Case of the Hells Angels’ border guard in BC .. and other tall tales from the new west

Apr 1st, 2007 | By | Category: Canadian Provinces

This past Tuesday, March 27, 2007 the Vancouver Sun reported that “Mindi Niedermeiser, the BC border guard who partied with the Hells Angels, had been previously fired by the Canada Border Services Agency for misconduct but was reinstated after an appeal.” Ms. Niedermeiser’s case starts more than a decade ago now. But it may help explain why some US neighbours still raise concerns about Canada-US border security. Meanwhile, guess which much more famous lady from BC won prizes as “Canada’s Centennial Baby” in 1967? Forty years later, way down south the “owner of a company that helped build a fence to keep illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border” has been sentenced “for hiring workers who were in the US illegally.” A BC man believes his video of a “strange humanoid encounter” may show Sasquatch. A Calgary court ponders medical marijuana. And the “sex-mad” Nelly Furtado has been hosting Canada’s Juno Awards from beautiful downtown Saskatoon!

The Case of Mindi Niedermeiser

Chad Skelton’s report on the not very well-known BC blond bombshell Mindi Niedermeiser in the March 27 Vancouver Sun quietly raises a number of puzzling questions.

To start with we learn that “Niedermeiser was investigated in 1996 after US Customs detained her fiance at the border for alleged people-smuggling and found confidential Canadian and US border enforcement manuals in the trunk of his car … Canada Border Services fired Niedermeiser over the matter – concluding she took the manuals out of its library without signing them out then recklessly left them in her fiance’s car – but she appealed and was reinstated.”

Then we are told that: “Years later” Ms Niedermeiser “was investigated once again after several co-workers complained about her association with the Hells Angels.” This comes from “a Canada Border Services Agency [CBSA] investigation,” recently obtained by the Vancouver Sun “through the Access to Information Act.” This investigation “found Niedermeiser partied with the Angels twice at a concert in Merritt [on BC Highway 5, west of Kelowna and south of Kamloops] and attended a party at one of their clubhouses” It “also found that her driver’s licence … tested positive for direct contact with cocaine.”

The same investigation concluded that Ms Niedermeiser’s “behaviour created an untenable security risk . . at a time when organized crime is targeting law enforcement personnel to infiltrate various agencies.'” But up until Monday, March 26, 2007 the CBSA refused …to confirm if” Ms Niedermeiser “was still working for them.” Pressed by the Vancouver Sun, however, “on Monday, CBSA spokeswoman Paula Shore confirmed that she is no longer working for the agency – but refused to say if she was fired or resigned.” Mr. Skelton’s report rather intriguingly notes as well that: “Messages left for Niedermeiser at her home in Point Roberts, Wash. [i.e. in the USA], were not returned by early evening Monday [March 26].”

Mr. Skelton’s report in the Vancouver Sun provides some additional intriguing information about the 1996 investigation of Mindi Niedermeiser. Her fianc at that time, who “was stopped by US authorities at the Peace Arch border crossing on May 18, 1996, after he allegedly tried to smuggle his passenger, a Somali citizen, into the US illegally,” was one “Mohamed Hassan Ali.”

Ms Niedermeiser long ago broke off her engagement to Mr. Ali. And the late 1990s investigation that got her job back concluded “that she likely didn’t know Ali, who she was no longer seeing, was involved in criminal activity.” The 1996 discovery of her “confidential Canadian and US border enforcement manuals,” in the trunk of Mr. Ali’s car, nonetheless “created a minor diplomatic incident, with the US Customs attache in Ottawa complaining to border officials in BC over the lack of control Canada Customs [now known as the Canada Border Services Agency] had exhibited with respect to sensitive US publications.'”

Ms Niedermeiser’s subsequent much more recent involvement with the Hells Angels in Merritt – and her still somewhat mysterious ultimate final departure from the CBSA, as just now confirmed by spokeswoman Paula Shore – no doubt suggest that the decision to give her back her job in the late 1990s was a charitable human error at best.

