Wednesday, June 2, 2010


As a regular traveller across the international border which separates Canada and the USA, I am chagrined (as many in my generation) over the so-called "thickening" of the thousands of mile of water and land frontier between our two countries.

The blame rests squarely with the sense of paranoia and fear in the United-States in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2011. Though our countries remain on the best of friendship terms, and the world's greatest trading relationship persists; what was once a relatively seamless undefended border, the world's longest, nowadays (on occasion)cloaks a style closer to that of the infamous "Check Point Charlie" in the wall separating Berlin; or the notorious DMZ which still splits to two halves of the Korean Peninsula.

Canadians though persist: Quite simply our relationship is so inter-dependant that we may have no other choice. In the last week for instance, in Nova Scotia's Capital City, Halifax, a tribute was paid to the more than 200 American prisoners of war who died while incarcerated on the east coast during the "War of 1812". Just yesterday, the former two-term Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, was guest of honour in Moncton at the "Atlantic (Canada) Institute for Marketing Studies." Lest I digress: The son of George H. Walker Bush; and some might suggest somewhat unlike his younger brother George (Dubya) Bush; the former Governor is a recognized leader and advocate for reform in education.

Canada and Mexico share this North American continent with our much more powerful, strong and populous American neighbour. The Mexicans have their own issues with the United-States. None perhaps more recently contentious than Arizona's decision to clamp-down on a perception of illegal immigrants based almost entirely on skin colour and / or language spoken. And, as recently illustrated in Montreal our two countries commiserate, shrug, and deal with America's occasional intransigence. In the recent case; AeroMexico flight 006, grounded in Canada after being refused permission to fly over the United-States on a non-stop flight between Paris and Mexico City. For the time being (at least) everyone on the Mexican side has been quiet about the ravages of America's massive oil spill deep underneath the inland sea which is shared by Mexico and the USA.

But; on another waterway the tensions in the relationship appear to have taken-on a whole new dimension: The International Falcon Reservoir, a man made lake created in the 1950's when American engineers erected a dam on the Rio Grande River has become "Wild West" on the Mexican/USA border. The 99-Thousand acre lake has now been dotted with a picket line of large concrete beacons to mark the international border with Mexico. In a most recent twist crews of outlaws in a small armada of banged-up skiffs and high-powered boats launched from the Mexican shore have ambushed American bass anglers from the Texas side casting bait over their favourite spots. The "Pirates" claim to be Mexican Federales(Police)and they put a substantial damper on the annual Zapata, Texas "Memorial Day" bass fishing tournament last weekend...I was reminded of Ray Stevens' 1974 novelty hit song "The Streak" over the weekend (Yep, Ethel, I saw him nekked as a jaybird) when the "Washington Post" quoted Texas bass fisherman, Richard Drake: "Yep, I saw em' and I saw they were machine guns. They were that close, they were 15 yards away from me. I was scared."

Back here on the northern border, America's Homeland Security is known to fly un-manned camera equipped "drones" thousands of feet over the imaginary border which is constituted by the Great Lakes. In the summer of 2009 thousands of Canadians showed-up in a Sarnia, Ontario park to "moon" a camera equipped tethered balloon monitoring the border from the American side. We're Canadian, and we're best friends. Though we will never arm our side of the border...It sure would be nice if tensions eased-up once in a while in deference to the friendship we share.

1 comment:

  1. Canadian Customs "border guards" are now arming themselves and the RCMP are bringing back the infamous sub machine gun from the 70s. We're ready, "True North Strong and Free". Heh!