Tiny Point Roberts, Wash., suffered when the pandemic closed the borders and today still follows trade rules designed for the rest of the continent.
As the community continues to struggle, the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce president is now calling for the secession of Point Roberts from the union.
“We can become the Citizens Republic of Point Roberts,” Brian Calder told the Optimist.
“Abandoned by both countries, it’s time to consider drafting our own charter and constitution and become an independent nation.”
He proposes that Point Roberts residents should declare war on both countries, storm the border on their bicycles and “immediately surrender our slingshots and pea shooters and raise the white flag.”
Then, the new republic can apply for foreign aid from both countries.
As well, both Americans and Canadians will be granted citizenship and will be able to travel to the republic without being saddled by limits on agricultural imports.
Calder was joking in order to draw attention to the border restrictions designed to govern trade relations between Canada and the U.S., continent wide, but which don’t make sense in Point Roberts where the only land access is through Canada.
Since COVID hit in 2020, the number of people crossing into Point Roberts has dropped, but also created a labour shortage, with small businesses needing workers, but not being able to hire Canadians. In June, Calder wrote a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden and state legislators asking for the resumption of Canadians being allowed to work in Point Roberts part-time.
Canada closed its borders to all but essential crossings on March 21, 2020. That led to a 92-per-cent drop in crossings the next month, according to Statistics Canada. The border reopened in August 2021 to fully vaccinated residents and U.S. citizens.
Calder noted previously that border crossings are still down by about 50 per cent when July 2022 numbers are compared with July 2019.
Where is the logic in confiscating fruits, vegetables and chicken at the Point Roberts border? he asked.
“Absolute insanity. There’s no way that citrus, contaminated, if it was, would ever make it down to Florida, to the orchids, from Point Roberts,” he said.
In another example, he said a Point Roberts resident has to get a permit in order to bring in a plant, while soil is hauled across the border freely.
He’s frustrated that governments won’t allow any flexibility in bringing food or goods back and forth across the border.
“Why not an exemption for Point Roberts?” he asked. “Washington state and B.C. politicians all have recognized that Point Roberts is unique. One size does not fit all. What level of stupid have we become with this over regulation and never looking at it?
“I’m just trying to get their attention. Same as my T-shirt, the slogan is, ‘Forgotten, but not gone.’”