EDITORIAL – Stay calm and kind with unwanted visitors from the south

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

NOTHING RAISES THE HACKLES of the average British Columbian like an out-of-province licence plate.

First it was the Albertans, who made themselves unpopular with their provincial government’s stand on wine and pipelines. Now it’s the Americans, who supposedly look on Canada as the peaceful promised land in comparison to the chaos in their own country.

They aren’t supposed to enter Canada unless they’re on their way to somewhere else, like Alaska, but there are stories about fibbing at border crossings.

Premier John Horgan says we should be civil and respectful to our American cousins. Borrowing from Dr. Bonnie Henry’s hallmark line, he suggests, “Be calm. Be Kind. And we’ll be safe.”

He has some not-so-sympathetic advice for Americans who drive into Canada, too. If they feel uncomfortable, they should take the bus, he says.

Or ride a bike. Or get their plates changed.

There’s no doubt the leakage of U.S. citizenry across our border has created tension. One can understand the urge to head north. That country has a terrible record of dealing with COVID-19, racking up record numbers of cases and deaths even though Donald Trump would like to think otherwise.

But, while we would welcome the business at any other time, especially on the B.C. Day long weekend, we don’t want Americans here right now. The border is closed to non-essential travel for good reason.

There are tales from Americans of being harassed and their vehicles vandalized here in B.C. We shouldn’t be doing that — it’s not the polite Canadian way.

Before we get all indignant the next time we see a plate from Washington state, Oregon, Idaho or anywhere else down south, we should understand there are legitimate reasons for some of them to be here. Business or family, for example.

So let’s resist the urge to go on a rant, and instead stay calm and kind.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8485 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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