Welcoming Americans

Tourism is good business. The overall decline across Canada of visits by our friends to the south is something we all should be alarmed about.
I have brought this issue to the attention of Parliament on numerous occasions. As well, one of the first things I did upon my election as MP was to contact all the senators and congressmen of Minnesota to let them know that the new riding of Thunder Bay-Rainy River was their entire northern boundary and to offer my co-operation on issues of mutual concern.
Many of the initiatives I had undertaken with American mayors on the Great Lakes led to greater understanding of some of our bigger issues, such as climate change, water sovereignty, transportation, and border security.
Border security—and the question of “What form should tighter identification take?”—is a current example of both nations realizing how severe the impact on business and tourism could be.
I applaud the legislators of all levels, and the groups and organizations involved, for working together to design a solution that is cost-effective and workable.
I will be lobbying to have the new national identification office located in our riding.
Currently, we have the growing problem of access to Canada and the United States by people who have blemishes on their records. Every time someone is turned back at the border, a backlash is created.
This is a difficult issue.
Although a very low percentage of people are refused access by either side, that bad experience lasts a long time—and generates negative word of mouth advertising for the tourism industry in the area.
I have brought all the parties together on several occasions to work towards answers that will minimize these situations. Great progress has been made but, in spite of huge efforts to advise people of their individual responsibilities, there are conflicts.
Outfitters in Canada are reluctant to charge deposits to their guests, but then are faced with the loss of significant revenue when a guest is refused entry.
Unfortunately, many of the incidents are a result of issues that were not properly disclosed. I have worked hard to reduce the number of these occurrences through open communication and positive messaging.
Despite these efforts, due to the sheer volume of annual guests at the borders in Rainy River, Pigeon River, and Fort Frances, there will be some visitors who are turned away.
There are many people working to address this concern—public servants, tourism organizations, and your municipalities.
We have a common goal: welcoming more American visitors in a friendly and hospitable manner, who then tell their friends about their excellent experiences with their neighbours to the north.

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