Canada strongly opposes a U.S. proposal to station troops on their shared border, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday.
“This is an entirely unnecessary step, which we would view as damaging to our relationship,” Freeland said at a press conference. “Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal, and we’ve made that opposition very, very clear to our American counterparts.”
At his regular daily briefing Thursday which preceded Freeland’s remarks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government had held “discussions” around the issue and Canada has tried to dissuade implementation of the proposal.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world, and it is very much in both our interests for it to remain that way,” he said.
The border is 5,500 miles long and about 400,000 crossings are made every day with about CAN$2.7 billion worth of goods.
On Wednesday, Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump closed the border to all but non-essential travel to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
American media cited a U.S. official as saying the Department of Homeland Security did make a “formal request” to the Pentagon for troops to be placed at non-entry points to stop illegal crossings.
The troops would ensure “personnel at our borders have the resources and operational support needed to address the profound public health threat of uncontrolled cross-border movement during a pandemic,” said another Trump official, according to reports.
The official also stressed that the decision to deploy the troops had not been made.
Freeland said the move would be unjustified, as very few people cross illegally into the U.S. from the Canadian side.
“What we have said is, ‘We really do not believe at all that there would be a public health justification for you to take this action,” she said. “And we have said, ‘We really don’t think (this) is the right way to treat a trusted friend and military ally.”
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