Monday February 06, 2017

'I felt it was so immoral': Why author Linwood Barclay cancelled U.S. book tour

'I just have to be able to look in the mirror:' Linwood Barclay protests Trump travel ban 1:25

Listen 20:19

Read story transcript

Canadian author Linwood Barclay had great travel plans to look forward to in sunny Arizona in March — a bit of business, promoting his latest novel, and then a vacation with his wife visiting architect Frank Lloyd Wright's famed Taliesin West.

But Barclay has now cancelled those plans.

For him, a trip to the United States after President Donald Trump's executive order for a travel ban for nationals of seven countries made the trip too uncomfortable — even now that the travel ban has been temporarily stayed through court action.

As a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, Barclay would not have been stopped at the border.

"But the border for me loomed like this enormous picket line," Barclay tells The Current's guest host Laura Lynch. 

If others couldn't cross, he didn't feel he should either. 

"I just didn't feel comfortable doing it," he says. "I felt it was so immoral, so wrong."

Kevin Rushby

Travel writer Kevin Rushby in Sawtooth Range, Idaho, Sept. 2016. He argues boycotting travel to the U.S. is building on the divisions Donald Trump wants to create. (Courtesy of Kevin Rushby)

Barclay is not the only Canadian reconsidering U.S. travel plans.

Online travel website Cheapflights reported that the weekend after Donald Trump put the travel ban in place, there were 27 per cent fewer Canadians than usual searching their site for U.S.flights.

"I think a lot of Canadians are looking for ways to say, I don't agree with what's going on," says Mark Bulgutch, who teaches journalism at Ryerson University and is a former senior executive producer at CBC-TV News. 

 And for those who have a choice in where they travel this year, his advice is: don't go.

"There are a lot of places to take your vacation," says Bulgutch.

"And for now, I think crossing the border into the United States 100 per cent voluntarily, because you can, is wrong."

But not everyone agrees that refusing to travel to the United States is the best way to take a stand against the ban.

"I agree ... that the ban is a pointless exercise," says travel writer Kevin Rushby.

But he adds, "I think travel breaks down prejudice, bigotry, and somehow by isolating the United States even more, I think it will serve Donald Trump's purposes."

"Once you've separated people by artificial barriers or walls, you can then create fear about people on the other side of that barrier."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.