Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
Welcome to Kanada, where thugs at border cross you!
Related: Canadian sci-fi author, assaulted at border, convicted of ‘non-compliance’ | Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border | Border guards are now Olympic thought police — Amy Goodman detained | Laptops fair game for border searches | Border guards resorting to force more often | Border agents handcuff, interrogate Winnipeg couple | Mohawk protesters block Ontario bridge over arming of border guards | Akwesasne natives protest armed border guards, border crossing closed in retaliation | New border rules create ‘invisible Berlin Wall’: mayor | ‘Say please’ at U. S. border nets pepper spray | U.S. border agents given power to seize travellers’ laptops, cellphones | American Border Officers Want to Fingerprint Canadians at SPP Bridge | U.S. to collect DNA at border
Richard J Brennan, Toronto Star
April 22, 2010
OTTAWA–Munching on a pretzel usually doesn’t lead to an inquisition and accusations of drug use.
But it can if you’re dealing with a Canadian border officer, according to documents obtained by the Star.
The episode is just one of the complaints filed with the Canada Border Services Agency by travellers visiting and returning to the country who say they are left with a negative impression and, in some cases, traumatized by their experience with the officers.
While countless visitors and returning Canadians are met with courteous, professional service at land crossings and airports, others complain of autocratic behaviour and humiliating treatment by CBSA officers.
The complaints, obtained by the Star through an Access to Information request, include accounts of officers cursing and yelling at Canadians and visitors, and threatening them with sniffer dogs or arrest for seemingly minor infractions – or for even having the temerity to ask a question.
There were 1,421 complaints filed with the CBSA in 2008-09, down slightly from 1,607 the previous year.
“We felt harassed and belittled by what happened,” wrote one American woman, who said her initial crime was to eat pretzels while a border official was talking to her husband on a Toronto-bound Amtrak train in Niagara Falls on June 7, 2007.