Atlantic Travel Centre

Travel News

Maine/NB sign cooperation agreement

July 22, 2014 –

The Premier of Brunswick and Governor of Maine have signed a Cooperation Agreement that identifies opportunities for collaboration in trade development, tourism, transportation, energy, culture and emergency preparadness.  The agreement was signed Monday afternoon at the Woodstock Best Western.  Premier Alward says the agreement provides a framework for our province to continue working with the state to create economic opportunity and improve quality of life on both sides of the border, he also thanked the State of Maine for their assistance following post tropical storm arthur. Maine State Governor Paul LePage says that state has a history or cooperating with NB and this agreement further strengthens our commitment to regional efforts between Maine and NB.

Travel survey

July 22, 2014 –

A new survey says nearly one quarter of Canadians won’t be travelling this summer, with budget concerns keep them close to home.   The survey by digital offers website says the high price of gas and accommodations are the top reasons for keeping 42 per cent of Canadians at home, followed by high air fares for 37 per cent of those surveyed. Just seven per cent of say they’ll be travelling overseas this summer. And 28 per cent of plan to limit their spending on summer travel and transportation to $100 or less. But the survey found that Canadians will spend $100 to $300 on alcohol during their summer holiday, while 60 per cent will spend under $200 on food.


Canadian border agents can’t be forced to wear name tags: tribunal

A federal tribunal has ruled that the Canada Border Services Agency cannot force its border agents to wear name tags.

The Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal of Canada says the CBSA contravened Canada’s Labour Code in making name tags mandatory.

Read More…


Los Angeles Times/Buisness

Foreign visitors to U.S. spent $87.1 billion in first half of 2013

By Hugo Martin, August 7, 2013, 10:47 a.m.

Be sure to thank the next foreign tourist you run across.

They have helped inject an estimated $87.1 billion into the U.S. economy in the first six months of 2013.

The spending estimate comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which says the outlays by international visitors represents a 7% increase from the same period in 2012.

The federal agency predicts that such spending will only increase over the next five years. The U.S. hosted 67 million foreign visitors in 2012, and the Department of Commerce predicts the number of international tourists will jump to 84.6 million by 2018.

Four countries are expected to account for 68% of the growth in visitors in the next five years: Canada (30%), China (19%), Mexico (12%) and Brazil (7%).

In the first six months of the year, foreign visitors spent $67 billion on food, lodging, recreation, entertainment and gifts, among other tourism-related goods and service, according to the federal agency. Another $20.1 billion was spent on travel costs, such as airline tickets.

In the travel sector, the U.S. recorded a favorable balance of trade in the month of June, with a surplus of more than $4.3 billion, the Department of Commerce said.

“The economic contributions of international travel and tourism continues to be a bright spot, ” Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez said in a statement.

Canadian snowbirds may be allowed to stay in U.S. longer

U.S. bill would give Canadian snowbirds more time to spend in the sun

The Canadian PressPosted: May 14, 2013 7:36 AM ET, Last Updated: May 14, 2013 5:14 PM ET
Related Stories

Canadian snowbirds may soon be able to spend an extra two months nesting in their favourite sunshine state each year.

U.S. legislation winding its way through Congress would allow Canadians aged 55 and older to spend up to 240 days — about eight months — in the country without a visa, 58 days longer than the current 182-day annual limit.

The provision is not yet law, but it has the backing of powerful New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who was recently one of the leading voices to speak out against a rejected proposal to impose a border crossing fee on Canadians.

In a New York Times article published over the weekend, a spokesman for Schumer is quoted as supporting the Canadian proposal, along with relaxing visa requirements on nationals from several other countries.

“Each of these provisions makes individual sense on the merits,” the spokesman is quoted as saying. “They each solve inequities in the existing immigration law.”

The Canadian Snowbird Association says it has been pushing for the change for years. A previous bill died in committee, but association researcher Evan Rachkovsky said he believes the latest proposal stands a good chance of passage. The Senate version of the bill could be voted on this summer.

Snowbirds group claim wide support for proposal

Rachkovsky said his organization has talked to more than 100 members of the U.S. Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — and has found wide support for the proposal.

“That it’s attached to comprehensive immigration reform, I think that increases the likelihood of it becoming law,” he said. “We definitely remain optimistic.”

