

Source: Canadians with foreign national spouses face obstacles at border

Is it constitutional to screen Canadians trying to board flights home?

These questions have been percolating for some time, with this legal perspective being an example of those arguing that it is not constitutional. The discussion by law professors Yves Le Bouthillier and Delphine Nakache is useful in setting out the constitutional test:

“1) that the measure is taken to address a pressing and substantial objective, 2) that the measure is rationally connected to the objective, 3) that the measure impairs as little as possible the right in question, 4) that the measure’s overall effects on the right protected is not disproportionate to the government’s objective.”

While they accept that the measures meet the first two tests, they argue it fails to meet the second two tests. It is highly unlikely that these measures will be challenged in court given that any judicial process would most likely take much longer than the temporary measures themselves.

Their arguments against over-reach are unconvincing during a pandemic, when perfect narrow screening at airports is impossible, whether by medical personnel or airline personnel. And of course, migration management is already carried out by airline personnel in the form of passport and visa checks. And more special flights, given the challenge the government is already facing in organizing a multitude of flights is simply not practical at this time.

Are these measures disproportionate? IMO, not so, given the nature of the pandemic, the number of cases, and the impact on healthcare and its capacity to handle COVID-19.

And while lawyers can argue that it is “the government’s message and actions should not leave behind any of its citizens,” the reality is that this is an impossible bar to meet. To the government’s credit, it has admitted that not all will be able to return to help manage expectations while at the same time organizing many flights for returning Canadians and permanent residents.

Part of my reaction to this commentary reflects my living with cancer for over 10 years, in and out of treatment, with the compromised immunity as one of the side effects and being at higher risk of COVID-19. The fact that the Ottawa Hospital experienced a case in the same ward where I received my stem cell transplants drives home the point even more for me. So I tend to accept legalistic arguments less than those of medical professionals that reduce, albeit imperfectly, risk:

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has, unfortunately, adopted a measure that denies the right of some Canadian citizens to enter the country, a right guaranteed by s. 6 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On Monday, March 16, the Canadian government asked air carriers to take measures to prevent all travellers abroad who present symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 to board planes flying to Canada. These measures apply to everyone attempting to come back to Canada, including the more than 3 million Canadian citizens abroad at any given time.

To enforce this new policy, the Minister of Transport, on March 17, issued an interim order under the Aeronautics Act saying that air carriers “must conduct” a health check and prohibiting the carriers from allowing a person who has suspected signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to board. In conducting the health check, the carrier must rely on questions from a World Health Organization (WHO) document that offers guidance for the management of ill travellers at points of entry.

However, here, the government is requiring air carriers to ask those questions before the plane departs from a foreign country.

The interim order came into force at 12:01 a.m. on March 19. Since then, two new updated versions of the order have been adopted (on March 20 and 24). The most recent version no longer refers to the WHO’s document.

Persons prohibited from boarding cannot get on an aircraft for at least 14 days unless they have a medical certificate stipulating that their symptoms are not related to COVID-19. Presumably, they could be refused again if they still have the symptoms. Moreover, the risk is that 14 days later, they can no longer leave a country either because there are no flights available or because that country has closed its borders.

Section 6 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in, and leave Canada.” Since March 19, citizens refused boarding at the request of the federal government can no longer effectively exercise this right. S. 6 is one of the few provisions in the Charter that the Parliament or the provincial legislatures cannot derogate from by using the notwithstanding clause provided by s. 33 of the Charter. However, the government can justify limits to Charter-protected rights in accordance with s. 1 of the Charter if these limits can “be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Before looking further into the constitutionality of this interim order, it is worth examining other laws that address the type of situation we are confronted with to fully appreciate how extraordinary this measure is.

First, a ban on Canadians from returning to their country was not expressly contemplated by Parliament when it adopted the Emergencies Act in 1988. That Act provides for four types of emergency. The one applicable to the COVID-19 situation would be the “Public Welfare Emergency,” which authorizes only “regulation or prohibition of travel to, from or within any specified areas” in Canada for everyone: Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreigners. Even a declaration of “International Emergency” (another of the four types of emergencies under the Act) to address a real or imminent use of serious force or violence, does not allow the government to refuse entry to Canadian citizens. For an international emergency, the government can regulate or prohibit “travel outside Canada by Canadian citizens or permanent residents and of admission into Canada of other persons.”

