'Go home': Drivers with U.S. licence plates harassed in Muskoka
Bryann Aguilar, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, June 17, 2020 10:33PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 17, 2020 11:18PM EDT
The fear of COVID-19 has resulted in incidents of locals verbally accosting drivers with American licence plates, Muskoka Lakes mayor says.
Mayor Phil Harding told CP24 on Wednesday he has received a number of calls from individuals who drive with U.S. licence plates, but he says are Canadian citizens being questioned by residents.
"Most recently this weekend, there was a gentleman up towards Huntsville getting gas in his vehicle, and two gentlemen approached him and said, 'you're American go home.' And he said, 'I'm Canadian. I live here.' And they literally said, no, we don't believe you show us your passport," Harding said, adding that some cars were keyed.
"It just becomes a little bit aggressive, and they fear for their lives a little bit."
Harding said these incidents stem from the fear of contracting COVID-19 given the grim situation south of the border. As of Wednesday, more than two million Americans have tested positive for the virus. Of those, more than 119,000 people have died.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since March, which led Harding to believe that the Americans or Canada-U.S. dual citizens in town arrived before the border was closed.
The Canadian government extended the closure until July 21.
During the peak of the pandemic in Ontario, seasonal residents were also not welcomed in town.
"We're an inclusive society in Ontario, and we're an inclusive society in Muskoka. I don't care where you've come from, whether you happen to have come out of the U S. If you're a Canadian citizen, you're welcome here, and that is what the federal government has said," Harding said.
"I'm going to really encourage everyone no matter where you're from, no matter where you are in this country, to look inwardly and make sure you protect yourself versus pointing a finger saying you weren't wearing a mask in this store, protect yourself, and protect your own family."
- with files from CTV Toronto's Sean Davidson