Trump travel ban raising interest in Ottawa among event organizers: Shaw Centre CEO

Convention Centre

Donald Trump’s threats to bar travellers from several Middle Eastern and African states from entering the United States is causing some conference planners to consider moving their events north of the border, says the head of Ottawa’s largest convention facility.

“We’re receiving inquiries from groups that were scheduled to be in the U.S. but are worried their speakers or delegates won’t be allowed in,” said Nina Kressler, president and CEO of the Shaw Centre.

Ms. Kressler was a panelist Tuesday morning at an event discussing Ottawa’s economic outlook and was responding to a question about the impact of the U.S. president, and other uncertainties, on the nation’s capital.

Speaking with OBJ after the event, Ms. Kressler said event planners don’t want to risk having visa complications prevent attendees or speakers from attending their conferences and are looking at alternative locations.

In the aftermath of last November’s presidential election, which prompted several “desperate” calls to Ottawa immigration lawyers by Americans looking for information on how to move to Canada, some residents speculated that Trump’s victory could actually benefit Canada if programmers and other highly sought-after workers decide to leave the United States and pursue opportunities north of the border.

However, local economic development officials and some business leaders say they’re not expecting a flood of Americans to suddenly pull up stakes and resettle in Ottawa.

“It’s a blip,” said Claridge Homes vice-president Neil Malhotra, speaking on the panel alongside Ms. Kressler. “People won’t uproot their lives to avoid four, or eight, years (of a Trump presidency).”

In January, Mr. Trump signed an executive order that temporarily blocked citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S.

After that order was struck down by the courts, the administration decided to write a second directive rather than appeal the initial ban to the Supreme Court. The narrower order removed Iraq from the list of banned countries.

The courts have also blocked that directive and, last week, the Justice Department formally asked the Supreme Court to let a ban be put in place as Mr. Trump continued to make the case for the policy on Twitter:

– With reporting by the Associated Press