Canadian border guards stop looking for dope exporters, focus on stolen cars and fissiles

The Canadian Border Service Agency has been ordered to stop hunting for illegal drug exporters and worry instead about catching nuclear material and stolen car smugglers. Lee Berthiaume writes for Postmedia News:

The directive, contained in an internal memo to Canada Border Service Agency managers that was obtained by Postmedia News, is unlikely to make officials in the United States and other countries very happy.

But analysts say that in an age of finite resources, the agency has decided it makes more sense to target areas where it thinks it can make a difference.

The article goes on to quote Eugene Oscapella of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, describing how hard it is to catch dope smuggling, versus big things like cars and radioactive things like uranium.

Border guards told to forget about illegal drug exports (via Reddit)


  1. I really hope this is not as naive as it sounds…*fissiles*? Is this a problem I was blissfully unaware of? Because if so, I’d prefer to remain unaware of it.

    1. “In nuclear engineering, a fissile material is one that is capable of sustaining a chain reaction of nuclear fission. By definition, fissile materials can sustain a chain reaction with neutrons of any energy. The predominant neutron energy may be typified by either slow neutrons (i.e. a thermal system) or fast neutrons. Fissile materials can be used to fuel thermal reactors, with a neutron moderator; fast-neutron reactors, with no moderators; and nuclear explosives.”  ~  Wikipedia

    1. I don’t know about Canada to the U.S. 
      But from Canada to other countries is likely. Seeing how Canada is (was?) the worlds largest Uranium producer.

      1.  The article mentions that some fissile material was successfully smuggled out of Canada on its way to Iran

  2. I have to say, under the very right wing Harper government who’s building tons of jails, I did not expect an easing of drug enforcement. I actually thought the opposite was more likely as a way to increase the prison population.

    On the other hand, maybe getting the word out that illegal drugs can sail into Canada is all part of that diabolical plan: Create the problem you want to fight, and all that.

    Otherwise, if Americans are concerned about fissile material being smuggled out of their country and Canada can help stop it, I’m cool with that. I certainly wouldn’t want that kind of spillage all over the place. And stolen car enforcement is also a mutually beneficial activity as well. Sounds fine on those fronts.

    1.  If I’m reading correctly, it’s about exports: people taking drugs from Canada. It doesn’t say anything about getting them *into* Canada, which leads one to presume that they’re still busting importers.

      1. Usually, it’s the RCMP dealing with drug smugglers within Canada, not border protection which is there to stop bad people and things from coming into the country in the first place (and, of course, to collect taxes).

        We don’t have any posts as you leave Canada by land, though. Those guys are American, and I’m pretty sure they won’t be happy to see you with illegal drugs.

        1. Sorry Shinkuhadoken, but The Canadian Border Service Agency has vast sweeping powers.They monitor and police the border for people and items coming and going with ground vehicles air and boats.They have detectives and if they uncover a plot to smuggle anything in or out they can raid and search any address on Canadian soil.They also have the power to invite American agencies to operate on our soil  and arrest Canadians for conspiracy to smuggle to the U.S.As the D.E.A. currently does and has.

      2. They WERE looking for Canadian hydroponic marijuana being smuggled out,as this is Canada’ most expensive export.(7 billion annual in B.C. alone) No more pot gets smuggled in any more.(It would be like smuggling cocaine into Columbia)They are obviouslystill looking for Coke and other illegal drugs(Xtc) ect. coming in. 

    2.  Please don’t call Harper “very right wing.” On the scale of Canadian politics he is moderately right wing, on the scale of American politics he is slightly left of centre. I don’t like him, but I would like to see legitimate characterization of his politics please.
      Also the article is about exports, drugs leaving the country to be used elsewhere. Our best bet at discovering them will be the police forces of the destination countries. On the other hand stolen cars and stolen uranium are things that will be noticed by Canadians. A Canadian will walk out of their house “Hey where did my car go?” After reporting it to the police they will car pool to work at the local reactor “Hey the uranium count is off.” They will then report that to which ever authority deals with that mess.

          1. Perhaps you are right, maybe it is only safe to say that Harper is further right than anyone since our very first prime minister.

