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B.C.'s John Horgan to visiting drivers: Change foreign plates to reduce COVID-19 anxiety

Last Updated Jul 27, 2020 at 11:28 pm PDT

Summary

John Horgan asks British Columbians not to judge people who may be driving with foreign plates in B.C.

Horgan offers little sympathy to people visiting B.C. driving with foreign plates

Premier suggests people being harassed change their plates, take transit, or ride a bike

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – As more people report being harassed by British Columbians for driving vehicles with foreign licence plates, B.C.’s premier is recommending visitors and expatriates take it upon themselves to curb that kind of behaviour.

To those instigating the harassment, John Horgan reminded British Columbians you don’t always know a person’s circumstances, and why they’re in B.C. in the first place.

“Be respectful. Keep your distance if you believe that someone is a threat to you, you should keep your distance,” he said.

“If you can’t, wear a mask and be civil and respectful. Be calm, be kind, and we’ll be safe,” Horgan added, channeling his inner Dr. Bonnie Henry.

However, his advice for people visiting and driving around with foreign plates wasn’t as sympathetic as many might have hoped.

“With respect to those who have offshore plates and are feeling harassed I would suggest, perhaps, public transit, I would suggest that they get their plates changed, I would suggest they ride a bike,” he said.

Horgan believes it’s up to visitors to change their ways in order to help people feel safer amid the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

“I can’t tell people how to respond when they see an offshore plate. What I can tell those individuals is there’s a high degree of certainty in British Columbia that we want to keep our borders closed until neighbouring jurisdictions get a better handle on COVID-19, and I think those who are overtly declaring by their licence plates that they’ve come from somewhere else should be mindful of that.”

While the Canada-U.S. border remains closed to all non-essential traffic, Canadians are allowed back into the country at any time. Many Canadians who live abroad opted to drive back to B.C. when the pandemic hit.

Horgan stood by his answer when pressed on the matter Monday.

“What else would you have me say?” he told reporters.

“People are being judge-y, and I’m urging them not to be judge-y. In the interest of the well-being of everybody, it’s best that we not blame people for where they are [based on] the licence plates on their car. But if you’re living in British Columbia and plan on staying in British Columbia, the appropriate thing to do would be to get a B.C. driver’s licence and a B.C. plate on your vehicle. And if you feel that travelling with your plates identifying yourself as someone from away at a time of heightened anxiety, I think it’s incumbent upon those individuals to take steps to reduce that anxiety. I don’t know what’s wrong with that response.”