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Canada’s border policy should be revisited

We all make mistakes. Sometimes, they can cost us money, a job, or even earn us time in jail. As individuals, we can learn from those mistakes, smooth over the rough patch our life has become, and move on to become positive forces within our communities. In all but the most extreme circumstances, our society makes allowances for such things. We live and we learn.

Now, try explaining that to a border control officer on the way to Montreal with a mini van full of family members looking forward to spending a day at the Biodome. Chances are, if you have had more than two arrestable offenses in your lifetime you'll be making a quick U-turn back onto I-87 and will soon find yourself discussing other options with your perturbed family.

This is a familiar scenario in the North Country, one that is as frustrating as it is puzzling. If you haven't heard this one before, take note—if you have committed two arrestable offenses in your lifetime, you can be denied access to Canada. Some offenses, like a DUI, a lesser form of a DWI in New York State, only take one strike before you’re out.

Canada has a deal with the U.S. that allows its officers access to U.S. databases; specifically, arrest records. Some infractions, like driving while under the influence, are considered serious crimes in Canada.

On the surface, it doesn't seem so bad. They're just trying to keep criminals at bay, right?

But what about the man who was a hellion in college, and was arrested for defacing a street sign one night, and for getting into a bar fight another. Sure, those things should be punished, but there is a line between scofflaw and malefactor.

Let's fast forward 20 years. That same hellion is now married, the head of a company, has two children he’s now getting ready to put through college, and is an active member of his community, the same one he raised a ruckus in as a 20-something. Is he not redeemed? At what point should someone's dues be paid?

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