Victoria, B.C. Canada
Interrogated by Canadian Customs for 1.5 hours
I had quite a time getting into Canada at Victoria
airport. Some might be interested in my 1.5 hour interrogation by 4 customs
agents. I come to Canada 2-4 times a year for many years and never had any delay
My unlucky arrival may have been due to someone with a similar name doing something bad. I was asked my times if I ever lived in Florida and basically had to give my life history. I've never lived anywhere except MN and AZ. But then things got much worse, and related to sexwork based on what they found on my computer. Yet the experience has a good ending - obviously - since I am in Victoria!
While one agent interrogated me, I could hear another making phone calls mentioning my name, DOB etc. Another agent was going through every single item in my luggage and another took my laptop and was examining everything on it. That made things very interesting.
I had no idea on what basis they could deny entry since I had never been in any legal trouble, not even a traffic ticket for many years, and I wasn't here for anything illegal. But I had to convince them of that and teach them Canadian laws after they found lots of things on my laptop including my pre trip planning spreadsheet of providers, text files I have on my laptop about libchrist.com, sexworkcanada.com, had some sexy pictures of some Phoenix provider friends and they noted my Asian trips stamped in my passport (sex trafficker perhaps?) ... you get the idea.
They also wanted to know how much cash I had (about $100US and $100CDN) and wanted to know how much cash I had access to from ATM machines etc. They asked about my sources of the cash and even if I could prove how much money I would have access to when in Canada. Have no idea why this line of questioning but I was simply totally honest.
They interrogated me in great detail about "prostitution". I talked about how I promote positive intimacy and sexuality via libchrist.com and yes I enjoy the freedoms they have in Canada we don't in the U.S.
But believe it or not they thought all prostitution was illegal in Canada! I then proceeded to teach them the Criminal Code of Canada related to prostitution! They asked zillions of questions, were very polite and kept going into little meetings with themselves in a small office. One was looking up something in a book -perhaps the Criminal code of Canada? I was almost going to tell them I had a copy on my lap top but I wasn't sure if I actually did, although I have it on my home computer.
One young agent questioned why any women would choose prostitution and had to explain the difference between the street hooker on drugs and women that actually choose it. He seemed amazed especially when I told him lots of young gals going to college here do it to help pay for their education etc.
After one of their private huddles, they started asking me how I meet the "prostitutes" at their place etc. I was careful to avoid any incall discussion saying I had them come to my hotel room which is perfectly legal in Canada and most of the world except the U.S. I seemed to amaze them when I commented that the agencies are licensed by Victoria (my pre trip notes made it obvious I had the names of agencies) and there is nothing illegal selling time with gals (but not specifically for sex, but as consenting adults, in private....)
Then they got into how I meet these women and a big discussion of the many Internet boards that thousands of folks go to share and discuss many issues. One asked if it was sort of like tripadvisor.com! I then had to teach them that advertising is perfectly legal on the web etc and basically taught them the solicitation laws about only being illegal in public places.
They asked me what type of discussions I was recenly involved in. I said a provider was asking for comments on what folks like on provider websites to include etc. They seemed amazed that many of the gals participate in such discusions.
By now it was feeling a little less like an interrogation and more curiosity especially from one of the younger agents that talked to me the most.
The most embarrassing moment is when the guy that had my computer came over and asked me about a very old post I had kept from a terb discussion from a lawyer. I had no recollection of where he could have found it. I have lots of old files on my laptop from travels that I haven't gotten around to reading lately or doing anything with. He asked about a note he found... actually by this time he was more laughing about it than using it to interrogate but it left me with mouth open having no idea where it was from: Get this..... He read outloud to all the agents:
"Now the fuckers of Immigration Canada want to make all immigration paralegal and consultant lawyers have a "certificate", which of course the same fuckers will sell for a whopping usurious $450, and follow lame and stupid "guidelines". This fucking government is becoming communist, for this shit I rather go back from where I come from, over there we have REAL capitalism and freedoms." He WAS laughing as he read the first part (thank goodness).
