COLUMN: ‘Homeland’ security isn’t just about people

As you look over your wish list, and wonder if you’ve been naughty or nice, remember this …

As you look over your wish list, and wonder if you’ve been naughty or nice, remember this … it’s not just Santa who is checking it twice, as I learned from someone recently.

Seems with all the “improving access to the U.S.” going on right now between Canada and the States, more and more information on Canadians and their backgrounds is being dredged up, and checked when you try to cross the border.

Thus, next time you consider crossing what was once the longest ‘undefended border’ in the world, remember that Homeland Security has an incredible amount of information and is not so willing to overlook anything, no matter how long ago it occurred.

If there was ever an event in your past that could be remotely ‘shady,’  you better dredge your memory because you could be asked about it, and find yourself in a mess of grief if you neglect to respond with the ‘correct’ answer.

Fortunately, so far as I can recall, I don’t believe I’ve done something that would cause me to be refused entry, but you never know until the guy in the booth tries to tap your memory bank, based on what is in his computer database.

I can understand the American concern about personal security, based on the events of a decade or so ago. But then I also wonder about the ‘concern’ of America’s full domestic security, and its reliance on offshore oil when it could, and to a large extent already does, rely on Canadian oil.

At the moment President Obama is teetering on the brink of cancelling the proposed Keystone pipeline from our oil sands to U.S. refinery facilities. While I recognize the environmental concerns, would it not be better in the long run to have your energy needs supplied by a “friendly” nation than from sources which have done nothing but cause the U.S. grief, such as Iran, Iraq and other oil-rich but not necessarily sympathetic nations?

I know that even within Canada, there is much said about the environmental impact of oil extraction from the tar sands . . . and from what I read not much of it is good. However, despite what we all believe is right for the environment, we and the Americans keep consuming oil-based products at a rate that is not sustainable without tapping into these sources.

Perhaps instead of railing against tar sands, environmental groups – some of which interestingly enough are funded by organizations that derived their money from oil production – should direct their rightful anger at the manufacturers who turn oil into consumables.

Just think this Christmas, as gifts are opened, about the mass of plastic packaging, ink that colours wrapping paper, and the actual gifts themselves.

Virtually everything we use today is made, in part or in whole, with plastic, which means it was made with oil.

Gone are the days when televisions came in wooden cabinets; they’re now flat screens made primarily of an oil-based product, probably sitting on a stand that also has fossil fuel derivation.

Think of all the food products you buy that aren’t wrapped in something, or the bags you carry them home in.

Oil production obviously isn’t just about generating fuel for your car. It is about virtually everything we do and use.

And the U.S., like Canada and every other modern nation, will require it in safe, secure abundance until there comes a time, unlikely as that ever may be, when some miracle product is discovered that can heat our homes, make the products we desire, and drive industry and commerce, while at the same time being ‘environmentally friendly.’

Only then will there be true ‘homeland security’ in North America.

markrushton@abbynews.com