Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.28.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Passports? We don't need no stinkin' passports!

On June 1, U.S. Customs required all Canadians entering the United States to require a passport or special driver's license. Now don't you just wish Canada had something up its sleeve too...?

The scene: Canada Customs, Stanstead, Quebec. The time: Saturday, mid-afternoon. The participants: driver, male; Canada Customs officer, female.

"Good afternoon, sir. Where are you from?"

"I'm from Montpelier, Vermont."

"You know you're pronouncing that wrong, eh?"

"I'm sorry?"

"It's not 'Mont-peel-ee-errrr.' It's 'Mon-pell-ee-yay.' You know: French."

"Uhh, oka-a-ay..."

"You do realize we speak French here in Canada, right?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Because if you're coming into our country, you should be able to speak our language."

"I-- I'll manage."

"What's the purpose of your visit?"

"I'm going to Montreal to attend the Jazz Festival."

"Jazz, eh? Are you a communist?"


"Like that Latin music too, I bet. You know, Cuban...?"

"Sure, but..."

"How long are you going to be in Canada, comrade?"

"Who? Wha'? Er, just the weekend."

"And will you be meeting your communist contacts at that time?"

"No! I mean... what? What are you talking about? Don't you know communism's dead?"

"I'll ask the questions, sir."

"I'm just saying -"

"Sir, I'll appreciate you not using your Al Qaeda interrogation techniques on me."

"Al Qaeda! Do I look like I'm Al Qaeda?"

"Can't say. We don't racially profile here in Canada. We dig that whole multiculturalism thing. Suffice to say that every non-resident is a potential risk to the safety and sanctity of the Dominion of Canada. Do you know what a dominion is, sir?"

"I have no idea. But I swear to you, I'm just a music lover."

"So was the shoe bomber. What are you bringing with you into Canada?"

"Just a change of clothes and a few personal items."

"Any alcohol, tobacco or firearms?"


"Come on, no firearms?"


"Seriously. Not even a little one? You must have something. Let me see it. I won't tell anyone."

"Really, I don't have any."

"Mace, knives, bazookas, blunt instruments?"


"Any Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, Sno Balls or other Hostess cake products?"

"Am I not allowed those?"

"Sir, Canada has the right to protect its domestic snacking cake industry. Did you know that the Vachon company alone contributes $2.2 million annually to Canada's GDP and $3.1 million to the dental industry?"

"I didn't know that."

"I bet there's a lot you didn't know about Canada, kind of like your Director of Homeland Security, Janet Neapolitan."


"Excuse me?"

"Her name's Janet Napolitano."

"I think you mean, 'Janet Not-Much-Going-On-O.'"

"Really, this is too much. Can I go?"

"Sure. As soon as I see your passport."

"I - but - but I thought I didn't need a passport to enter Canada."

"Ah, mon cher (that's French, by the way), maybe you do, maybe you don't. We don't have the stern border rules like you Americans. Here, it's up to the whim of the agent on duty. One day I might ask you for a passport, the next I might ask you who would win in a bare-knuckle fight, the Friendly Giant or Bruno Gerussi?"

"Who? Bruno? Wha'? I'm so confused. I just want to go to Montreal. I'm a good person, I'm an honest American. Why are you doing this?"

"Because it's not going to be passing through Customs as if there's no border any more. If you want to do that, I suggest you drive about five kilometres east and walk across through the woods. Now, you have a good day, eh?"