CBSA Officers are not very nice!

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Roconne
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CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Roconne » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:57 pm

OTTAWA—Munching on a pretzel usually doesn't lead to an inquisition and accusations of drug use.

But it can if you're dealing with a Canadian border officer, according to documents obtained by the Star.

The episode is just one of the complaints filed with the Canada Border Services Agency by travellers visiting and returning to the country who say they are left with a negative impression and, in some cases, traumatized by their experience with the officers.

While countless visitors and returning Canadians are met with courteous, professional service at land crossings and airports, others complain of autocratic behaviour and humiliating treatment by CBSA officers.

The complaints, obtained by the Star through an Access to Information request, include accounts of officers cursing and yelling at Canadians and visitors, and threatening them with sniffer dogs or arrest for seemingly minor infractions - or for even having the temerity to ask a question.

There were 1,421 complaints filed with the CBSA in 2008-09, down slightly from 1,607 the previous year.

“We felt harassed and belittled by what happened,” wrote one American woman, who said her initial crime was to eat pretzels while a border official was talking to her husband on a Toronto-bound Amtrak train in Niagara Falls on June 7, 2007.

She said the officer told her to, “Stop eating those pretzels. That's very rude when we come on board.”

The writer said that's when the trouble began. The agent accused the elderly couple and their 50-year-old friend of several things, including being on drugs or drunk. That was too much for America trio; they caught the next train back to Rome, NY, forgoing the trip to Toronto they had planned for a year.

“We will never encourage others to travel by rail to Canada,” the woman wrote.

Travellers also complained of being scolded like schoolchildren, having their cars and personal belongings ripped apart and thrown helter-skelter. But it's the personal degradation that appears to bother people the most.

In another case, not having a job landed a Canadian man in hot water.

“He was as asked if he was unemployed and why he was not looking for a job and what was the problem why he hadn't found a job … I don't think being unemployed is a crime … but he (the officer) made us feel it was,” said his partner in her complaint letter of September 2005, after crossing back into Canada at Sarnia.

When a vacation-bound American family showed up at the Pigeon River crossing southwest of Thunder Bay in August 2008 without all the necessary identification, the Canadian border officer lashed out, according to the complaint: “I guess you didn't realize you were coming to (a) whole other country … I guess you just didn't give a s—t, did you?”

The complainant was backed up by a senior CBSA official who said the officer “admitted that his comments and behaviour on that day were uncalled for .”

Senior CBSA officials typically send a form letter in response to the complaints, thanking the correspondent for the opportunity to respond, and expressing hope that “any future encounters with representatives of the Canada Border Services Agency will be more pleasant and without incident.”

But in some cases, the officer will be reprimanded, or at least spoken to.

Another traveller wrote about a seniors' bus tour which crossed into Canada at the Thousand Islands Bridge last September. Border officers hauled them off the bus so a sniffer dog could examine them and their luggage.

“We stood in line and received taunts from a man directing the dog. He said, ‘How's that … did that scare you?' …. He was enjoying it as a spectator's sport,” states a complaint from one of the passengers.

The complaints also included the following:

• “As a Canadian, I was appalled at the attitude, tone and disrespectful manner in which this officer performed (or did not perform) her duties. To put it bluntly, she was a bully on a power trip,” wrote a Canadian resident who returned on a bus from a three-day shopping to New York State.

• “‘You're coming into my country and that's how you show your respect? By putting on your makeup? (again huffing noises and a look of disgust),'' recalled a female passenger, recounting how she was berated by a female border officer for touching up her makeup as they pulled up to the booth.

• “When I hear the agents' plea to carry firearms in their capacity, it quite honestly frightens me to think of this agent having a weapon available to her …,” writes a woman, a daily commuter from Windsor to Detroit, whose transgression was not stating the exact number of hours she's been in the U.S.
http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/799504--border-officials-make-a-bad-first-impression?bn=1

Guess we should just go back to being Tax collectors and stop traumatizing these poor travelers with all these invasive questions. :banghead: :banghead:

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Ruffian
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Ruffian » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:17 pm

It sounds as though there is more to the story than people just being upset about questions. I agree with them, some of that behaviour is rude and uncalled for, if it comes unprovoked.
Ive crossed the border by rail without any problems, but if I recieved some of those comments I might have had something to say about it.

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Defendo » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:35 pm

As a person that takes the occassional road trip south of the border I have had to deal with Canadian and US border guards quite often. I have had a few experiences which left a sour taste in my mouth due to rude and sometimes stupid guards, but you run into that anywhere...restaurant servers, sales people, bank clerks, public servants etc. There are always a few bad apples that ruin everything for the professional ones. The vast majority of my encounters with border services from both countries has been positive. I don't see how this article is news worthy. I should write in talking about my last hotel stay and the "awesome" attitude I received from the front desk clerk...I could write a fucking expose on that fucker.

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby SD_SC1 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:21 am

Ruffian wrote:It sounds as though there is more to the story than people just being upset about questions. I agree with them, some of that behaviour is rude and uncalled for, if it comes unprovoked.
Ive crossed the border by rail without any problems, but if I recieved some of those comments I might have had something to say about it.

I have a more pleasant time entering the US than I do coming back into Canada.
Sed libera nos a malo.

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El Conejo
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby El Conejo » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:39 am

Wow, now THAT is journalism. Pulitzer prize; here we come!

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby gotchya » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:42 am

SD_SC1 wrote:I have a more pleasant time entering the US than I do coming back into Canada.

