Skip to main content

US and Them #6

Nothing affects Canadians and Americans more than a border issue. No, I’m not talking about the “tinder-box” free trade issue so unsubtly referred to as “Shop American” in the US. We’ll save commenting on that little cross-border relations gem for another time. I’m talking about a literal border crossing issue.

This issue has shades of the American Wild West. It has the two key opponents, at least: Cowboys and Indians.

At Cornwall, Ontario Canadian border guards vacated their offices and shut down the border crossing because they felt threatened by the Indians at Akwesasne. Akwesasne is an Indian reserve that is a jurisdictional nightmare. Not only does it straddle Canada on one side and the US on the other, but it also sits partially in Quebec, partially in Ontario and partially in New York State. Add the sovereign nation of Akwesasne into the mix and you’ve got more pepperonis than Italy’s pizza parliament.
pic Ottawa Citizen
The Canadian border personnel vacated their posts after negotiations with the Akwesasne Indians broke down on the issue of the Canadian government’s intention to arm their border guards. In an example of unintended irony, the Indians at Akwesasne threatened to storm the border offices, in armed insurrection, if the Canadian government carried through with its plans to arm the border guards there.

There are several odd things about this issue – beyond armed Indians. The American guards on the US side of the border are armed and have always been so yet no one has threatened to storm them. As well, this is the only place along the so-called world’s longest undefended border where anyone’s raised a stink about arming Canadian border guards.

Why is there a problem here? The Indians say having armed border guards on their land would infringe on their sovereignty. What they don’t say is it would also infringe on their highly lucrative operation of smuggling illegal cigarettes and other contraband across the border into Canada.

So that’s the Indians. The cowboys? Well, you be the judge. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the comment of – and I quote – “respected security and anti-terrorism expert...John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think-tank” as reported in the Ottawa Citizen. When asked ‘why don't militants at Akwesasne threaten confrontations with the Americans?’ Thompson replied "Because the Americans will shoot back."

**Postscript: On July 13 authorities re-opened the border crossing after moving the Canadian Customs booth off Mohawk land on Cornwall Island to the Canadian mainland on a temporary basis. The Customs agents are armed. The issue remains unresolved.


i literally laughed out loud reading that comment at the end
nonamedufus said…
Unfortunate: Yeah, pretty amazing
DouglasDyer said…
Damn straight we'll shoot back! Well, at least Toby Keith will. And maybe some of the older national guardsmen. Not me, for heaven's sake.
nonamedufus said…
Doug: Toby Keith is a border guard?

Popular posts from this blog

My Back Pages - October

Well, folks, I read seven (count 'em) seven books in October. One I didn't finish but even at that I hit the magic number 50 I estimated for myself by the end of the year. The six books I successfully waded through were, firstly, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's book on her bid for the Presidency. I''m a bit of a political junkie so I get off on this stuff but still it kinda struck me as one long whine over losing.
Next up was the excellent Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and Music of Laurel Canyon. Laurel Canyon was the fabled area outside of Los Angeles where many musicians and artists lived. Known as a 60s enclave, the book takes a look at just who lived there over the last 80 years. A fascinating read.
Next up was Lightfoot, a biography of Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot. He may have been responsible for some iconic folk songs but he was also quite the womanizer and boozer. Enough said.
Then I read Dan Brown's new tome Origin, the fifth in the Robert Lan…

My Back Pages - November

I know, I know, I know I should have reported in before now. But sometimes real life just gets in the way. I attempted 5 books in November. I say attempted because I slapped a big DNF (did not finish) on Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. I just can't seem to get into this guy. It's the second or third of his I've given up on,

Not so the other four, starting with a biography of Stephen Stills called Change Partners. This followed by a hilarious biography of the guy responsible for National Lampoon called A Stupid and Futile Gesture - How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever.

I ended the month reading yet another biography, this one of the man behind Rolling Stone magazine,. It was called Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. A fascinating read.

So last month I hit the magic number 50 I'd imagined for myself back in January. If I roll this month into my yearly total I'm at 54 books. And I still have Decem…