ELECTRIC GRAPEVINE: 49th Paranoid
Mayor Brian Taylor’s comments regarding the surliness of various CBSA members this week is something which many of us locals past and present probably agree. While I call a number CBSA employees friend, working with them in the past in Vancouver, I have heard of a high number of unnecessarily rough visits on the way home to Grand Forks from the United States.
The position of authority some border guards wield is something I’ve long had concerns about, but it’s not just me. For a while there, I would hear concerning stories from an especially unexpected demographic. Women in their early 50s seem to all have a horror story or two after crossing back into their own country. I’ve touched on it before, but obviously from what I’m hearing from friends and family, it’s still an issue locally.
Now we could all gaze at the blue sky and assume that profiling doesn’t happen but we’d be kidding ourselves. Don’t believe me? Go throw on a Muslim niqab and start the stopwatch before crossing the border. Be sure to text me before your cell phone is pre-emptively detonated prior to the inevitable strip search; and make sure you didn’t purchase any perishables.
So let’s acknowledge that profiling takes place and look at why the heck our local women are running into problems. Were any attacks on the homeland in the past 20 years by 52-year-old white women sporting four-litre milk jugs? Doubtful. And not only that but were the attacks against Canada? That’s not plutonium boys, its two percent, put the safety back on your gun.
In my recent travels I was searched for storing my $1500 tripod in a protective case as it could resemble a gun case.
Even after demonstrating how a tripod works to one member, I still had to convince him it wasn’t a weapon of mass destruction. “I don’t see why it has to be in this,” said the guard before hurling it down a gauntlet filled with 80-pound cases that smashed into mine immediately. I bet Muammar Gaddafi is treated better on an afternoon stroll through the streets of Sirte.
“You see the bottom of that stool that supports your overweight ass all day? The tripod is the same idea only this supports something useful.”
It’s fairly obvious I’m all for unfiltered opinions, so it was with great amusement that I read Taylor’s comments because when you’re universally known as the “Marijuana Mayor”, it takes serious cojones to call out those who are erratically manning our national boundary.
Are we taking bets on how many “random” checks he will receive in the next year? I can safely guess the threat level on his next visit will sit somewhere between Cheech and Chong and Anyone Bin Laden.
Somewhere in this discussion is a middle ground where plainly innocuous threats aren’t treated like a Grateful Dead tour bus passenger at the border while obvious threats aren’t coming and going as they please. A lighter touch and some general common sense with a dose of throttling back on the badge-fueled egos could certainly pave the way to a smoother experience for locals and visitors alike.