Some stumbling blocks to the practicality of spending eight months of the year in the U.S. remain, however.

Health coverage from Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba permits a maximum of seven months per year outside the country, meaning snowbirds would only likely get another month’s pass. In many other provinces, including Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the limit is the equivalent of six months.

But some provinces have introduced some flexibility. Quebec, for instance, permits residents to have short stays outside the province beyond the six-month limit, Rachkovsky said.

It is unclear how provinces would react if the U.S. limit were expanded.

Canadians represent a major boost to the economy in the U.S., particularly southern states such as Florida. Recently the state dropped a provision requiring an annual international drivers permit after objections raised from the strong Canadian lobby.

$16B influx

In 2011, Canadians made more than 44 million visits to the U.S., spending more than $16.5 billion.

As well, Canadians are by far the largest foreign buyers of residential real estate in the U.S., purchasing an estimated $20 billion of housing in 2012 alone.

Rachkovsky said a major reason for seeking the change is that Canadians who spend the winter in the southern U.S. often complain to his association that after exhausting the 182 days for any calendar year, they were precluded from shorter trips to visit relatives and friends in border states.

“Having an extra two months will give them greater flexibility,” he said.

The proposal does appear to have the general backing of the federal government.

“We always monitor legislation impacting Canada very closely, and we support any efforts to increase trade and tourism between our two countries,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said in response to an email query.

Canada also has a rule that allows Americans to spend a maximum of six months north of the border.

Border fee for Canadians banned by U.S. senators

Canadians spend more than $21 billion annually in the U.S.

CBC News Posted: May 10, 2013 12:45 PM ET

The U.S. won’t be introducing border crossing fees at land ports of entry.

The Department of Homeland Security had wanted the U.S. Congress to authorize the study of a fee that could be collected from everyone entering the U.S. at land crossings bordering Canada and Mexico.

But the Senate’s judiciary committee on Thursday voted to amend the Immigration Reform Bill to ban the fee altogether.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the committee, said a fee would stop Canadians from visiting the U.S. and could threaten trade and the economy.

On his website, Leahy has pointed out “the harm that a border fee on the northern border would cause to Vermont’s economy and to the historic cultural ties that Vermonters have with Quebec.”

Leahy said a border crossing fee would make U.S. border patrol agents “toll collectors instead of law enforcement.”

“There are many steps remaining [before it becomes law], but this was probably the most important step,” Leahy’s spokesperson David Carle said in an email to CBC News.

The bill still has go to the senate floor. If passed there, the House will have to act on its own immigration reform bill, Carle said.

In Ottawa on Friday, Government House leader Peter Van Loan said he is “very pleased that the Senate committee in the U.S. has rejected the proposed border fee.”

“A border fee like this would have been very damaging to both the American and the Canadian economy as we work to ensure our economic recovery, continued job creation and economic growth,” Van Loan said. “The importance of movement of goods and people across our border to facilitate trade and growth is critically important.”

International Trade Minister Ed Fast also applauded the move. “With this decision… the committee has recognized that free and open trade, rather than protectionism, is the way forward to create jobs and prosperity for workers in both our countries,” said Fast in a statement.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said last month that a fee to simply enter the U.S. would be bad for business between the two countries.

Department spokeswoman Emma Welford told CBC News in an email that Canadians spend more than $21 billion annually in the U.S.

For example, in Windsor, Ont., Chrysler alone makes more than 1,600 customs entries in Windsor-Detroit every day.

Windsor West NDP MP and border issues critic Brian Masse praised Leahy’s efforts Friday.

“It’s not quite done yet. For me, it’s a great opportunity to get this issue put down,” Masse said. “I wasn’t surprised to see some of the American politicians raise objections to it right away.”

The U.S. Senate’s judiciary committee also voted Thursday against a fence proposed to be constructed on the Canada-U.S. border.

Masse said a fence would be the beginning of the “militarization of the border.”

“There are several of these nonsensical proposals that keep emerging all along the northern border,” Masse said.

He called the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “one of the biggest bureaucracies on the planet.”

“There needs to be a balance here,” Masse said. “Senator Leahy points out the cultural, economic and historic need to have an open and friendly border.”

