VICTORIA — Canadians wanting to cross the U.S. border are being asked different marijuana questions than they were before cannabis was legal, says a U.S. immigration lawyer who represents numerous aging baby boomers denied entry to the U.S. for past pot use.
Recreational marijuana will have been legal for a year on Thursday, but any celebrating still stops at the U.S. border, said Len Saunders, a Canadian-born lawyer based in Blaine, Wash.
“They are not asking questions of recent use because they know they can’t deny the person because it’s legal in Canada,” he said. Instead, he said they’re asking Canadians if they have ever smoked marijuana and that’s what’s been keeping him busy.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office was not available for comment, but an official emailed a statement dated September 2018 that said U.S. laws will not change after Canada’s legalization of marijuana.
The statement said even though medical and recreational marijuana is legal in some U.S. states and Canada, marijuana is not legal under U.S. federal law, which supersedes those laws.
“Consequently, crossing the border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry in violation of this law may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension,” said the statement.
Border officials are currently compiling data about the number of Canadians stopped at U.S. crossings since marijuana legalization in Canada, but the figures are not available, the statement said.
Saunders said he has noticed over the past year an increase in Canadians in their 50s and 60s wanting his services after being denied entry to the U.S. because of an admission of marijuana use.
“[If] it’s prior to legalization and they admit to it, then it’s still grounds to inadmissibility,” he said. “They say, ‘I did it back in the 70s — hippie stuff.’”
Barry Rough, a resident of Langley, B.C., said he received a lifetime ban from the U.S. last August after he told border officials that he last smoked marijuana 18 years ago.
Rough, 61, said he was travelling to Emerson, Wash., to offer addictions counselling to an Indigenous group, but border officials denied his entry to the U.S.
“They asked me if I’d ever done drugs and I just told the truth,” he said. “I didn’t want to lie, so I told them, ‘Yes, I smoked marijuana 18 years ago.’ Four hours later, I was escorted across the border after I was fingerprinted, frisked, pictures taken and asked 1,000 questions, the same question every time.”
Watch: Here’s what Canadians should know about flying with pot. Story continues below.
Rough said he hired Saunders to help him apply for a waiver to enter the U.S. His family has a vacation property in Palm Springs, Calif., and he wants to visit later this year.
He estimated the waiver process will cost him about US$2,000 ($2,642). The cost includes legal fees, criminal record checks and he is expected to write a letter of remorse for smoking marijuana in the past.
Rough warned other Canadians could face the same circumstances.
“If you say you have tried it, you are risking going through the same process I went through,” Rough said.
Saunders said hiring him is not a guarantee that Canadians will be allowed back into the U.S.
The waiver process can take up to one year to complete and is not permanent, meaning people often must reapply, he said.
Our message on cannabis is simple: don’t take it in, don’t take it out.Canada Border Services Agency
Toronto immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk said he hasn’t seen many cases where people have been denied access to the U.S. on grounds of marijuana use.
“People are often not asked, have they smoked marijuana before?” he said. “The advice we give our clients is always to be as honest with officers as they possibly can be. If I was in the back seat of your car whispering advice in your ear, I’d probably say at that point, I’d rather not answer that question and ask if you can withdraw your application for admission.”
Sandaluk said it is possible border officers behave differently at different crossings.
“One of the things you have to remember about border officers, Canadian as well as American, is they have vast discretion when it comes to who they stop, who they search and how they examine,” he said.
Canada Border Services Agency said in an email statement it has developed awareness tools to inform travellers of the continued prohibition of the cross-border movement of marijuana.
“Our message on cannabis is simple: don’t take it in, don’t take it out,” said the statement. “It is illegal to bring cannabis in or out of Canada.”
Saunders said he anticipates he’ll see more clients once edible marijuana products and other derivatives become legal in Canada.
This report by the Canadian Press was first published Oct. 16, 2019.