It also perhaps helps explain a little better why, this past September 2006, US Homeland Security officials announced that: “Sections of the 49th parallel in British Columbia and southwestern Ontario – areas deemed most vulnerable to drug smuggling and terrorist infiltrations along the US-Canada border – are the probable locations for a virtual fence’ of high-tech monitoring equipment.” And why current plans even call for “an array of sensors, infrared cameras, watchtowers, and drones that will eventually stretch across America’s entire 8,890-kilometre border with Canada … within three to six years.” Mindi Niedermeiser may still be no more than a foolish (and nowadays not so) young lady who means no harm, and whose foolishness constitutes no deeply serious threat to anyone’s real-world security. But her still somewhat mysterious case certainly doesn’t make the Canada Border Services Agency look good.

Remembering the Centennial Baby … a great day for Canada?

Believe it or not, while searching the internets for deeper background on the case of Mindi Niedermeiser I stumbled across a Canadiana factoid about a much better known BC blond bombshell. And I am almost ashamed that I was not aware of it before.

I quote from just one of many sites conveying this information: “Pamela Denise Anderson was born at 4:08am, July 1, 1967 in Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada.” This date, as some older Canadians may still remember, also marked the 100th birthday of the present Canadian confederation. (Remember that almost great old song, “CA-NA-DA”?) And “Pamela was the first baby born this day in all of Canada earning her the title The Centennial Baby’.” This also apparently “earned her an article in the local newspaper, the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.” And her parents (“Barry, a furnace repairman and Carol, a waitress”) also “received cash prizes and awards for having the first baby born in Canada on this day, Canada’s 100th Birthday. That’s where it all started’ says Pamela.”

I do have a little bit of trouble with the time of Ms Anderson’s birth here myself. Canada even in 1967 was a country of some 20 million people. And you might reasonably guess that somewhere in this large a group – from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific oceans – some mother would give birth to a new baby before 4 o’clock in the morning on July 1, 1967.

It is certainly the case that if you google “First baby born in Canada on July 1, 1967,” you just get pages of items about Pamela Anderson. But you just have to go to the third item on the first page to discover that Pamela at birth “won fame as the nation’s Centennial Baby,’ as she was thought, incorrectly, to have been the first baby born on Canada’s Centennial Day (she was born at 4:08 in the morning). However, the Campbell River Upper Islander of July 5, 1967 reported a baby born two hours earlier on the same Canada Day.”

The Campbell River alluded to in this case, of course, is on Vancouver Island, also in BC. And if you start moving east and adding other provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and so forth – the prospects of finding still other Canadian babies born on July 1, 1967 before 4:08 AM seem very good indeed. By the time you reach the furthest point east on the Atlantic coast, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the prospects might seem almost astounding. And then if you think that 4:08 AM PDT is actually 7:08 AM EDT, etc, it all just starts to boggle your mind.

Yet the very final point is this: Who cares? It makes a much better story to say that Pamela Anderson was Canada’s Centennial Baby. Many internets pages nowadays do say just that. And, above all else, what other baby born in Canada on July 1, 1967, regardless of the exact time, still looks half as good, or is half as famous, as Pamela Anderson today? History in some cases – and this is one of them – is finally about the people who have made up the best stories.

Building fences down south … a great day for Mexico?

Canadians – perhaps even including the alleged Centennial Baby Pamela Anderson, who is now a dual Canada-US citizen – often have a hard time believing that their security arrangements, along borders or anywhere else, could possibly be any worse than those in the USA. (Even with people like Mindi Niedermeiser sometimes working for the CBSA.)

This is partly because Canada just generally seems a safer place to most Canadians who also travel in the USA. And of course it is partly because US border security arrangements have obviously let a great many illegal immigrants into the USA. (As many as 1012 million on recent counts in the media. And, using the old 10% general population rule of proportion, no one ever suggests that there are anything like as many as 11.2 million illegal immigrants in Canada.)

One solution to all this currently in the air stateside, as many will know, is the plan for a long real-world fence, or wall, between Mexico and the United States. And California comedians like to stress the until-now only almost certain fact that this fence or wall is going to be built mostly – well, partly anyway – by illegal Mexican immigrants. (Because, as Canadian and other visitors to the place will appreciate, almost all the serious physical labour in the Golden State is nowadays performed by Mexicans, some of whom are no doubt illegal immigrants.)

