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This article was published 24/7/2017 (1042 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Cottagers on Lake Metigoshe, which is on the Manitoba-North Dakota border, can boat freely again without risk of becoming international fugitives.
A security crackdown that required boaters to report to Canada Customs every time they crossed an imaginary boundary on border-straddling lakes has been removed, thanks to efforts by Manitoba Conservative MP Larry Maguire and Ontario Sen. Bob Runciman. Now, boaters will only have to report if they step foot on the American side of the lake, as was the case before last year.
Noreen Johnston, a Metigoshe resident who can throw a stone from her dock and hit the imaginary border line, was relieved.
"It was a thorn. We have such little Canadian water on Lake Metigoshe. Every time you get into a boat, you wind up on the American side," she said.
In that case, you had to report to Canada Customs on a special customs phone on the public beach. The reporting didn’t always go well, either. One woman was on hold 40 minutes during a thunderstorm while waiting to be processed, Johnston said.
In another case, a customs officer on the other end of the country demanded to know how deep the caller’s boat sat in the water, as if he was navigating an oil tanker on the Great Lakes.
Callers had to provide a passport number and several other details, depending on the customs officer. If accompanied by friends, or children’s friends, that was almost impossible.
Even the public boat launch on Lake Metigoshe is virtually on the boundary; once boaters launch craft in the water, they’re in the United States.
Metigoshe, south of Brandon, is a good-sized lake with a circumference of about 120 kilometres. The ruling, which is already in place, affects 220 cottages and permanent residences on the Canadian side of Lake Metigoshe, as well as visitors to the lake.
Maguire met with officials from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office last fall, who agreed the crackdown was unreasonable. Sen. Runciman brought forward legislation that received royal assent at the end of June.
"(Canada Customs) had decided they were going to enforce something that had never been an issue," Maguire said. "It didn’t seem to make any common sense."
Only 10 to 15 per cent of the lake is within Canada. "If you had everyone waterskiing in that little area, there’d be accidents all over the place," Maguire said.
Before last year’s crackdown, which the federal government said was merely enforcement of the law, Manitoba boaters were required to report only if they docked on the American side.
In that case, they would report to the U.S. authorities when docking and to Canadian authorities upon return, using the direct phone set up at the local beach on the Canadian side.
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