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I’m progressive. No I’m progressive: With the NDP chomping support away from the Liberals, Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh spent much of Tuesday duelling over who’s got the best progressive chops in the campaign. Or at least, in the case of Trudeau’s pitch, the most electable progressive chops. “If you want progressive action, you need a progressive government, not a progressive opposition,” the Prime Minister said during a stop in Fredericton. Singh, during a stop at a transit station in the east Toronto riding once held by former NDP leader Jack Layton, was asked about Trudeau’s newly-discovered penchant for the P-word. “I hope he’s encouraging people to vote for me because that’s the real progressive alternative for people,” he said.
As for Scheer, he revealed his 100-day “action plan” (somewhere Stephen Harper is smiling) for after his party wins that majority that he’s going to win on Monday and please stop asking about minority governments.
Minority math: As Trudeau and Singh duke it out, recent polls have captured a disintegration of Liberal support. In the latest seat projection from 338Canada’s Philippe J. Fournier, he charts Andrew Scheer’s potential path to the prime minister’s office:
Both the Liberals and Conservatives were hovering around the 34 to 35 per cent mark before the debates. The Conservatives’ average now stands at 33 per cent and the Liberals’, 31 per cent. Meanwhile, the NDP, whose average stood at barely 11 per cent two weeks ago has been gaining support and now stands at an average of 16 per cent nationally.
The NDP gaining support in both Ontario and British Columbia and the Bloc regaining relevance in Quebec must be what Liberal nightmares are made of. While the Conservative base of 31 to 33 per cent appears rock solid, all these numbers indicate that the 2015 Trudeau coalition may be falling apart. (Read more.)
As a minority outcome starts to look like more of a reality, it’s easy to get lost in the rules, conventions and traditions that would come into play as a new government attempts to take power. John Geddes tapped constitutional expert Philippe Lagassé to take us through all the key considerations, like what to watch for from Trudeau on election night, how Trudeau could still hold onto power even if Scheer wins more seats, and why we could all be back amidst the flinging mud of an election in six months:
Q: Now we’re getting to the dicey part. In what circumstances might that tradition be set aside?
A: A situation where the seat count is very tight or there’s a strong ideological imperative. The incoming government looks at the state of the Parliament as it’s coming together and realizes that the opposition party with the most seats wouldn’t be able to govern anyway. This is something that would concern the Governor General. If the party with the most seats can’t govern, can’t maintain confidence [in the House], then there’s going to be additional pressure on the incumbent to try and make it work.
Q: But, even in that scenario, wouldn’t it be customary to give the party with the most seats a chance to prove it can with a confidence vote, even if that looks like a long shot?
A: It really depends. Let’s say it’s only a five-seat difference [between the first- and second-place parties], and the party with the second-most seats knows they have the backing of two of the other, smaller parties. Then they may make a decision that they’re going to stay on and they’re going to govern. (Read more.)
Choose your crisis: The primary point of differentiation between the Liberals and the Conservatives in this election is the particular crisis around which each party has built its platform and promises, writes Paul Wells. For the Liberals, it’s the climate crisis. For the Conservatives, it’s a fiscal crisis. Everything a voter needs to know builds up from that:
I’ve been critical, in exhaustive detail, of the shortfalls, contradictions and limitations of Trudeau’s climate-change policy, but the fact is, he has one. And in the last year of his first mandate, he implemented a widespread carbon tax, the first effective carbon emission-reduction mechanism any federal government I’ve covered has introduced. Scheer’s first priority is to scrap that mechanism and go back, listlessly and with no interest or conviction, to the drawing board. That’s the central distinction of this election.
As climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe and economist Andrew Leach have written, “No matter how you slice it, the Liberals have implemented this country’s first serious, national climate change plan, and they’re looking to build on it.” That the Liberals have done nearly nothing to indicate how they’d build on their plan is maddening, but the stakes are this: keep what they’ve done so far or scrap it. (Read more.)
Just try to watch this only one time: Anyway, politicians have clearly been going about this whole election thing backwards. Be like Stephen Stewart, the Conservative candidate for the P.E.I. riding of Malpeque talking about his promises: “I don’t want to share those issues until I get elected because, they’re good ideas I believe, but maybe they’re not the greatest ideas. I still want to get there, get elected and table those ideas and see why they won’t work.”
