Canadian and American legislators are condemning a U.S. budget proposal for a border “inspection tax” on Canadians boating or flying into the U.S.
State Senator Patty Ritchie and Canadian Senator Bob Runciman say it could cripple tourism in border communities, damage U.S.-Canadian relations, and hurt the economies of communities across northern and central New York.
Ritchie, a Republican from Heuvelton, said the proposal “is an insult to America’s largest trading partner and one of our closest allies.”
"I am very concerned that just as we are beginning to attract Canadian cruise ships to communities like Ogdensburg, these kind of fees will end these new tourism ventures in northern New York," Ritchie said.
Canadian Sen. Runciman, who represents the Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, said that Canadians will avoid the tax by passing up visits to U.S. border communities.
“President Obama’s proposal to help balance his budget on the backs of Canadians will have dire consequences for cross border tourism,” he warned. “In my area, Canadian tour boat operators are unlikely to even stop in the U.S. if the $5.50 passenger inspection fee is levied. This deals a significant economic blow to northern New York.”
Senator Ritchie said that she had been contacted by constituents and community leaders along the border who asked her to help educate her colleagues in the state legislature about how the measure will reduce the number of tourists visiting New York State.
In addition to contacting constituents and businesses in her district about the plan, Ritchie said she has written to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano “to make her aware of how disastrous this fee would be for communities along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes.”