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U.S. border to remain closed until at least Aug. 21 – CBC.ca

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The U.S. land border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21, according to a renewal order issued by the American government Wednesday.

In a notice pre-published in the U.S. Federal Register, the U.S. government says that while vaccination rates have improved, opening the land border to non-essential travel still poses too great a risk.

“Given the outbreak and continued transmission and spread of COVID-19 within the United States and globally, the Secretary has determined that the risk of continued transmission and spread of the virus associated with COVID-19 between the United States and Canada poses an ongoing specific threat to human life or national interests,” says the U.S. government notice.

The new order expires one minute before midnight on Aug. 21.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that offered little additional explanation.

“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” wrote DHS spokesperson Angelo Fernández Hernández.

“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also tight-lipped.

“We rely on the guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries,” Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Cincinnati.

“We created these working groups so we can have an open line of communication, discussion on what the criteria look like, what measures needed to be met. Those are ongoing and of course, we continue to be briefed internally as well.”

The American order comes only a few days after the Canadian government announced its land border would open to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9 and to fully vaccinated travellers from other countries on Sept. 7.

No change to Canada’s border plan: Blair

Speaking to reporters today, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he has been working closely with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who informed him of the U.S. government’s plan to keep its land border closed to non-essential travel.

“There are a number of considerations that I know that the American government is currently undertaking with respect to their borders and that work will continue,” he said.

Blair said the U.S. policy doesn’t affect Canada’s decision to open its border next month.

“Our responsibility, of course, is to look after the best interests of Canadians and to follow the advice of our public health officials,” he said. “That’s precisely what we have done.”

Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, was sharply critical of the U.S. government’s decision and the lack of co-ordination with Canada’s move to open the land border to fully vaccinated Americans with a PCR test starting Aug. 9.

“It flies in the face of both science and the most recent public health data,” said Beatty, who urged the Canadian government to press Washington to change its mind. “It’s hard to see how allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to enter the U.S. poses a public health threat when travel within the U.S. is unrestricted.”

Beatty said vaccination rates are higher in Canada than the U.S. and infection rates are lower, and pointed out that the U.S. has adopted different rules for those who fly to the States and those who want to drive.

‘This is completely unnecessary’

South of the border, Democratic congressman Brian Higgins was infuriated by his own government’s announcement.

Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Higgins said President Joe Biden’s administration has to explain why it decided to keep the U.S. land border closed.

Higgins — who represents a district in New York state that includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls and was hard hit by the border closure — said Biden has to show leadership on re-opening the border.

“There’s only one person who can make this work — that’s the president of the United States,” he said.

Higgins said his seats on the budget and ways-and-means committees give him “leverage” and suggested that the decision to keep the border closed without any explanation could prompt him to vote against Biden administration initiatives.

“This administration wants legislation passed?” Higgins said. “Okay, give us justification for your decision.”

Higgins said the continued border closure doesn’t make sense given the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, and is costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1.5 billion a week.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik calls the Biden administration’s decision to keep the border closed to non-essential traffic for now “absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable.” (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose district includes northern New York border communities like Plattsburgh and Massena, called the decision to keep the land border closed “misguided.”

“President Biden’s failure to reopen the northern border, especially given Canada’s recent decision to reopen the border to fully vaccinated American travellers in August, is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable,” said Stefanik.

“This failure of the Biden Administration to reopen our Northern Border is devastating to North Country families, businesses, and communities who were hopeful that the United States would reciprocate on Canada’s decision to restore travel across the border.”

Stefanik called on fellow lawmakers to support the Restoring Northern Border Travel Act she introduced last month, which would expand the list of people allowed to cross the border to include family members and property owners.

Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene said keeping the border closed will result in more businesses shutting down in her Washington State district.

“Right now, Canadians can fly from Vancouver to Seattle but residents in the border town of White Rock cannot drive the short distance south across the border to Blaine,” said DelBene, whose district includes the community of Point Roberts, where residents traditionally travel through Canada to get to the rest of the United States.

“Instead of helping them build back better, we’re putting our border communities at a significant disadvantage.”

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

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US Customs agents arrest Canadian woman attempting to smuggle drugs – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
A Canadian woman has been caught attempting to import a significant quantity of cocaine into the country, U.S. border agents report.

The suspect, who was driving a commercial truck loaded with watermelons and peppers, attempted to cross into Canada at the office in Sweetgrass, Mont. on July 29.

Upon further inspection of the truck, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers discovered a number of bags hidden among the cargo.

The substance inside the bags tested positive for cocaine, officials said. The total amount of drugs seized was 31.5 kilograms.

