US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)

New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

The new U.S. consul general who oversees relations with British Columbia and the Yukon says he is looking forward to building closer ties that will aid economic recovery when the border with Alaska eventually reopens.

Consul General Brent Hardt, who was posted to Vancouver six months ago, said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic.

“It would be hard to think we could be working more closely (together). We have discussions at every level with every government agency, you can imagine, to try to manage it,” he said.

He said both countries are focused on keeping the coronavirus at bay while discussing what future options could be available to begin reopening the border when it is safe.

Hardt acknowledged that not all decisions on the border made by the Canadian government have been well received. In February Transport Canada announced a ban on cruise ships with more than 100 passengers in Canadian waters.

The decision was upsetting to cruise operators that travel the Alaskan coast, as it has made — under current regulations — operations impossible. The ripple effect has been felt among companies and towns on both sides of the border that rely on tourism, and prompted a strong response from Alaskan politicians.

“There are occasional issues where each side will take a step or measure that the other side may not be on and may create some problems,” Hardt said. “The recent decision on the cruise ships, obviously, has implications for Alaska, as well as British Columbia and Yukon tourism. So it’s not that it hurts only one side.”

“By and large we coordinate very closely,” he said. “I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic. Get the numbers down, prevent the spread, so that we can get back to having an open border as soon as possible, which will be in all of our interests.”

During his first days in office, the incoming President Joe Biden introduced laws that would reverse a decision made by the former president on gas and oil lease sales in ANWR.

Hardt said it will take time for the new administration to determine any changes in policy direction, but said both climate change and resource development will be important Arctic policy issues.

“We’ve had very excellent engagement with folks. We are as committed as you are, especially with a new administration, to dealing with climate change,” he said. “I think you’ll see the demonstration really putting that front and center. So that’s another area of excellent collaboration.”

Hardt said aside from business development in the territory he has also been in talks with Yukon University about forging stronger academic ties between the two countries and opportunities for collaboration around Arctic research.

A Fulbright scholarship program focused on Arctic research already exists, and Hardt said he wants to encourage exchange programs between the two countries.

“In the whole research and university realm, we think there’s a lot that we can do to tighten up that connectivity,” he said.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read