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Trudeau weighs easing US travel ban and speaks out on race

Canada is considering making some exceptions to the travel ban in place with the US to allow spouses, children and parents of its citizens and permanent residents to rejoin their families, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (Photo: The Star)

The US-Canada border was closed in March for all non-essential travel to help contain the spread of coronavirus. That agreement was extended until next month.

“We’ve seen many stories in the news in recent weeks with some very touching stories about divided families so we’re trying to see how we can bring some change to allow families who have been divided to come together,” Trudeau told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

Traffic moves along the Peace Bridge border crossing between Canada and the US, in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada on March 21.
(Photographer: Cole Burston/Bloomberg)

Any decisions on increased travel would be discussed with provincial leaders beforehand, Trudeau said. “We are keeping the border closed as agreed until June 21 but some small exceptions could perhaps be made,” he added.

‘Racism is Real’

With riots breaking out south of the border, Trudeau also used his daily coronavirus briefing to make an unsolicited comment on racism. He said that while Canadians are watching violence in the US “with shock and with horror,” people of colour also face discrimination at home.

“Racism is real. It’s in the United States but it’s also in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters. “And we know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-Black racism every single day.”

He issued a call to reject prejudice. “I call on all Canadians — whether it’s anti-black racism, anti-Asian racism, or racism and discrimination of any type — to stand together in solidarity, to be there for each other and know just how deeply people are being affected by what we see on the news these last few days,” he said.

Riots rocked the US this week after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after his arrest by police in Minnesota. The white officer who knelt for nearly 10 minutes on his neck was arrested Friday, a day after President Donald Trump waded back into racial politics by threatening to send in the National Guard to quell the violence.