      1. Harper is certainly leading the most right wing federal government in Canadian history. Progressive Conservatives were center right before they disbanded. Harper’s Reform-based Conservatives are what the American Tea Party would like to turn Republicans into.

        In many ways, the destruction of the center right that Americans are experiencing now already took place in Canada 20 years ago.

      2. Er, no. By Canadian standards he’s an unstable extremist, further to the right than even the Progressive Conservatives were. By American standards he’d be right about the centre of the Republican party.

        1.  Have we lost free heath care? Did I miss something? Cause last time I checked the Republican Party is supporting a repeal of what little health care the US has for its general population. (Granted he is taking some money away from it but not on the principle that people should get their own insurance.) I agree that he is not who should be Prime Minister, and that Canadians lean left of him. But “Canadians” include Albertans who seem quite happy with most of his conservative developments. I would love to have a left leaning party in power, but calling Harper an extremist is not going to win over the people who have voted for him three times now. Call a spade a spade, he isn’t trying to stop gays from getting married, he isn’t talking about abortion, the only reason you are saying he is so extreme must be because of the huge cuts he made in the civil service. But these were cuts the Conservative party ran on, not a surprise. Informed voters knew (or should have known) what they were voting for when they cast their ballot for a Conservative.
          Our job as leftists of any stripe is to change those voters minds; not by branding who they consider a valid option “an extremist”. Otherwise Canada will become divided along left-right lines like the United States, (and that is not a good thing).

          1. Harper probably will end universal healthcare in Canada before his term is up. But it won’t be through some Grand Bargain. He will simply end federal spending on the program and let the provinces decide how they want to do health care.

            Alberta has come into great wealth thanks to their oil and high oil prices. Because of the way the political cards are played in Canada, Alberta is ruled by a federal government that historically pays no attention to the western provinces, and loves to lavish Quebec with federal money so it won’t leave the country,,,

            So basically, it’s an issue where Alberta’s wealth is defended by little political power in Ottawa which in turn will happily siphon the province’s wealth into favors to placate Quebec sovereignty assertions.

            Harper’s goal, while he has the chance, is to thoroughly weaken the federal government and put power back into the hands of the provinces, which could very well split the country. But that too would not bother Alberta who would happily join the States if that happened, and with all that oil, I can’t imagine they’d be turned down.

          2. If he thought he could get away with it, Harper would kill medicare, revoke marriage rights (and possibly even criminalize homosexuality), and criminalize abortion, and that would just be the start.

            The majority of Canadians voted against Harper, and Alberta can and should be ignored at the federal level.

            I have absolutely no interest in dialog with decided Conservative voters, and my vote is decided based on how hard a line a given politician takes with them.

          3. You never had “free healthcare”.  You have always had to pay for it through your taxes.  

            What we have is single-payer insurance so we’re all insured by one  non-profit insurer. 

        2. I have seen absolutely no evidence that Harper is the boogie man (killer robot maybe). I have seen evidence that the policies he implements will have a negative effect on the well being of a great number of Canadians, but this does not make him into a stupid bigot (ie. centre of the Republicans). Cite you sources please.

          1. He’s continued to attack same sex marriage rights, and he’s supported attacks on abortion rights from the back bench.

    3. It is most likely to ease the flow of Uranium into China or wherever else the Harper government and their vested interests wish to send it.

      Also bear in mind that the Minister of Public Safety has now given CBSA permission to use information that’s been obtained through torture.

      Most government regulators, watch dogs, auditors, and other forms of government accountability have been scraped thanks to a massive omnibus bill under the guise of being related to the annual budget.

      Combine these with the fact that, during a time of austerity in the civil service, an enormous amount of funding is being given to the CSE (Canada’s cryptography division of the defense department, an equivalent to the U.S. NSA) and CSIS (Canada’s CIA). The only division of CSIS that was keeping it in check has been scraped.

      Not too many Canadians would feel it an exaggeration to say it won’t be long before dissidents start to simply disappear in this country.  

  3. My friend who had a Jeep Grand Cherokee got stopped at the border all the time because it was one of the top 10 cars to steal and drive to Canada for export to the mid-east. 

