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Fiddler Natalie MacMaster on the Canadian passport (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Fiddler Natalie MacMaster on the Canadian passport (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

DRAWN OFF TOPIC

Fiddler Natalie MacMaster on the Canadian passport Add to ...

Juno-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster’s most recent CD is Cape Breton Girl. Coming performance dates include the Leahy Music Camp in Lakefield, Ont., from June 30 to July 5, at the Algonquin Theatre in Huntsville, Ont., on July 25, and at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 27.

Do you hold a valid Canadian passport?

Yes, I do.

Why?

Because we do so much international travelling.

For business or pleasure?

Oh, it’s for business. Only for business. I travel for my work, so the last thing I do in my down time is travel.

What are the latest visas or stamps in your passport?

It’s all American. Years ago, when I was doing my travelling across seas, there was Japan and Antarctica and New Zealand and England, England, England, England and all those crazy places over yonder.

Does it bother you when you don’t get a stamp in your passport as a memento? It used to bother me just getting waved through some foreign immigration outpost without an interesting stamp to show for it.

I used to be aware of that. I used to get a passport that had 48 pages instead of 24, but now I don’t even look at it. I’m not watching whether they’re stamping it or not. My mind is elsewhere. I have five kids. Usually they’re with me – if not all of them, then some of them – and I’m just distracted. I don’t think about that any more.

How do you look in your passport photo?

My passport photos is fan-tastic! … I’m being completely sarcastic. Oh, it’s terrible, just terrible, ‘cause you can’t smile, I guess. It must be the passport picture curse. I have yet to see anyone’s passport photo that looks decent. You look like a criminal.

Canadians now require a passport to enter the United States. Is this an annoyance?

No, it’s just reality and I don’t mind. I always carry my passport when I travel anywhere. Wherever I’m going, even if it’s only Cape Breton, even in Canada, it’s just a staple for me when I travel. Do I have my passport? Do I have my wallet? Do I have my dance shoes? Do I have my fiddle? That’s all I need.

When you go abroad, do you feel “Canadian”? Is flashing that little blue book part of that?

I am a proud Canadian. The only person that knows you’re Canadian because of that passport is the customs officer. I have a little passport holder that I carry around my neck with the passport tucked into this little pocket. No one else sees it.

Do you qualify for joint citizenship and two passports? Would you like joint citizenship?

You know what? I’m so far Canadian that I don’t even think it. I have no desire to be anything else.

Next year, the cost of a passport will be increasing from $87 to $120. Is this reasonable?

That’s quite a hike! What warrants that? They’ve got us. Its like the gas prices when they first went up. What can you do? What can I do? I guess you amortize that over five years, all the [airline] tickets you’re spending and its probably 10 cents a ticket for someone travelling all the time.

The government is also planning to issue a 10-year computer-chip-encrypted passport for $160. Is that something in which you’d be interested?

I have to say, I’m a paper girl. If it has chips in it, I’d rather get the paper. That’s me. I’ve never sent an e-mail! That tells you my where my head’s at.

Recently, accused terrorists have been arrested abroad holding Canadian passports, real or fakes. Canadians enjoy visa-free access to many other nations and are often hail from multicultural backgrounds. Would you be concerned if a terrorist’s passport of choice was Canadian?

I guess they’ll have to find some way to curb that. They’ll have to be less easily steal-able. We’ll have to have some ways. Little techniques that they use. Maybe that chip thing will be good, make it harder to copy. They’ll have to figure something out because I can’t figure it out. I just don’t know. It’s beyond my fiddle brain.

Where is the next place you will show your passport?

Let’s see … where am I? Out in B.C. I think were having some American shows. Actually, it will be Toronto. Every time I fly out it is through Toronto, no matter where I’m going. In Toronto, they preclear customs; before you arrive in a new country, you preclear in Canada first. We’re headed to Telluride, in Colorado, a really cool little festival there.

And will you have that Canadian passport around your neck while performing out there on stage?

Oh no. It wouldn’t go with my outfit. They’ll just have to figure out that I’m Canadian from my accent.

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