OK.... the only thing I could think of, which turned out to be true now finding the note, it was it was related to concerns lots of folks were having about the Russian mob involvement in the Eastern European Agency scene in Toronto . There was concerns about possible trafficking which we (on the boards) were totally against and upset about the potential. Most of us now believe the concerns were not very warrented. I also told the story how a really bad Maffia guy set up dates and kidnapped a bunch of Eastern Europeans and held in his locked house with barred up windows. But they called police for a bulgury in process which got the Toronto Police to enter the house and the gals told their story to get the Mafia guy arrested and charged with serious crimes. All this happened about the same time as the discussion notes he found from the lawyer and why it was being discussed on the boards.
Now finding what they found, it was a note posted on terb I copied to a text file, from a lawyer talking about the landing immigrant situation and how it was getting more expensive to get legitimate women that did face concerns in their home country into Canada as landed immigrants.
My repeated line which of course is true, was that I enjoy the freedoms Canadians have and pursue my interest in consenting adult sexworkers of various kinds, in perfectly legal ways in Canada which I avoid in the U.S. due to the lack of such freedoms.
They also found my links to various discussion boards, provider sites and agencies. The laptop examiner asked why the links weren't opening to the sites. I told him because you have to be connected to the Internet first!
Other than the concern whether they could deny me entry just because they didn't like sexwork, I was concerned that while I'm not a porn fan I did happen to have with me the Paris Hilton Sex tapes I had never had time to see at home and was curious. And I had few other sexy DVDs I tossed in my bags in case I had some time to watch. But gosh you see as much on late night TV here vs what would never be shown in the U.S.
They mentioned how they were amazed how much I knew about Canadian laws. I suspect they checked out my teaching them about the sexwork laws in Canada in their private meetings in an office, and realized I was right.
After a grueling 1.5 hours and after another long meeting in the private room they gave me back my passport, all my stuff and had no problems letting me enter Canada! OH Canada! I should have mentioned I play their national anthem on one of my websites, but I tried to avoid mentioning my sexwork Canadan cities.com sites not to offend them even more if they didn't like the idea of being a sex tourist!
The lessons to be learned are be careful what is on your laptop! Since I've never had anything like this happen before, I didn't think it was a problem and had lots of stuff on it from prior trips, trip notes etc.
But the good news is that after teaching them the Canadian laws, going through all I did there was nothing really bad said about anything, no warnings, no ultimate issues, just a sweating Dave wondering if he was going to be allowed into Canada and not really wanting to have to answer all these very detailed questions about sexwork. But there is nothing wrong with what we do so we need not fear the truth in such interrogations!
I don't think they took any notes or copied anything so no one should be concerned about the infomration I had to give.
Comments from Canadian Boards:
How many of those customs agents do you think booked an appointment after that interrogation? Maybe you can get a referral discount from one of the agencies.
The Criminal Code doesn't really come in to the equation that much here (unless they find child porn or obsence material (meeting the "Butler test"/degrading/dehumanizing), or something else which constitutes a "possession" offence in itself on your computer. There are no prostitutes in the secondary detention area at the Victoria airport for you to communicate with (as far as I know ). The act you want to be concerned with and familiar with is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which you can find here:
Customs Act might be worth looking at as well:
The questions about criminality, past history, etc. is just CBSA/CIC looking for a basis to declare you inadmissible to Canada. The section of the IRPA is:
36 (2) A foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of criminality for
(a) having been convicted in Canada of an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by way of indictment, or of two offences under any Act of Parliament not arising out of a single occurrence;
(b) having been convicted outside Canada of an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament, or of two offences not arising out of a single occurrence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute offences under an Act of Parliament;
(c) committing an act outside Canada that is an offence in the place where it was committed and that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament; or
The questions about the Asian Sex tour-type stuff is probably related to s. 36(2)(c). Note also that, not only does this stuff make you inadmissble to Canada (like, say you told them... or your computer told them, that you paid to have sex with a 17 year old girl in Vietnam... that would be an indictable offence in Canada... and, don't quote me on this, but I believe it would be an offence there as well. If not, just lower the age until the example becomes accurate), under s.7(4.1) of the Criminal Code, you could be arrested and prosecuted in Canada for something like this, not just declared inadmissible and sent packing. See the Donald Bakker case for more on that.
The financial questions could be related to this "unable to support" section:
39. A foreign national is inadmissible for financial reasons if they are or will be unable or unwilling to support themself or any other person who is dependent on them, and have not satisfied an officer that adequate arrangements for care and support, other than those that involve social assistance, have been made.
