I was banned from Canada for ten years and didn't even know it!
It was a result of that Obstruction of a Public Officer charge outside Area 51 in the mid-1990s. You remember: I was arrested for pushing down the door locks of the vehicle I was riding in when the county Sheriff tried to seize the video tape we were carrying. It was an act of civil disobedience, because all film and video seized previously was never returned or accounted for. I fought the law, and the law won, but the stakes were pretty low. In America, it was a misdemeanor charge, which doesn't seriously count against you when applying for work or even for a security clearance.
In Canada, however, it gets you the Death Penalty.
Turns out, Canada's border regulations are so strict that any American convicted of ANY crime beyond a speeding ticket is automatically banned from entering the country. I found out about this about a month ago when I happened to pass through a corner of Ontario while driving across the continent. (It was a "short cut" I thought.) Canadian Customs called my aside for the Third Degree. They let me pass but only because more than ten years had passed since my conviction.
I am retroactively outraged! Who does Canada think it is? It's swaggering around like it was a real country that people wanted to go to.
Now don't get me wrong: Canada is a very nice "country," but an optional one. It's one of the indistinct Belgiums of the world, not like a France or Germany or anything (which I have never had any trouble getting into). If Canada fell off the face of the Earth, it would be tragic for all the Canadians, BUT WOULD ANYBODY ELSE REALLY NOTICE?
Turns out even George Bush might have been technically banned from Canada due to his previous DUI conviction, so I'm in good company (sort of). Peace activists have been barred because they were arrested for some minor act of civil disobedience in the States.
Apparently, this has always been true, but now Canadian Customs has computer systems linked to the FBI, so they can actually check for convictions. If you've been convicted for littering within the past ten years, you might not get in.
To be fair, it also works the other way. Via email, I heard a sad story from a Canadian who was foolish enough to cross the Area 51 border in the 1990s (or the Nellis Range border in the Tikaboo Valley). He didn't get far, was caught and paid a fine in Lincoln County Kangaroo Court, but the next time he tried to enter the U.S., he couldn't. That's a lot more of a burden, because the United States, to a Canadian, is not an optional country.
I still say "Screw It!"—Canada, that is. I'll visit Europe instead and spend my (very limited) money there.
Give me a call when you have a grown-up country, eh?
BTW: I am so (retroactively) angry with Canada that I joined the I Hate Canada Group on Facebook.