As for the Quarantine Act, adopted in 2005, one of its provisions grants the power to the Governor in Council to prohibit for a specified period of time “the entry into Canada of any class of persons who have been in a foreign country.” However, this kind of measure can only be taken if “no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available,” a question addressed below.

To respond to the COVID-19 emergency, the government, on the recommendation of the Health Minister, adopted the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order on March 18 (since updated with a new order on March 26). It is worth noting that the prohibition to enter Canada in both the March 18 and 26 orders are directed only at foreigners, not Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

Turning back to the constitutionality of the interim order, the government can justify it under s.1 of the Charter. However, to do so, the government has the burden to establish 1) that the measure is taken to address a pressing and substantial objective, 2) that the measure is rationally connected to the objective, 3) that the measure impairs as little as possible the right in question, 4) that the measure’s overall effects on the right protected is not disproportionate to the government’s objective.

There is little doubt that the Canadian government could meet the first two hurdles under section 1. The objective to protect the health of the Canadian population is pressing and urgent, and the measure, to ban travellers exhibiting signs or symptoms of COVID-19, is rationally linked to this objective. However, it is questionable that it could meet the other two conditions.

This measure does not impair the right in question as little as possible as it both overreaches and underreaches. It targets Canadian citizens exhibiting symptoms that could be indicative of COVID-19 but are also associated with many other conditions such as other types of infectious pulmonary diseases, non-infectious pulmonary diseases, a common cold, or flu. The Canadian government is asking for an assessment to be made by airlines representatives, who are not medically trained to conduct these kinds of assessments. As such, they could very well deny boarding to Canadian citizens who are not COVID-19 positive and accept on board some Canadian citizens who could be COVID-19 positive but are asymptomatic. Moreover, this measure also has the perverse effect of leading some travellers to hide their condition out of fear of being refused boarding, as has been reported by the media. Finally, critics claim that the transfer of migration management to private carriers increases risks of arbitrariness and discriminatory practices (racial profiling).

Apart from the fact that these citizens would need care if they were indeed COVID-19 positive, many of them could suffer from other conditions that would require continued access to medical care and medications, which is not a given for anyone suddenly forced to remain in another country.

There are alternatives that would allow for the repatriation of all Canadian citizens: on regular flights, airlines could isolate the few citizens exhibiting symptoms, or special flights could be arranged to repatriate these citizens. These alternatives could be costly and take some time to implement, but that in itself should not be sufficient to justify infringing fundamental rights.

As for whether the effects on the right protected are disproportionate to the government’s objective, this measure is preventing vulnerable Canadian citizens from getting back to their country.  Apart from the fact that these citizens would need care if they were indeed COVID-19 positive, many of them could suffer from other conditions that would require continued access to medical care and medications. That access is not a given for anyone suddenly forced to remain in another country, especially if this other country is or will soon be facing a crisis in its health sector. How can a measure that affects directly the most vulnerable, and that risks excluding from boarding some citizens who are not COVID-19 positive while allowing others who are, be proportionate?

Of course, in such unprecedented times, we recognize that there is no easy solution for the many Canadians abroad who want to come home. The Canadian government has acted in recent days to bring back citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family stranded abroad. After starting with Morocco, it has expanded this operation to several other countries with flights having taken place (or being planned for) in countries such as Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Peru and Spain. This is welcome news.

However, Canadian citizens who have suspected symptoms of COVID-19 can still be refused boarding. In our view, the government has an obligation not to create hurdles for the return of all its citizens. The Prime Minister has rightfully urged Canadians: “If you are abroad, it is time for you to come home.” To be consistent with the Canadian Charter, the government’s message and actions should not leave behind any of its citizens.

Source: Is it constitutional to screen Canadians trying to board flights home?

Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)

Latest version for those interested.

