Delayed, rebuked for cross-border shopping trip, say Canadians

A group of Canadians say they were chastised and forced to wait for hours in a bus at a border crossing between N.Y. and Ont. because they had spent the weekend shopping in the U.S.

A group of Canadians say they were chastised and forced to wait for hours in a bus ata border crossingbetween Buffalo, N.Y., and Fort Erie, Ont., because they had spent the weekend shopping in the U.S.

The trouble for the shoppers, part of a group of 20, started when the bus arrived at the Peace Bridge border crossing on Sunday afternoon, said Angela Deason, a teacherfrom Barrie, Ont., who was on the vehicle.

"We had an amazing time until we tried getting back into our country. We were stuck at the border in excess of five hours and treated very badly," said Deason.

Angela Deason, Ashley Jeffery-Price and Jessica Gorr waited for five hours at the Canadian border after a weekend shopping trip. ((CBC))

The group, which had planned the trip months ago and included a pregnant woman, said they patiently waited in the bus as other vehicles passed by. Some of the shoppers snapped photos of empty lanes at the crossing.

After waiting five hours, Deason said she left the bus to ask a Canadian border guard about the delay. Deason said she was shocked by the response from the guard.

"He expressed very loudly, 'It'll take hours and hours and hours. Thank you for contributing to the U.S. economy, but I hope you got a good deal.'"

Some of the shoppers said they felt threatened.

"We weren't doing anything wrong. We have a fair trade agreement," said Deason.

"I felt targeted, in a way," said Canadian shopper Jessica Gorr.

Border agency investigating

Officials with the Canada Border Services Agency said the bus was held for hours because of heavy traffic, including 65 buses filled with roughly 3,000 Canadian shoppers.

Canadian shoppers have flooded border crossings since the dollar reached parity with the U.S. dollar. ((CBC))

As well, border officials allowed 75 buses carrying Canadian NFL football fans home from a Buffalo Bills game to cross the border first because they had no purchases to declare.

The agency told CBC News it is investigating the delay, which it admits was longer than usual, and the guard's comment, which it said was completely inappropriate.

Canadian shoppers have flocked across border crossings into the U.S. since late September, when the Canadian dollar reached parity with the U.S. greenback for the first time in almost 31 years. The dollar has continued to rise, closing at above $1.07 on Monday.

In a news segment recently aired on Buffalo's WGRZ-TV, the station said Canadian shoppers have raised the region's sales tax revenue by five per cent.