Why is there still a border between the U.S. and Canada?

The United States and Canada have been close allies for many decades. The two countries are culturally very similar, their economies are closely connected. Wouldn’t it be beneficiary for the two nations to get rid of the border and thus follow the immensely successful and popular European Model?

On the contrary, Scott Walker (The “I can trump Trump when it comes to mad Republican ideas” one rather than “The Greatest Singer Of All Time” one) has suggested building a wall across the US-Canadian border. Too late to stop Justin Bieber, but it might keep Celine Dion out…

Different currency, different weights and measures, French language, gay marriage, universal health care, maternity/ paternity leave, equal school funding (rich area or poor!), etc. Too different for it to work ever, I think.

On the U.S. side? Trump, Palin, Bush.

You will find Canadians not even a little interested in joining up. There isn’t anything wrong with the current situation, so why fix it?

:confused: The only one of these things I’m even finding relevant is health care.

The Schengen Area includes areas with different currencies and (obviously) different languages. I don’t even understand the different weights and measures thing; are you afraid people will accidentally cross the border and not understand speed limits or something? The US has gay marriage. Why would it affect parental leave policies; surely labor laws would continue to be made by the local jurisdiction? And school funding is not a national issue in either country AFAIK and yet both have internal open borders. If you’re looking for vices that you don’t want crossing your border, look for something actually meaningful like guns, not buying gas by the gallon. :confused:

But I agree that it won’t happen. Security paranoia in the US and nationalist identity politics in Canada aren’t going away any time soon.

If the experience of the Schengen countries is anything to go by, I’d imagine Canada would be highly reluctant to have a common travel area with a country which appears to have massive inflows of irregular immigration from its neighbours on the other side. Common travel areas only work if all the partners trust each other’s external border controls: which is why Germany has, in effect, temporarily suspended Schengen and reinstated border controls.

Do we know how many attempted crossings at official ports of entry are denied in either direction? I’ve heard of people with drunk driving records being turned back when trying to enter Canada, and I know some smuggling gets shut down. Despite NAFTA there are some trade restrictions.

There is no practical reason the U.S. and Canada can’t have an open border. The health care issue is also an irrelevance; health care in Canada isn’t just walk-in-and-get-service, it requires the presentation of an appropriate identification that you’re eligible.

Absolutely, the USA and Canada could have a Schengen-style arrangement. The current requirement for passports (which only happened post-2001) is remarkably stupid.

The problem is wholly political. The border is politically important on both sides of the border, often irrationally so; we have a poster from Canada on the board who insisted allowing too many American tourists would cause Canada to stop being multicultural. Canadians are snobbily contemptuous of Americans, and Americans are fearful of anything and anyone outside America. Both sides have far too many people who would shriek bloody murder over any attempt, no matter how well planned and logical, to make the border open. A U.S. President that proposed it would be called soft on terrorism and security, and a Canadian PM who proposed it would be accused of selling out Canada’s independence.

Also, having multiple languages in the same country is actually very common. Canada itself has it - I have traveled between English Canada and French Canada without passing through any sort of border control. If you want to go to a place where the other language is spoken, you just go. The vast majority of people don’t get overwhelmed by the language issue. Over in Europe, some countries have two or even three official languages as well as language regions. If a monolingual French speaker decides to travel to the German speaking region of Switzerland and gets lost, that’s their fault. Adding passport checks wouldn’t fix it - immigration officials don’t screen for stupid. What are we going to do, add literacy, math, and unit of measurement tests at the border and require a specified minimum score to cross?

Right. You can’t get free health care in Canada just by showing up any more than you can “just show up” at a bank and withdraw money from other people’s accounts.

It’s actually a strange mix of strong similarities and major sociopolitical differences. To a foreigner making a superficial observation about similar regions in the two countries, such as Vermont and Quebec, or perhaps BC and Washington state, the two countries might seem almost identical.

But a closer examination reveals vast differences in the approach to health care, abortion rights, gay marriage, education funding, and many other things that may not necessarily be border issues in and of themselves, but they highlight a different sociopolitical climate. Other issues, though, like crime rates and gun control definitely would be border issues. A case in point is Detroit and Windsor, where nothing more than a 2 kilometer bridge – and a border – separates one of the most peaceful cities in Canada from the murder capital and most dangerous city in the US.

