President's Message Issue 43

Summer 2002 CSANews Issue 43  |  Posted date : Apr 06, 2007.Back to list

In addition to a gavel, I think that the CSA should provide a pair of roller skates to every new director of the association.

As a "snowbird," or "winter Texan" as I am called, a suggested proclamation by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in April was upsetting. As president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, it was ominous!

Although INS border officials already have ultimate power at the border, the proposed regulation added even more authority to restrict our travel without possibility of appeal. Currently, a Canadian may stay in the United States for up to one year. The proposed regulation reduces the maximum stay to six months and states that an inspector can arbitrarily cut a traveller's stay in the U.S. to a "default" 30-day period ­ without having to answer to a supervisor or anyone "higher up." A longer stay would be at the discretion of the agent, and any appeal of the process would have to be done while one was in the United States.

We worked diligently for weeks (it felt like years), contacting foreign affairs, sending an appeal to the INS and notifying our friends in the south to obtain their lobby support.

When the call came on June 18 for our executive director, Heather Nicolson-Morrison and I to appear the very next day before the House Small Business Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, we were ecstatic! This appearance was arranged by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. As you will read in the Special Report that has been sent to all of our members, our visit was very successful.

We received a gracious welcome from almost everyone there. Even my introduction by Chairman Manzullo made us feel special and almost all of the testimony was positive. INS Commissioner James Ziglar was asked to prepare, with our input, a letter stating that Canadians (who were eligible to cross into the United States) would not be affected by the proposed regulation. This letter was to be designed and delivered to the CSA within two weeks.

Chairman Manzullo had a complete and unwavering grasp of the situation and was exceptionally supportive of all travellers. His comment of "These rules do not apply to the Canadians. I just hope we got that message out," was truly music to our ears.

One of our staunchest allies in this victory was the Honourable Jeb Bush and his wonderful team in the Florida governor's office. Our heartfelt thanks to all of our American supporters in the many states who assisted us ­ we're looking forward to enjoying many more winters with you.

In the days following our appearance on Capitol Hill, the CSA was invited to attend a session of the Ontario legislature. Ontario's Minister of Citizenship and Minister Responsible for Seniors, the Honourable Carl DeFaria, introduced both myself and CSA executive director Heather Nicolson-Morrison to the House. In his introduction, he stated that the CSA had been to Washington and that "these impressive ladies" were to be recognized and applauded for their efforts on behalf of all Canadian travellers. The ruling government House members delivered a standing ovation. Minister DeFaria was very kind and extremely friendly ­ we spoke for a few minutes afterwards and I look forward to a longer meeting with him, on our many snowbird issues, in the very near future.

September is just around the corner and I am hoping to meet many of you at our Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations. I will be attending each of the sessions and I look forward to meeting as many of our members as possible. Please read CSA Days on page 38 for location and date details.

Our annual renewal campaign is underway and by now, you should have received your information in the mail. We strongly urge those who have not yet renewed to contact us, either by mail, telephone or e-mail, to activate your membership. The association is undertaking many new and exciting initiatives and, to be a part of them, you must renew your commitment. If you have friends who have not yet joined, please encourage them to do so ­ we are working on behalf of all travellers and we need their support.

Your encouragement over the past few months has been truly appreciated by the board and staff members. Knowing that our CSA members are behind us in our endeavours is truly heartening and we look forward to celebrating many more successes together.