Volume 93, Issue 83

Wednesday, March 8, 2000


NEWS

Bus might stop for graduate students

McGill gets sued over dismissal

Feds sorry about money mix-up

Council to vote on White Paper position

Border officials get new powers

CBC program sparks a gene therapy debate

Downtown parking a developing concern

Briefs

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus 1

Caught on campus 2

Caught on campus 3

Border officials get new powers



By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

Canada's borders will soon be safer, as expanded arrest powers were granted to Canadian Customs officials.

As of June, custom officials will have the power to make arrests for crimes which fall under the Criminal Code of Canada, said Canada Custom and Revenue Agency spokesperson Michel Cleroux. Such offences include drinking and driving, possession of stolen property and child abduction. Officials would also be permitted to apprehend those with outstanding arrest warrants, he said.

Furthermore, officials would be armed with batons and pepper spray. "The new powers, what they do is provide a first response capability at the border," Cleroux said.

The program will take two years to implement and will target 32 large and medium-sized ports, thereby affecting 82 per cent of Canada's border traffic. "We are beginning with Windsor, Ontario in June," he said.

Legislation was passed in May of 1998 to allow the new powers, but Cleroux said it has taken some time to prepare for the changes. "It took us a while to get and ensure there was training.

Not only do the officials require training, but a detention centre around the port is also necessary, he said. Since the agency was accepting new powers, Cleroux said it also had to consult with law enforcement agencies.

He said firearms would not be allocated to the officials as they are at some American borders. "We have looked at the situation quite closely. We're not seeking to create a new police power."

He added it would not be safe to include firearms in busy customs offices, which have been able to handle disruptive situations in the past.

"There is a very valid school of thought that the presence of guns attracts, rather than deters aggression," he said.

Windsor is the busiest port in the country, said Danny Yen, spokesperson for the Windsor-St.Clair crossings of Canada Customs.

Another reason the program would be launched in Windsor, he said, was because the port had the existing facilities – a detention centre – to hold charged persons.

However, Sgt. Earl Reid of the Windsor Police Department said this program did not necessarily eliminate the role of the police in border control.

"We'll still have to continue with the arrest," he said, adding the program would help to detain criminals until the police arrived at the port. "Now we don't have to worry about the person fleeing."

Most commonly, Reid said the police have been called to deal with individuals who have a warrant for their arrest or those driving while impaired.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000