+1000 LOL! It kills me every time This is That gets people ...I've come across a few people who've mistaken the show as a factual news program heheheh.
As for the CBSA.... its a complicated mess. Immigration and border services used to be one...then the border services were separated and re-dubbed CBSA. The reasons for this are many, but a large part of it was a difference in opinion on whether Border guards should be involved in administering Canada's immigration policies (read: dealing with the paperwork i.e. processing visa and citizenship claims) or not. Not was the consensus and CBSA was created. Simply enforcing the rules is much more fun!!
I've worked closely with many CBSA officers and most if not all I had nothing but the utmost respect for. But there is a difference between those on the line at the borders and those on postings (There are many facets to CBSA besides being a border guard)...mainly its experience. Border duty is a posting, just like an embassy for diplomats and Afghanistan for the military. But it is one where you will cut your teeth as a junior officer, so there are a lot of people with something to prove on the border….thankfully they are generally managed by seasoned officers.
Having said that I personally think that CBSA could do a better job training their officers in dealing with the public. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had very pleasant experiences dealing with our own border services, but when they were not pleasant they were some of the most belligerent experiences I’ve ever had on a border crossing...anywhere!
As many have said before it is hit and miss…..there are many factors as to why/if the officer you’re dealing with is giving you a hard time. These factors could include: Having a bad day, the built up stress of having to deal with a never ending flow of people trying to get into your country and the megalithic proportions of the BS you have to hear EVERY SINGLE DAY!, the way you're dressed, what you say, what you’re driving….the list is long and varied.
I will share an experience I had a while back to illustrate the contrast in different officers on the line at any given time to prove that it is indeed a mixed bag.
A few years ago I bought a motorcycle from a collector in Chicago. We agreed to meet halfway between Detroit and the windy city to make the exchange. I called the guy to ask if we could move up the exchange date as I was leaving the country for a few weeks and wanted to get things sorted before I left. He said sure, but there was an issue with his ownership papers…DMV Chicago miss spelled his last name and a correction was being issued. I asked if he had documentation of this. He did. I asked if he still had the ownership, he had a certified copy of, as DMV Chicago took the original.
I called the CBSA office in windsor in advance to verify if I could cross with that documentation. I was told I could but that I would not be able to register or insure it until I had the proper paperwork back…I did not get the officers name…mistake #1.
Day of exchange. We do the exchange, I have the receipt from the State of Illinois DMV stating the re-printing of the ownership and reason for, certified copies of ownership to be corrected as well as all of the other documentation I needed. I get to the crossing in Windsor….the wrong one, as there are two…the US guards were very friendly, complimented me on the bike and gave me directions and what to do once I got there. Next crossing point….US guards tell me you can cross, but you will not get an export stamp until you come back with the re-print…cool.
I get to our side and am asked for the documentation on the spot…not really how it works but I play ball. I’m told I cannot entre and need to park “over there” and go inside to speak with an officer….uh..huh. fine.
I park, and go inside….I am immediately accosted by the officer at the desk: “ WHAT is it?!?” Not a good start…. I produce my documentation only to be accused of basically forging State Documentation and trying to import a “possibly Stolen” vehicle.
In my mind I’m thinking “WHAT….THE…..FUCK???”I try to reason with her but am constantly cut off and told NO! Supremely frustrated, I say, “Fine, would you mind if I have a word with your supervisor?” Mistake #2
She goes into her supervisors office and I can hear her word for word. In short, I’d have thrown me in jail the way she explained things to her supervisor! So out comes the supervisor…who for the record was very professional and very calm and very understanding (all of the characteristics the other officer was NOT demonstrating)….BUT her decision was already made based on what her officer had told her and that was that…me and the bike were going back to the states.
On the way out to the truck another guard came over to me and said, and I quote” Buddy…I’ve been watching you go in and out of the office…what’s going on?” I tell him and he says, ok….lets look and the VIN on the bike….after a quick look he agrees that the bike “should” be admissible. He goes to bat for me, but the supervisor had made her decision and there was nothing for it. I drive the drive of shame along the side of the bridge reserved for those rejected by Canada and sent back to the States….these guys must see a lot of crazy shit. The American Officer says” Ok…whats going on Dude?” (That’s a direct quote by the way!) I tell him and he is floored that my own country would not let me in with the bike….he asks what Im going to do now? I said I wasn’t sure but would try to find somewhere to stash the bike until the official papers from the DMV come back. I asked if he knew of any storage places, but he didn’t know any other than the Federal impound “and you don’t want us to hold your bike hahaha” But he did tell me which areas to avoid at night…..nice!
Fast forward 3 weeks later….after having to scramble at 9PM on a Friday night in Detroit to find an open storage facility to stash the bike until the papers came through…I returned to the same office and crossed without incident and dealt with one of the most pleasant (and cute) border officers ever!
So…a long and convoluted story to show that it depends on who you get….the officer on the right will be the nicest guy/gal in the world and the one of the left will spit in your face….Personally I think you are a product of your environment…. And that job is a shit one…or at least can be. But I also know the archetype CBSA is after from working with them and I can say for a fact….shit job aside, there is a reason there are some big time douchebags in the service right now!