As I contemplate the happenings of the last 4 days I'm trying to figure out where to start, but I suppose the best place would have to be right from the beginning...the ride up from Boston.
My friend and I set out on our journey a few days ago. We were having a nice ride right up until we hit the gates to Montreal and encountered one nasty female border paTROLLer. After answering the usual array of questions and just about getting ready to exit she asked one final question..."Have you ever been before a judge?" For me this wasn't a problem as I've never been arrested before, but my friend who I've been best of friends with since we were toddlers hasn't been so lucky. He couldn't lie to her so he answered truthfully that "yes" he had been before a judge in the past, (16 years ago mind you). She then reached out for one of her yellow pads, filled it out, and asked us to come inside for a chat with immigration....Here we go.....
Sitting inside the Border Patrol station I was shocked to see NO ONE around from the immigration dept. Must we have interrupted their lunch? We sat quietly for about 20 minutes before a pleasant older lady asked us to approach her desk. Again we went through the same questions, handed over our licenses, and at the end she asked the "Judge" one. At this point she then asked my friend if he had ever been convicted of a crime in the US? To which he honestly replied "yes" he had. A stern look came across the previous pleasant face of this lady and the next words out of her mouth almost ruined our trip. "You can't come into Canada if you've ever been convicted of ANY crime in your life" Four hours driving and bang...a hard shot to the gut from this lady...
The immigration officer (IO from now on) asked us to take another seat, then took our licenses to the back to run record checks on the two of us. Again we sat...stewing and angry but all the while being extremely polite to the IO. All I was thinking was "dude, we're all the way up here you're gonna have to hop a bus back to Beantown!!"
Another 15 minutes goes by and she asks my friend to come with her to the back for some more questioning. Here's what happened back there...She asked him what his arrests were for, the outcomes, etc. All the while as I said previously he was acting like an angel. He politely explained to her that he was a young kid when he got into trouble and hadn't been in any sort of trouble at all for the past 16 years. He was last in Canada in 2001 and didn't have any problems entering at that time even when asked to come inside again and speak to immigration, giving them the same exact answers as today.
In the end she said "ok, you've been very forthcoming with your answers and extremely polite, so I'm not going to detain you here for hours while we wait for your information to come back from Boston (the system was down, thank the lord she didn't see his full history) She said there's no way that you should've been allowed into the country back in 2001 and that this time would be the last time he'd be welcome back into Canada. With that we were finally on our way downtown with a huge sigh of relief!!!
Pt. 2 to follow