NATIONAL

THEY DON’T STOP FOR NOBODY

A lot of people coming into Canada are blowing by checkpoints

CATHY GULLI November 21 2005
NATIONAL

THEY DON’T STOP FOR NOBODY

A lot of people coming into Canada are blowing by checkpoints

CATHY GULLI November 21 2005

THEY DON’T STOP FOR NOBODY

BORDER CROSSINGS

A lot of people coming into Canada are blowing by checkpoints

CATHY GULLI

At a time of heightened concerns over border security and gun smuggling, the statistic is an eye-opener: last year, the Canada Border Services Agency recorded 1,600 instances of people brazenly running the border at Canada’s 119 checkpoints. “Some never stop at the inspection booth,” explains Ron Moran, president of the Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise, which represents customs officers. “They just drive right through.” Officers can do little except call the RCMP, whose jurisdiction is the area beyond the border crossing. “But the number of people who are intercepted is very small,” says Moran. During three weeks last December, for example, 17 vehicles blew past customs at the Lacolle, Que., border crossing, the busiest checkpoint in that province. None were apprehended.

Along the estimated 250 unguarded roads into Canada from the U.S., the chances of catching illegal entrants are even worse, because there are no regular surveillance systems linked to police. In Standstead, Que., where observation cameras have been set up at two unguarded crossings, more than 250 vehicles a month use those routes. “Obviously there’s something they don’t want uncovered,” says Moran, “whether

it’s smuggled goods, or people who would be inadmissable.”

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan has announced a new agency with specially trained, armed officers to patrol the busiest crossings. The union insists armed officers are essential at every checkpoint and unguarded road into Canada. “Security is only as strong as your weakest link,” says Moran. “When you have unguarded roads, people blowing by customs officers, it leaves the question, ‘how secure is your border?’ ” M