Monday, August 23, 2010

Canada's Customs Inquisition

(Lysiane Gagnon — Globe & Mail)

‘Going through customs is the only moment when a Canadian can imagine he lives in a police state’

When Marie-Claude Lortie, a food critic for La Presse, returned home from a family trip to France and Italy, she told the customs officer she was carrying more bottles of wine than the limit of two per adult. She was expecting to be asked for the receipts and charged for the taxes. But instead of being treated like a law-abiding citizen, she and her whole family – her husband and three young exhausted children – were subjected to an aggressive search. Looking for the few bottles of Merlot and Sangiovese, the gloved officer rampaged through panties, stuffed animals and dirty jeans as if the family were guilty of illicit trafficking.

When Ms. Lortie wrote about this in La Presse, her inbox was flooded with e-mails from readers who’d suffered the same experience. Each time they declared something over the limit, their baggage would automatically go through what’s called “a secondary search.” Many readers confessed that, at some point, they stopped declaring anything and just tried their luck. Read more here.