Special Guet Columnist - Michael Coren

Summer 2009 CSANews Issue 71  |  Posted date : Jul 21, 2009.Back to list

It just so happened that in late May, just as Canadians were in a panic about obtaining passports so as to be able to cross the United States' border, Presidents Bush and Clinton were on a Toronto stage together. These two men - who had ruled their country for the past generation - were asked about the new need for America's best friends to have passports for entry, and both replied that they had no idea this was the case.

Which speaks volumes about American insularity and ignorance towards Canada. Mind you, before we complain, we ought to ask if we would be any better informed about a relatively minor nation on our doorstep if we were the world's only superpower. Whatever the answer, Canadians need a passport to enter the U.S. and Americans need one to enter Canada. Which is mildly inconvenient, but rather easily rectified. Get a passport!

Yes, I know that the new arrangement will have a detrimental effect on business either side of the border, at least for the short term but, in the name of all that is diplomatic, there is nothing so difficult about filling in a form and having to pay $80 every five years. It also means that you can travel to other countries because, according to informed sources, there are indeed other nations beyond North America.

The immediacy of the quick trip over is lost, but for those who live on the border, it's easy to keep the new passport in the car and for day-trippers to Niagara or other border spots, plan ahead a little. There's a great deal to moan about in this world but, surely, not this. Washington has a perfect right to introduce this new procedure and we'll have forgotten all about it before long. It's truly astounding to see people who routinely bash America now becoming apoplectic when they're suddenly not allowed to simply walk in to the country they apparently so despise.

What is irritating, however, is the partial if not complete pretext on which the new policy is based. Politicians, even at the highest level of American public life - including the vice-president and the head of Homeland Security - have at various times stated that some of the 9/11 mass murderers entered the United States from Canada. Even though the latter in particular later withdrew the comment and publicly apologized, it is staggering that such a fundamental error could be made by such important people about such a profound issue.

Those sadistic killers (not militant, not extremists, not any other politically correct and fatuous vocabulary) were allowed freedom and access by American security agencies and not Canadian police officers. It was the Americans who failed to protect their own people and thus failed in a precious mandate. I say this not, God forbid, to gloat, but to explain. Canada has clean hands in that grotesque story.

Even those of us who love the United States and its achievements should be prepared to admit that social overreaction and political hysteria are as American as apple pie and medical insurance. It's the other border, the one along the country in which they speak Spanish, that is the challenge for the Americans and not the one where French-speaking Mounties ride polar bears to hockey games all day. We're the good guys, the allies, the ones who are fighting harder than anyone alongside you in Afghanistan. Mind you, it was on Fox TV that some joker said Canada didn't have an army at all. On the day when another young soldier was killed. Ask us for a passport, but give us the respect we deserve