New Canada-US border crossing fee ‘a bad idea’

“Margaret Atwood once remarked that if the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. But is paranoia towards the United States justified? Not usually. Take a closer look at reports of a new border-crossing fee that are creating a lot of noise,” Colin Robertson wrote for The Globe and Mail today. Robertson continued, “This is not protectionism. Rather, the across-the-board budget cuts mandated by U.S. laws (the ‘sequester’) have obliged all departments to become more creative in funding. Within the 2014 Department of Homeland Security budget is a recommendation to conduct a study on whether to collect a fee from pedestrians and vehicles crossing between the United States and Canada by land. The new revenue, Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress, would pay for the hiring of new customs and border officers. There might be something for us in the scheme as without new staff, the chances of getting pre-clearance at Toronto’s Island Airport are slim. But the first call will be to staff the southern border because enforcement will be a key part of any new immigration deal. Unlike budgets in Canada, however, what goes into the congressional legislative process bears little resemblance to what comes out the other end. This is why the U.S. legislative process has famously been compared to sausage-making. The checks and balances inherent in the U.S. system mean that regional and sectoral interests can also be counted on to block such initiatives. A new toll ‘is the absolute last thing we should be doing if we want to grow the economies of Western New York and the U.S.,’ warned Buffalo Congressman Brian Higgins. ‘To slap travellers here with onerous fees is a bad idea,’ argued New York Senator Chuck Schumer. ‘We don’t need a study to tell us that.'” Read the full article here. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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