A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted October 6th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
For at least the third time in as many months, The Buffalo News has published a front-page story about the ridiculously long wait times and traffic tie-ups caused by the understaffing of custom booths on the Canadian side of Niagara’s border crossings.
This latest story, published at the top of the Buffalo, New York’s major daily newspaper’s this October 6th, is crowned with a headline ‘Canadian understaffing leads to delays at Peace Bridge’, and goes on to talk about a vow from Brian Higgins, a U.S. Congressman from the Buffalo area, to continue putting pressure on officials in the Canadian government to make sure that those wanting or needing to use the Peace Bridge and other border crossings in the area do not go on facing the same long delays long into the future.
While mayors on both sides of the border have recently written a letter of complaint to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Preparedness, Ralph Goodale, it is high time more of our politicians at the provincial and federal level join U.S. counterparts like Higgins in putting pressure on Ottawa to solve a problem that is potentially costing businesses on both sides of the border countless tens-of-millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The Buffalo News story notes that the problem “has its roots in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan, a 2011 effort to cut federal spending in Canada” – a plan that was supported at the time by the Tory MP for Niagara Falls and then Harper cabinet minister Rob Nicholson, by the way. So who would take a call from him for more funding seriously now?
But there are two Liberal government MPs in the Niagara Region – Chris Bittle representing the St. Catharines Riding and Vance Badawey in Niagara Centre – and the Liberals have been in power going on almost a year now.
That should be more than enough time to commit to investing however many hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars more it would take each year to properly staff a Peace Bridge that is a conduit for an estimated $40 billion annually in goods crossing from both countries.
Between that and all of the retailers and other businesses o the Canadian side of the border anxious to attract American customers at a time when the currency exchange rate favours them, you’d think the Canadian government in would want to do whatever is reasonably necessary to make it convenient for Americans to cross the border.
It seems like a no-brainer.
Find more information on this issue by clicking on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2016/09/08/buffalo-new-york-area-congressman-asks-canada-to-increase-border-staffing-to-reduce-delays/ .
And by clicking on the website for the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority at the Peace Bridge for statistics on traffic volumes, dollar value of goods crossing the bridge, etc. – http://www.peacebridge.com/ and http://www.peacebridge.com/index.php/about-us-sp-1874923374/peace-bridge-facts2.
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