Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

August 17, 2005 11:00 ET

Media Advisory/CEUDA to Government: Protect Our Borders, Tell Canadians Truth

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 17, 2005) - Canadians learned yesterday from the National Post and Journal de Montreal there are serious shortfalls with the way the Customs lookout database is managed. It routinely fails to let Customs Officers know when they are dealing with individuals which other law enforcement agencies consider armed and dangerous, violent or a terrorist.

Ron Moran, National President of the Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise (CEUDA), representing 10,500 members, more than 5,000 of whom are Customs Officers that include Canada's uniformed Officers working on the front-lines, as well as the Investigation, Intelligence, and Trade Customs Officers, says "Canada Customs have guidelines that make it optional whether or not someone considered violent, armed and dangerous, or as having terrorist ties, will be recorded as such in the Customs lookout database. More often than not, those guidelines are used in a way that prevents Customs Officers from knowing they're dealing with someone dangerous, which unjustly places them at risk of grievous bodily harm and death."

Canadians will be shocked to learn that, because Customs Officers are not armed, Customs policy tells them not to deal with dangerous people but to instead release them and permit their entry into Canada where local police can hopefully find them thereafter. Police are supposed to then find and arrest them. Moran adds "Perhaps the only thing more foolish than withholding dangerous person status information from Customs Officers is telling them that should they actually discover one, to let them freely enter Canada. This is nothing short of irresponsible negligence where front-line Customs Officers and Canadians are needlessly put at risk."

"On that issue and in support of public security," Moran says, "we've made repeated calls for Customs management to provide evidence that armed and dangerous people sent up the road by Customs Officers have indeed been caught by police and brought back for Customs and Immigration processing." Unfortunately, the only evidence on record was provided by CBSA's President at the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Public Safety and National Security in February 2005, when he indicated that in his view, there's no problem.

A CEUDA request under Access to Information for such evidence recently revealed that there is a problem. The August 9, 2005, letter from CBSA's ATIP Director reads: "Please be advised that officials of the CBSA have advised that there is no information available that is responsive to your request. We have been informed that statistics of this nature are not captured in HQ or the Regional offices."

Once again, CBSA seems to have an aversion to the truth. Moran concludes, "Just so Canadians get this straight, Customs doesn't tell Officers who's armed and dangerous, a Customs policy tells Officers to let dangerous people into Canada, and to cap it all off there's absolutely no record keeping of how many dangerous people released up the road are caught by police and brought back for processing."

These kinds of serious problems with border security are the driving force why CEUDA has commissioned the Northgate Group to carry out a nation-wide, professional study and risk analysis pertaining to whether or not Customs Officers require sidearms.

Contact Information

    Ron Moran
    National President
    (613) 677-1090
    Erik Lupien
    Communications and Political Coordination
    (613) 723-8008