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Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh, Canada

posted by on February 26 at 13:48 PM

Security has been tightened at the Canadian border. And it’s getting absurd:

Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”

Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”

Think that’s ridiculous? How about this one:

Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.

There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.

In 1975.

As the man’s lawyer points out, who didn’t smoke pot in the 70s?

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This is not absurd. Canada doesn't let alcoholics like Bush and Cheney drive there either.

In fact, the only reason they let those two in was they had diplomatic passports - otherwise, it's no go at the Pogo!

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 26, 2007 2:00 PM

Are you kidding? It is completely absurd. Does Canada not have a statute of limitations? A pot bust from 1975? Gimme a break.

Also, i know of similar problems for residents of Skagway and Haines, Alaska. Both are bounded by ocean on one side and the Canadian border on the other. The only roads connecting them to the rest of Alaska go through Canada. They buy groceries in Canada. They give birth in Canada. Again, gimme a break...

Posted by Casey in Alaska | February 26, 2007 2:18 PM

Are you kidding? It is completely absurd. Does Canada not have a statute of limitations? A pot bust from 1975? Gimme a break.

Also, i know of similar problems for residents of Skagway and Haines, Alaska. Both are bounded by ocean on one side and the Canadian border on the other. The only roads connecting them to the rest of Alaska go through Canada. They buy groceries in Canada. They give birth in Canada. Again, gimme a break...

Posted by Casey in Alaska | February 26, 2007 2:19 PM

It is critically important in a world where the US faces many determined enemies who wish our destruction that we not waste our time on irrelevancies like Al Qaeda, nuclear materials trade, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc., and focus on the real enemy: Canada.

Posted by Fnarf | February 26, 2007 2:23 PM

This isn't anything new. I worked at a cruise line from '03 to '06. There were a lot of cruises that went to Vancouver and Victoria, and there were plenty of passengers with DUIs in their past that would disembark, get tagged by Canuck immigration on the way back onboard, and end up getting flown home, particularly if the next port of call was another Canadian city. Sometimes, they would be allowed to board a round trip Vancouver cruise, only to be denied disembarkation in Canada. It meant a huge amount of inconvenience and expense.

Most outrageous of all, though, were tales of people who drove the Al-Can Highway from the US to Alaska, only to be denied entrance on the way back. They had to either drive to the south of Alaska and catch a ferry to Bellingham, or have their car shipped and fly home.

Posted by Gitai | February 26, 2007 2:25 PM

With the US performing these same sort of refusals to Canadian travelers it was only a matter of time before we started giving as good as we get.

At least no US citizen (has yet) been shipped off for abuse in some 3rd world shit hole because he might have possibly once been considered a terrorist.

Posted by Josh | February 26, 2007 2:28 PM

I blame the new prime minister, Saddam Hussein....then, I blame Canada...

Posted by michael strangeways | February 26, 2007 2:32 PM

Can't blame Bush on this one. It's been happening since at least the early-90s. Unfortunately I have first-hand knowledge.

Posted by DOUG. | February 26, 2007 2:34 PM

As someone who works on one side and lives on the other - you guys _are_ aware that it's harder to get into the US than into Canada, right?

I know people from Canada with old DUIs who have to carry little cards with them to be able to cross the border. A friend's Dad got stuck at the US border for more than 10 hours last time he forgot his.

I think one trouble is that because of the overall ease of crossing, people don't seem to understand the fact that it's an international border crossing. The other trouble is that border patrol officers have total discretion as to what they decide to ask and who gets the extra grilling. So experiences will change from time to time even if you go through a lot.

Posted by wench | February 26, 2007 2:53 PM

First off, I just have to say "OMG!" Somebody other than me knows about Haines, AK?! I used to live there in the summers when I was a child.

Secondly, the border control is quite absurd. It's one thing if it's a current conviction, cuz the person might be on the run. But this is just crazy! I was charged with shoplifting when I was 17 and had to pay a fine. Does that mean I can't go to Whistler anymore?


And if that's how they're going to be there up in Canada, we should treat them the same when they want to enter our country. Fugg 'em

Posted by Faux Show | February 26, 2007 3:14 PM

Doesn't everyone in the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney have drug convictions and they get into Canada. Once again, if your rich rules don't matter.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 3:55 PM

We should sign a treaty with Canada abolishing border enforcement entirely. The occasional worthwhile arrest is not worth the constant petty harassment of regular citizens by American and Canadian bureaucrats. This kind of BS hurts the regional economy, too.

Posted by Cascadian | February 26, 2007 3:59 PM

At least they don't make them wait in lines for five hours to have their orthopedic shoes scanned for explosives ... which is what we do to Canadians.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 26, 2007 4:00 PM

#12. I would love it if it could be done, but two things prevent that from ever happening. Canada's occasional flirtation of legalizing marijuana and the fact that immigration security at their air and seaports are a joke.

Posted by elswinger | February 26, 2007 4:11 PM

Who asked for it again? Oh yeah, those people in the South who said our borders were looser than Swiss cheese. I think Canada wants to make sure their southern friends know that our borders ARE pretty damn secure.
You might think it's also an answer to some protectionism that was disguised as new security measures after 9/11. Like those expensive special requirements on some merchandise importations and the new requirement to have our passports when crossing the border (which will hit hard on conventions tourism).
So borders abolishment is unlikely, although the cannucks would be more than happy to have it, because Canada is already sucking US' import-export balance pretty hard on the negative.

Posted by Mokawi | February 26, 2007 9:53 PM

@15 - well, stop buying oil then. And using chopsticks. That said, Canada can't go and ignore the US listing people as committing felonies - ask the US to remove them from the list ... right ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 26, 2007 11:42 PM

Guys, we're either assholes or a TERRORIST HAVEN. Which do you want?

Posted by Gloria | February 27, 2007 1:47 AM

The modern attitude about crime is "once a criminal, always a criminal". It's getting worse here, too.

Posted by dewsterling | February 27, 2007 10:27 AM

I have a DUI conviction (misdemenor that I only paid a fine for) from 1991 and was turned away at the border two years ago.

It is a Canadian thing that ANY criminal offense no matter how old or even it is expunged in some cases they will not let you in. But look at it in the reverse, the United States does the same thing.

And to @18, yeah once you do something wrong you are forever guilty. Those are those "Christian virtues" of forgivness we hold to. And remember, Nazi Germany thought of themselves as a devout Christian nation. Seriously folks, they did.

Praise out Great Leader GW Bush!!! Praise be unto him!!!

Posted by Andrew | February 27, 2007 10:47 AM

soooooo, let me get this straight. Canada will stop you at the border for a 30 year-old pot bust, but the US will let you in with a bloody chain saw. Hmm.

Posted by him | February 27, 2007 10:50 AM

Sorry to burst the pus ridden sore, but I think the Canadian govt is pulling a play out of the US playbook. My girlfriend got pulled out of my car at the US border heading from Canada and was heavily questioned, and almost not let in to the US based on a 1970's esque DUI charged that was dropped. If she even thinks about applying for a green card, she was told she would have to get a kind of fancy and expensive pardon from Canada EVEN THOUGH the charge was dropped. She was never convicted. Never served a lick of time.

I am an American with a girlfriend/spouse (legal in Canada) from Canada. We can only see each other if I learn more French (tabernacle) or the US stops being a land filled with Trudy Cools.

Thanks, DOMA.

Posted by air betty | February 27, 2007 11:22 AM

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