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Blockade between N.S. and N.B. border delayed doctors, other medical staff from getting to work


Halifax–Nova Scotia's premier says he and provincial health officials are considering information about New Brunswick's border measures as his province looks to reopen to travellers from across Canada next Wednesday.

Iain Rankin said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs provided more details during a conference call Wednesday on sharing information about travellers entering his province from outside the Atlantic region so they can be tracked when they go to other provinces.

Rankin said he was discussing the information with Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, and would have more to say during a COVID-19 briefing later Thursday.

"We haven't landed on a decision yet,'' Rankin told reporters. "We have to figure out how much screening takes place.''

Nova Scotia's reconsideration comes after the province announced Tuesday—one day before its boundaries were to reopen to free travel from the rest of Atlantic Canada—that travellers from New Brunswick would need to self-isolate upon arrival. The isolation requirements are based on their vaccination status and COVID-19 test results.

The announcement resulted in a protest that blocked traffic late Tuesday on the Trans Canada Highway near the Cobequid Pass. The blockade was later moved to the border area with New Brunswick outside of Amherst, N.S.

It disrupted commerce and led to the cancellation of more than 100 medical appointments at an Amherst hospital before RCMP officers moved in and peacefully broke it up, arresting three people around 9 p.m. Wednesday night.

When asked about the RCMP response, Rankin said he would liked to have seen traffic moving sooner than it did.

"But I wasn't on the ground and I'm not going to challenge their (police) judgment on who is breaking the law and who is not,'' he said.

Cpl. Chris Marshall, spokesman for Nova Scotia RCMP, said the arrests followed discussions between police and the protesters that lasted several hours during the day.

Marshall said police were conscious of the need to balance people's right to protest against the fact that it is illegal to block the free flow of traffic on a highway.

"It became apparent after a number of hours . . . that dialogue alone wasn't going to work, so it was at that point that the decision was made to dismantle the blockade,'' he said.

Marshall said the three people arrested were later released and will face mischief charges.

Meanwhile, the protest resulted in a political casualty Thursday as provincial Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston announced that he was removing Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin from his party's caucus.

Smith-McCrossin, who represents the riding of Cumberland North, was also barred from running for the Tories in the future after she posted an angry video to Facebook late Tuesday.

The video warned that unless the border restrictions were changed she would join with residents of her county who had "had enough'' and would be "shutting down the TransCanada Highway.''

"I appreciate her frustration and the frustration of everyone affected by the premier's 11th hour changes,'' Houston said in a statement. "But Ms. Smith-McCrossin's failure to accept accountability for her actions at the blockade shows a lack of judgment and personal responsibility.''

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