Now news hot off the press from down south has confirmed that the comedians really are not just whistling Dixie here. Back in the late 1990s a California private enterprise known as the Golden State Fence Co. “built 6,100 feet of the 14-mile fence” already in place “near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego,” under a contract “awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” Another several years later, on March 28, 2007, “Mel Kay, 64, founder, chairman and president of Golden State Fence Co.” and “Michael McLaughlin, another company executive” were sentenced to six months home confinement, more than 1,000 hours of community service each, and a total of $300,000 in fines by U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz – for “knowingly hiring illegal immigrants from 1999 to 2005.”

Sasquatch in BC, medical marijuana in Alberta, and Nelly Furtado in Saskatoon

I’m ending this potpourri with three final notes – each of which suggests that, like Mindi Niedermeiser herself, the new west somewhat improbably brought into the Canadian national limelight lately by Stephen Harper’s new Conservative Party of Canada is not really very conservative at all. (Neither is Prime Minister Harper lately, but that’s another story):

(1) “A BC man is reporting he may have spotted the mythical ape-like creature” known as the sasquatch “in the Enchanted Forest near Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island …My brother and I had a strange encounter with a large, dark humanoid in the forests of Tofino,’ the unidentified man says in the introduction to a video posted recently” on YouTube. You can check out the video here. The footage is not exactly definitive, needless to say, and it was taken it would seem, by what might be more accurately described as a couple of kids. Still … what if it really is the sasquatch? That would be a very good story for Vancouver Island tourism.

(2) On March 27 Judge William Pepler of the Alberta provincial court in Calgary sentenced medical marijuana crusader Grant Krieger to four months in jail, for mailing 801 grams of marijuana to two separate people in Manitoba in late 2003 and early 2004, to help alleviate their pain for chronic illnesses. Even though Krieger has a judicial exemption from 2000 to grow and possess the drug to alleviate his chronic multiple sclerosis, Judge Pepler said he felt had no option but to sentence the crusader for distributing to other sufferers. “The judge, however, was concerned about Krieger’s welfare after he was told corrections authorities will not allow cannabis marijuana into the jail.” And he “deferred the sentence until June 18 to allow corrections officials the opportunity to make it possible for corrections officials to make a provision for Krieger to receive his medicine’ while behind bars.”

(3) On Saturday, March 31, 2007, even the Globe and Mail in faraway Toronto was reporting that: “Saskatoon is the hippest destination in the West this week as 3,000 guests arrive for a three-day party to celebrate the best of Canadian music … There’s a carnival atmosphere on the streets as the Prairie city gets gussied up for the biggest party in its 101-year history. Hotels are booked solid, and bars have been given special permission in this former temperance colony to serve liquor until 3 a.m. … the city is rolling out the red carpet as Juno Awards host Nelly Furtado as well as the likes of Blue Rodeo, k-os, Jim Cuddy, Billy Talent, Nickelback and Hedley, to name a few, descend on Saskatoon. The festivities started yesterday with a two-day club crawl featuring some of the Juno nominees and continue today with a gala dinner, before culminating … [Sunday, April 1] with the sixth televised Juno event.”

Finally, my main reason for posting this last notice is that it lets the photo editor post the accompanying photo of the sex-mad Nelly Furtado.

But even this has its more profound political edges on April 1, 2007. Time does march on, e.g., whether we like it or not. The Centennial Baby Pamela Anderson will turn 40 years old this coming Canada Day. And in other ways as well Nelly Furtado, who was born on December 2, 1978 in Victoria, BC, more aptly reflects both the rising new west and the rising new Canada today. Insofar as it ever was, this is not really a conservative country any more, anywhere – as even Mr. Harper’s latest Red Tory federal budget seems to acknowledge. And the very bottom line on Mario Dumont’s reputed new francophone conservative surge back east is that it only managed to win less than a third of the popular vote in Quebec.

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