Put yourself in our shoes, we don't want to let you back in, but we have to.
Last edited by gotchya on Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."-Burke, Edmund
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gotchya
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby gotchya » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:43 am

I think the following post, illustrates pretty much the attitude of most travelers and explains a lot.
IrishCanadian wrote:Mr./Mrs. "I Live in a Magical Bubble World" Canadian who thought it was common practice to just flat out lie to customs, and now that they're actually being searched (oh the horror! What harrassment! What fine example of our police state!" :roll: , which then yields:

No, they aren't terrorists or gun runners, just arrogant self-righteous ivory tower living two faced goofballs, who like to think of themselves as straight edged and law abiding, but drive 140km/h to and from the cookie cutter shopping mall, talking on their blackberry's and bribing their spoiled rotten screaming children with fatty candy and DVD players instead of interacting with them, praying that the kid will be quiet long enough so they can buy $200 worth of shit they could have bought in Canada, but are so bored with their lives that the best thing they could think of doing was driving for 2 hours to consume something else, and oh don't forget, so they can tell all their equally boring friends back in Canada about their "adventure", the "great deals" that they got , (even though they saved maybe $20 on the actual items they bought, and spent $80 on gas and $100 on meals) ,who if they have any kind of intelligence realize this fact and then try to make up for the added expenses they incurred by trying to lie to not have to pay $20 in tax at the border, by doing defining goofballs things like wearing 3 shirts, stuffing their spare tire well with shitty $10 chinese t-shirts, putting a 24 of beer in the engine compartment, and hiding receipts in their kids car seats.

Causing me to waste inordinant amounts of time sorting through these retarded shenanigans because the people are acting like they are going to crap out the biggest swallowed load of dope you ever did see, but no they are just scared because their neighbour Mr.Douchebag says its so easy to lie to customs because they are idiots, and they can't comprehend how their douchebag neighbour could be smarter, or more successful at something then them. No hard feelings about knowingly violating a federal statute, or at undermining the tax base that they all love to draw from whenever possible, or dragging me away from looking for the guns that scare them more than anything.

But most importantly, they then glean how stupid CBSA is because all they do is hassle people about taxes, instead of catching real criminals, and proceed to scurry on back to their identical homes with their identical purchases, to write a letter to the editor or comment on CBC to talk about how I was intimidating because i was wearing a gun, that this kind of harrassment of law abiding Canadians has to stop and the border has to focus on the real problems,and that we should be trained better so we can tell the diference, because it's very easy don't you know?

Oh and that they will of course be contesting the two traffic tickets they recieved from those quota meeting, money grabbing , lazy OPP officers who gave them tickets for driving like a fucking smacktard both ways from their epic little adventure.

So to all those people Image.

PS. Then they all stand around slacked jawed and full of sudden respect when someone gets extracted from a vehicle at PIL and brought by them on their way to a comfy cell.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."-Burke, Edmund
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Punisher-One
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Punisher-One » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:58 am

Notice anything in common.....that every single one of those complaints the "traveler" was the one in the wrong or behaving rudely?
People really need to see the absolute poor behavior, discourteous treatment, and generally absolute idiocy we see on a daily basis to truly realize how baseless these complaints really are. I have seen one or two situations in my two years where an Officer was rude for no reason and I was sure to pull that Officer aside and say the old "what's with that?" Other than that for some reason people seem to think my job description includes "putting up with rudeness and profanity without saying or doing anything"....no sir...it does not.
Funnily enough I have never heard about someone complaining who approached with respect, answered all questions truthfully, and was pleasant.....oh yeah...because those people don't have a problem because I don't have to point out their behavior like they are a six year old.

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Stinger
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Stinger » Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:11 am

I've never had a negative issue with Cdn customs on my way back in. Just a little too lenient in my opinion.

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby GoodWitness » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:50 am

We cross the border maybe 6-7 times a year, usually it's because we're on vacation (driving or by air) or lately it's to take my daughter to yet another Irish dance competition, maybe once a year it's shopping for back to school stuff. We've NEVER had an issue, with either US or Canadian personnel in over 20 years. It's simple:

1. Wait your turn patiently at the stop line. (Just accept the fact that you have picked the slowest line again!)
2. Roll down the window (front and back) so that the interior of the car is visible.
3. Take off your sunglasses (all of you) so that you're interacting like human beings.
4. Have ID for all travelers in your hand so you're not wasting time rooting around.
5. Answer the very simple questions honestly and directly.
6. Have your receipts gathered up in one place in case they're needed (they never have been).
7. Smile, say thank you, and go on your merry way.

I worked with Agriculture Canada in Inspections at Pearson as a summer student a million years ago in the old terminal 1 customs hall, and it was amazing how stupid and ignorant people could be.

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Infidel » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:57 am

I recently took a trip to the U.S. and I think the CBP guys were pretty good. I thought the BSO's were suspicious of me though, because I admitted I was in the U.S. for less than 24 hours and "here's the gas receipt and receipt for the case of beer I bought"......strange how honesty spooks us :D
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Madeline236
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Madeline236 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:23 am

Any rude comments are uncalled for and concerning. However I'd suspect many of those cases may just be a little one sided, maybe.

However - REALITY CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!

1,421 complaints filed out of 80 million people who cross each year. Friggen Gold Star in my books. :thumbsup:

(Stats Can 2007 http://www.nwota.com/files/Stats%20Can% ... r%2007.pdf )

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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby goaliegibson » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:12 pm

A dog? EXAMINING LUGGAGE?! HEAVENS NO! NOT IN MY CANADA.
Also...
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2939248
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Re: CBSA Officers are not very nice!

Postby Pacific_BSO » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:42 pm

Here's good reporting...

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/arti ... ssion?bn=1

The picture on that link is of a guy wearing a white shirt in which the Star has claimed is a BSO. Now he's either one of two things, either NOT a BSO or is a cheif or director; however, somehow, I could never see one outside directing traffic! If I am wrong or oblivious, could someone please correct me.
**CBSA Officer**


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