‘I would suggest perhaps public transit,’ premier of British Columbia John Horgan says responding to claims of intimidation
Some Canadian citizens have targeted cars with US license plates in various different ways, including keying vehicles and harassing drivers, after the borders between the two countries closed for tourists on 31 March, according to the New York Times.
They reported that in the four months since the border closed to US tourists only four drivers with American plates have been questioned about why they are entering Canada, and after noticing US cars in their country, some residents took action into their own hands.
However, Canadians with US license plates on their cars have mistakenly been targeted by residents who thought they were in the country illegally, according to CBS News.
Lisa Watt, a Canadian citizen who moved to Houston, Texas in 2000 for work, said a car tailgated her for several miles before the driver put their middle finger up at her, when she was in the country to help her 84-year-old mother cope during the pandemic.
Ms Watt told CBS that it made her angry, and added: “I’m here to help my mother. I have every right to be here.”
Vandalism of cars with US license plates has occurred so frequently over the last few months that John Horgan, premier of British Columbia, has suggested drivers with those plates replace them with Canadian ones.
Mr Horgan asked Canadian residents to “be calm. Be nice” but added: “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 that they ride a bike.”
Canada has fared much better during the coronavirus pandemic than America. With a population roughly the tenth of the size of the US it has so far recorded 121,406 Covid-19 cases and 9,028 deaths, while its neighbour has announced more than five million cases and 163,047 fatalities.
Following a period where confirmed coronavirus cases fell, the US has recorded a dramatic rise in positive tests over the last two months, as it struggles to get the pandemic under control.
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Speaking at a press briefing in June, the prime minister said that Canada has managed to control the virus better than other countries and is in a good position to successfully restart the economy.
“We were able to control the virus better than many of our allies, particularly including our neighbour,” he told reporters.
Ontario premier Doug Ford added that some US states have been reckless, and told Business Insider: “You see what’s happening down in the states, you look at Florida, you look at Texas, Arizona, California — I don’t want to be those states.”