Monday, May 4, 2009

USA Canada border is shameful

My father was an American who joined the Canadian war effort before Pearl Harbor. When peace came, he stayed in Vancouver to raise a family. Partly because of American roots, I condemn U.S. Government actions to harden our border.

Throughout my working life, I traveled regularly to the US for professional reasons. I also crossed the border often with my family for sports and recreation. Shared hospitality was a positive influence for many and border crossings were seldom problematic. They usually involved a short conversation with an affable agent, an ID check and perhaps a cursory inspection, occasionally a more detailed one. Border agencies staffed crossing points according to the flow of traffic. Delays were rare.

Today, the border is different. Extended holdups are commonplace, sometimes intolerable. People are adversarial instead of neighborly. Tempers rise and formerly polite exchanges are contentious.

Canada and the U.S. have always been active trading partners. In fact, our trade is the largest between two nations. We are interdependent in many ways but have stopped behaving as close friends.

In contrast, while driving in southwestern France a while ago, I turned south instead of east. We eventually noticed that commercial signs were written in Spanish, not French. Sure enough, our misdirection had taken us to Spain across an unmarked border. In fact, people travel throughout the nations of Europe with little involvement of government officials. This happens despite long histories of warfare between the peoples.

The current situation across the USA-Canada border is shameful.
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