Liars Welcomed, but Dissident Loses Laptop to Canada’s Politically Correct Customs
by Paul Fromm
Sun, 15 Oct 2006
“We’re anonymous. Some of us import narcotics. We’ll seize laptops or books like Irish Fairy Tales from political dissidents. But when the crooks come, we run.” — Canada Border Services Agency
VANCOUVER. October 9. Canadian free speech activist and broadcaster Paul Fromm was detained for over two hours by Canada Customs and subjected to a minute search of his luggage and pockets. The anonymous operatives for Canada Border Services Agency took one book Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe as suspected “hate” propaganda. They first cleared then decided to seize Mr. Fromm’s laptop for further investigation. Fromm was returning from Seattle for a speaking engagement Oct. 10 in Vancouver,
Fromm recalls: “When I went through primary inspection, the female agent wrote the number “1” on my declaration. I was immediately signalled over after I had picked up my luggage.
The secondary inspection takes place in a long hall with 17 stations with stainless steel examining tables. I was first dealt with by two East Indian males agents who refused to give me their names. My briefcase was examined piece of paper by piece of paper. I objected to the agent reading a note from an elderly supporter in Edmonton. I objected as this note praising one of our recent newsletters is utterly outside their mandate. It’s not drugs, or weapons, or undeclared merchandize or currency over $10,000. Their behaviour was bullying, humiliating and intrusive, all the more so as these gutless wonders repeatedly refused to provide me with their names.
A female agent insisted that I accompany her to something that looked like one of those telephone cubicles along the wall. A waist high table was attached to the wall. I was forced to empty all my pockets and turn them inside out. My personal and probably illegible notes and my licence and several other documents disappeared with her into a room with smoky reflective glass.
When I objected to the prolonged search my papers a nameless East Indian with real attitude told me: “I don’t want to listen to you.”
I reluctantly put in the password so that the snoops could examine my laptop in my presence. The last time, it was seized in Vancouver in August, 2005, it disappeared into the room with the smoky glass. Afterwards, it had to be debugged from whatever had been placed on it or happened to it. After a long examination, it was returned to me.
The agents went off to the dark room to write-up the seizure form — an activity that should have taken no more than 5 minutes. More than half an hour later, I asked an agent to get the supervisor as I had been there so long. Meanwhile of the original 7 agents I had seen when I first entered, the hall was for some time utterly empty of agents or victims, except me.
When the agents returned it was to tell me they were seizing my laptop as well as such accessories as the mouse and battery pack. I objected to this theft. A mouse couldn’t possibly contain ‘hate propaganda.’
One especially belligerent blonde female objected to my use of the word ‘theft.’ I said: ‘This laptop is mine; it’s not yours. You have it. I don’t. I call it theft!’
In the more than two hours I was detained, fewer than 15 people were sent over for secondary inspection. No one on my plane of about 50 was deemed of interest.
Most people were handled informally: ‘We’ll try to get you on your way quickly,’ the agents assured them.
Two old East Indians in saris were dealt with in some foreign language by the two East Indian agents. Smiles all around. No search of their luggage and they were on their way.
Three Chinese were questioned for about 10 minutes. As they left, the agent warned them: ‘Next time get your story straight or we can send you back.’ He then helpfully escorted the liars to the door and was directing them, whether to a cab or an ongoing flight, I couldn’t tell.
The only other person detained for any length of time was also White. I shall call him ‘the student.’ His luggage was searched at length and he, too, had to go through the degrading process of emptying all his pockets. The Chinese trio of liars did not. Nothing was seized from him but the agents seemed suspicious as to whether he was coming to Canada to study as he claimed.
It is clear that the theft of my laptop, vital to my livelihood is a form of outright political persecution. The next day, I contacted Canada Border Services Agency at Vancouver Airport to track my stolen goods. I eventually was directed to the ‘seizure control office’ with the ominous phone number of 604-666-1811. At first, and you get used to this with government offices, no one would answer and I had to leave a message. I was persistent and eventually got a FAX number out the nameless woman who answered. I pointed out that, once before my laptop had been seized and my lawyer got it returned within a few days.