That said, it’s a shame because those cultural similarities that do exist have created a uniquely close relationship that in many respects is unique in the world, and there are certainly areas with similar demographics where the border is relatively open. There’s kids’ library in Vermont/Quebec that literally sits right on the border, which bisects the building. There are (or were) many other examples like that, including farms that cross the border, but post-9/11 paranoia has been eliminating or restricting a lot of that. And in many places, like the Detroit-Windsor situation, border enforcement is really essential. So it’s a complicated mixed bag.

Too late to stop Celine, too – she practically lives in Vegas these days. But I would personally contribute to the cost of a TrumpWall™ if it would keep 'em both from coming back. You can keep Shatner, too.

There is a line between both countries. What do you want to call it?

Possibly because erasing it would raise the question of why there is still a border between the U.S. and Mexico, and even discussing that would lead to . . . unfortunate implications . . .

Well, let’s be candid: It’s not exactly a secret that there are some individuals who intend to enter the United States from Mexico without asking for permission to do so first. Therefore, a guarded border makes sense. But isn’t it true that there aren’t really that many Canadians who would want to sneak into the U.S. (and vice versa)?

Before 9/11 the border basically was open in a lot of the especially more rural parts of the country. The border crossings would often be unmanned and while I think you were supposed to mail something in, people often didn’t.

The big thing that changed is that in addition to the general post-9/11 paranoia on the US side, Canada passed some gun control legislation that went into effect roughly around the same time. Even though the current Canadian government has eased up somewhat, that’s still the biggest area where the two countries’ laws don’t really mesh.

How about non-Canadians who are in Canada?

True, but given it’s geography, Canada is in a comfortable position to efficiently control who is entering the country (I guess). The foreigners who do get in have been carefully screened and there should be little incentive for these people to give up their hard-earned legal status in Canada by sneaking over the boarder into the U.S.(?).

A European-style model would be problematic. The EU runs on a basis that countries have influence based on population size (so Germany has more MEPs than the UK, and both have tons more than Malta, for example); Canada and the US would be enormously imbalanced. There’s nothing in it in Canada’s favour.

I’m not suggesting that the U.S. and Canada merge into one country, just getting rid of a guarded common border.

Another important point I forgot to make is that existing border controls between the U.S. and Canada are largely an impediment to people who have legitimate or innocent business.

Outside of the notable border crossings, border monitoring is sketchy or nonexistent. A smuggler or ne’er-do-well of some sort who wants to cross the border away from the prying eyes of the authorities can do so with almost preposterous ease. It is almost impossible to overstate, if you aren’t from here, how amazingly vast and empty the border is. No two countries have as long a border and most of it is simply an imaginary line cutting through country or a body of water. There’s two thousand kilometres of border where a used 4-by-4 truck can take you across far from any formal border crossing. Or you can hop in an 18-foot boat and cross a Great Lake or a river and the odds of being detected are maybe one in a zillion. If you do get caught just say you were out boating or fishing and went a little too far. Hell, a decent swimmer could literally just do a freestyle from one country to the other in some spots and there is nothing to stop them.

Consequently, existing controls on ordinary folks are really mostly a case of spending a huge amount of money holding up people who don’t deserve it, catching incredibly incompetent villains, or giving people shit over whether they’re bringing across two bottles of vodka or three and whether they spend 47 hours in the USA or 49. It is, to be honest, kind of stupid, at least insofar as it applies to Americans and Canadians.

Canada has always had much tougher gun control than the U.S., at least in my lifetime.

Americans DO bring weapons into Canada for legitimate purposes, like hunting; you have to fill out a form or two but it’s not that hard (and vice versa.) And, again, if you really want to get illegal guns across, you can do so, and easily. The people caught with illegal guns are mostly doofuses who forgot to take their Glock out of the glove compartment.

But if you have a common travel area, you have no border checks in either direction, by definition. So Canada might well not want to risk opening itself to uncontrolled irregular migration from even further south than the US.

Refugees passing through the US to Canada are turned back to the US as the US counts as a safe haven where the refugee can ask for refuge.