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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canadian Border Agents Recorded

The folks at the Motorhome Diaries are driving across America meeting with people to search for freedom. Unfortunately that trip won't include Canada, since they were turned away at the Canadian border about a month ago and banned from entering this country.

Last week they took a wrong turn at the border near Detroit, Michigan and had to turn around through Windsor, Ont., and once again had to deal with searches and delays. This time though they left an audio recorder rolling while Canadian Border Service Agents searched their Motorhome. You can listen to the CBS agents comments in this video, including joking about sexually assaulting people.

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I welcome feedback and I ask for civility in the exchange of comments. Vulgarity and racism is discouraged. Please express yourself creatively with other language. We discuss ideas here, attacks on a person are discouraged.

Posted by Freedom Manitoba on August 15, 2009 in Travel | Permalink

Comments

None of that had to happen. Why weren't they just turned around and sent back? Especially in light of the idea that it seems to be a not uncommon occurrence.
And if the guys were even saying all they wanted to do was get back Stateside...why the delays? Why the gun questions?
And why would border gaurds call someone who owns a gun a "gun nut"? Oh yeah! They're indoctrinated.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-15 10:50:31 PM


Sounded like a conversation in a junior high school cafeteria.

Posted by: dp | 2009-08-15 11:01:05 PM


dp, that's exactly what it sounded like.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-15 11:15:36 PM


Well, I am not terribly surprized at these events.
Most border guards, in most countries, are essentially wanna-be mini-nazis.
Some are more polite that others, but for reasons beyond me they, legally, they seem to be able do almost whatever they want with anyone attempting to enter the country, with or without justification.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2009-08-15 11:22:38 PM


Urban Ontarians are pretty much indoctrinated against firearms, that's true. However, there is such a thing as making conversation, even if it was prying a bit. I once discussed Canadian gun laws with an American border patrolman and didn't consider it invasive.

Their guard was probably heightened by the fact that the vehicle was a motorhome and able to carry considerable amounts of hidden cargo. The fact that these guys are a mite on the crackpotty side probably didn't help their case either.

All in all, compared to some of the horror stories I've heard about American border guards, this incident seems positively lighthearted. Personally, though, I have always found border guards to be thoroughly professional. The Americans are sterner and don't smile as often, but on the other hand the only customs house out of which I ever saw a man being led in cuffs was Canadian.

Also, remember that we're not seeing the entire tape here.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-15 11:33:29 PM


What goes on at the border, whether it is stops, inspections, or customs charges when bringing in goods, seem pretty arbitrary.

In fact I called Canada Customs at one point and asked my some of the items I ordered from out of country had duty on them and some didn't and was told that they randomly decide what will get the charge. Nice...

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-08-15 11:42:56 PM


I'm not surprised by the Canadian Border Services response, even though I'm not impressed by it. What does surprise me is the candor with which the US border crews discussed the "Constitution-free zones" created under the Bush admin and continued under Obama.

More info:
http://www.aclu.org/privacy/spying/areyoulivinginaconstitutionfreezone.html

Posted by: Voice of Reason | 2009-08-15 11:55:51 PM


Yep, people crossing into the U.S. have been told that they have no rights at the border, that teh Constitution doesn't apply there, pretty sick and police-state like.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-08-16 12:07:11 AM


I returned to the U.S. from Canada just the other day. All my dirty laundry was in a military-style duffel bag (i.e. a long, narrow bag.)

It looked like the border guys were going to rip apart the car, but fortunately they started with the bag of laundry. I got to watch one guy's face crinkle up once he realized he was armpit deep in my smelly clothes.

No more searching after that.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-08-16 12:14:41 AM


All in all, compared to some of the horror stories I've heard about American border guards, this incident seems positively lighthearted. Personally, though, I have always found border guards to be thoroughly professional. The Americans are sterner and don't smile as often, but on the other hand the only customs house out of which I ever saw a man being led in cuffs was Canadian.

REJECTED. Anecdotal. Please provide studies.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 1:03:42 AM


I would have to disagree with you Shane, I have always found the US Customs way more friendly at Coutts crosssing anyway.

Posted by: Alberta Altruist | 2009-08-16 1:06:30 AM


I have always found the US Customs way more friendly at Coutts crosssing anyway.

Posted by: Alberta Altruist | 2009-08-16 1:06:30 AM

And at the Calgary Airport. Canadians and Americans alike that I've spoken with have had some very bad experiences with Canada Customs there. Almost as if they are trying to discourage travel.
This whole security thing is reactionary and almost completely useless anyway.