Lawyer Barbara Kulaszka wrote on October 11: ‘It is clear that the seizure of my client’s laptop was not made on any determination that it contained hate propaganda. My client informs me that the laptop contained only software that he uses on a daily basis for writing and some private e-mails.
‘Hate propaganda, by definition, is a matter that is in the public domain and intended for public consumption, by sale or distribution. My client’s private e-mails and software are NOT for sale or for reading by any person other than those private individuals they are sent to.’
The laptop computer should be returned immediately, as it is clear there were no grounds for its legal detention.’
The Canada Border Services Agency is a disgrace. Members were involved in a complete breech of trust in a narcotics smuggling ring through Pearson Airport several years ago. On a number of occasions recently, in both Ontario and British Columbia, agents have fled their posts when they learned an armed American fugitive ‘might’ be headed for the border.
Add to this the fact that these courage challenged political police are allowed to operate anonymously and you have a recipe for tyranny. They don’t ‘stand on guard’ for Canada. Few visitors are checked by the agents who seem to spend long periods of time sipping coffee. Liars are greeted and allowed in while political dissidents have their possessions looted.
I urge you, if you’re an American, to contact a Canadian consulate and let them know your reluctance to come to Canada on business or pleasure as long as anonymous Customs agents can arbitrarily seize your laptop. Your voice through a simple phone call, FAX or letter could be a great help in the battle for freedom.
Contact Information for the Canadian Embassy and Consulates in the U.S.
Canadian Embassy – Washington
501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Tel: 1 (202) 682-1740
Fax: 1 (202) 682-7726
Canadian Consulate General – Atlanta
1175 Peachtree Street
100 Colony Square, Suite 1700
Atlanta, Georgia USA
Tel: 1 (404) 532-2000
Fax: 1 (404) 532-2050
Canadian Consulate General – Boston
3 Copley Place, Suite 400
Tel: 1 (617) 262-3760
Fax: 1 (617) 262-3415
Canadian Consulate General – Buffalo
HSBC Center, Suite 3000
Buffalo, New York
Tel: 1 (716) 858-9500
Fax: 1 (716) 858-9562
Canadian Consulate General – Chicago
Two Prudential Plaza
180 North Stetson Avenue, Suite 2400
Tel: 1 (312) 616-1860
Fax: 1 (312) 616-1878
Canadian Consulate General – Dallas
St Paul Place
750 North St Paul Street, Suite 1700
Tel: 1 (214) 922-9806
Fax: 1 (214) 922-9815
Canadian Consulate General – Detroit
600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1100
Tel: 1 (313) 567-2340
Fax: 1 (313) 567-2164
Canadian Consulate General – Los Angeles
550 South Hope Street, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, California
Tel: 1 (213) 346-2700
Fax: 1 (213) 346-2767
Canadian Consulate General – Miami
200 South Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 1600
Tel: 1 (305) 579-1600
Fax: 1 (305) 374-6774
Canadian Consulate General – Minneapolis
701 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 901
Tel: 1 (612) 332-7486
Fax: 1 (612) 332-4061
Canadian Consulate General – New York City
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York
Tel: 1 (212) 596-1628
Fax: 1 (212) 596-1790
Canadian Consulate General – San Francisco / Silicon Valley
580 California Street, 14th floor
San Francisco, California
Tel: (415) 834-3180
Fax: (415) 834-3189
Canadian Consulate General – Seattle
412 Plaza 600 Building
Sixth Avenue and Stewart Street
Tel: 1 (206) 443-1777
Fax: 1 (206) 443-9662
Visit the Canadian Association for Free Expression’s website:
Please support CAFE in our efforts:
CAFE, Box 332, Rexdale, ON., M9W 5L3, Canada or e-mail us your VISA number and expiry date.