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The worries of a businessman at the border

In 1981, when he was a student at the university, Pierre Sévigny was taken in a story pyramid plan. "It's a trick to make easy money. I was sent before the judge and I was sentenced for fraud. I had to pay a $2500 fine and I had a criminal record, "he says. To launder his reputation, Mr. Sévigny obtained a Pardon a few years later.

Businessman busy, he then travelled on numerous occasions to the USA. He also lived in Sweden for four years. But last March, U.S. Customs agents have refused to let him pass. "For whatever reason, they knew that I had already had a criminal record. They do not really want that I cross the border, "he says.

Mr. Sévigny was initially surprised by this refusal. "I repeated that I had obtained a Pardon, but customs officials were laughing. They said that the terrorists who blew up a nightclub in Indonesia had also obtained a Pardon. What ridiculous comparison! "Protests businessman.

Since customers were waiting in New York, Mr. Sévigny protested. "I said that I had not committed violent crime. I talked to my clients. I was finally passed with a special permit, but I've made it clear that henceforth I would be banned as I would not have the waiver, "he said.

Cases like that of Mr. Sévigny, the company Identification Canada sees more and more. "In addition to businessmen and travelers, those most affected by the tightening of border controls are truckers," says co-owner of the company, Steeve Hollingworth.

For a truck driver, obtain a waiver is a real ordeal. "It's so long! While waiting to have their waiver, drivers are forced to remain in Canada. If they still try to cross the border, their truck can be seized, "said Jean-Claude Fortin, chairman of the transportation company J.-E. Fortin, Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

And even with their temporary permit, truck drivers are penalized. "At customs, they are automatically escorted out. They lose a lot of time and, in the trucking industry, every minute counts, "says Fortin.

The customs have assured him that the procedure would be amended in September. "I hope this will be done. Because, currently, a driver can be seriously penalized just because he stole a chocolate bar in his youth. "

Ariane Lacoursière

August 5, 2007 - 07h11
La Presse