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-16 7:59:44 AM


Automated Targeting System (ATS):

The Automated Targeting System (ATS) is a security and tracking program for cargo that DHS has extended to travelers by assigning all who cross the nation's borders with a computer-generated "risk assessment" score that will be retained for 40 years – and which is secret and un reviewable. This program represents a monumental change that will have profound effects on Americans' privacy.

And there’s a lot more….

http://www.aclu.org/privacy/37295res20081022.html

Big Brother? nawww, they wouldn't do that! Not here in a "free" country!


Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-16 8:40:31 AM


And at the Calgary Airport. Canadians and Americans alike that I've spoken with have had some very bad experiences with Canada Customs there. Almost as if they are trying to discourage travel.
This whole security thing is reactionary and almost completely useless anyway.

It's funny you say that.

For my job I travel a lot (to the US, to China, Europe, etc).

On my last business trip, Air Canada had to re-route me through Calgary coming into Canada. So I would go through customs & immigration there.

I usually go through customs and immigration at Toronto airport, and I've never had any trouble whatsoever. The immigration agents have never really asked me more then two or three questions before sending me on my way. And I travel a lot (maybe 7 times a year).

So this last time, I arrive in Calgary. And when I told the woman border agent in Calgary that I was on my way to Toronto, she asked me if my original flight itinerary had intended me to fly through Calgary, to which I said no. She then asked me if I lived alone, I said no. When I told her that I had spouse and newborn baby, she actually asked me all these follow up questions. Between questions she was typing like mad on her computer, and would sometimes ask me to wait for up to one or two minutes at a time before she'd have another weird question like "when was your baby born?"

She seemed extremely suspicious of my answers, too. It took me like 15 minutes before she let me into Canada. I was really tired from a very long flight, and had another flight to catch to Toronto so it was quite ridiculous.

I had never been asked so many personal questions by a Canadian immigration guard than I Calgary airport. Even when I've had my car inspected crossing into Canada by land, the questions were always related to the contents of what I was bringing in, and where I came from and where I lived. But they were never so personal as to ask me details about my family.

My worst experiences with US immigration were only questions about the details of my work. Never my personal life.

So yeah, I was sort of taken aback by Canadian immigration agents a Calgary Airport.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 9:25:10 AM


They did this deliberately. All fake.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-08-16 9:30:48 AM


So yeah, I was sort of taken aback by Canadian immigration agents a Calgary Airport.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 9:25:10 AM

Mike, US Customs also resides at Calgary Airport.
Maybe our folks are having coffee with the DHS as they are here too. I've spoken to a number of Canadians who coincidentally have the same name as someone in the US who has the attention of the DHS. So they are pulled out of line and questioned as though they are some kind of threat.
Its all Bullshit and they are simply letting us know who is in charge and building files on people.
Looks like they've got one started on you too.
Next time someone in a uniform asks you a question that has nothing to do with the present situation...try answering "None of your fu**ing business".

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-16 9:47:15 AM


"Mike, US Customs also resides at Calgary Airport."

They do at all Canadian airports, including Toronto. It's called the Preclearance Program. And it's not new. It's been in place for like 30 years.

The truth is, I've never really had a problem with DHS in pre-clearance. I used to live in the US on a work visa. And funnily enough, my worst problems with US immigration were WHEN I had a visa. I would get grilled coming into the US even though I had a visa in my passport.

Even when I flew from Beijing, China to New York City, the American border gaurd there was like this:

"Where are you coming from?"

Me: "China"

"What were you doing in China?"

Me: "Business trip"

"What are you doing here?"

Me: "I have a meeting in Manhattan"

*STAMP* *STAMP*

"You're good."

(this was like 7 months ago)

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 10:01:12 AM


*STAMP* *STAMP*

"You're good."

(this was like 7 months ago)


Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 10:01:12 AM


So you don't think anything is wrong or out of the ordinary?
You don't see a general clamp down on our rights to mobilty?
Just curious....

Posted by: The original JC | 2009-08-16 10:05:24 AM


So you don't think anything is wrong or out of the ordinary?
You don't see a general clamp down on our rights to mobilty?
Just curious....

I absolutely do. The US setting up highway immigration checkpoints, forcing it's citizens to stop and declare their citizenship (in Washington State and Vermont, for instance)--when they haven't even crossed the border.

The DHS has a mandate to stop any person or vehicle within 100 miles of all land borders, which is 80% of the US population, since the East and West coasts are considered fair game. Just do a Google search for: suspicionless immigration checkpoints.

You'll find a plethora of very frightening trend of people who are forced to go through immigration checks in South Texas, California or Arizona every day on their way to work, and they don't even come within 60 miles of the Mexican border.

Here's a website that details them: https://www.checkpointusa.org/Checkpoints/checkpoints.htm

Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDLlEh0x2XA&feature=related

...

