Search

 

Cablegate: Canadian Border Patrol Idea Gains Support From Senate

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 001910

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAN, INL, WHA/MEX (EMRICH)

WHITE HOUSE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY COUNCIL

DHS OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (Marmaud)

CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (Bonner)

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ELTN ASEC PBTS CA
SUBJECT: Canadian Border Patrol idea gains support from Senate
and Mayor's Association

Ref: A) Ottawa 1780
B) Ottawa 0940

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED--PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: The National Security and Defence
Committee of the Senate of Canada suggests that a Canadian
Border Patrol might be necessary. The committee also
supports arming all Customs Officers at ports of entry. The
backing of this Senate committee provides a high visibility
boost to the effort of the Customs Officers' Union to
enhance their law enforcement role. This committee has a
reputation with the GoC of sometimes being a Cassandra,
however, so whether this will translate into anything more
than a few favorable newspaper headlines is debatable. On
the other hand, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
(FCM), a powerful and influential lobby group, has
unanimously endorsed the Border Patrol idea; the support of
this group may be an indicator that the political tide is
shifting toward greater resources for border law
enforcement. End summary.

2. (U) The Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
suggests in its report ""Borderline Insecure" released on
June 15, that, among other things, a Canadian Border Patrol
might be necessary. The report contains 26 recommendations
that address a broad array of issues, including: the need
for more urgency on both sides of the border in providing
new border crossing infrastructure; a recommendation that
the government move away from its current priority of
collecting duties and revenues at border crossings and shift
the emphasis to security; and that inspectors at ports of
entry should carry side-arms. The Senate report is
available at: www.senate-senat.ca/border.asp.

3. (U) The enhanced law enforcement role that the Customs
and Excise Union Douanes Accise (CEUDA, which represents
5000 frontline and analyst Customs Officers) is seeking is
supported by the committee recommendation that the
government move away from its current priority of collecting
duties and revenues at border crossings and shift the
emphasis to security. The report contends that forcing
border officers to collect relatively minor revenues
severely weakens their capacity to prevent unwanted persons
or contraband from entering Canada. The committee's
recommendation to increase personal exemptions for travelers
(to C$2000 for more a visit of more than 24 hours) would
help remove this distraction from security.


4. (U) The CEUDA effort is also supported by the fact that
the committee also "reluctantly came to the conclusion" that
inspectors at ports of entry should carry side-arms due to
the lack of permanent police presence. The committee noted
that testimony at committee hearings in recent months has
revealed that police protective backup at ports of entry,
which in some cases is supposed to be supplied by the RCMP
and in others by local police forces, has often been slow or
non-existent (Refs A and B).

5. (U) Finally, the committee noted the encouraging work
being done by the multi-agency, bi-national Integrated
Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) in 15 regions along the
Canada-U.S. land border. However, the committee noted that
the government has yet to disclose any systematic
measurements that demonstrate that IBETs have succeeded in
reducing border threats, and the committee is not yet
convinced that IBETs, in themselves, provide enough security
between crossings. As a consequence, they have posed the
question of whether there is a need for a border patrol in
addition to the IBETS, and, if so, who should undertake it?
Although not an explicit recommendation to form a Canadian
Border Patrol, the committee clearly expects to delve into
this specific question more thoroughly in the future.

6. (SBU) Comment: The backing of this Senate committee
provides a high profile boost to the visibility of the
Customs Officers' Union effort to bolster its law
enforcement role; meanwhile, the government insists that the
RCMP effort along the border is sufficient and a greater law
enforcement role for Customs Officers is not necessary (Refs
A and B). Whether the committee support will translate into
anything more than a few favorable newspaper headlines is
debatable. The committee is well-known for supporting a
much more vigorous Canadian defense and law enforcement
stance for Canada, and its frequent reports have sometimes
resulted in significant changes to GoC policy. For example,
the committee's work in 2002 helped lay the groundwork for
Canada's 2004 National Security Strategy, the first-ever
statement of national security policy. Sometimes, however,
the reports are seen by policy-makers as offering Cassandra-
like "doom is upon us" warnings that have made a media
splash for a day or two and then are ignored by the
government. End Comment.

7. (SBU) More significant perhaps than the support for the
CEUDA position found in the Senate committee's report is the
fact that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (the FCM
is akin to the United States' Conference of Mayors) fully
supports creation of a Canadian Border Patrol. The FCM
unanimously adopted a motion in April 2005 asking the
government to "give to the Canadian Border Services Agency
the first-response mandate to patrol the border between
points of entry." The RCMP and other police forces "would
act as the second-response partner along the border at and
between points of entry; first-response mandate must be
delivered by way of a border patrol."

8. (SBU) Comment: The FCM is a well-established, well-
connected, and well-regarded lobby group that has racked up
some impressive recent wins; in the federal budget in
February 2005 it secured a commitment by the GoC to provide
C$5 billion in fuel-tax revenue directly to cities over the
next five years. The support of this group may be an
indicator that the political tide, at the all-important
local level, is shifting to support greater resources for
border law enforcement. End comment.

Roddy

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Assange's Hearing: Latest Observations From Court

Despite severe restrictions on observers, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the only NGO that has gained access to the hearing, and we’ve managed to monitor proceedings on most days. We will continue to do so whenever possible. Yesterday I was in court ... More>>

Climate Change: Record Northern Heat, Fuels Concerns Over US Wildfire Destruction

More than 78,000 acres of forest in the Sierra mountains in California has been lost due to wildfires. Photo: San Francisco Fire Department The northern hemisphere experienced its warmest August ever, the World Meteorological Organization ( WMO ... More>>

ILO: Impact On Workers Of COVID-19 Is ‘catastrophic’

COVID-19 has had a “catastrophic” impact on workers, the head of the International Labour Organization ( ILO ) said on Wednesday, with lost working hours higher than originally forecast, and equivalent to 495 million full-time jobs globally in the ... More>>

UN: WHO Warns Against Potential Ebola Spread In DR Congo And Beyond

Ebola is spreading in a western province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. ... More>>