Canada

I posted pictures from Toronto in Facebook that should be accessible by anyone, even if they do not have a Facebook account.

I am not sure where I learned all of the words to the Canadian National Anthem. As always, the people were very friendly. NIU played very well during the first half of the game, but that did not last. I hope the students who went had some time to see at least part of the city. Toronto is a great city, although probably more enjoyable in July than January. This was my second trip to Toronto and fifth trip to Canada. Of course, the hotel prices were less. I did not go on New Year’s Eve, which I am sure had jacked up prices but I did find a package hotel deal with the airplane tickets at a very low price.

On airport security, the Canadians do it right. James Bond himself could not smuggle an exploding ballpoint pen past Canadian security at the airport. I never saw anything like this. In response to the Christmas Day ‘underwear bomber,’ the Canadian government recently issued new guidelines. For all planes going from Canada to the United States, there is a prohibition on carry on baggage, and even large purses. The overnight bag I brought with me as a carry on had to be checked for the flight out of Toronto. The checked bag went through x-ray right on the spot before they took it away. For the people traveling to the U.S., once they passed regular security, which most people going to any airport should be familiar with, there was additional security close to the departure gates. I knew about the restriction on all carry on bags but I did not know about the extra security check. Had I known, I might have put some liquid things in my overnight, checked bag. There was a thorough pat down by a female security officer then a male officer took apart the contents of my purse. I had my one-quart, three- clear plastic bag of three-ounce liquids in my purse. I usually put that in my carry on (which was no longer a carry on). But, I had to change planes in Detroit. If I got stuck between planes with a major delay, I at least wanted access to my toothpaste. Little did I know what was to happen next to my toothpaste. The security officer unscrewed the tops of the toothpaste, shampoo, pill bottles, toothbrush, and everything else, oh, and he smelled all of them. He also went through the wallet and I had to turn on the cell phone and alarm clock. Additionally, he unscrewed all of the four pens I had in my purse and made sure they were real pens.

Now, imagine Americans going through security and some guy going through their wallets. Imagine how many phone calls would go to the ACLU over airport security opening up everyone’s shampoo bottles and going through their medicines. Americans seem to rely on technology instead of humans, and machines like those that almost see through clothing seem to be coming next.

I cannot imagine the chaos at the airport if Americans adopted the new Canadian security. Many Americans do not like being touched and they do not like anyone touching their stuff. But, it sends a loud and clear message to terrorists–forget about even trying to get on a plane leaving Canada for the U.S. with something naughty.

Canadians top anything we have in the United States. Canadians top the Germans and Swiss with their secondary x-ray machines right near the gates. Canadians top the British with Heathrow not announcing gates until closer to departure time. Canadians may equal the British with their separate x-rays for shoes and explosives sniffing box machine. Canadians top the Turks and the Indians who also x-ray all of the bags right when people walk in the door, before they can get to the ticket counters.

The question, however, is how much will Americans tolerate in the roughly three in 650 million chance that someone plans to bring something naughty on a plane?

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