Canada rejects a U.S. plan to send troops to the northern border to catch border jumpers who may carry COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.
Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded to a Global News report in which White House officials discussed such a military operation at the recently closed border, the longest at 8,900 kilometers in the world.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it was temporarily closed to all non-essential travelers on both sides from Saturday, but not to cross-border trade.
"Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world, and it is in our interest to keep it that way," Trudeau said in a daily meeting.
He said his government had emphasized to the United States that the flow of people and trade "has benefited our two countries and our economy tremendously, and we believe it must remain that way."
Freeland went on to warn: "In Canada's view, this is a completely unnecessary step that we would consider harmful to our (bilateral) relationship."
At a press conference, she found that Washington did not have to make a decision, but added, "We do not believe at all that there would be a justification for public health if (US) action were taken.
"We said we don't think this is the right way to treat a trustworthy friend and a military ally."
An estimated 400,000 people and goods worth $ 2 billion typically cross the border every day.
Global News said that fewer than 1,000 American troops would be stationed within 30 kilometers (20 miles) of the Canadian border between official border checkpoints and would use sensor technology to detect irregular cross-border commuters.
According to the proposal, the U.S. military would advise American border officials who would be sent to intercept them.
According to the latest government data, U.S. officials arrested 4,400 migrants at the Canadian-US border in the twelve months to September 30, 2019, compared to 15,700 who came to Canada irregularly from the U.S. during the reporting period.
The number of coronavirus cases in Canada exceeded 4,000 on Thursday, including 39 deaths, according to health officials. The number of US cases exceeded 83,000, including more than 1,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Freeland said Ottawa "violently" opposed the border proposal and, in talks with US officials, recalled that the two nations were "very close military allies", including partners in NORAD and NATO.
She also referred to the recently ratified US-Mexico-Canada free trade pact and last week's border restrictions agreement, as evidence that the two countries can work well together.
"Given all of this, and the importance of (bilateral) relations, Canada is firmly against this US proposal," she said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)