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Screwing with the Government

Steve Campbell

This is actually the antithesis of this story. By that I mean, I do not screw with the government. If the government asks me to send them money, I send it. I don’t question it, even if I have no idea why I’m doing it. Somewhere there’s a big black chalkboard (or maybe a computer) with my name on it and, if I kick up a fuss (such as asking why do I need to pay this?) it will flag me as a ‘person of interest’, and I will end up in a federal prison with duct tape on my mouth.
At least that’s how I deal with the government: No long-term incarceration by questioning the wisdom of Revenue Canada. This has worked so far.
But the point of this article is that the government really sucks. I can say this out loud, because they know they really suck, and can’t prove otherwise in a court of law.
From here on in, I’ll be mixing up provincial idiocy with federal idiocy. If you can figure out which is which, let them know, because they’re idiots, and can’t figure it out on their own. So down to points.

Non-Service Ontario
When my Mom died, I was advised to turn her licence in to Service Ontario. I entered the building to face two officers who asked: “Federal or Provincial?” Took me by surprise, but provincial. “Go to that desk,” and he pointed. So far so good, except really weird. Maybe they were expecting an attack by people stealing trailer permits. Strange nonetheless.
So I go The Desk, and say: “My mother has died, and I guess I’m supposed to turn in her driver’s licence.” That was a yes? So I’m good to go? No. “You need to make an appointment.”
“But I’ve got the card right here … can’t I just give it to you?”
“You need to make an appointment.”
“Seriously? I’m here right now! I kind of figured I would hand you the licence and you would thank me, and process it.” But no. So I tried to make an appointment: “I’ll be back in town on Friday. Can I book an appointment for 1 p.m.?”
Sounds reasonable, right? But no. “Appointments can’t be booked more than 24 hours before the appointment. Call us for an appointment within 24 hours of the appointment you need, or go on our website.”
Me, being me, said: “I was told to bring this to you … for YOU. I don’t want this, or care about it. I was told YOU want this. If you want it, come and find it.” They did not.

Not done yet …
My son informed me on a Zoom call with family that I needed to renew my licence. I wisely informed him that Ford wiped out licence fees. But no. Even though we didn’t need to pay for licence renewals (Yay!) we still had to renew our licence through their website. It was free, but if you didn’t do it, you can be charged on the road – for non-renewal of a free update. How the hell did he find that out? I get 75 emails a day, and never got that one.
Only the government can change the rules, and not tell anybody about it. They offer you a free service, then fine you if you don’t take it. Don’t let Amazon and Walmart know about this. Those sweet offers of cheap merchandise might land you in jail!

And now, the Feds
First, my name is actually Angus McTavish, and I live in a huge mansion on Waupoos Island. I have a huge arsenal of military stuff, 150 kilos of high-grade cocaine and some other illegal addictive things.
Since the feds stopped reading there, and have gone searching Waupoos Island, I have stories to tell.
I once sent a fax (remember those?) to the feds. I got a reply that I had sent it to the wrong floor. So I called, to find out the right number. Turns out my fax was sent to 4th floor, and was told my intended recipient was on 5th floor. I needed to resend. “Can’t you just walk it up one floor?” I asked. “No.” This was an early introduction into how government worked, i.e. really poorly.

A Canadian trying to get back into Canada
This might be a book title, but instead it’s a nightmare. My one seven-day break in the year is to go to beloved N’Orlins in October. Everything is arranged: flight, parking, accommodations in NOLA – everything was a breeze.
Last trip, I was stalled at Louis Armstrong airport, because I didn’t have an ArriveCan app on my phone. Louisiana didn’t care, but I could not go back home without filling out this ungodly long survey on my wretched cellphone which included EVERY BIT of information my Canada already had from my passport and any other bits of info at their disposal. It took me two hours in the airport to complete it. It got me through the gate, but I needed a recent COVID test to board the plane. This sent me to downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, with a $100 return cab fare and a $300 COVID test. I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but I could have flown into Russia with less trouble.

And now, once again…
So now, somewhat smarter, I worked through the ArriveCan app in advance. I spent two hours setting it up, and got a notice that I needed to do this all again within 72 hours of departure from N’Orlins. Keep in mind I have only one objective: to come home. My second objective was to stay in N’Orlins forever and, considering that Canada did not seem to want me back, that was a fairly attractive alternative. But there’s only so much gumbo, po’boys, etoufée, jazz, rock, blues, zydeco – and young women with a propensity for pulling up their shirts in return for beads – I can take in one week.
The weird thing is, as I went through pages and pages of entries in ArriveCan, I had to say: “You know all that! Everything I’ve entered is on my driver’s licence and my passport! You have a record of my vaccines! You know more about me than my mother! You know I prefer popcorn to peanuts, but also both together in a caramel coating.”
I’m a friggin’ Canadian! Why is it so hard for me to get back home? How dare I for going to Louisiana, now I need to pay the price.
This may be a protection measure, but the feds should catch up with what’s going on now. Catching up will happen by 2025. This is not the glorious ‘O Canada’ this is the “O not really catching up, we’ll get ‘round to it, we have people somewhere doing stuff, and I’m pretty sure they’ll actually know what’s going on right now in a few short years.”
One last thing, because you know I hate stupid rules. When I finally boarded the plane home in Charlotte, we were all required to wear masks. Having gone through what I went through, I looked around and thought, “Everyone on this plane has had a clear COVID test, just like me, or we could not be on this plane.”
So why do we need to wear masks for our flight? Clearly everybody is clean, or they would not be on our plane. Rules are made. It takes longer to break them down. Easy to impose, hard to shut down.

  • Steve Campbell is editor and publisher of County Magazine, and the author of several books, including The County Handbook: How to Survive in Prince Edward County.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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