Keeping us in



From last Friday’s San Francisco Chronicle:
“Going to Canada? Check your past: Tourists with minor criminal records turned back at border”

The article is about how Canadia doesn’t want anyone with a criminal record to enter onto their territory. It highlights the cases of middle-aged Americans who have been going to Canadia for years, but are now suddenly being turned away.

The thing is that Canadia has a long-standing rule denying entry to anyone who has committed a crime. So what has changed? What’s new on the border with our quiet northern neighbour?

The newness is a partnership called the Smart Border Action Plan that was started in 2002. For five years now, Canadian intelligence and Fatherland Security have been combining information. I don’t know what kind of information and I don’t know how much information, but the system is now refined and border personnel have access to data about all of us.

“They can call up anything that your state trooper in Iowa can,” says David Lesperance, a Canadian immigration lawyer.

Do you have a marijuana conviction from the 1970s? Were you ever caught shoplifting as part of a fraternity prank? These are the sorts of youthful indiscretions that will see you barred from Canadia for the rest of your life.

Lesperance believes that more such agreements will be signed with other countries, further interfering with our freedom to travel.

And before you say that people who haven’t done anything wrong don’t have anything to worry about, I will once again point out that we do not know the ultimate intentions behind any new regulations or agreements. Our borders are now under electronic surveillance, militarised, and getting a lot harder to cross. Think about that.


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