Hefty medical bills rejected by travel insurance firms

Canadian seniors on hook after being caught by ‘1 strike’ clause
By Kathy Tomlinson, CBC News

Posted: Jan 7, 2013 2:05 AM PT

Two Canadian seniors have been “blindsided” by $100,000-plus in U.S. medical bills, despite buying full coverage travel insurance for trips south.

“It’s just been a terribly, terribly stressful few months,” said Joanne Parr, 67, of North Bay, Ont.

“It just threw me for a loop totally,” said John Toljanich, 74, of North Vancouver, B.C. “I am on anti-depressant pills now, for the first time ever … because of this claim.”
Toljanich recovered from pneumonia in North Vancouver, after the insurance company advanced the $22,000 to fly him back home from California. Toljanich recovered from pneumonia in North Vancouver, after the insurance company advanced the $22,000 to fly him back home from California. (CBC)

Both were treated in U.S. hospitals last winter. Their illnesses were sudden and unrelated to any pre-existing conditions.

Their insurance claims were denied because Parr and Toljanich each made what they call an honest mistake when answering a question on their initial application form, about past treatments for other ailments.

“I would have sworn on my life that I filled everything out correctly. With my sight, I check everything I do three or four times,” said Parr, who is legally blind and used a magnifying glass to fill out her form.

“It makes no sense to answer something incorrectly. Why even pay the premium? You are just throwing money out the window,” she said.

Idle No More targets Canadian travel routes

Some U.S. border crossings and rail lines shut down by First Nations demonstrators

CBC News
Posted: Jan 5, 2013 12:06 PM ET
The Idle No More protest movement continued to gain steam with more demonstrations Saturday, after it was announced Prime Minister Stephen Harper would meet with a delegation of First Nations chiefs, including Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is now on day 26 of a hunger strike.Idle No More protesters staged a railroad blockade Saturday evening in Marysville, Ont., near Kingston. Via Rail trains travelling the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridors were disrupted.Buses were to take people from the halted trains to other trains waiting on the other side of the blockade.
Via contact infoOfficials at Via tweeted Saturday evening that they remain unsure of when the tracks will be clear, but, remained “hopeful the blockade will be over and train operations will resume tomorrow.”Via spokesman Jacques C. Gagnon said the Ontario Provincial Police sent out a travel advisory on Friday that the protest was likely to occur.CN Rail, which owns the line, said its staff spotted some of the protesters tampering with a rail crossing signal device, something that is illegal and could put people’s lives at risk.

“CN will investigate and we will seek to prosecute anyone who was tampering with the signal system,” said Jim Feeny, a CN spokesman.

Protesters staged a similar blockade on Saturday which lasted approximately three hours.

A number of groups have pledged to block bridges, several of which straddle the Canada-U.S. border.

Police in Cornwall, Ont., closed the International Bridge for more than three hours in response to an Idle No More protest that began mid-Saturday morning. About 350 protesters crossed the bridge. The bridge reopened by 2 p.m. local time.

The border crossing between Sarnia, Ont., and Port Huron, Mich., and a stretch of highway 403 in Hamilton, Ont., were also temporarily shut down due to protests

Those on Sarnia’s Blue Water Bridge banged drums, chanted and stood in the middle of the roadway to listen to speeches.

One of them included Greg Plain of Aamjiwnaang First Nation, who was one of the organizers of a recent nearly-two week long blockade of a CN Rail line in Sarnia.

“We just want to get the message out,” he said. “It’s not just us who should be out there. There are a lot of other Canadians that are out there supporting natives and anybody else who want to hear it.”

And in Saskatchewan, RCMP say they closed off Highway 624 from Highway 1 to Highway 46 for safety reasons due to a protest of about 300 people.

The Idle No More protest that was blocking commercial trains on Canadian National Rail tracks between Moncton and Miramichi, N.B., on Friday has been shut down. CN Rail filed a temporary court injunction Friday afternoon.

Organizers with Idle No More held several other demonstrations on Saturday at sites including:

The Peace Arch crossing in Surrey, B.C.
N.W.T.’s Deh Cho Bridge.
The Peace Bridge between Fort Erie and Buffalo in the Niagara region.
The Queenston/Lewiston Bridge between Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake.
The Buffalo Narrows Reserve in Northern Saskatchewan.
The White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon, with actor and activist Tantoo Cardinal.
The Santa Maria bridge in West Edmonton Mall.
Centennial Park on Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Orchard Park Shopping Centre in Kelowna, B.C.

