International Falls Journal
By Laurel Beager
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar Monday sent a letter to a Canada ambassador urging resolution to the Northwest Angle travel restriction.
Travel between Minnesota's Northwest Angle and the state's mainland United States is difficult now because of Canada travel restrictions limiting all but non-essential workers to cross the border. The only way to get to mainland now, without going by vehicle through Canada, is by boat over the expansive Lake of the Woods. This winter, residents established a private toll ice road to accommodate vehicle travel.
Klobuchar told The Journal Monday that she will continue to remind Canada officials about the need for people to travel across the border for work and business.
“...it is vital that U.S. residents of the Northwest Angle are able to travel freely between the Northwest Angle and the mainland U.S," she wrote. "It’s also crucial to safely expand other travel to and from the Northwest Angle consistent with public health guidance...In addition to working with the Canadian government, I will continue to coordinate with the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security to find solutions to help both American and Canadian citizens.”
The letter was sent in advance of today's meeting of the U.S.-Canada Interparliamentary Group, of which Klobuchar serves as chair.
"We need to keep pushing this," she told The Journal Monday evening. She and U.S. Sen. Tina Smith have proposed establishing a Remote Recreational Small Business Interruption Program Act to provide forgivable loans to small businesses in exclaves of the contiguous United States near the Canadian border.
The bill is also supported U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who represents the state of Washington, which has a similar issue at Point Roberts.
Klobuchar and Smith urged Secretary of State Tony Blinken to assist in resolving the concern by discussing it with Canadian officials. That followed an April forum in International Falls led by U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, who with Rep. Michelle Fischbach gathered a variety of people impacted by the Canada border closure.
"As our countries increase the number of vaccinations and the rates of infections drop, I look forward to continuing to work together on this important matter," Klobuchar said in her letter to Hillman.