OTTAWA — Canada warned Monday it may retaliate if the United States starts taxing people and cars crossing the world’s longest undefended border.
President Clinton proposed a fee of $1.50 per pedestrian and $3 per vehicle at border crossings with Canada and Mexico in the budget he delivered to Congress on Monday.
He said the money would be used to help fight illegal immigration and to increase border patrols.
“We hope these fees will not be imposed and therefore we will not have to do likewise,” said Candian Foreign Affairs Minister Andre Ouellet. The Canadian Press reported his department sent a protest note to the State Department.
Finance Minister Paul Martin said the proposed tax is “simply absurd” in light of broader trade under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“It is one to which this government takes great exception,” he told the House of Commons.
The proposal also is meeting opposition in the U.S. Congress from representatives of border towns whose economies benefit from the millions Canadians spend in U.S. shopping malls each year.