Canada-U.S. deal, small border crossings may close

Other border crossings could become unmanned ‘remote’ ports of entry
By Evan Dyer, CBC News
Posted: Dec 15, 2011 5:14 AM ET
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2011 10:16 AM ET

Canada and the U.S. have been negotiating to do away with some small border crossings and merge others as part of the far-reaching perimeter security deal recently announced between the two countries.

A leaked internal presentation of the bi-national Small Port Working Group reveals details of the negotiations over the fate of so-called “small ports of entry,” rural or small-town crossings stretching from St. Stephen, N.B., to Chopaka, B.C.

The document discusses four options being considered by officials with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for each of the 52 land crossings. The options are sharing facilities, mirroring working hours, using a “remote-technology solution,” or closing the posts altogether.

At some smaller posts, the two countries will seek to cut costs by sharing facilities. This arrangement has already existed for many years at some posts and is generally considered to have worked well. For example, Canada currently pays for a shared facility in Noyan, Que., while the U.S. picks up the tab for a joint border post at Carson, B.C.
Opposition questions move

In question period Thursday, NDP MP Brian Masse asked the Conservative government why they were planning to close the crossings and questioned how long they had been planning the moves.

“These border crossings are the lifeblood of these communities all across the country,” said Masse.

MPP Candice Hoeppner, the parliamentary secretary to public safety minister Vic Toews said no decisions have been made regarding the draft report.

“Our government is focused on ensuring that the shared border we have with the U.S. is secure while easing the flow of legitimate trade and travel. We are investing in our borders and we continue to do so,” she said.

The Harper government has already announced its intention to add new lanes to ease jams at some of the busiest border crossings.

But although the deal will make crossing the border more convenient for some, that won’t necessarily be true for people in places like Bloomfield, N.B., or Piney, Man. The presentation reveals that CBSA and CBP are looking into closing a total of nine border posts. Manitoba could potentially lose three, B.C. two, and Alberta, Quebec, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick one each.

For some border-dwellers, the changes could bring inconvenience. The small farming community of Morses Line is on both sides of the Quebec-Vermont border and normally sees about 80 vehicle crossings a day, but can see as many as 200 on a summer weekend. It already saw the hours of operation reduced at the border post on the Canadian side this past spring, which now closes at 4 p.m. The U.S Customs and Border Patrol is currently seeking public comment on closing the post entirely.

Three very small border posts were already closed on April 1 at Jamieson’s Line and Franklin Centre in Quebec, and at Big Beaver in Saskatchewan. Since U.S. customs remains open at those posts, it is still possible to enter the U.S., but not to return to Canada.

Even as Canada announced plans last year to close Franklin Centre, the U.S. was building a state-of-the-art border facility just a few hundred metres away in Churubusco, N.Y., using seven million dollars of federal infrastructure money. Work on that project halted following the Canadian announcement.

But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security soon came under pressure from New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who stated in a press release that “our businesses and construction workers in the North Country depend on this project to meet their bottom line and provide for their families.”

In that case U.S. domestic political considerations trumped cross-border co-ordination, and work on the U.S. border post soon resumed. Canada still has no plans to reopen its side of the border.

A similar situation arose at East Pinnacle, Que., where Canada cut back opening hours in April. Now the small Canadian border post is open from only 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the 24-hour U.S. border post is being upgraded with a new multi-million dollar facility.

In many cases, the document shows that CBSA and CBP continue to debate various options for the smaller ports of entry. For example, at the crossing from Amrose, N.D., to Torquay, Sask., the two governments had not yet decided by this summer whether to share facilities, install remote cameras at an unmanned post, or close the post altogether. In Bloomfield, N.B. – Monticello, Maine, on the other hand, closure is the only option being considered.

The leaked document suggests that planning has advanced further than is acknowledged in the official Beyond the Border “action plan” released by the Government of Canada on Dec. 6. There, under the heading “Next Steps,” the action plan mentions “establishing a Small and Remote Port Working Group to evaluate a binational approach to operational alignment (for example, mirroring hours), infrastructure investment and improved service.”