No, JC. I think I'm getting waved through because my name isn't on any list, I'm white, and don't speak with a funny accent.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 10:14:22 AM


In fact I called Canada Customs at one point and asked my some of the items I ordered from out of country had duty on them and some didn't and was told that they randomly decide what will get the charge. Nice...

You should be glad they apply the charges arbitrarily, Scott. Often they will wave through without charge goods to which duty does, in fact, apply, especially if the declared value is small. They cut you a break, in other words. (They cannot, of course, charge duty on goods to which duty does not apply).

It remains to be seen whether this holds true for NEXUS travellers (which I will be shortly), as the declaration procedure is different (and written down).

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 10:49:21 AM


Yep, people crossing into the U.S. have been told that they have no rights at the border, that teh Constitution doesn't apply there, pretty sick and police-state like.

A minor exception to one Constitutional right, permitted for border security purposes only and strictly forbidden as a springboard for "fishing expeditions," does not constitute a police state.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:02:03 AM


REJECTED. Anecdotal. Please provide studies.

Real mature, Mike. Especially since:

>I usually go through customs and immigration at Toronto airport, and I've never had any trouble whatsoever...I was really tired from a very long flight, and had another flight to catch to Toronto so it was quite ridiculous...I had never been asked so many personal questions by a Canadian immigration guard...My worst experiences with US immigration were only questions about the details of my work. Never my personal life."

You're not turning into a troll like Doug Gilchrist, are you, Mike? Maybe the woman took so long with you because you have a bad attitude. No border guard has ever given me a hassle, even on the time I forgot to sign my passport.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:08:28 AM


So yeah, I was sort of taken aback by Canadian immigration agents a Calgary Airport.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 9:25:10 AM

Refuse to answer, stand up for your rights.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-08-16 11:11:29 AM


They did this deliberately. All fake.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2009-08-16 9:30:48 AM

That's not true. Check out the Motorhome dirares website if you want to see that they are legit.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-08-16 11:12:14 AM


"No, JC. I think I'm getting waved through because my name isn't on any list, I'm white, and don't speak with a funny accent."

But do you have studies to prove it?

For that matter, do you have studies to prove that there is any real loss of liberty, apart from answering a few random questions? Are arrests and/or prosecutions for non-immigration-related offences up, and can any such increase be traced to this policy? Isn't that what we should be concerned about?

P.S. I'm also white, don't speak with an accent, and the only list I'm on is the Trusted Travellers list. If you travel that much maybe you should apply, if you haven't already. Of course, they will photograph your irises, which would probably have you screaming "Big Brother!" all the way to regular lineup.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:14:13 AM


Next time someone in a uniform asks you a question that has nothing to do with the present situation...try answering "None of your fu**ing business".

Are you trying to get him arrested? Not that the prospect distresses me greatly, but still? Mouthing off to border guards is generally a bad idea. Just ask the guy who got pepper-sprayed for demanding that the officer say "please."

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:18:56 AM


"The Automated Targeting System (ATS) is a security and tracking program for cargo that DHS has extended to travelers by assigning all who cross the nation's borders with a computer-generated "risk assessment" score that will be retained for 40 years – and which is secret and un reviewable. This program represents a monumental change that will have profound effects on Americans' privacy."

Americans have no Constitutional right to privacy while in a public place, JC. It is a legal fiction cobbled together from the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, similar to the way Canada's de facto law against hiring replacement workers presumably extends from our right to freedom of association.

It has been less than ten years since an attack that killed three times as many Americans as Pearl Harbour. America needs time to heal and in the meantime these measures make for feel more secure—and probably more secure in fact.

Let me ask you this. You are walking down the street and you see a couple of cops on foot. You will have to walk right past them. Do you feel:

a) Protected;
b) Threatened; or
c) Indifferent?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:28:12 AM


This thing really should have a feature that zeroes out unclosed HTML tags.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:29:29 AM


That's not true. Check out the Motorhome dirares website if you want to see that they are legit.

I think you meant "Motorhome Diaries," Scott. And no offence, but the fact that they have a website and backers doesn't mean they're telling the entire truth. Activists are notorious for giving you only their side of the story. Even if this tape is genuine, it's still very incomplete, compressing an ordeal of hours into a few minutes.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:34:51 AM


Mouthing off to border guards is generally a bad idea. Just ask the guy who got pepper-sprayed for demanding that the officer say "please."

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 11:18:56 AM

Yep, they're violent thugs.

Posted by: Scott Carnegie | 2009-08-16 11:48:24 AM


"Real mature, Mike."

It's called sarcasm, Shane. Sarcasm to show you how ridiculous your argument style is. I note that you have returned to this argument style promptly, and are now demanding "studies" again from other people.

