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Canadians aren't following through on threat to boycott U.S. travel: border expert

Last Updated Aug 13, 2019 at 6:03 pm PDT

FILE - U.S. and Canadian flags fly on the Peace Arch monument at the U.S.-Canadian border near Blaine, Wash., and Surrey, B.C., on Sept. 26, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ted S. Warren
Summary

A survey last year of people crossing the border found a shift, but one that's not making much of a difference

Trautman says B.C. is unusual because of its proximity to the U.S. border

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some Canadians have said they won’t spend their money in the U.S. as a form of protest against President Donald Trump. But an expert in border crossings says Canadians aren’t following through on that threat.

Dr. Laurie Trautman is with the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. She says there was a dip in border crossings when the dollar tanked and Trump came to power but that was short lived – even as the Canadian dollar stayed low.

“You could probably make the case that there’s been an impact there, but we don’t have hard data to necessarily prove that,” she says. “In our region we’ve seen a growth in specifically Canadian vehicles crossing the border between 2017 and 2018. That alone really tells us either the Trump effect was very small or it was very short lived.”

A survey last year of people crossing the border found a shift, but one that’s not making much of a difference.

“They did have a number of Canadians, for the first time ever, complaining about the Trump administration and [saying that] their political beliefs were impacting their visits to the United States,” she says. “But bear in mind, these people were waiting in line to cross the border as they were being surveyed.”

Trautman says B.C. is unusual because of its proximity to the U.S. border. It’s easy to get across and hard to say no to deals on gas, dairy and other products on the other side.

“Are you not going to cross the border to buy gas in Blaine because of your political beliefs? There may be some people that do that, but for the most part those behaviours and shopping patterns are slightly immune to those broader, national-scale politics.”

She says the only sustained decrease in border crossings occurred in the years after 9-11 when, for the first time, passports were required to cross.