But the leaked presentation makes clear that the Small Port Working Group has already been meeting since last January.
Unstaffed border posts

Another controversial element of the negotiations is a plan to turn several crossings into unstaffed border posts where travellers will speak to border guards through a camera connected to a distant headquarters. That option is being considered for 23 crossings, stretching from Fosterville, N.B., to Nelway, B.C.

CBC News showed Jean-Pierre Fortin, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, the leaked document, and he expressed surprise over how far discussions had proceeded.

“It’s way further, obviously, than we thought it was,” he said.

Fortin said some ideas, like harmonizing hours and sharing facilities make sense. However, he said some vulnerabilities remain, including the lack of a comprehensive Canadian border patrol.

“I think we need to create a border patrol with the officers of CBSA,” he said.

Fortin also said he had some concerns how remote technology would work.

“What about if the person actually is not admissible? And he’s right in front of your camera, and you’re talking to him via a phone line or something — you need to have somebody on site,” Fortin said.

“And also I’m concerned about the cost efficiency of this — how much the technology would cost versus having our officers there that would actually be prepared to intervene immediately.”

Despite his concerns, Fortin said that the he sees some signs of hope in the broader Canada-U.S. deal announced last week.

“We see hope in that document, with the initiative of the perimeter,” he said. “It’s just that right now we don’t see, actually, you know, at our level, what that’s going to imply for our officers.”

Opposition questions move

In question period Thursday, NDP MP Brian Masse asked the Conservative government why they were planning to close the crossings and questioned how long they had been planning the moves.

“These border crossings are the lifeblood of these communities all across the country,” said Masse.

MPP Candice Hoeppner, the parliamentary secretary to public safety minister Vic Toews said no decisions have been made regarding the draft report.

“Our government is focused on ensuring that the shared border we have with the U.S. is secure while easing the flow of legitimate trade and travel. We are investing in our borders and we continue to do so,” she said.


Canada-U.S. border deal marks ‘significant step’

CBC News Posted: Dec 7, 2011 2:35 PM ET

A new perimeter security and trade agreement between Canada and the U.S. aims to make everything from travel to cross-border business easier, co-ordinating regulations to cut red tape that the government estimates costs the economy $16 billion a year.

But in exchange for changes Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopes will smooth trade to Canada’s biggest and most important partner, officials have negotiated information-sharing to ease Americans’ security concerns.

The government argues Canada loses no sovereignty in the agreement: both countries retain the power to allow people and products into and out of the country.

It will take months before people see the results of the agreement, but pilot projects will start as soon as April 2012.

“These agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since the North American Free Trade Agreement,” Harper said in a statement Wednesday before a press conference in Washington, D.C. with U.S. President Barack Obama to announce the new “action plan.”
CANADA-U.S. BORDER By the numbers: physical size, trade, travel The figures behind the world’s largest shared border

Obama told reporters Canada is key to his plan to grow the U.S. economy, and he implored Canadians to travel to America and spend money there. And he noted the border security deal strikes a better balance by dealing with regulations that didn’t need to be duplicated.

Harper said the two countries are already co-operating closely on security and that will continue.

“Believe me, if we could replicate our relationship anywhere else in the world, the world would be a better place,” he said.

BEYOND THE BORDER Highlights from the new Canada-U.S. deal
The two leaders first announced the Beyond the Border talks in February, leading to months of consultations and discussions on trade and security culminating in Wednesday’s announcement, which had been rumoured for weeks.

For travellers and consumers, the Beyond the Border deal should mean:

* Not having to clear baggage at U.S. airports if it has already been cleared in Canada.
* Border crossings should move faster, with commercial traffic getting more dedicated lanes and technology to move them through faster.
* Wait times measured and posted at border crossings.
* Consumer health products that have already been approved in the U.S. could get faster approval in Canada, with regulatory bodies sharing information and adjusting labelling standards to make it easier to market a product in both countries.

But it will also mean the two countries will share information about who enters and exits the country, and Canada will adopt two U.S. screening measures over the next four years: an electronic travel authorization for visitors who don’t need visas to travel to Canada, and a system to deny boarding to inadmissible passengers before they get on a plane.

Canada and the U.S. will also share information about people from other countries — not Canadian or U.S. citizens — denied boarding or entry because of national security concerns.

Officials say it’s not yet clear exactly what information will be shared about Canadian and U.S. citizens when they cross the shared border. Currently, no information is shared upon entry or exit.

