Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh Canada, for shame.

It was an exciting day filled with the promise of travel and the expectation of escaping Arizona’s summer heat. On June 22, 2010, Mary Anne and James Davis headed up to Nova Scotia to live for the summer, the same as they had done for the last 17 years.

It came as a shock when the border guard denied entry to the elderly Mr. Davis, on the basis of two ancient misdemeanor charges. He and his wife were advised to leave the country immediately, on the very next flight, or risk detainment.

Why now and not before? The security regarding entry into Canada hasn't changed since 9/11. As many less famous people have experienced, the border guard they dealt with was on a power trip. As a result, after 14 hours of travel, they turned around and started the trek home.

James G. Davis is an American born artist, rather well known, and extraordinarily talented. A long time ago in younger, brasher days, James was arrested for disorderly conduct. Not all that shocking considering it was 1953. Those were the beatnik years; you were supposed to get arrested! (That’s how you graduated to beret status! First you stole a black sweater to get your white beret, hitchhiking across state lines gained you the privilege of sporting yellow. Only Black berets were allowed to hang out in public, as they were the masters; they could chain smoke a dozen hand rolled cigarettes in 10 minutes flat while reciting the latest from Ginsberg.) Seriously, decades later, after starting his family, James had 1 conviction for impaired driving. That was 26 years ago.

Artist Turner G. Davis, (who recently made it to the second try out for Bravo's "Work of Art" but, much to Bravo’s loss, was not accepted into the final) had this to say regarding the incident: "My father is 79 and doesn't even drive”.

According to other seasonal Canadian residents, the treatment by Canada’s border personnel has been nothing short of disgusting. They will often strip the cars of elderly couples, pulling everything out, then leave the mess for these folks to pick up, saying it's not their job to put it back. For many, the amount of work involved in packing everything back up in one day just isn't possible.

Most ironic is the attitude of some Canadians who responded to the Chronicle Herald article regarding the Davis matter.* Some are saying we Americans deserve this, arguing that our border guards do the same type of thing. We don't; I looked it up and you can too.** We don't deny entry for misdemeanor charges. (We also haven't recently stalked attractive women and used their passports to hit on them. The entire border guard could benefit from undergoing a review, and perhaps some training?) Many, and thankfully the majority, of responders to the previously mentioned article are astonished and upset by this incident. “The gallery {Studio 21} has been really REALLY outraged and supportive, as have been a TON of our Canadian brethren”, said Turner Davis.

Snowbirds fund a large portion of the tourism economy throughout Canada. According to Mary Anne Davis, they are Canadian taxpayers and own a home there. So why, dear neighbors to the north, are you turning away such a dependable economic resource?

Mr. James Davis was scheduled to show his work in Halifax, Nova Scotia next summer, bringing his gorgeous modern pieces to Studio 21 gallery and sharing culture, beauty, and thought provoking images with his beloved neighbors, friends, and the public. Bringing high quality art to the area benefits the entire community.

Too bad for you, Canada. We're more than happy to take him.

Painting: The Fisherman by James G. Davis
Photographed: Artists James G. and Turner Davis

* (http://thechronicleherald.ca/Search/1188789.html)

** (http://help.cbp.gov/cgi-bin/customs....i=&p_topview=1 Customs.gov: At this time, driving under the influence, breaking and entering, disorderly conduct and simple assault are not considered crimes that make a person inadmissible to the U.S. )

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