American government officials inside Donald Trump’s White House are actively discussing putting troops near the Canadian borders in light of U.S. border security concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, sources tell Global News.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed the news while giving his daily briefing to reporters from Rideau Cottage, acknowledging that conversations are taking place.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also weighed in during a briefing shortly afterwards with reporters, saying that Canadian cabinet ministers and diplomats have been working to try to make it clear to the Americans that this is not a plan Canada supports.
“Canada is strongly opposed to this U.S. proposal and we’ve made that very clear to our U.S. counterparts,” she said, noting Canadian officials first learned of the proposal “a couple of days ago.”
“We are very directly and very forcefully expressing the view I shared a moment ago which is that in Canada’s view, this is an entirely unnecessary step which we will view as damaging to our relationship.”
Any militarization on or near the Canadian border would be a stark departure from traditional relations between the two countries as the Canadian-US border has traditionally been recognized as one of the longest non-militarized borders in the world.
While the move would be temporary — lasting only as long as the coronavirus pandemic — some in Washington are concerned about Canadian reaction and the precedent set by sending troops to their northern and southern borders, sources told Global News.
If the plans come to fruition, Global News has learned troops would be stationed about 30 kilometres from the border between official points of entry and would use sensor technology to detect irregular crossers before passing on the information to border patrol agents.