Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

January 10, 2006 10:00 ET

CEUDA: Independent Report Confirms Customs Officers Must be Armed and Recommends Independent Investigation of CBSA Conduct

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 10, 2006) - The Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise (CEUDA) has provided copies of 'A View from the Front Lines' authored by The Northgate Group to the Leaders of all political parties as well as to the Minister of Public Security and the President of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). Among other important recommendations, the Northgate Report has specifically recommended the issuance of side-arms for Border Services Officers, Customs Investigators and Regional Intelligence Officers engaged in inspection, interdiction and enforcement duties. The Report also recommends the creation of an armed, mobile Border Patrol.

The Report was commissioned by CEUDA in July 2005 requesting that an extensive study be conducted to asses whether the risks inherent in the duties of Border Services Officers, Regional Intelligence Officers and Customs Investigators would justify the issuance of side-arms. The Northgate Study was centered on extensive interviews of Front Line Officers in all regions of the country, and included an exhaustive review of relevant documents and of third party materials.

The Northgate Report was undertaken as the result of a continuing refusal by the federal government to provide side-arms to officers notwithstanding the dramatic enforcement-focused evolution of officer duties at this country's points-of-entry as well as inland. This evolution was accentuated in July 2000 when Front-Line Customs Officers became empowered to enforce the Criminal Code which includes arresting dangerous and violent persons, drunk drivers and criminal fugitives many of whom are considered by police to be 'Armed and Dangerous'. Unlike their police counterparts however, Customs Officers were denied side-arms. In 2002, subsequent to Officer pressure, the government contracted ModuSpec to carry out a limited risk analysis on occupational health and safety issues in Customs which resulted in a 70-page report that had a mere 2 pages dedicated to the complicated question of side-arms.

After evidence was uncovered and later confirmed by a parliamentary committee that the ModuSpec Report had in fact been altered on the issue of side-arms (ModuSpec's initial conclusions were that an armed presence was warranted at least at the 6 biggest border crossings) and a steadfast refusal by CBSA to conduct a proper study, CEUDA resolved to ensure Front Line Officers were heard and that everyone was provided with an objective and accurate analysis into this important subject. The Study took place over the last 6 months and CEUDA is pleased to make the report public guaranteeing it is unaltered.

The Northgate Report makes 31 recommendations, highlighted by recommendations to:

- Arm Customs Officers

- Arm Regional Customs Intelligence Officers

- Arm Customs Investigators

- Create an Armed Border Patrol

- End work alone circumstances

During the course of the study, Northgate also uncovered evidence pertaining to the conduct of the CBSA, suggesting serious public safety and security deficiencies as well as actions that indicate a deliberate intent to mislead the public on many of these shortfalls as well as on the issue of the need for side-arms.

Evidence uncovered and reported in the Northgate Report relating to Customs Service conduct includes:

- Further confirmation that the ModuSpec report had been altered by
removing the recommendation for an armed presence at the border;

- Suppression of three separate reports (2 from CCRA and 1 from Audit
Canada) recommending the arming of Customs Officers;

- Withholding relevant reports from HRSDC Labour Officers who were
investigating work refusals by Customs Officers;

- Providing inaccurate information to Parliamentarians in Committee;

- Ordering the destruction of a report which compiled threats and
harm to Customs Officers without authority or justification for
doing so.

In response to this disturbing evidence and the public ramifications of it, the Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise has taken the extraordinary step of asking the Auditor General of Canada to conduct an institutional and operational audit of CBSA actions on these matters.

Contact Information

  • Ron Moran
    CEUDA National President (British Columbia):
    (613) 677-1090
    Michel Juneau-Katsuya
    President & CEO, Northgate Group
    (613) 254-9300
    Jean-Pierre Fortin
    CEUDA 1st National Vice-President (Quebec and NCR)
    (450) 357-6684
    Steve Pellerin-Fowlie
    CEUDA 2nd National Vice-President (Ontario & Prairies)
    (403) 836-5222
    Mike Walker
    CEUDA 3rd National Vice-President (Atlantic)
    (506) 440-1517
    Erik Lupien
    Communication and Political Coordination Officer
    (613) 723-8008