Doug Ford says he'd close Toronto's Pearson Airport immediately if he could
A self-isolating Ontario Premier Doug Ford made no bones when speaking to reporters Friday on afternoon about who he thinks is responsible for the proliferation of deadly new viral variants across his province.
Rather, Ford chastised the federal government (again) over border restrictions that he and others have long warned would be too weak to stop the steady flow of COVID-19 into Canada.
"This virus, it is changing, it is mutating, it is becoming more deadly, it is becoming smarter, and god forbid we could one day soon face a variant that is resistant to our vaccines," said Ford in a virtual press conference from his late mother's home in Etobicoke.
"We are learning about terrifying new variants every single week, and sadly, not enough is being done to keep these deadly variants out of Canada."
Ford went on to say that variants of concern — " the same variants that fueled our devastating third wave" — were responsible for roughly 90 per cent of all new cases over the past week.
"Last week the new Indian variant was reported here in Ontario," said the premier. "And it didn't swim here. I can tell you that."
Premier Ford holds a virtual press conference https://t.co/MALGexwaBw— Doug Ford (@fordnation) April 30, 2021
As for how it did get here, Ford blames "weak border measures," citing easy and apparently popular loopholes that allow people traveling by air to avoid Canada's mandatory quarantine period by simply landing in the U.S. and walking across the border.
It's already a well-documented phenomenon, and critics of Trudeau's work on the border worry that this loophole will be used by people travelling from countries like India and Pakistan where flights to Canada are currently banned.
"The borders, land and air, they're federal jurisdiction," said Ford, who continues to ask for tighter measures at the border amid this third wave of the pandemic.
"I assure you, if I had the power, I would close down Pearson Airport immediately," he told reporters.
"I would shut down the land border crossings to only those who are absolutely essential, because I would do anything in my power to stop a vaccine-resistant variant from getting into our country and bringing a fourth wave with it."
Earlier this week, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones penned a letter to Canada's Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and Minister of Health Patty Hadju calling the feds to start requiring a three-day hotel quarantine period for people crossing the border by land as well.
"While returning, international air travelers are required to quarantine at a federally designated hotel, it has become evident that individuals are able to bypass this requirement," reads that letter.
"There are reports of international travelers booking return flights into nearby United States airports, taking a taxi or limousine to a United States-Canada land border crossing, and subsequently walking or driving across the border.
These reports are deeply troubling and further illustrate the extreme risk that inadequate border measures pose in the face of deadly COVID-19 variants."
Ford referenced the same behaviour during his press conference Friday afternoon, vowing not to let the issue go "because too much is at stake."
"I can't stress this enough," said the premier. "We will never get ahead of this virus if we can't keep these deadly new variants out of our country."
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