  4. All of my interactions with Canadian border guards have been on my way into Canada.

     On the way back to the US, your passage is under the auspices of the US border gards.  I strongly doubt they have received corresponding orders.

    1. Exactly.  This whole thing doesn’t make much sense, because you don’t talk to Canada on the way *out* of Canada… you talk to the USA.

  5. The good/bad news: the price of BC bud just went down. The bad/good news: smugglers’ salaries also went down.

    Good/bad thing we still have US border control to worry about!

  6. It’s certainly easier to check whether cars have cars in them than whether they have drugs in them.  I don’t see why Canada would mind people taking drugs out of the country, though – it’s not like there’ll be a shortage at home if they do.  It’s only  something they’re doing for US political correctness reasons anyway. 

    I suppose it does mean that Canadian border guards won’t be able to keep any confiscated bud, so their counterparts in the US will be getting more of it.

    1. “I suppose it does mean that Canadian border guards won’t be able to keep any confiscated bud.”

      No, the article says if they happen upon drugs they’re still gonna bust folks. They just aren’t going out of their way any more.

    2.  More like, don’t harass the tourists we want them to come back. Harass someone for $10 worth of pot and you’ll lose thousands of dollars on the next visit, when they go to Europe instead.

  7. I don’t find this to be surprising from the Harper Govt. It won’t sting the US relations when they can stammer about stopping fissile material for Iran as a focus, and they get to focus on stuff like that, fissile material is so much scarier than pot exports, satisfyingly so to a fear-mongering government. 

    I doubt the pot smuggling networks even bother to pay the CBSA as they do US border guards. There’s -53- of them focussed on exports. That is seriously shit all, and c’mon, the dragnet is on the other side. 

  8. We had more trouble getting in to Vancouver BC then coming back into the states, which totally surprised me. They held us for 45 minutes (probably not that bad compared to some, I guess) because they thought we were bringing pot into Canada on the train. We had no luggage and when they found nothing in our pockets, the officer just sighed and said she didn’t believe us when we said we had nothing but since they couldn’t find anything she had to let us go. 
    We truly had nothing on us, but I was dumbfounded on how much it would have been a waste of time and money on their part to search two people for like a dime bag or something. 

    1. I once came into Vancouver on a foreign fishing ship, which docked about 5 blocks from the worst open-air drug market in North America.  I had been at sea for over 3 months, and the customs guards spent a lot of time interrogating me, searching my bags and walking the dog through the ship.

      The funny part was that I could have walked the 5 blocks and bought anything I wanted.  Even funnier was the absurd notion that I might have drugs on me (I didn’t, I was working).  Even if I had, I’d been at sea for three months.  It would have been gone. 

    2. I don’t know why they need to be such dicks.  Who wants to hurt Canada in any way?  Who’s gonna bring marijuana into Canada?  They stopped me just because I didn’t have definite enough plans for my weekend.  Searched my car, asked me repetitive questions while the were trying to look cool, essentially showing me their need for control and their personal insecurity.
      I got back into the US a few days later in 30 seconds.

  9.  So let me see if I have this right.  If you are smuggling cheap cancer drugs out of Canada it is okay but if your stolen car glows in the dark then you are in big, big trouble.

  10. The Canadian Immigration people act like assholes towards me, they can kiss my ass. Those morons were suspicious of me and turned me away a few times in a span of three to four months.
    My record is spotless except with them, they seemed to be grabbing at straws when I pulled up. I answered them honestly and they reacted a gaping awed look (more than once). I guess I am too poor to travel as I would be stranded if anything happened on the trip. I was quizzed about my new job I had found after being unemployed, they asked if I had ever had a full-time job. Asked me if I had been arrested ANYWHERE (as I wrote my record is spotless). I earned my college degree back in 1989 and asked my about that as well. Then I was turned away.
     They said I needed traveling insurance, so I bought a policy. A few weeks later I tried again and they turned me away. The U.S. Border Patrol were surprised at my trouble getting across.
    I was going to see a pretty lady, but the obstacle of the border was too great. We eventually had to move on from one another (those ruddy bastards). I will never consider Canada again for travel or anything else. The damned place can fall into Hudson Bay for all I care.
    (exhales, the rant is over)

    1. How much money did you have “to complete your journey”? Lack of travelling funds, a shaky job status back home, lack of evidence that you have anything to go back for PLUS the fact that you were going cross border for romance probably red-flagged you. Did you have a one-way ticket? That’s a flag too. Further flags went up because you tried “repeatedly in a span of a few months.”

