Why a
Canadian Vacation
May not be a good idea at this time 11-03-01

I arrived at the US-Canadian border in the early afternoon.  The customs official proceeded with the usual questions, asking the nature of the visit.  I said I was on vacation and had the notion take a few days to drive part of Canada and take a few photographs.  He asked if I had any alcohol, tobacco, or firearms.  I replied I had none, and was told that since it was my first visit to Canada, I would have to go through customs. He also told me at this time to be sure all my cameras were turned off because
Canadians were very concerned about their privacy and did not allow themselves to be photographed without their knowledge. 

I pulled my vehicle over to the designated parking area and proceeded to stand in front
of the vehicle as instructed, as customs officials asked "is the camera on?" 
"No", I replied. 
The inspection proceeded.

The inspector opened each suitcase and duffel bag, examining the contents.  Twice during the search, another official came up to the customs agent and gave him instructions, whispering in his ear.  This seemed to spur him on to do a more thorough search.  After finding none of what I had already stated that I did not have, the official finally removed a spiral notebook from one of the bags and read it carefully page by page.  This was nothing more than a scribbled, dis-organized nootebook, a record of some calls made to me by various people, along with some personal notes.  The official finally became bored with it and handed over the yellow paper that I was to take inside. 

Inside the building was a counter with three windows such as tellers use at a bank.  The official behind one of the windows motioned to me and I took the yellow paper to him.  He  proceeded with all kinds of rapid fire questions, wanting to know what was the nature of the visit, how long was I planning to stay, why did my comments to the first official, indicating a few days of vacation differ from the vague one or two week vacation I just mentioned to him.  I replied that I was not on a fixed schedule and did not haveplans to leave on a specific day.  His questions became more detailed and came quickly:  Was I visiting anyone, if so what is their address, their phone number.  He left the counter at that time and returned in about 10 minutes.  He looked at the camera I had been carrying and asked if it was a camera and when I said yes, he asked, 
"Is it on?" 
I said no and then he proceeded with the interrogation.  Was the person I was visiting  a love interest?
How did we meet?   He wanted to know if I decided to stay two weeks, did I have enough money to 
last that long.  Then he wanted to know exactly how much money I did have.  When I said I did not carry very much cash and proceeded to show my credit cards, the female official at the next window replied that credit cards were of no use as there was no way of knowing how much balance was on the cards.  I asked if the cards were good in Canada, and again the reply was, yes, but again, there was no way to know how much  was already charged on the cards.  They wanted to know if I had any cash, and I proceeded to show them about $500 US, the questions seemed superfleous and brought visions of robbers waiting on the Canaian side, having been informed by customs of what cash I was carrying.  Then he wanted to know if I owned my own home, how much was it worth, what was my income, what other assets did I have.  He then dissappeared once again, presumably to get
further harassment instructions.

At this point, the wife of one of the men in the other group who were being processed at the ajaent window, said to her husband, who was getting frustrated with the questions he was being asked, said, "Count your blessings, dear, you should hear what they are asking her!" 
Some of their group were looking on in disbelief and a few made some aside remarks which were unintelligible. 
"If only I had short hair and drove a late model car, instead of a '91 truck, I might not look so supicious."  I said. 
And with that, the female customs agent who had been processing the other group, stamped off their yellow sheet and they were allowed to leave, wishing me "good luck" as they left.

My customs official returned after about 10 minutes:
"Is that thing turned on?" he asked, pointing to the camera.
I said no and he proceeded to show me the immigration paper and explained that since my finances were so limited, I only had enough money to stay in Canada two weeks and that I would need to report to customs by Nov 17, 2001.  While I asked him what formula was used to place the restriction of two weeks, a group of six men in their twenties arrived with a yellow paper.  My official waved them over. 
"I recognize these guys." he said, stamping their yellow ;papper off with a loud thump.  He then
proceeded to explain once again that I just did not have enough money to stay any longer and stamped my yellow paper.  I gave up and said, 
"Gee whiz, you know so much about me and I don't even know your name." 
To which he replied:
"We don't have names here, only bage numbers." ,turning slightly aside, flashing his badge #0918.

This is how my Canadian vacation started.  I drove off, thinking, 
"At least they can't screw up the weather or the scenery, which is the real reason I came up here in the first place."

Nafta-A Big Sham

Weren't we told how nafta would lead to better trade, more jobs, prosperity, if only we would stop
charging tarriffs, duties, and taxes on imports?  And didn't the US, Mexico, and Canada quickly ratify this same trade agreement, eager to participate in the new found riches promised by the folks who only wanted free trade accross borders? 

Well, sure looks like the little guy is getting the shaft again!  Seems a book and video was ordered from the US for the total amount of $45 US.  The order was shipped via Fed Ex two day delivery and arrived five days later, having been through customs.  Seems Canadian Customs and Revenue Canada slapped the customer with $14 in taxes and duties.  When asked "Whatever happened to NAFTA?"  The answer was "we don't know."  So just who is benefiting from all this "free trade?"