PC Number: 2020-0184

Date: 2020-03-26


Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that

(a) based on the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, there is an outbreak of a communicable disease, namely coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), in the majority of foreign countries;

(b) the introduction or spread of the disease would pose an imminent and severe risk to public health in Canada;

(c) the entry of persons into Canada who have recently been in a foreign country may introduce or contribute to the spread of the disease in Canada; and

(d) no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, makes the annexed Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States).

Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States)

Definition of immediate family member  

1 In this Order, immediate family member, in respect of a person means

(a) the spouse or common-law partner of the person;

(b) a dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;

(c) a dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);

(d) the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or

(e) the guardian or tutor of the person.

Prohibition

2 Any foreign national, as defined in subsection 2‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is prohibited from entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the United States.

Non-application

3(1) Section 2 does not apply to

(a) an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or of a permanent resident as defined in subsection 2‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;

(b) a person who is authorized, in writing, by an officer designated under subsection 6‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or by a consular officer of the Government of Canada, to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members;

(c) a crew member as defined in subsection 101.01‍(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a crew member;

(d) a member of a crew as defined in subsection 3‍(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a member of a crew;

(e) a person who is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa under paragraph 190‍(2)‍(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and the immediate family members of that person;

(f) a person who seeks to enter Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;

(g) a person who arrives by any means of a conveyance operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defence;

(h) a member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force, as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act, and the immediate family members of that member;

(i) a French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and has been only in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the United States or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada;

(j) a person or any person in a class of persons who, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer appointed under subsection 6‍(1) of the Public Health Agency of Canada Act

(i) does not pose a risk of significant harm to public health, or

(ii) will provide an essential service while in Canada;

(k) a person whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest;

(l) a person who arrives by means of a vessel as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, if the vessel departed before 00:00:01 am Eastern Daylight Time on March 21, 2020 and had a scheduled destination of Canada upon its departure;

(m) the holder of a valid work permit or a study permit as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;

(n) a person whose application for a work permit referred to in paragraph (m) was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and who has received written notice of the approval, but who has not yet been issued the permit;

(o) a person whose application for a study permit referred to in paragraph (m) was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit;

(p) a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field under paragraph 186‍(p) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;

(q) a person permitted to work in Canada as a provider of emergency services under paragraph 186‍(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

(r) a licensed health care professional with proof of employment in Canada;

(s) a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of delivering, maintaining, or repairing medically-necessary equipment or devices;

(t) a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of making medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts, that are required for patient care in Canada during or within a reasonable period of time after the expiry of the Order;

(u) a person whose application for permanent residence was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident under that Act; or

(v) a worker in the marine transportation sector who is essential for the movement of goods by vessel, as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of performing their duties in that sector.

Exception — signs and symptoms

(2) Despite subsection (1), a foreign national is prohibited from entering Canada from a foreign country other than the United States if they exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

(a) a fever and cough, or

(b) a fever and breathing difficulties.

Exception — optional or discretionary purpose

(3) Despite subsection (1), a person who seeks to enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment, is prohibited from entering Canada from a foreign country other than the United States.

Non-application — order

4 This Order does not apply to

(a) a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act; or

(b) a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95‍(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Powers and obligations

5 For greater certainty, this Order does not affect any of the powers and obligations set out in the Quarantine Act.

Repeal of P.C. 2020-0162

6 The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any country other than the United States) is repealed.

Effective period

7 This Order has effect for the period beginning on the day on which it is made and ending on June 30, 2020.

Source: https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=38958&lang=en

Coronavirus: Racism and the long-term impacts of emergency measures in Canada

Of course, there is a long and sordid history of immigration restrictions and internment practices in Canada (as elsewhere). But any comparison should avoid being simplistic, and acknowledge the changes and focus on the current political and health context, rather than the litany of past sins.

Moreover, the population of Canada is diverse, and the measures undertaken are not to preserve the “white” Canada of old, but all Canadians, whatever their origins. So exclusionary perhaps, racist no.