“Utilizing high-tech tools, our frontline CBP Officers used a combination of their training and experience to detect and seize 69.5 pounds of cocaine in the cargo environment,” said area port director Jason Greene, Sweetgrass Port of Entry, in a release.

“The ability to facilitate lawful trade and travel while sustaining a focus on enforcement, is critical to our border security mission.”

Charges are pending against the suspect, who has not been identified.

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Canada shocks U.S. in semis, will play for Olympic gold in women's soccer – CBC.ca

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After the celebration had ended and the Canadian players started to make their way to the locker room, Captain Christine Sinclair stayed a little longer.

She was lying on the Kashima Stadium grass alone, soaking in the moment.

Relief. Excitement. Redemption.

“We finally won. For those of us who were part of the 2012 game, it was nice to get a little revenge in an Olympic semifinal,” Sinclair said.

Nine years after heartbreak and controversy at Old Trafford at London 2012, the Canadian women’s soccer team defeated the number-one ranked United States 1-0 in their semifinal on Monday at the Tokyo Games.

The only goal of the match came off the boot of Jessie Fleming of London, Ont., who converted a penalty kick in the 74th minute.

Bring on the cheers

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

Fleming was cool under pressure, delivering a perfect strike that sent Canada into the championship game.

“I was confident where I was going to go. I usually pick the spot the night before,” Fleming said of her kick.

“It’s just one kick. Trusting myself. Took a deep breath. I knew I could do it.”

WATCH | Jessie Fleming scores on penalty kick to lift Canada:

Midfielder Jessie Fleming scores on a penalty in the seventy-fifth minute as Canada defeats U.S. 1-0 and advances to the women’s soccer gold medal match. 1:28

Gold-medal match awaits

Canada now moves on to play in the Olympic gold-medal match for the first time in the country’s history.

After all the battles over all the years for Canada on the pitch, Sinclair beamed as she spoke to media.  

“Our goal coming here was to change the colour. Two back-to-back bronzes. We were kind of sick of that. And this team, wow. What a performance. What a fight. One more to go,” she said.

Fleming celebrates after converting the penalty kick that sends Canada to the women’s soccer finals in Tokyo. (Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images)

Fleming’s goal was made possible because of a video review in the second half — it was ruled Canada’s Deanne Rose was taken down in the penalty area by Tierna Davidson and Canada was awarded a penalty kick.

“It’s really special to get to contribute to the win. There’s a group of players on our team who have worked on this for 20 years. Seeing them cry after that match means so much,” she said.

“We hear you back home. Thank you for the support.”

Rare victory comes at clutch time

This marks just the second time ever the United States are not advancing to the championship game. The Americans had played in every final since 1996 except once, in the last Games in Rio.

This was only the fourth Canadian win over the USA in 62 meetings. 

This victory came inside an empty Kashima Stadium on a hot and humid Monday afternoon in Japan. The Canadians celebrated wildly on the lush pitch, huddling around one another and dancing and yelling and singing. 

WATCH | Canadian women’s soccer team advances to Olympic final: 

Canadian women’s soccer team defeats the number-one ranked United States 1-0 in their semifinal at Tokyo 2020. 1:55

“Indescribable. I remember asking the ref how much time? How much time? When that final whistle blew I just dropped to my knees in pure joy. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for this moment,” said Desiree Scott.

“This is fricken incredible.”

‘Change the colour’

Canada will play Sweden in the gold-medal match, which goes Friday morning at 11 a.m. in Japan, 10 p.m. ET on Thursday in Canada.

The rallying cry coming from Canada into these Games was “change the colour” after back-to-back bronze medals. Now they have their chance. 

“I’m just so proud of this team. It’s a unique group. It’s a special group. One that I’m so honoured and proud to be a part of. We fight for everything,” Sinclair said. 

“I was talking to Desi Scott and we were saying we’ve been waiting nine years for this chance to have this game again. And that we were going to do everything possible to have a different outcome. We did.”

WATCH | A redemption story 9 years in the making:

The Canadian women’s national team defeated the United States for the first time in 20 years, pushing their way through the Olympic semifinals and into the gold-medal match. 1:52

Much of the play early in the match was in Canada’s end of the pitch as the powerhouse Americans were wanting to apply pressure in the high-stakes game — in fact, for the first 10 minutes the Canadians struggled to move the ball past midfield. 

The play was physical, feisty and it was clear the player’s emotions were running high. 

Canada’s first somewhat threatening chance came 14 minutes into the game when Nichelle Prince was trying to track down a ball in the U.S.’s penalty area but was thwarted.

