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What are they going to do? Have a drop box?

Owens wants rollback of fee on Canadian visitors

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A new agreement with Colombia is called a free-trade deal, but it adds a $5.50 customs inspection fee for Canadians entering the U.S. by plane or boat.

One North Country lawmaker has already set out to repeal it. US Congressman Bill Owens says he's in the early stages of introducing legislation to roll back the Canadian fee. He visited Ottawa last week to talk with policymakers there about the potential impacts of the tax.

Owens said the new fee will hurt the North Country economy, because so many businesses along the border depend on Canadian tourists. And, he said, collecting it will be difficult.

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Reported by

Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

A new agreement with Colombia is called a free-trade deal, but it adds a $5.50 customs inspection fee for Canadians entering the U.S. by plane or boat.

One North Country lawmaker has already set out to repeal it.

US Congressman Bill Owens says he’s in the early stages of introducing legislation to roll back the Canadian fee. He visited Ottawa last week to talk with policymakers there about the potential impacts of the tax.

Owens said the new fee will hurt the North Country economy, because so many businesses along the border depend on Canadian tourists.

And, he said, collecting it will be difficult.

"What are they going to do? Have a drop box?" Owens asked. "The boats moving back and forth across the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario are probably the greatest example, because that's going to be the greatest number of people who do that. You're not going to have as many people popping in on small planes. But you will have people coming in by boat all across the St. Lawrence. It's one of the ways in which there's a tremendous amount of tourism."

The deal passed the House with overwhelming Republican support. Owens, a Democrat, voted against it.

He said the Canadian visitors tax was included in the bill purely to generate revenue. And that goes against the Republican line:

"It's odd to me," Owens said. "They're always talking about not impeding trade, not impeding business, and yet they went ahead and passed something like this, which is going to be a bureaucratic nightmare and is going to have limits on trade. It's really going to adversely affect our district."

Owens said he voted against the legislation for economic and trade reasons—and because it didn't address worker's rights and civil rights.

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