TORONTO - Several Canadians traveling to attend either the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States or a march planned for Saturday in Washington, D.C., were turned away at the border by U.S. officials.
Relations between Canada and the United States are under scrutiny following the election of Trump, who has vowed to put "America first" and renegotiate a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
"It seems to me that they just weren't interested in having us in the country for the inauguration," said Sasha Dyck, a 34-year-old nurse from Montreal.
Dyck was carpooling with five other Canadians and two French nationals Thursday. They were held for two hours at the Lacolle border crossing where they were searched, made to unlock their mobile phones and ultimately denied entry.
"I hope it doesn't represent a closing down or a firming up of the border, or of mentalities south of the border," Dyck said, adding that he was high-fived by U.S. border officials when he traveled south for Barack Obama's inauguration.
Joseph Decunha, a 20-year-old physics student at McGill University in Montreal, was also turned back at the Lacolle crossing between Quebec and New York state after being asked specifically if he, his partner and a friend supported or opposed Trump.
"We were forthcoming and explained we were quite vehemently anti-[Trump]," he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in an emailed statement that it was not at liberty to discuss individual cases.
In Montreal, a small group of protesters outside the U.S. consulate burned an American flag and an effigy of Trump, images by news photographers posted on Twitter showed. A handful of protesters showed up at midday to protest outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto. More protests were planned for later in the day in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
Turnout was expected to be larger at marches across Canada that will coincide with the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, with 26,000 people registered to attend events in 31 locations.