Senator wants Canadian boater fee dropped

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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the federal government from charging new fees on Canadians who enter the United States by boat or plane.

The Colombian Free Trade Agreement, which recently passed the Senate, includes a provision that will allow Customs and Border Protection to charge Canadians who travel into the United States a new $5.50 fee.

Schumer, who opposed the agreement with Colombia, is introducing legislation that would prevent Customs and Border Protection from charging the fee, which could create a disincentive for Canadians to visit the United States. In November, Schumer successfully pushed customs to eliminate the $5.50 fee for Canadian ferry passengers who cross the border.

“The federal government might as well be putting up stop signs in every waterway and at every airport in New York,” Schumer said in a statement. “These fees send the wrong message to Canadians looking to visit New York — ‘stop’ coming here for meetings that could lead to new businesses and jobs in New York, ‘stop’ fishing in New York and buying bait and tackle here, ‘stop’ visiting our cities and staying in our hotels and ‘stop’ eating in our restaurants.

“New York and the United States should be welcoming Canadian visitors and the millions they spend inside the Empire State with open arms, not nickel-and-diming them with ridiculous fees,” he added. “We need to stop these travel fees before they even get out of the gate so that Canadian tourism can continue to be an economic driver for New York.”

Schumer announced his push for the bill in the Senate and hopes to work with New York’s congressional delegation to pass similar legislation in the House. Vermont senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have signed on as co-sponsors.