      Canada does not like people who “come to visit” and who then overstay. Canadians might like you, but officially I mean Canada does not. It happens a lot when people meet online, then seek to take the relationship further. I’ve seen people turned away for those reasons before, often they didn’t have enough money to get back “home”.

      You may now never be able to cross because you are in the computer system.

      1. I always wanted to say “I’m visiting to see my girlfriend and have sex,” and then when they ask how long I’ll be staying I would have said “Well at least 20 minutes.”

        I have heard of a Canadian woman getting a big hassle and almost being accused of being a prostitute.

  11. This is a nonsense story. I cross the US/Canadian border, once into the US and then once more back to Canada every two weeks as part of my employment.

    My personal experience is that each country has always been far more concerned about what comes IN across it’s own border than what leaves.  On occasion I have seen the US side do exit inspections, but these have been very rare occurrences. On the Canadian side I once, and once only saw a dog handler walk up and down the line-up of cars waiting to enter the US. I believe they do this when they receive a tip that someone or something is “going down”.

    So, in my opinion, this is a big fuss about nothing. That’s not to say the country you are entering isn’t vigilant as to what or who crosses it’s border. Both sides have made large seizures of all sorts of contraband, (Canada is particularly hard on illegal gun importers as the US is particularly hard on drugs) including undeclared cash, drugs, guns and vehicles of all sorts. The impound yards and detention centres are well stocked.

  12. Crossing the border (from Canada into the US) I don’t see or speak to a Canadian border guard. But I will speak to a US border guard. And they are quite strict on their drugs policies, as well as other contraband. Returning to Canada, the main thing the Canadians are concerned about is that I’ve paid tax on everything, and that I’m not carrying any guns.

  13. The joke is: 

    When you go to the US, the US border guard asks if you have any drugs or guns. You say “no”, and he gives you some guns. 

    When you go to Canada, the Canadian border guard asks if you have any drugs or guns. You say “no”, and he gives you some drugs.

  14. The trick to a smooth border crossing is to go to the duty free shop and buy booze then hand the guy at the border your receipt and say “Duty free.”

    It gives the border agent something to look at, and it gives you something to say. Criminals do not leave their car unattended while they go pick up souvenirs, Al Qaeda does not interrupt their mission for a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. 

        1. There’s always candy, flowers, and yes greeting cards. It’s sounds absurd, and you’d think women would know better, but this crap still works. 

  15. It’s beyond time that the US/Canandian border just be opened up. Think how many billions of dollars that would save. How many people’s live would be instantly better. It would a mini North American Schengan area.  Unfortunately, both our countries are way to xenophobic to allow that to happen.

    1.  A European-style open border between Canada and the U.S. was proposed after 9/11, but it would have required Canada giving up its sovereignty over who got to enter Canada. The federalist Liberals balked at the idea, but the door was never completely closed. However, the anti-federalist, American-friendly, trade-focused Harper government would probably the best bet for a “Yes” on this issue, especially if Romney were to win the presidency and ask for it again over cigars.

  16. Wish the US Border patrol would do more of the same for cars heading south of the border to Mexico. In Brownsville, TX. they snoped out the VIN numbers on cars in a convention center parking lot back in the 90’s and discovered about 1/3 of them were stolen. When they got to impounding cars it came to light that one of the police departments from Mexico was having it’s convention there and all of the cars belong to the Mexican police. Guess who got their cars back and who didn’t. . . .

  17. It was about 10 years ago that some Canadians with a hydroponic grow house sent one their guys to the dump with a pickup truck full of stems and roots and trash.  The stoner got lost, took a wrong turn, ended up on the little expressway to the border and ended up getting busted at customs.

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