Former federal Green Party leader and local MP Elizabeth May says Canada should prepare to assist third-country refugees from the United States. (Black Press Media File) Former federal Green Party leader and local MP Elizabeth May says Canada should keep its borders with the United States closed for non-essential travel. (Black Press Media File).

Elizabeth May says opening border with U.S. would pose health risk to Canadians

Green Party MP wants Canada to assist refugees from the United States

Local MP Elizabeth May echoes calls to keep the US-Canada border closed, while calling on the Canadian government to prepare for helping refugees from the United States.

“The U.S. is in a terrible situation and if we were to lift our border restrictions that exist right now, in other words, if we were to have heavy tourist traffic from the United States, that would be a public health risk in Canada,” she said in an interview with the Peninsula News Review.

May made that comment when asked about comments that appear in a newsletter sent to local Green Party of Canada members, in which she says that the U.S. “now poses a real danger” to Canada. “Keeping our border closed for all but essential traffic really matters,” it reads. “It would not be wise to pick a fight with this infantile bully and risk the health of Canadians in doing so.”

She made these comments within the context of ongoing criticism from Canadian politicians of U.S. President Donald Trump over his handling of protests and issues of racial justice following the death of George Floyd and subsequent murder charge against a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. May said she has not joined other opposition politicians in “taking shots” at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his criticism — or apparent lack thereof — of Trump because of the larger public health issue. “I don’t think that would be wise,” she said. “I can say things as parliamentary leader of a small political trip, but I don’t want the prime minister to be attacking Trump.”

The status of the Canada-US border is not a unilateral decision that requires “a degree of cooperation and skillful negotiations,” she said.

May’s comments, both to the PNR and in the newsletter, came before Canada and the United States agreed to extend their ban on non-essential cross-border travel until late July. Both countries had first agreed to close their border to all but essential traffic in March, with the closure coming into effect on March 20. This closure, initially scheduled for 30 days, extended until May 21 in April, only to be extended again in May until June 21.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Thousands attend rally for Black lives in downtown Victoria

RELATED: If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

READ MORE: Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

May also addressed comments in the newsletter that eerily echo the early 1930s, when she writes that “[we] must be prepared to assist refugees from the U.S.”

May said she was not suggesting that Canada should prepare for a flood of citizens from the United States because of that country’s current political turmoil. She said she was specifically speaking about individuals from other countries who were making a refugee claim in Canada, while entering from the United States. Canada and the United States currently recognize each as a safe third country under a bilateral agreement. “For years now, at our borders and legitimate points of entry, we have been forced to turn away people from Honduras, or Nigeria, or wherever, but for this notion that the United States is a safe third country.”

May said the federal government “should review this and remove” the safe third safe country provision. “In light of what is going on right now, I really do think it is time.”

When asked more broadly about the level of political turmoil that May expects, she said that she does not want to be alarmist at this point. “I don’t know that we will expect political turmoil, and I’m not talking about U.S. citizens who want to flee to Canada. At this point, things in the U.S. are plenty unstable, but I’m not predicting that the United States will take on the status of Weimar Germany. Let’s hope democracy pulls itself together in the United States and things get stabilized.”

From May’s perspective, it is encouraging to see prominent Republicans and former military leaders push back against Trump. “At this point, it’s a constitutional challenge in the United States, not yet a constitutional crisis.”


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Elizabeth May

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read