Canadian Border officials make a bad first impression

Gimme a break! And then Go Cry a River!  Canada owes you NOTHING. It’s just like those ethnic groups (talibans) who immigrate here and walk around as if Canada owes them everything.

You think Canadian border is bad? Go  try the USA and see what you get.

I’ve seen and heard all sorts of US border patrol stories how they treat those with different ethnicities horribly, so this isn’t just a Canada thing. And besides the border patrol officers do not work for Tourism Canada, they’re not there to make a good first impression, they’re there to let illegals in and the talibans to come into the country as it’s a safe haven.  Seriously though, they’re not there be all lovey dovey. Those who complained probably were giving attitude or were being disrespectful.

I’ve traveled a lot and not once have they been rude to me, they asked stupid questions but that’s cause they have nothing better to do. It also has to do with me not eating, farting, snorting in front of them. If they want good treatment go to Israel, customs in that country don’t even say anything, they just stamped my passport.

Want a kleenex?

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.

She said the officer told her to, “Stop eating those pretzels. That’s very rude when we come on board.”

The writer said that’s when the trouble began. The agent accused the elderly couple and their 50-year-old friend of several things, including being on drugs or drunk. That was too much for America trio; they caught the next train back to Rome, NY, forgoing the trip to Toronto they had planned for a year.

“We will never encourage others to travel by rail to Canada,” the woman wrote.

Travellers also complained of being scolded like schoolchildren, having their cars and personal belongings ripped apart and thrown helter-skelter. But it’s the personal degradation that appears to bother people the most.

In another case, not having a job landed a Canadian man in hot water.

“He was as asked if he was unemployed and why he was not looking for a job and what was the problem why he hadn’t found a job … I don’t think being unemployed is a crime … but he (the officer) made us feel it was,” said his partner in her complaint letter of September 2005, after crossing back into Canada at Sarnia.

When a vacation-bound American family showed up at the Pigeon River crossing southwest of Thunder Bay in August 2008 without all the necessary identification, the Canadian border officer lashed out, according to the complaint: “I guess you didn’t realize you were coming to (a) whole other country … I guess you just didn’t give a s—t, did you?”

The complainant was backed up by a senior CBSA official who said the officer “admitted that his comments and behaviour on that day were uncalled for .”

Senior CBSA officials typically send a form letter in response to the complaints, thanking the correspondent for the opportunity to respond, and expressing hope that “any future encounters with representatives of the Canada Border Services Agency will be more pleasant and without incident.”

But in some cases, the officer will be reprimanded, or at least spoken to.

Another traveller wrote about a seniors’ bus tour which crossed into Canada at the Thousand Islands Bridge last September. Border officers hauled them off the bus so a sniffer dog could examine them and their luggage.

“We stood in line and received taunts from a man directing the dog. He said, ‘How’s that … did that scare you?’ …. He was enjoying it as a spectator’s sport,” states a complaint from one of the passengers.

The complaints also included the following:

 “As a Canadian, I was appalled at the attitude, tone and disrespectful manner in which this officer performed (or did not perform) her duties. To put it bluntly, she was a bully on a power trip,” wrote a Canadian resident who returned on a bus from a three-day shopping to New York State.

  “‘You’re coming into my country and that’s how you show your respect? By putting on your makeup? (again huffing noises and a look of disgust),” recalled a female passenger, recounting how she was berated by a female border officer for touching up her makeup as they pulled up to the booth.

 “When I hear the agents’ plea to carry firearms in their capacity, it quite honestly frightens me to think of this agent having a weapon available to her …,” writes a woman, a daily commuter from Windsor to Detroit, whose transgression was not stating the exact number of hours she’s been in the U.S.