Beefed up border hurts islanders

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CAMPOBELLO, N.B. — Residents of New Brunswick’s Campobello Island have become virtual castaways in a sea of new cross-border trade restrictions.

Frustration is breaking out across the island off southwest New Brunswick – which can only be reached most of the year through the state of Maine – now that the mad cow scare has produced barriers to the movement of meat and meat products on both sides of the border.

There’s even some talk of separation from Canada and union with Maine.

“Life would be easier,” Robert Hooper, a resident of Campobello, said.

Hooper said the border restrictions have reached the point where it’s almost impossible to bring across a pizza or buy some dog food.

He said that earlier this week, a friend of his tried to bring home a couple of cans of chicken dog food, purchased on the U.S. side of the border in Lubec, Me.

“He went across, got the dog food and when he got to Canadian customs, they wouldn’t let him bring it in,” Hooper said.

“He went back to U.S. customs and they wouldn’t let him bring it across there, so he went back across to the Canadian side and they still said ‘no.’ “

The man had to return to U.S. customs and was told to call the store in Lubec where he bought it to confirm his purchase. He was then allowed to take it with him.

Hooper said that since then, customs officials have eased restrictions on chicken dog food.

There are about 1,500 permanent residents on the picturesque Bay of Fundy island.

From September to July, the only way on and off the island is via the international bridge to Lubec. During the summer, a private ferry connects Campobello to Deer Island and mainland New Brunswick, but there is no ferry service the rest of the year.

Greg Thompson, the Conservative MP who represents the Fundy isles and surrounding areas in southern New Brunswick, has written federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale asking that the income tax act be amended allowing Campobello residents to take advantage of a special deduction given northern residents.

The northern residents’ deduction gives people living in remote areas a tax break so they can better cope with the effects of geographic isolation.

Hooper said the tax break is a good idea, but it won’t help residents if it becomes too difficult to shop in the United States and they can’t get supplies to the island’s one and only grocery store.

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