NEWS
04/04/2020 18:29 EDT | Updated 04/06/2020 09:25 EDT

U.S. Withholding N95 Masks, Turning Away Canadians On Cruises Sparks Outrage On Social Media

Canada has a long history of helping the U.S. in times of crisis. Now the novel coronavirus has many claiming the U.S. government is turning its back on its strongest ally.

With the novel coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc across the globe, some countries have chosen to become more insular, while others have continued to try to maintain strong partnerships.

Canadians on social media took the time on Saturday to remind the U.S. about what kind of country Canada has always been when their neighbours needed them, with many tweets beginning: ”Dear America.”

The tweets come amidst news that U.S. President Donald Trump pressured N95 respirator manufacturer 3M to stop exporting the masks to Canada.

Warning: Some of the following tweets contain explicit language.

Others expressed outrage and frustration that the Trump administration was possibly putting people at risk out of selfishness and appeared to be turning their backs on allies.

Though some emphasized that it was perhaps time for the relationship to change course, since the generosity and willingness to help didn’t seem to be mutual.

N95 masks are crucial for the safety of frontline health-care workers battling COVID-19, and 3M has said ceasing exports would actually be detrimental to both countries.

“There are...significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators. In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done,” the company said in a statement this week. 

“If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.” 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back against the U.S. keeping the N95 masks for itself, and said on Friday that he was in contact with American officials to highlight “the level of integration between our economies.”

“We are receiving essential supplies from the United States but the United States also receives essential supplies and products and indeed healthcare professionals from Canada every single day… These are things that Americans rely on.”

At his daily press briefing on Saturday, Trudeau added that Canada wasn’t looking to be “punitive” or “retaliatory.”

“We know it is in both of our interests to work collaboratively and cooperatively to keep our citizens safe and that’s very much the tenor of our conversations and I’m confident that we’re going to get there.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed disappointment at the move from the White House and said the province wouldn’t be relying on any other country moving forward.

“When you sit back and you think of your allies, and the wars we’ve gone through, and we’ve stood shoulder-to-shoulder fighting the same enemies, and now we have an enemy and we’re at war and they want to shut things down with their closest ally in the world? That’s unacceptable,” he said Saturday.

“Just imagine if Canada had one item and we all of a sudden cut the U.S. off, that they were in desperate need in a desperate time? I can tell you Canadians wouldn’t do that.”

You find out who your friends are when the cards are down, the premier added.

“And I think it’s been very clear over the last couple of days who our friends are.”

Earlier in the week, Canadians were similarly outraged when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he would accept the 49 people from his state that were passengers on a cruise ship circling near his shores for weeks, leaving other Americans and hundreds of Canadians still aboard.

Many called the situation a reverse “Come From Away,”, referring to the hit musical set in Gander, Nfld. during Operation Yellow Ribbon, when hundreds of flights were diverted to Canada after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Gander, a town with a population of less than 10,000 at the time, took in nearly 7,000 stranded passengers.

Some thought the selfish actions of the state would turn into a spiritual sequel to the musical.

Many Americans also chimed in, noting they were embarrassed and ashamed of their country’s actions.

The Trump administration also reportedly wanted to station American troops at the U.S.-Canada border to deter people trying to illegally cross the border who might be carrying the virus. Canada and the U.S. have already agreed to send back asylum seekers coming from one country to the other, either at official or unofficial points of entry.

The proposal  was met with much pushback from Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who called it “unnecessary.” The idea was dropped after Canada “strenuously objected to the idea,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

The prime minister also said on Saturday that he is asking his ministers to investigate reports that medical equipment that was destined for Canada was ending up stuck in the U.S. 

“I’ve heard reports on this issue and of course they’re concerning, we need to make sure that equipment that is destined for Canada gets to and stays in Canada.”

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