Sunday, August 9, 2009

 

SMARTEN-UP!

Perhaps it is just that one has to be born within spitting distance of the border to understand the clout some communities may have against America's obsessive compulsive security issues...if only the politicians would help.

Granted that 60% of Canadians live within 100 Kilometers of the border with the United-States, but in many border communities our American neighbour is dwarfed by the economic clout of its much larger Canadian counterpart. Whether it is in Van Buren or Madawaska, Maine; Massena, New York; Port Huron, Michigan or Point Roberts, Washington just to name a few; residents there count on business from Canada to exist.

From a Canadian perspective I guess our politicians who matter most weren't born that close to Uncle Sam's shadow. Either that or they are just too busy trying to pacify recent American administrations, and obviously blinded by the clout some border communities could have with even a minuscule measure of encouragement from Ottawa.

For instance in Sarnia, Ontario across the border from Port Huron, Michigan, they can't even get an acknowledgement from the Prime Minister's office about a "Peeping Tom" helium balloon which has been watching the community from the other side. It isn't just an irritant...it is a downright insult to the once friendly relations between Canada and the United States.

There are flying drones over the Great Lakes and the Dakotas, now this! Late in July a private American company, Sierra Nevada Corporation, launched a 50 foot helium balloon equipped with a $1-million camera to watch activity over the border. The American firm, based in Sparks, Nevada, is looking to impress Homeland Security down south and trying to sell its technology to the Obama Administration. Locals in Sarnia have several different names for the balloon...some less flattering than others. It is offensive, clearly it should be, as it transmits photos from the Canadian side to American authorities...none of which, locals conclude, are any of Homeland Security's business. Though Sarnia's mayor, and the local Member of Parliament have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper; It seems they can't even get an acknowledgement about the validity of their complaint.

The fears of Mayor Mike Bradley and M-P Brian Masse are that if Canadians don't express their opposition, America's obsessive border surveillance will continue to escalate and relations between our two countries will only erode further.

If national politicians won't heed the danger, Sarnia residents are only too happy to oblige. On Saturday (August 15) they plan a cheeky protest in the city's Centennial Park. So far more than one thousand people have signed-up for the "Moon The Balloon" protest. Lily white Canadian "arses" pointed south may be a little risque. It's unclear whether Mayor Bradley will be there in the buff as it were. But, their M-P, Mr. Masse, says:..."people are entitled to do what they want in a free, open democratic society." I interpret that to mean no one is likely to be charged with public nudity by local authorities.

Regardless, and be that as it may: It is a whole new modern twist on demonstrating friendship across the world's longest undefended border. Maybe it will catch on?

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