A U.S. trade agreement with Columbia is about to put an end to the 14-year exemption allowing Canadians to fly or sail to the U.S. free of charge.
Under the new rules, a trip south of the border by plane or boat will cost them $5.50.
Canadian newspapers are up in arms over the proposed change. The Vancouver Sun called it “yankee hanky-panky,” and an “idiocy tax” levied by a country incapable of keeping its finances in order internally.
Canadian International Trade Minister Ed Fast complained in a statement that “raising taxes at the border just raises costs on consumers.”
“Something about Canada’s status as a great trade partner doesn’t seem to penetrate Washington,” wrote Kelly McParland at the National Post. “They pay lip service, but they seem to think Canadians don’t read newspapers, and won’t notice that Washington keeps treating the country like some annoying fly that’s buzzing around the kitchen.”
National public radio reports that about seven million Canadians travel to the United States by air or sea every year, meaning the tax would rake in about $100 million annually.
CTV reports that David Jacobson, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, defended the tax as necessary to America’s long-term fiscal health.
“The elimination of the exemption was necessitated by the budget situation in my country,” Jacobson said. “It is paid by American citizens and foreign nationals alike, just like Canadian citizens and non-Canadian citizens pay fees at Canadian airports …. This fee is not in any way an action against Canada.”