Monday, July 28, 2008

Trying to Live Without China

I'm trying to live without products from China. This has led to some tears and many deviations.
Everly's preferred soothers are made in Germany (Nuk), second soothers are made in England (Avent).
My preferred layette is made in Canada (Kushies Baby). Umbrella stroller is made in Italy (Peg Perego), jogging stroller Australia (Phil & Ted), car seats in America (Britax).

But most toys are from China and my beloved Gymboree clothes seem to all be made in China.

What is my beef with China? Well it really isn't a specific beef - except that over the last 30 years of my consumer life I have made the observation that most items made in China are poorly made and break easily. Cheap plastics or poorly cut fashion items. There are some exceptions to the rule (I am humbled by Gymboree - please find another country to manufacture your little girly frocks!). The one time I found a plastic container with a lid made in Canada it broke with little resistance.

But I am committed to avoiding products made in China. This is not about their human rights violations, relations with Tibet or propensity to eat dogs. It has everything to do with quality. I would rather spend a bit more money and buy something that I am not going to need to replace very 3 months.

Wish me luck. I predict that I will be making many exemptions but I am going to try.

Monday, July 14, 2008

CBSA Meet The Hague Convention

A few days ago on my way back into Canada I was questioned repeatedly by a Canada Border Service Agent whether or not I had a letter of permission to take my children out of Canada from their father.

I questioned her about her authority to ask me this question as I was bringing my canadian born children (with recent passports) back into the country. Not only that but she kept repeated the incorrect number of children that I had in the vehicle - 3 not 2 - which tells me her eagle eye for things askew was a bit askew itself.....

She continued to dogmatically repeat her question - did I have a notarized letter from the father? I advised her that I have never been questioned by the American border guards about whether or not I had permission (and they are the ones who would be denying my travel). She responded that was because the Americans don't care about Canadians and their custody and guardianship status.

At this statement I balked as I know that the Americans care very much who is coming into their country. They have signed onto The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1988). Albeit they signed 5 years after Canada did - but the intention was the same - to assist parents in stopping or having their children repatriated to their native countries if they are unlawfully removed (Elian Gonzales ring any bells?).

So why was this Canadian border guard giving me the raspberry on an issue that she had no remedy for? Could she detain me in some sort of fashion like the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal? Living at The Peace Arch with my three kids.... limbo. No she could not deny me entry back into my country with my Canadian born child (with valid Canadian Passports - which their father had to sign for). Given that the kids have valid passports there is in implicit consent by HWSNBN is somewhat ADVISED that the kids are traveling into foreign lands.

But more to the point isn't it the job of the CBSA to make sure that they are protecting Canada by vetting international travelers that wish to mingle among us? Isn't their job to collect 'lost taxes' from shop happy Canadians returning home? Aren't they there to ensure that people aren't bringing back any biological pesticides / foreign invaders to keep our agricultural areas safe?

Did she ask if I am going to be visiting a farm? No
Did she ask if I had anything to declare? No

Buts he did ask if I had purchased any firearms or knives / weapons during my trip.

PULEEEZE. How many overweight mid 30's moms with three pre school aged kids have time to go shopping in the states during a day trip let alone have time to pick up a firearm?

What ever happened to common sense?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

We Shall Not Return

HWSNBN took the boys out today to cash in their sticker credits for toys. During their trip HWSNBN decided to go into a store (which looked like a toy store) with the boys to inquire about a special motor. The store was in Old Langley. The store owner was in a crabby mood. Now bear in mind that this was a small store, in an economically struggling part of Langley. In any event the store owner made it clear to HWSNBN that the kids were not welcome in the store. Which is a bit weird when you consider that it was a toy store and this guy clearly wouldn't hurt for making a sale. HWSNBN assured the owner that if anything was broken he would pay for it. This was NOT an antique store or a store which had any business putting limits on which kinds of people could come inside. Had either child broken anything HWSNBN would have bought up the store out of guilt - let alone pay for the item that was broken.

In the end they left quickly as the store owner was making them feel very unwelcome.

I started to think about what would have happened if instead of discriminating against kids, the store owner had said no black people in his store. Or no women. Or no gays. Or no First Nations. Or no wheelchairs. That would have been a scream from the community. But somehow we accept that people discriminate against kids.

One would think that the last group of people you should be rude to would be those who can afford to buy your pap from your store. Especially parents of young boys who are itching to increase their train collection & Hot Wheels breeding program. But more importantly I started to think about all the times that kids have been made to feel unwelcome. Who do these shop owners think that they are? I am probably the last person who you want to piss off because of your behaviour as a retailer. I will tell everyone about my experience. I will blog about it. I will boycott your store.

The store was C & Rs Hobbies Collectibles and the man who runs it clearly does not want your business. Grant him his wish.