Friday, March 27, 2009

History of the border: Get a passport

"It's a real border. Get used to it," new Yank Homeland Security czar Janet Napolitano was reported as saying the other day to all the Canadian lobbyists pleading for special exemptions from American border controls.

Today the Globe & Mail is talking sense on the same topic. To hell with these "enhanced" drivers' licences the provinces are proposing, for which we will pay extra fees so the Americans can invade the privacy of travellers. Foreign borders are a national responsibility, not the purview of the provincial Motor Vehicles department. If you want to cross international borders, get a passport. And stop pretending the 49th parallel is not really a border.

I'm broadly sympathetic to free trade principles, but what always grated about the Canadian FTA proponents back in the late 1980s was their naked ambition, not so much to trade with the United States as to see American rules and (de)regulations imposed on Canadian practice; in short, to pretend the border was not there.

It was always a pipe dream. The FTA was never that broad. George Bush and his crew looked thuggish when they took the border seriously, but that's because they were thugs. They are gone, but the border remains, and it's still real. Get a passport, or stay home.
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