A MILE of water divides the American village of Morristown from its Canadian neighbour, Brockville. Their economies were once closely linked, with small factories on each bank of the St Lawrence river producing patent medicines such as Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills and Dr Williams’ Pink Pills for Pale People. Old folk remember winters when the river froze, and trees jammed into the ice marked a path to Canada. Both towns are conservative. The elected town supervisor of Morristown, Frank Putnam, a Republican, is especially exercised by welfare spending in his county, a struggling tract of upstate New York sustained by dairy farms, summer tourism and two state prisons.
Now a debate with worldwide resonance has revealed differences between the two settlements. In common with cities across Canada, Brockville has volunteered to host Syrian refugees. Residents, church groups and civic leaders are raising about $ 25,000 in private funds to sponsor each family for a year. Across the St Lawrence, by contrast, Mr Putnam is sure that the cost of receiving refugees would cause “alarm” in Morristown. He supports President Donald Trump’s attempts to halt refugee arrivals from Syria and…Continue reading