So once again, you've made a special pleading. You recuse yourself of having to provide studies since I provided an anecdote ("if you did it, so can I")--and claim that I'm immature (ad hominem) instead of answering.

You're the troll, Shane. You.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2009-08-16 11:53:09 AM


"Yep, they're violent thugs."

Scott, they're border agents. Not orcs.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 1:05:39 PM


I'm just trying to manually close out the italic tag.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-08-16 1:07:34 PM


It's called sarcasm, Shane. Sarcasm to show you how ridiculous your argument style is.

I can't stand it. It's too easy. Mike, sarcasm is supposed to demean the recipient more than it does the speaker. This whole post is founded on someone's anecdotal experience. By sneering at my anecdote, and then giving a long-assed kvetch of your own, you make yourself sound hysterical and petty.

I note that you have returned to this argument style promptly, and are now demanding "studies" again from other people.

Only from you. So I am, in fact, not demanding studies from any people at all. (I exclude trolls from my count.)

So once again, you've made a special pleading...

And you complain that apply reasoning techniques faultily. You're seeing fallacies where none exist, pouncing on phantoms like a crazy man while remaining utterly oblivious of the same, far more glaring failings in your own writing. Maybe you do need drugs after all...they kind they prescribe to bipolar patients.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 1:12:30 PM


I'm kind of interested in what the Canadian border patrol would think if they knew they'd been recorded. Maybe somebody should send this to their MP?

The ball squeezing comment alone is pretty unprofessional.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2009-08-16 1:43:57 PM


I don't find the banter between employees like that so bad. We all do it. Just not in front of the customer. What irks me is the attitude of the officers. Just because someone doesn't sing for you doesn't mean he is a criminal. That guy didn't kiss my ass, so he is suspicious. Something wrong with that.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2009-08-16 2:05:59 PM


Declare your rum and the buggers steal it.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-08-16 8:12:32 PM


"Declare your rum and the buggers steal it."

Really? They're never taken any of ours, and my wife brings a 40-ouncer back from vacation ever year.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-08-16 8:30:03 PM


I've had two recent experiences going into and coming back from the States... The first was by air to/from Wyoming. The trip to was commercial and the US customs folks were very professional and fast. The trip from was on a private jet(yeah, that was way cool - Lear kicks ass!) where we landed at the Edmonton Muni airport - CBSA was non existent - nobody checked us for anything.

Second trip was by jeep... crossed southbound between MB and ND... US border guard was extremely polite and patient when I yanked the kids out of the vehicle and made them pose for photos on each side of the line. They did ask to have a look at our trailer (full of camping gear)and asked if we had any firearms... I initially said "no" and then corrected myself by adding that as we passed through Saskatoon, my dad gave my boy an air rifle... The guard smiled and said "No, sir, I asked if you had any "firearms"". After allowing us to use their washrooms, we were on our way... Coming back through Sweetgrass wasn't much different... minus the look at the gear in our trailer... CBSA was polite and asked the questions that they should have been asking; "who are you, do you have ID, why were you in the US, why are you wearing that stupid Hawaiian shirt, etc... It was a friggin' drive-thru window... I'd gotten more grief at a Timmies on a mixed up order...

Note to Mike; Yeah, it's anecdotal, but corroboration is available through 15 other witnesses (both trips combined - minus the testimony of border officials) which makes it admissible. Your poor experience and that of the individuals indicated in the video may or may not be the norm but it certainly isn't what I've experienced...

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2009-08-17 9:09:47 AM


I have to agree with those who've had good experiences at the border. I've never had a problem, in either direction. I even screwed up once, and made a joke that wasn't considered funny. The American guys just told me not to make the comment again(something about political asylum).

I think, what we have here, is an Ontario border crossing issue. I've crossed in SK, AB, and BC, and never been unduly inconvenienced. My girlfriend got the 3rd degree(US guards) in BC, but she's Asian, with a Canadian passport. I suppose there's always a bit of suspicion in cases like that.

I've also found Calgary airport to be one of the worst for customs. My nephew had a real experience in Toronto. He was returning from Germany, wearing an army uniform, and cleared customs at Toronto. The agent, wearing a turban, said "welcome to my country, what is the purpose of your visit?". He has a good sense of humour, but that one pushed the boundaries.

Posted by: dp | 2009-08-17 9:59:59 AM


Just a comment about the Officer's motivation to search. Many would be criminals including smugglers are tripped up by the stupid things they do, like turning onto a bridge by mistake leading them into the hands of waiting law enforcement. Also, didn't I hear the Officer mention something about finding holsters? Seems to me a gun owner who has his holster(s) would also have a gun. Hey buddy is there something you want to tell us?

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Posted by: Immigration To Canada | 2009-08-25 6:27:33 AM


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