That charge from Prince seemed to spark the Canadians, getting rewarded for their much more organized play with two corners.

“I’m so proud of my team. They’re my best friends. I’m so glad we’re bringing back a better medal than bronze,” said player Quinn, who goes by one name.

“I’m doing this for the people I grew up looking up to. Like Sincy.”

American goalkeeper injured

At the 19-minute mark, U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher shot into the air to clear away a threatening ball from Canada and landed awkwardly on her right knee. She was down on the pitch for minutes before getting up and putting weight on her right leg.

After a delay of more than seven minutes, she was good to go and stayed in the match — but it lasted only minutes. After one kick, Naeher was visibly in pain and left the game.

Adrianna Franch took over the rest of the way.

WATCH | U.S. goalkeeper Naeher injured:

U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is taken out of the game after suffering an apparent knee injury during the first half of their semifinal match against Canada. 1:46

After a frantic few minutes, the game settled down as both teams found their footing. Not a single shot on target was registered for either side in the first half.

An old score settled

Sinclair and Scott were the only two players on the pitch Monday for Canada who were also on the pitch nine years earlier at Old Trafford for that infamous game.

Sinclair put forward one of the greatest performances ever by a Canadian soccer player that day, scoring a hat trick. But it wasn’t enough.

What happened that day on the pitch in August of 2012 will never be forgotten. 

Those chaotic late minutes in the game, laced with confusion, chaos and frustration still linger.

In what can only be described as a baffling call made by referee Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen, Canadian keeper Erin McLeod was penalized for a delay of game for holding the ball for more than six seconds. It’s a call rarely ever made. 

The Americans were awarded a free kick outside the Canadian. On that kick Canada’s Marie-Eve Nault was charged with a handball in the penalty area.

Abby Wambach of the United States tied the game. 

After the game, then coach John Herdman was livid.

“She’ll have to sleep in bed tonight after watching the replays. She’s got that to live with,” he said on that August day. “We’ll move on from this, I wonder if she’ll be able to.”

The team has moved on. Sinclair has moved on.

Canada is moving on to the championship game.

“Job one is done for us, changing the colour,” Sinclair said. 

“Now that we’re in the final we go for it. We’re ready.”

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In call with Biden, Trudeau talks trade, border 'collaboration' and Olympic soccer – CTV News

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WASHINGTON —
It sounds like Justin Trudeau had the chance to needle his U.S. counterpart about Canada’s semifinal soccer win at the Tokyo Olympics.

A readout from the Prime Minister’s office says Trudeau spoke today with President Joe Biden — and that Canada’s victory over the United States came up in the conversation.

The two discussed weightier matters as well, including “close collaboration” at the Canada-U.S. border.

Canada has decided to begin allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents next week, but the White House has not reciprocated.

Trudeau also made the case for Canada as Biden continues to talk tough about ensuring U.S. infrastructure spending prioritizes American firms and suppliers.

Congress is closing in on passing Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure plan, which lays out US$1 trillion in spending on upgrading roads, bridges, water systems and high-speed internet access.

“The prime minister highlighted the significant alignment between labour and environmental standards in both countries,” the PMO readout said, “and the benefits to each country of open government procurement.”

Trudeau also raised Line 5, the Canadian-owned and operated cross-border pipeline that Michigan wants shut down for fear of an environmental disaster in the Great Lakes.

He “reiterated Canada’s support for a negotiated settlement” in the dispute between the state and Calgary-based Enbridge Inc., and the pair “agreed to continue to monitor developments closely.”

The two sides have a meeting with the court-appointed mediator Aug. 11 and talks are expected to wrap up by the end of the month.

Trudeau and Biden also discussed a collective response to the wildfires currently ravaging the western half of the continent.

“Canada and the U.S. will work together to further strengthen bilateral co-operation on wildfires,” the readout said, “including by developing proposals to increase and share firefighting resources.”

Firefighters from B.C. and Alberta were among those who helped battle the flames last year as West Coast states like California and Oregon battled some of the worst fire disasters in recent history.

The leaders also called for the “immediate release” of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadian citizens detained in China since December 2018 in the immediate fallout from the detention of Meng Wanzhou.

The financial head of Chinese tech giant Huawei was detained by Canada at the behest of the U.S., where she is wanted on allegations of trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Monday’s readout does not linger on the subject of the soccer game, which Canada claimed 1-0 to advance to the gold-medal final in Tokyo.

But the conversation does come after Canada sent a collection of smoked-meat sandwiches to the White House — Biden’s reward for the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Montreal Canadiens in last month’s Stanley Cup final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2021.

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