As St. Lawrence County Legislators for areas that have been greatly affected due to the closing of the International Border Crossing, Greg Paquin and Daniel Girard would like to call for a resolution that involves our American President and the Prime Minister of Canada, along with representatives from the Mohawk Council for Akwesasne. This would show our local constituents that each national government views this problem as a true international occurrence.
As the protests continue and the International Bridge located between Cornwall and Rooseveltown remains closed, many people have commented on the local impact for communities on both sides of the border. Estimated losses for Cornwall businesses stand at approximately $10,000 per day for each business. Merchants in Massena, especially the St. Lawrence Centre mall complex, and surrounding St. Lawrence County areas, have seen their sales drop significantly as the bridge closing limits Canadian customers. Businesses on Akwesasne have felt similar struggles, especially in a downturn at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino and the Mohawk Bingo Palace, which will decrease the amount of money our local communities receive from the Tribal Gaming Compact.
Beyond the monetary impact is a personal impact for many families. The location of the bridges between the United States, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, and Canada has allowed families who straddle the border to keep in contact with minimal effort for generations. Now, the path has been cut, and families are forced to find alternatives.
While most of the discussion about the bridge closure focuses on the local fallout, this is in essence an international problem. The reported issues deal with national border security and tribal sovereignty, unfortunately a solution that respects both issues has not been brought forward.
President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and representatives from the Mohawk Council for Akwesasne should sit together and give this issue the respect it deserves as an international problem. Hopefully, then a permanent solution beyond a permanent closing of the bridge spans could be reached.