Recently I’ve been watching a television show called “Border Security”, which details the daily lives of the Canadian Border Services. The show covers mainly some of the ports of entry in and around Vancouver – the airport; the harbour, and some of the road crossings between Washington and British Columbia as well as the international postal station.
I spend much of my time watching this show shaking my head at some of the things – and excuses – I see people trying at Canada Customs. From watching this show now for several weeks, it appears some people, especially from the Orient, insist upon trying to bring in suitcases filled with foodstuffs, foodstuffs they didn’t bother declaring. Minimum penalty for this is confiscation of the goods and an $800 fine. Another tactic that students from the Orient appear to use is flying into Canada to study without bothering to get the proper paperwork before leaving home (this is a real case of “don’t leave home without it”), expecting to apply for it once they arrive on Canadian soil. Every single one of these “students” has been on the next flight home. Point of interest: If you’ve been convicted of an offence in the US, and there is a comparable offence in Canadian law, you will not be admissible to Canada.
I’m not certain whether this next lady truly didn’t know the requirements for visitors to Canada, or just thought she could live off the system. She flew from Paris to Vancouver to meet her boyfriend. She had no funds available to her and planned on staying in a hostel. It turned out her boyfriend was homeless and living in a shelter. After some investigation – and being cursed out in French – the lady was put on the next flight back to Paris.
The land crossings are where I really ask myself whether some of the things are done from ignorance of Canadian law, or simple arrogance that because they are American, they can do what they want. I don’t know how many people I’ve seen arrested for smuggling drugs into Canada because they have a medical use marijuana card from California. That card has no legal effect in Canada and bringing your own supply into Canada is illegal.
The one that I really have to consider arrogance was on one of last night’s shows. A man was at one of the border crossings and was pulled aside for secondary inspection. When he entered the office, he appeared quite upset. When questioned he said “I expected to just drive through.” He seemed even more upset when the Customs Agent told him that he was a foreign national and subject to inspection. The officer later further added that entry to Canada was a privilege, not a right and subject to certain criteria. He was eventually cleared for entry, but not until after a thorough search of his vehicle.
One thing Americans do seem to be very conscientious about is declaring their firearms. Considering the great differences between American and Canadian gun laws, I’m impressed by that fact.
Mail arriving from certain countries is automatically subject to examination. Drugs have been found in everything from picture frames to wedding invitations. Such discoveries are turned over to the RCMP for further investigation.
Another time where people feel they won’t get caught is bringing money into the country. People can bring in all they like, but if it’s over $10,000, it must be declared to Customs. Failure to declare excess funds will result in Customs taking the money and issuing a fine as well.
Canadian travellers returning from other countries don’t get an easier ride than visitors. They are subject to the same stringent examinations as every other arriving person. One of the more interesting (and weird) cases here was the Canadian citizen returning after two years in Thailand. Among the things he brought back was a toilet. Can’t remember what reason he gave Customs, but after an examination of his unusual souvenir, he was welcomed home.
As I said, I’m not sure if some of the things portrayed on this show are the product of people’s ignorance or their arrogance.