OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has received assurances that Canadian passport holders will not be caught up in an American travel ban that has barred citizens of seven countries from entering the United States.
According to the CBC, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Sunday that the White House has assured that permanent residents of Canada can enter the U.S. with a valid Canadian permanent resident card and passport from one of the seven affected countries (Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya).
United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that barred people from these seven countries from entering the U.S. for three months, causing mass confusion and protests across the country. It was initially unclear whether Canadians who are also citizens of the affected countries would be allowed entry, as the State Department said that dual citizens were included in the ban.
However, on Saturday night, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent an email saying that the U.S. has given assurances that Canadians with dual citizenship will not be turned away at the border.
“We have been assured that Canadian citizens travelling on Canadian passports will be dealt with in the usual process,” said the email from Kate Purchase, Trudeau’s director of communications.
Purchase’s email also said Trudeau’s National Security Adviser Daniel Jean and other officials were in contact with their American counterparts, including Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“NSA Flynn confirmed that holders of Canadian passports, including dual citizens, will not be affected by the ban,” Purchase said.
Trump’s executive order also banned refugees from Syria indefinitely, pending a review of the application process.
Bijan Ahmadi, president of the Iranian Canadian Congress, said he’s outraged by the new policy.
“It’s unacceptable. It’s very unreasonable,” he said in an interview earlier Saturday before the situation regarding dual citizens was clarified. “It’s very discriminatory to target people based on their race, their religion, the country of their origin and the country of their birth. And the community has that same outrage.”
“Everybody’s nervous, everybody of Somali origin and Muslim origin,” said Osman Ali, the Toronto-based director of the Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke. “The community feels that it’s a way of targeting the Muslim community, the African community and the black Muslim community.”
WestJet and Air Canada said they were waiving cancellation fees for people who hold passports from the affected countries. Air Canada said it expected that only a small handful of its passengers would be affected.
Despite assurances from the Prime Minister, the opposition New Democrats are pressing for an emergency debate when the House of Commons resumes today.
New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan wants to delve more deeply into how the American ban affects Canada and how the government plans to respond.
Government House leader Bardish Chagger seemed open to a debate, but noted the decision is up to Commons Speaker Geoff Regan.
U.S. officials are expected to hear firsthand today how Canadians feel about the ban that affects people from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.
At least two protests are planned, one outside the American embassy in Ottawa and the other at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto.
The size of the demonstrations is unclear, but American diplomats are concerned enough that they have announced the consulate will temporarily suspend services to the public today.
The U.S. State Department tweeted Sunday that American citizens should exercise caution today if they’re in the vicinity of the embassy in Ottawa.
With file from the Canadian Press