According to The Canadian Press, the Canada Border Services Agency received over 100 founded complaints from travellers in 2017-2018 including allegations of rudeness, disrespect and racism.
With millions of travellers passing through the border every year, the number of complaints is a tiny fraction of all interactions, but still something to be taken seriously.
So we asked our readers: Have you ever had an incident with a Canadian border official?
With 51 per cent saying yes and 49 per cent saying no, the vote is split almost evenly down the middle.
On the Yahoo Canada Facebook page, people had mostly complimentary things to say about the CBSA:
“We crossed almost every single weekend during the winter for almost 30 years (to go skiing) Maybe once we encountered a negative experience. And 100 complaints relative to how many travellers? This is insignificant.”
“We have a trailer in the US, so we cross EVERY weekend! Never had any problems with the Canadian or the US Border Guards. Very friendly people. Don’t give them any flack, and they won’t give you any. Just answer their questions.”
In the comment section of the Yahoo Canada article, while mostly people has positive things to say, a negatives stand out:
“I’ve been saying this for a while now. Canadian border guards are the worst I have ever encountered. Say what you want about the US but their border guards are way better in comparison. Every single Canadian border guard I have ever dealt with has been an unpleasant experience. They accost me for returning to my own country. In their defense though they are probably sick and tired needing a translator for every single “Canadian” returning to Canada…”
“They have a job to do, but they can do it without attitude and rudeness, wonder how they would like to be treated.”
And a few offered insight on why travellers might be cranky with the agency:
“By the time you get to the border people you are pooped and anything that inconveniences you might be called an “issue”…..”
“These people are stern and matter of fact. They are not there to be anyone friend and generally I am at the end of my trip, tired and I tell them what they want to know so I can go home.”
In research collected by EKOS for the CBSA, many Canadians noted that the cancelled television show Border Security: Canada’s Front Line remains a key source for them on information about the border.
“The Border Security television program was commonly cited as a source of information that provided a window into the work that CBSA does and generally seemed to contribute to a greater appreciation of it,” the report notes.
Starting in 2012, the show captured real encounters between border officers and the public. The show ended in 2014 after issues with privacy, but to this day, reruns of the show still air.
“Respondents were asked if they had ever personally done any of several things to get information about crossing the border, or about a CBSA program or service. Most often, they say they watched the television program Border Security: Canada’s Front Line (43 per cent),” reads the report.