For business, the plan should eventually mean faster shipment of goods, with less paperwork for low-risk travellers and pre-clearance away from the border. The agreement will expand programs that speed up border crossings for frequent and trusted traders. Cargo will be cleared at its first port of entry, operating under the philosophy of “cleared once, accepted twice,” to reduce the time and expense of re-screening. And companies will have a “single window” to submit data required by government for shipments.

The cargo clearance pilot project will start in Montreal and Prince Rupert, B.C., by 2013.


Consultations Between Canada & the United States

Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness

On Monday August 29th, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird released the Government of Canada’s report on its consultations with Canadians on the vision for Canada-U.S. perimeter security and economic competitiveness.

What Canadians Told Us: A Report on Consultations on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Between Canada and the United States, – and the specific document link is also noted below.

Increase duty-free limits, U.S. urges Canada

CBC News Posted: May 13, 2011 12:13 PM ET

The United States is calling on Canada to raise its duty-free limits for day trips to the U.S., but the idea isn’t getting a warm reception from retailers or government officials north of the border.

Americans are allowed to bring back $200 US in merchandise duty free, but Canadians must stay in the U.S. for at least 24 hours to bring back duty-free goods. The Globe and Mail says the U.S. wants to increase those limits to $1,000 for American shoppers making a day trip to Canada, and wants Ottawa to do the same.

Allowing the same exemptions for Canadians returning from the U.S. could be a big problem for Windsor, Ont., businesses, according to Freeds of Windsor clothing retailer Dan Orman. He said he works hard to keep Canadian dollars on this side of the border. A change to duty rules would mean fighting even harder.”It almost feels like we are at the end of the world in Canada and that no one is thinking of people doing business in this city, so we are concerned,” said Orman.

Duty-free limits for returning Canadians
  • 24 hours must pay duty, taxes
  • 24 hours $50 duty-free, excluding tobacco, alcohol
  • 48 hours $400 duty-free, partial exemption for tobacco, alcohol
  • 7 days or more $750 duty-free, partial exemption for tobacco, alcohol

Source: CBSA Declaration Guide

Duty free limits for returning U.S. residents
  • 24 hours $200 duty-free, partial exemption for tobacco, alcohol
  • 48 hours $800 duty free, partial exemption for tobacco, alcohol

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Guide

Consumers buying in U.S. may be doing ‘damage’

He admits cross-border shopping can benefit both sides, but adds if it’s lopsided in favour of American stores, Windsor’s already fragile economy won’t stand a chance. “Hopefully if that Windsor consumer is going over, they realize what kind of damage they’re doing to the core of our city,” Orman said.

At Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Mich., retailers roll out the red carpet each year to accept loonies and toonies on the Canadian Thanksgiving in October. It’s their third-busiest annual shopping day.

The strong Canadian dollar — the Bank of Canada’s website reports the loonie peaked at $1.0582 US at the end of April — has been enticing even more Windsor consumers and those in other parts of Canada to cross into the U.S. to shop.

Brian Masse, Windsor West’s NDP MP-elect, was shopping at Freeds on Thursday, but said cross-border shopping can be a perk of living in a border town. “That’s part of our culture here, but when it becomes so lopsided in the sense that the dollar is being artificially raised, it becomes a real concern,” Masse said.

Limits may play into perimeter security talks

As a member of the Official Opposition, Masse said he will fight any change to the Canadian duty-free amounts. However, it may not be much of a fight.

The Globe and Mail said Thursday that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has told the U.S. that increasing travellers’ exemption threshold raises competitiveness issues for Canadian retailers. It was reported he wasn’t considering making any changes to Canadian exemptions.

Bill Anderson, a professor of cross-border policy studies at the University of Windsor, said the issue of personal exemptions could become a bargaining chip in the border security talks currently heating up between the U.S. and Canada.

The talks are really about harmonization of different policies so that the two governments can reduce border restrictions between the two countries and improve the flow of trade, Anderson said. Increasing duty-free limits could be something Canada would consider in order to see the U.S. ease those restrictions, he said.

But it would be good for Canada if the Americans increased their limits unilaterally, he added. “If the Americans were to do it unilaterally, I think it would be a positive thing for tourism in Ontario because this is something that has been hurt,” Anderson said.



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