Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Straight thoughts 81

November 14th, 2001

Almost thirty years ago, when I was much younger and eager to discover other cultures I traveled a bit across Europe.

I was surprised, when traveling by ferry between Denmark and Sweden, that there were no checkpoints. No-one worried about who you were. I went through Sweden (I was even picked up by the police as I did not know you could not hitch-hike on the highway) and made it back to Frederickshaven (Northern Denmark) without ever showing any ID.

I was surprised when traveling from Austria to Yugoslavia under Tito (within the communist block) I did not need a passport and I had only a simple ID card.

That was before the European Union and during the cold war with the Soviet Union.

These were very different cultures from mine and from each other, with their own language, political system, currency, economic system, religion, etc.Years later (1988) I was in Berlin a couple of days after the wall came down.

I was again surprised of how freely I walked at night to East Germany. There were no checkpoints any more. I was going back and forth across a border that years earlier had been the most guarded border in the world, where many had been shot trying to go across.

Now of course you can go across most of Europe freely, even though each nation maintains its own culture and language. I had to come to North America to experience the hustle of border guards between the US and Canada. We have very similar culture, same language and similar political system, but somehow we do not trust each other.

I think we should make the first move. Canada should move all of its border guards from the US border to Canadian ports of entry and airports.From what I hear terrorists have been trying to enter the US from Canada, not the other way around.

People who want to "smuggle" guns or cigarettes through the border are already successful. Not much would change.

Our "culture" is more affected by TV shows than anything else. No "immigrants" would come from the US either.

We might have better protection from terrorists, save some money on administration and facilities at the US border and eliminate long truck queues of food and goods coming into Canada, which would mean lower prices.