Every year I call the Ministry of Natural Resources Department in Ontario and purchase my Canadian fishing license — an expensive transaction. But I do so because I fish the St. Lawrence River. And as most people are aware, somewhere in the middle of the river is the border that separates the U.S. from the Great White North. And since there’s no visual evidence of said border, I’m never quite sure where I am — country-wise.
The process isn’t that simple because you can’t just buy a Canadian license, you are also required to fulfill other obligations. First, you have to secure an Outdoor Card, which is good for 3 years,. If you don’t buy it, you can’t get a fishing license. Next, you have to sign an affidavit promising to never utter a disparaging word about curling, Paul Anka or the CFL. And finally, you are mandated by standard-operating-procedure to say/ask “ay?” after every other sentence.
Like I said, it’s not easy.
This year, after I had already bought the license, it was announced that the license holder is obligated — by Canadian law — to notify authorities every time he enters that country’s waters. (“Announced” by way of a newspaper report that an American fisherman was fined $1,000 for wandering over the border without “proper” notification. At least, that’s the way I found out about it.)
Apparently, Canada doesn’t understand the concept of why an American buys a Canadian fishing license and the scenario that is tied into it. It’s not that hard to figure out: If someone from the U.S. buys a Canadian license, then that person is probably going to fish in Canadian waters. And obviously, if that person is going to fish there, then that person will be entering Canadian waters. Duh!
Wouldn’t you think that the process would automatically incorporate the applicant’s name into the system, thus eliminating the redundancy of notification? Can’t they check the individual’s history to see if he or she is a threat? It’s only common sense.
Not happy with the situation, I called the same office back to register my complaint.
“Good afternoon, this is the Natural Resources Department. Ken Adian speaking. How can I help you?”
“Yes, Ken Adian, I’m a citizen of the U.S. and I bought a Canadian fishing license. I’m calling about this nonsense of having to call every time I drift into Canadian waters. When I bought the license you asked, and I told you where I’d be fishing. I paid dearly for that license — I might add — and now you’re throwing after-the-purchase stipulations at me?”
“Security, Mr. Valley. We have to keep our guard up.”
“Security? Do you really think an old man, his flea-infested dog and a can of worms are going to bring your country to its knees? And is a terrorist really going to call ahead to let you know he’s on his way to Ottawa?”
“That’s not funny. We here in Canada take our national defense very seriously. We have a cracker-jack Coast Guard that is always on high alert.”
“Oh really? Did they get a new fleet of canoes?” I asked out of frustration. “My friends and I should have invaded your country when we were 10-year-olds. Fed up listening to ‘Diana’ and ‘Put Your Head on my Shoulder,’ we were going to row across the river with our BB guns and put a stop to it. Unfortunately, we didn’t and ‘You’re Having My Baby’ soon hit the airwaves. What the hell’s the matter with you people?”
“Why don’t you just stay on your side and fish — I think that would be best, Mr. Valley.”
“How am I supposed to know which side I’m on? Where’s the line?”
“I suggest you use a GPS system.”
“A GPS system? The most expensive thing I’ve got in my boat is that damn Canadian fishing license!”
“Then maybe, you should just take up curling, ay?”
Maybe I should.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I didn’t forget — and I never will.
And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.