Anything to declare?

It’s alright for Donald Trump to call Justin Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest.” It’s even OK for the president to threaten that there will be no NAFTA. But to claim that Canadians smuggle shoes into Canada that they’ve bought in the U.S., now that’s really hitting close to home. Because it’s true. It is our metier.

You can always tell the Canadians in the shopping mall parking lot. They take everything out of the J.C. Penney bags and dump the empty bags in the garbage can. Next, they clip off the price tags, scuff the shoes, and stuff the other purchases into the trunk just as if they’d been there since spring break.

I have to confess to a bit of smuggling myself in the distant past. I’d gone over the border at Niagara Falls for a few hours with my late wife and her shopping friend. It was a hot summer’s day. On the return trip, we stopped to report to Canada Customs. I was sitting in the back seat of the car wearing three new golf shirts, one on top of the other, and sweating profusely. I listened carefully as the officer asked the others if they’d bought anything. “No, no, we were just visiting the Albright-Knox Art Gallery,” they said, flashing their best smiles. Then, he gave me the evil eye, and said, “Citizenship?” It was a question I was not expecting. I guess my guilt got the better of me, because I blurted “Presbyterian.” He looked so baffled that he just waved us through.

If Trump thinks we’re smugglers now, just wait until the Canadian dollar gets back somewhere near par again. We’ll smuggle him blind. And not just shoes, either.

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