Leahy Hails Today’s Progress On Improving Cross-Border Travel Between Vermont and Canada As Prime Minster Trudeau Endorses Preclearance Agreement

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, March, 10, 2016) – During the first official visit by a sitting Canadian Prime Minister in nearly two decades, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday endorsed the U.S.-Canada preclearance agreement to expedite travel and strengthen trade and national security between the two countries.  The endorsement signals support of U.S implementing legislation introduced last week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by chief Republican cosponsor Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).  Prime Minister Trudeau’s endorsement also includes his intention to support bringing ratification legislation before the Canadian Parliament for approval.

The U.S. bipartisan, bicameral legislation authored and introduced in the Senate by Leahy paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities in Canada, which allow travelers to pass through U.S. customs and immigration stations before boarding U.S.-bound flights or trains in Canada.  Full implementation of the U.S.-Canada agreement would be a vital step forward on improving travel from the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto to Burlington International Airport and, eventually, toward achieving the long-sought goal of restoring Amtrak “Montrealer” passenger rail service between Vermont and Montreal.

Leahy said:  “Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement is welcome news after years of collaboration between our two countries to improve commerce and travel by expanding preclearance in Canada.  The United States has a long, special and enduring relationship with Canada, and we Vermonters know the benefits of that relationship first-hand.  Canada is our largest trading partner, and our neighbors to the north frequently visit our state to ski, sightsee, shop and dine.  We share a border and the waters of Lake Champlain, and we are interconnected in ways that extend from our economy and into our community, culture and family.  Marcelle was born in Newport to parents who emigrated from Quebec, and we enjoy visits with her relatives across the border. 

Leahy continued:  “The leaders of our two countries have made preclearance a priority to enhance this shared and special relationship.  Vermonters look forward to the benefits of preclearance in our air travel and, eventually, in bringing back ‘Montrealer’ passenger rail service.  We especially thank the City of Toronto and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Porter Airlines and Burlington International Airport for their work in helping to achieve this breakthrough.  To carry this progress forward, our bipartisan implementing legislation now has been introduced and is pending before the Senate and the House.”

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