Questions about how much money you have on you could be related to an attempt to seize currency from you as an means to punish you for being a pooner (or, in their eyes, to "disrupt the flow of organized crime financing..." or something noble sounding like this). CBSA website says:
Under the new legislation, there are no restrictions on the amount of money that you can bring into or take out of Canada, nor is it illegal to do so. However, you now have to report to a customs officer amounts equal to or greater than CAN$10,000 that you are bringing into or taking out of Canada.
However, I can tell you that if you fail to report a large amount of currency (particularly an amount over 10,000... which you are legally obliged to report) and CBSA finds the money, they will seize it and you'll have to go through a difficult process, probably pay a fine, and might never actually get the money back. This is under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (and who says just the U.S. is nuts when it comes to lumping everything in with terrorism?)
Also, don't get caught lying 'cuz (back to the IRPA here):
40. (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible for misrepresentation
(a) for directly or indirectly misrepresenting or withholding material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act;
On this same theme, there is also this section:
16. (1) A person who makes an application must answer truthfully all questions put to them for the purpose of the examination and must produce a visa and all relevant evidence and documents that the officer reasonably requires.
You aren't entering with a visa, but you are still making an "application".
Anyway, there is lots more to this area, and you sound like a guy that knows your way around the legal resources on the web, so I won't belabour this. The thread may produce some more questions and answers, as they usually do.
Great summary ghostie. Fortunately none of the stuff you mentioned applies to anything I've done anywhere.
In Thailand for example I always went to Entertainment Places for the "special services" which are totally legal, that were so wisely excempted from the anti-prostitution act etc. I have no interest in under aged and the owners of the Entertanment Places can go to jail if they hire one.
Yes I'm sure they would have been thrilled to find any child porn on computer but of course there was none - totally not my interest.
Basically I just fully answered their questions honestly since I assume trying to hide anything could be more of a problem since they had so much off my computer.
I also emphasized I wasn't here just for that, I was also going to relax, enjoy typical tourist stuff and not be spending that much on sexwork. Didn't want them to think that was my main motivation.... talked about needed a break from the 110+ heat in Phoenix and just relaxing at hotel.
It was an interesting experince, but hope doesn't happen in the future. I asked if they can tag my record in their comptuer that was investigated related to my Florida connection etc to show another agent don't have to repeat. But they said there was no way to do that, its whether you lucky or not each time you enter Canada.
You got off lucky. Try having an Arabic name attempt to enter the US. Story on the weekend about a US-born college professor trying to re-enter her own country and was detained for 3 HOURS - just because she has an Arabic name. No apology,no explanation, not the first time.
I had an incident with US Customs. I was flying out of Toronto in the early morning to Dulles Airport on what was to be basically an empty flight. I was dressed in business attire, looking much like in my signature pic. US Customs noted my American passport but for some reason asked me to provide proof of home address. I said I don't have one. They looked puzzled. I said I haven't had one for a couple of years. They asked why. I said I was living in Canada as a PR and working for a Canadian company. Then they asked me where I was going. I told them I was visiting a company in Arlington. What kind of company they asked. A defence contractor, I said (which should not surprise anyone, there are thousands of them in Arlington). They saw I had a laptop in my hand. Immediately they asked me to open it and log in. Then they took it and started going through everything! They started reading my emails, and asked me to answer questions regarding them! 3 of them started to interrogate me. I was absolutely flabbergasted. I almost missed that flight.
Fortunately, I do not own a laptop. I, too, have found Victoria's airport the most pain in the ass place to enter Canada. Over a year ago, I had all of my belongings x-rayed and my suitcase opened up. I did not have the lengthy delay Dave experienced, but it still pissed me off. By contrast, going by car to Toronto by way of Buffalo, N.Y. is the easiest passage....just a quick hello and good-bye. Regina, SK can be a pain at the airport, too, but not as bad as Victoria.
Canadian Customs aren't as bad as people may think
US Customs are much worse, IMO..followed by lots of terrible experiences of Canadians entering the U.S.
Dont be surprised... Canada Customs hires university students for the summers and puts them on the job as first line interviewers. Have had friends who've done this for summer work.... believe me... hence the idle "curiousity" and lack of knowledge of the CC of canada
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