Canadian Boarder Guards: Beware
On my 30-day rail passes, I have found one demographic group to be worse than some Amtrak cafe car attendants: Canadian Custom agents. My repeated one-sided and one-dimension interaction raises many questions. Always, I am the only one of twenty to sixty visitors who is pulled aside. Repeatedly, I am subjected to questioning without the option of inquiring why, for any inquiring evokes the response from the border guard, "Don't ask any questions." Not only is my entry into a Canada trial, but it has escalated into Kafques "The Trial."
Is it because I travel down-scaled to avoid robbery? Does consistently and religiously traveling like a neo-homeless person reduce illegal robberies while increasingly legal barriers. This writer has been robbed five times as a "suit" and he used to carry two billfolds, one for business and one for the next robber. The time and liberties lost to robberies is lost in other ways if one underdresses at borders and libraries.
The first time I found myself being singled out for extra questioning I thought it was because I had rough appearance--no shave for a week with train wear and tear. As it was explained to me at the border, I fit a profile. Canada does not want people coming in to live off welfare while the US does not want people coming in to set off warfare. Is that the reason I am interrogated?
When I realized the questions focused on financial viability, I quickly said that I had lived in the same house for 30 years which had been paid off years ago. While I didn't have much money on me--$50--I did have credit cards and Western Union. I also asked, "How many hobos had two laptops and an LCD projector in there luggage?" Simply, I am a writer who likes trains. I would be eccentric if I had old money.
Unfortunately, consistent inconvenience need explanation. Everytime I enter Canada, I am the only one in my group who is pulled aside. I get interrogated with repetitious rude, insulting questions. After the first time, I ask if I am in the computer. The answer is always, "Yes" with the command, "Don't ask any questions."
The most disgusting treatment occurred Thursday, May 3, 2007. Seeking late night entry to Canada from Detroit via Windsor, my possessions were rifled and disorganized. I asked the guards not to harm the computer in one bag.
When I was led into customs, I was again asked the same questions. I had said, as I had said every time I was on a 30-day Rail that I was working on the train. I added that I was writing an article "Around the world in 30-days on Amtrak and VIA." I was asked who I wrote for. I said it was freelance. One guard after another asked my freelance credentials. I repeatedly explained that freelance writers don't have credentials. I was writing to submit it for publication.
I expressed to the fourth guard who questioned me that I found the interrogation repetitious and rude. He called his supervisor over who escalated the rudeness with a sarcastic comment that "We in Canada are not smart enough to understand 'freelance.'" I replied that it was not Canadians but Canadian guards that had the problem of intellect. At that point, he told his junior thug to refuse me entry. I asked for his name whereupon he scribbled #1497 on a yellow post-it. Definitely Orwellian.
Definitely Kafka. Why was I always singled out for a trial? Why was I convicted without an opportunity to rise in my defense, a defense defeated by the repeated imperative uttered at all entry points:`"Don't ask any questions."
His parting remark? "You are not smart enough to cross a border." Cute.
Objectively, independent of the incidence which hopefully was video recorded, what does it say of the Canadian border guards when
I guess this treatment should be expected from border guards who dress like jackbooted, fascists thugs with their soccer fan haircuts in their black tights wearing bullet-proof vests behind bullet-proof glass. Instead of being robbed, I was mugged.
If there is one area where Canadian resentment of the United States is most evident it is at the borders where the gatekeepers see the flow of American achievement and afflulence. This border foolishness of arbitrary, authority-abusing jackboots will come to an end when Canadian provinces officially becomes states. Then the border thugs can go to soccer games all the time.
Needless to say, this is one person, who has spent almost a month in Canada in the year prior to my Windsor misadventure, who has little desire to visit Canada anymore. The many wonderful people will be missed. However, if one can be so mistreated in such a manner, how little is the distance for a guard to enter false information into the database to cause a visitor the embarassment of strip searches or the uncertainty of unjustified confinement.
As a person who has a track record of promoting better democracy and better capitalism, I did not deserve such treatment. I wonder if I am in a database because of my efforts for the twins of better problem-solving. While questions can be raised why I am in the database, there is no question that my mistreatment was wrong and undeserved.
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