The travel restrictions in place are more inclusive than exclusive in how they treat family members of citizens and permanent residents, as well as allowing for the entry of Temporary Foreign Workers:

The dangers to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic are terrifying, so it’s not surprising governments around the world are taking extraordinary measures to curb its spread, including closing borders to non-nationals.

Canada has become one of many countries to either partially or completely close their borders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also announced that Canada will no longer consider asylum claims.

We are living through an exceptional situation and governments are taking extreme steps as a result. At the same time, we know extraordinary measures can have enduring and profoundly damaging effects.

In Canada, the War Measures Act, the predecessor to the Emergencies Act (the legislation that Trudeau has considered invoking as part of the government’s response to the pandemic), was used on three occasions: during the First World War, the Second World War and the 1970 FLQ Crisis in Québec. On each of these occasions, there was broad support for its enactment and then subsequent concern about the scope of its application.

Thousands interned during WWI

During the First World War, 8,579 “enemy aliens” were interned — the term referred to citizens of countries that were at war with Canada who resided in Canada — as well as hundreds of conscientious objectors.

Almost 22,000 Japanese Canadians were interned during the Second World War following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war against Imperial Japan. About 75 per cent of those interned were Canadian citizens, including 13,000 people who were Canadian-born. Under the sweeping powers of the War Measures Act, the federal government confiscated their property — including land, fishing boats and businesses — and sold it at a discount, using some of the funds to pay for the costs of internment.

During the FLQ crisis following the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Québec cabinet minister and deputy premier Pierre Laporte, the military and police conducted 3,000 searches, detained 497 people, including Québec nationalists and labour activists, in the pursuit of suspected accomplices. Only 62 people were ever criminally charged.

The fallout from all of these excesses was tangible: Ukrainian Canadians, who made up the bulk of the “enemy aliens” in the First World War, fought for decades to be recognized as full citizens; Japanese Canadians sought and received redress more than four decades after their internment; René Levesque and the Parti Québecois roared to power just six years after the FLQ crisis and very nearly achieved the separatist dream of an independent Québec in 1980.

And so with great power, comes great responsibility.

This old adage is all the more relevant if one considers the way many of the travel bans have been instituted along national lines: allowing citizens to move but restricting the movement of others.

Citizenship can be exclusionary

In efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, lines of responsibility and accountability are being forcefully drawn around the lines of citizenship. This is troubling if one considers that citizenship can be exclusionary, especially when it creates hierarchies of priority and, seemingly, of human value.

It means, for instance, refugees and unaccompanied minors have been “effectively abandoned,” according to NGO workers in Europe.

Canada has won international praise over the last few years for its commitment to refugee resettlement in particular, as evidenced by the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees in a few short months.

But Trudeau has announced that due to these “exceptional times,” a new agreement has been signed with the United States that would see asylum-seekers crossing the border on foot returned to the U.S. This exceptional reaction goes against Canada’s commitments under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and a 1985 Supreme Court ruling that says refugee claimants have a right to a fair hearing (the Singh decision).

The implicit and explicit nationalism apparent in many state responses to COVID-19, including in the Canadian context, is not necessarily “contrary to our values” as some have argued.

Rather, some of Canada’s earliest restrictions on migration and mobility related to people who were “physically defective,” “feeble-minded” or “afflicted with any loathsome disease” to use the language of the 1910 Immigration Act. This same act effectively prohibited Black migration to Canada from the United States and the Caribbean on the basis of that they were “unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada.”

A ban on Chinese immigration

Prior to that, the federal government used immigration laws in the forms of punitive taxes to exclude Chinese migrants who were considered undesirable, in part because of commonly held stereotypes that people from China were immoral, dishonest, unclean, disease-prone and would never assimilate. These perceived differences and the ineffectiveness of the original head tax led to a near total ban on Chinese migration from 1923 to 1947.

Structurally, Canada’s immigration system — and its subsequent and related border controls — was designed to exclude as much as to include. This remains the case today.

As we navigate our current public health issues, it bears contemplation not only about immediate challenges but also what will come after.

During the pandemic, there have been many disturbing storiesof Asian Canadians being targeted and harassed because of racist perceptions about who they are and where they come from — a situation compounded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s deliberate, nationalistic and racist insistence to give the coronavirus an ethnic and geographic association.

