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U.S.-Canadian dual citizen wants Canada to buy Point Roberts

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The tiny U.S. community of Point Roberts is a historical anachronism.

The 1,200-hectare hamlet sits just south of Tsawwassen, B.C. — a 30 minute drive from the rest of Washington state, but cut off from the U.S. by two land borders.

To Metro Vancouverites, it’s known as a place for a quick summer holiday or to pick up cheap gas, cheap cheese, cheap beer, and the occasional package mailed to a U.S. address for “economical” reasons.

Now, one U.S.-Canadian dual citizen and former resident of the peninsula wants to undo that, by staging a vote to have the community join Canada.

Call it the Point Roberts Purchase.

“I think you could start with, say, $5 billion, a billion dollars per square mile, and work from there,” said John Lesow, who now lives in Vancouver.

“It would be worth the money.”

Point Roberts was created essentially by accident as an artifact of the 1849 Oregon Treaty between the U.S. and Britain, which saw the U.S. border drawn at the 49th Parallel.

That process sliced the peninsula off from the rest of the U.S., and the idea of amalgamating it with Canada has been repeatedly, if informally, floated since then.


This time, Lesow wants to make it official, and he’s in the process of getting it on this year’s election ballot.

“This is an initiative to be voted on in the November 2020 election,” said Lesow. “That requires gathering signatures from 8,800 people in Whatcom County.”

Lesow argues there are several reasons the residents of the community may want to join their northern neighbours — chief among them, schools and hospitals.

The community is only home to a small medical clinic and an elementary school, meaning a trip to high school or hospital involves an international crossing.

 

The border itself, which Lesow described as once being “quaint,” has radically changed since 9/11.

“[To take your kids to school] it will take about three hours to get them to get their Nexus pass, get them on a bus, get them through two international borders, through Canada, drop them off, and then bring them back,” he said. “It doesn’t really make any sense at all.

“Because of the traffic congestion, border waits, it’s getting worse.”

Locals that Global News spoke with in Point Roberts were split on the idea, some salivating at the prospect of cashing in on Metro Vancouver’s real estate boom, others lamenting the possibility of losing their U.S. connections.

But Lesow faces an uphill battle to make the dream come true: It’s not just Point Roberts resident’s he’ll need to convince.

If he can get the signatures he needs to put his initiative on the November ballot, he’ll still need to convince a majority of Whatcom County’s nearly 150,000 registered voters to give up the land.

Even a win there would have no formal standing other than putting the idea on the table for discussion. At the end of the day, questions about borders and territory are in the hands of the two countries’ federal governments.

Nevertheless, Lesow is optimistic.

“You have to determine if the people want it,” he said.

“I’ve talked to people on both sides of the border, politicians, over the last year, two years. And they all say if it’s what people want, then we will support it.”

-With files from Catherine Urquhart

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U.S., Canada set to discuss lifting of border restrictions

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U.S. and Canadian officials are set to meet Tuesday to discuss how to eventually lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries, but no immediate action is expected, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Monday.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel at land borders because of COVID-19 that was imposed in March 2020 and has been renewed on a monthly basis since. The measures, which also apply to the U.S.-Mexico border, do not affect trade or other essential travel.

The current restrictions are set to expire June 21, but U.S. and industry officials expect they will be extended again.

Reuters reported on June 8 the Biden administration was forming expert working groups with Canada, Mexico, the European Union and the United Kingdom to determine how best to safely restart travel after 15 months of pandemic restrictions.

A meeting is expected to occur with Mexico later this week and meetings with the United Kingdom and EU are currently set for next week, but the timing could still shift, three people briefed on the meetings said.

U.S. restrictions prevent most non-U.S. citizens who have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil within the last 14 days from traveling to the United States.

Reuters reported previously that U.S. and airline officials do not think U.S. restrictions will be lifted until around July 4 at the earliest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift the restrictions, but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

Two officials said the working groups are each expected to meet twice a month.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Outgoing U.N. aid chief slams G7 for failing on vaccine plan

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Outgoing U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock slammed the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Monday for failing to come up with a plan to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, describing the G7 pledge to provide 1 billion doses over the next year as a “small step.”

“These sporadic, small-scale, charitable handouts from rich countries to poor countries is not a serious plan and it will not bring the pandemic to an end,” Lowcock, who steps down on Friday, told Reuters. “The G7, essentially, completely failed to show the necessary urgency.”

The leaders of the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada met in Cornwall, England over the weekend and also agreed to work with the private sector, the Group of 20 industrialized nations and other countries to increase the vaccine contribution over months to come.

“They took a small step – at that very, very nice resort in Cornwall – but they shouldn’t kid themselves it’s more than a small step and they have still have a lot to do,” Lowcock said.

“What the world needed from the G7 was a plan to vaccinate the world. And what we got was a plan to vaccinate about 10% of the population of low and middle income countries, maybe by a year from now or the second half of next year,” he said.

In May, the International Monetary Fund unveiled a $50 billion proposal to end the COVID-19 pandemic by vaccinating at least 40% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60% by the first half of 2022.

“That is the deal of the century,” said Lowcock, adding that the G7 could also have done a lot more to provide vital supplies – such as oxygen ventilators, testing kits and protective equipment – to countries who are going to have to wait longer for vaccines.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged world leaders to act with more urgency, warning that if developing countries were not vaccinated quickly, the virus would continue to mutate and could become immune to inoculation.

 

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Brazil’s Vale says output begins at Reid Brook nickel deposit in Canada

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Vale’s Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in Northern Labrador has started the production at its Reid Brook deposit, the Brazilian miner said in a securities filing on Tuesday.

Vale said the Canadian Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps mines are likely to produce 40,000 tonnes of nickel by 2025.

 

(Reporting by Carolina Mandl; editing by Jason Neely)

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