The Singh’s speech: One of Singh’s appeals to younger voters is the way he speaks, in particular his ability to seamlessly switch from a formal manner of speech to what one linguist describes as “multicultural Toronto English,” writes Prajakta Dhopade:
Not only does Singh use an informal register here, but he seems to be influenced by something U of T Mississauga linguist Derek Denis refers to as “multicultural Toronto English.” Multicultural Toronto English is a “multiethnolect”—a variation of language that is influenced by multiple ethnic groups.
Denis says a characteristic of this particular multiethnolect is noticeable in the “o” vowel sound in Singh’s “yo.” Rather than moving his jaw to turn two vowel sounds into one (a diphthong—that would sound like “yuh-oh”), Singh uses a monophthong, where the jaw is still while making that “o” sound, so more like “y-OH.” Toronto slang and multicultural Toronto English are heard a lot in the suburbs of Toronto, including in Brampton, where Singh was an MPP and where Denis happened to have collected some of his research. This type of pronunciation is also common in Jamaican patois, Nigerian English and Indian English, to name a few, says Denis.
That might appeal to multiple demographics: to university students in downtown Toronto who appreciate his use of slang and multicultural Toronto English, but also to those in rural Ontario, where informal language is everyday-speak. His ability to have both a distinct “work voice” and a “talking to friends” voice is something every Canadian can relate to—he just does it on a public stage. (Read more.)
While we’re talking about Singh, here’s a quick look at how his wife Gurkiran Kaur successfully navigates the twin demands of that oddest of roles: the political spouse — how to look supportive without seeming old-fashioned.
What’s your excuse?: Lastly for today, if you’ve thought at all about not bothering to vote on Monday, or find yourself that day making excuses that you don’t have time to get to a polling station, take this moment and watch 18-year-old Maddison Yetman’s message to Canadian voters from her hospital bed, where she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer: “If I can find the time to vote, you can find the time to vote.”
BRUSSELS — European Union and British negotiators have failed to get a breakthrough in the Brexit talks during a frantic all-night session and will continue seeking a compromise on the eve of Thursday’s crucial EU summit.
An EU official, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations were still ongoing, says “discussions continued until late in the night and will continue today.”
Both sides were hoping that after more than three years of false starts and sudden reversals, a clean divorce deal for Britain leaving the bloc might be sketched out within the coming hours.
Thursday’s EU leaders’ summit comes just two weeks before the U.K’s scheduled departure date of Oct. 31.
Raf Castert, The Associated Press
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In a country that has had only five months’ worth of an unmarried prime minister, a political spouse like Gurkiran Kaur has a difficult role. She must look and act supportive, but not seem as old-fashioned as, well, the concept of a political spouse. But Kaur, who married Jagmeet Singh in 2018 (one of two party leaders who had a wedding last year, along with Elizabeth May), is a successful fashion designer, so she knows how to dress for a photo-op. On this Monday visit to Burger Heaven in New Westminster, B.C., she and Singh wear informal-looking jackets, the traditional apparel of the politician who wants to seem at home under a big beer sign. But while they bite into some version of the Singh Burger (it’s trying to “ketchup’ with the other parties,” Burger Heaven says), they’re wearing different colours and even their cuffs take different populist approaches: hers look frayed; one of his is open. It’s a similar-but-different approach that contrasts with some recent photos where Sophie Grégoire is visibly better-dressed than Justin Trudeau, like on this trip to Singh’s own riding. As to which approach works better, we may have to wait for Burger Heaven’s “(B)un-official survey.”
MORE ABOUT ELECTION IMAGE OF THE DAY:
- For the Tories, Peter MacKay is more than just a face in the crowd
- Pamela Anderson dips her spoon into the federal election campaign
- There’s no hiding the personal toll of an election campaign
- Trudeau’s post-debate handshake with Scheer tells its own story
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