It is notable that this violence has been directed at people of Asian descent, even though the disease has been spread by travellers of many different ethnicities. This difference reflects the easy associations of otherness of the kind that shaped foundational exclusionary immigration laws and regulations and, apparently, continue to resonate in the present.

This is an easy moment to draw lines between us and them, to talk about “our neighbours” and “foreign travellers” as though they are not one and the same. But the long-term damage could be very great, particularly for racialized and vulnerable communities that have experienced the impact of exclusionary migration measures historically.

The decision to close the border to refugees is bitterly ironic in light of Trudeau’s 2018 official apology for the Canadian government’s exclusion in 1939 of Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis.

The past and the future should be part of our thinking in the present. And to be clear, now is no time for nationalism.

Canada provides update on exemptions to travel restrictions to protect Canadians and support the economy

Sensible implementation that appears to provided the needed flexibility where most needed:

News release

March 20, 2020—Ottawa—The Government of Canada is providing an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.

The exemptions include

  • seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
  • international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020
  • permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada

In addition, a temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months.

We are also increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including those in food processing.

To safeguard the continuity of trade, commerce, health and food security for all Canadians, temporary foreign workers in agriculture, agri-food, seafood processing and other key industries will be allowed to travel to Canada under exemptions being put in place to the air travel restrictions that took effect on March 18.

In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers. The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place. There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.

Those affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately. We will announce when the exemptions are in place, which we anticipate will be early next week.

These exemptions follow others announced earlier this week, for

  • foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19

  • close family members of Canadian citizens

  • close family members of Canadian permanent residents

  • a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members

  • a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act

  • accredited diplomats and family members (including NATO, those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations)

  • air crews

  • any foreign national, or group of foreign nationals, whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Public Safety

  • members of the Canadian military, visiting forces and their family members

  • transiting passengers

Order in Council: COVID-19 Travel restrictions (outside Canada-USA)

All the details. Will post Canada-USA when issued:

PC Number: 2020-0157

Date: 2020-03-18


Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that

(a) based on the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, there is an outbreak of a communicable disease, namely COVID-19 coronavirus disease, in the majority of foreign countries;

(b) the introduction or spread of the disease would pose an imminent and severe risk to public health in Canada;

(c) the entry of persons into Canada who have recently been in a foreign country may introduce or contribute to the spread of the disease in Canada; and

(d) no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available;

Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act, makes the annexed Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada).

Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada)

Definition of immediate family member  

1 In this Order, immediate family member, in respect of a person means

(a)  the spouse or common-law partner of the person;

(b)  a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or

(c) a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b)‍.

Prohibition

2 Any foreign national, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is prohibited from entering Canada if they arrive by means of an aircraft from a foreign country.

Non-application

3 Section 2 does not apply to

(a) a person who has been only in the United States or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada;

(b) an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or of a permanent resident as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;

(c) a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act;

(d) a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members;

(e) a crew member as defined in subsection 101.01(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations;

(f) a person who is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa under paragraph 190(2)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and the immediate family members of that person;

(g) a person who enters Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 coronavirus disease response;

(h) a person who arrives by means of an aircraft operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defence;

(i) a member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act and the immediate family members of that member;

(j) a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;

(k) a French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and has been only in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the United States or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada;

(l) a person or any person in a class of persons who, in the opinion of Chief Public Health Officer appointed under subsection 6‍(1) of the Public Health Agency of Canada Act

(i) does not pose a risk of significant harm to public health, or

(ii) will provide an essential service while in Canada;

(m) a person whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest; or

(n) a person who arrives by means of an aircraft, if the scheduled arrival in Canada according to the flight plan is before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020.

Powers and obligations

4 For greater certainty, this Order does not affect any of the powers and obligations set out in the Quarantine Act.

Effective period

5 This Order has effect for the period beginning at noon Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020 and ending at noon Eastern Daylight Time on June 30, 2020.

Source:https://orders-in-council.canada.ca/attachment.php?attach=38952&lang=en