Category Archives: Things Canadian

Cost of CDN passport: over $1000. Happiness resulting from travel: priceless

For those of you following my blog, you’ll know that I was forced to fly to Vancouver to get a new passport because the Canadian consulates in the US no longer offer that service to Canadians living in the US. Not only is this super-annoying, but it is also super-expensive.

The costs of airfare, hotel, taxis, food, consultants, an urgency fee, and the passport itself came to $872 dollars. But that isn’t the worst part. It was actually much more expensive than that because it used up 24 hours of my time and the time of the THREE Canadian references that the government forces you to provide. I arrived at the passport office at 7:30 am this morning and left at 3:45 pm this afternoon. This huge time sink included talking with 3 security guards, 1 notary, 1 consultant, and 5 passport Canada officials.

The people working at passport Canada in Vancouver were very polite and much more helpful than the people at the Canadian consulate in San Francisco, but it was still a huge expenditure of effort for something that shouldn’t be so difficult. Or expensive.

Canadian Consulate disappointment

I haven’t written about Canadian issues in a while because I’ve been super-busy tracking tech stuff, but after my experience at Canada’s San Francisco consulate today, I feel obligated to warn other Canadians in the US who may suffer the same fate.

Here’s the nasty scoop on inefficient Canadian bureaucrats and on renewing your passport if you have time constraints:

My passport is still valid, but I have run out of pages (yes, a lot of travel in the last year), so I either need new pages or a new passport. Here is what I learned: Canada no longer issues extra pages, so if you run out, you need a new passport. The other bad change in policy is that you can no longer get a passport through the LA Consulate. In fact, according to the non-helpful official at the front desk at the SF Consulate, NONE of the US-based Canadian consulates can issue passports.

My problem is that I have already paid for a rather expensive non-refundable ticket to China and I have 8 days left to get a Canadian passport that has space for a Chinese visa. The SF Consulate official told me I can fly to Vancouver to try to get a passport, but she wouldn’t tell me anything else. Like, what if I fly there and they won’t issue it for another week? Then I have wasted my time. Now, you’re probably thinking that there’s someone I can call to ask if it’s at all possible to get a rush passport. The answer is NO. No one answers the phones at any of the Consulates or at the passport office – if you want a human you have to physically show up at their office. All the phone will get you is pre-recorded information with an answering machine. You can leave a message on the machine, but no one is likely to call you back. Not within 8 days at least. When did things get this bad?

Stephen Harper and his advisors are smart people, so I would have thought that they’d be managing things better than this. Tomorrow, I’m going to contact a private company that promises to help Canadians navigate through the nasty bureaucratic mess that is the Canadian passport system. I will post an update as things progress. Until then, please wish me luck. I WILL need it.

U.S. group says Canada should be blacklisted over piracy

The International Intellectual Property Alliance told US government officials that 14 countries, including Canada, should be placed on a watch-list with other countries like China and Russia that don’t respect intellectual property.

Canadians are probably gushing over this news as most of them relish the idea of rebelling against their larger neighbor to the south.

Colby Cosh on the “Great Right North’s” social policies

In this LA Times op-ed (link will expire), Cosh makes some great points about Canada. Perhaps the most humorous was his observation about how Canada’s new conservative government will affect pot smokers. He writes:

The new regime is likely to end the recent drift toward decriminalization of soft drugs, so visitors will still have to consume marijuana with discretion. On the other hand, Liberal proposals to apply special taxes on junk food are also dead. For frequent pot users, it sounds like a wash.

Too funny.

Canada has a new Prime Minister

This was a long time coming and it’s too bad the Conservatives only won a minority. Stephen Harper, Canada’s 22nd PM, is incredibly smart and a good guy too. I knew him back when we both worked in Preston Manning’s office and the name of the political party was Reform.

Rick Mercer has a blog

Now that Canada’s parliament has been dissolved and Canadians face yet another federal election, it will be fun to read Rick Mercer’s blog. In case you don’t know who Mercer is, he’s one of Canada’s best political satirists — highly recommended! Thanks to Chris for pointing this out.

Canadian Ambassador Takes on Fox News?

Did you know that:

– Canada is the largest source of imported crude oil in the U.S., bigger than Saudi Arabia or the yet untested reserves of Iraq.

-Canada has rotated 13,500 troops in the war on terror, has committed $300 million to rebuilding Iraq and is about to deploy a reconstruction team to Afghanistan.

-None of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists entered the U.S. from Canada.

-Canada-U.S. trade supports more than 5 million American jobs.

Canada’s Ambassador thinks you didn’t know these things and he thinks Fox News is partly to blame, according to this news piece.

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada Day. If you knew that, you might want to try out this test of Canadian history.

Saul Bellow

Canadian-born author Saul Bellow passed away today. He might be gone, but his books are still here. I read Ravelstein a few years ago and loved it.

NHL cancels season

The Stanley Cup will not be awarded for the first time since 1919. A sad situation for everyone: the players, fans, and others whose employment depends on the game.

NHL news not good

If you’re a hockey fan, the news last Friday wasn’t good. Already 775 of the season’s 1230 games have been cancelled and there’s still no end in sight. Maybe it’s time to switch to basketball — a game invented by Canadians.

“Canadians in the US” list ends

Those of you who were on my “Canadiansintheus” mailing list will by now have a note in your inbox saying that the list came to an end today. I moderated the list for a few years, but now it’s time to move all that commentary here, to my blog. Welcome, fellow ex-pats, to my newest online spot!