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Cablegate: Possible Shift in Goc Position On Canadian Border

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








E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Possible shift in GoC position on Canadian Border

Ref Ottawa 1780; Ottawa 940

1. (U) Summary: According to reports from the Customs
Officers' union, CEUDA, the Minister of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness Anne McLellan and her senior staff
are warming to the idea of enhancing Customs Officers' law
enforcement role and presence at and between ports of entry.
If accurate this could portend a sea change in government
attitudes toward law enforcement. End summary.
2. (SBU) In late June Minister McLellan met for 45 minutes
with CEUDA President Ron Moran to discuss the Customs
Officers' union's concerns with border security. According
to the CEUDA version of events, the Minister appears
receptive to investigating, in an objective, fact-based
manner, whether customs officers at ports of entry should be
armed, and whether Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)
should create a Border Patrol. Also, in her public
pronouncements she agreed to stop referencing a document
prepared by CBSA Brass which purports to show there is no
need for Customs officers to be equipped with
sidearms; CEUDA claims that that document is flawed and
biased, and apparently the Minister has accepted the
CEUDA argument.
3. (SBU) Following the meeting with the Minister, CEUDA's
Moran also spent 90 minutes discussing this issue with David
Thelen, McLellan's Special Advisor. According to
CEUDA, Thelen said that the government is willing to go in
the same direction as CEUDA, but the government has to go
more slowly than CEUDA would like (my CEUDA interlocutor did
not elaborate on the reason why GoC feels it must go
4. (SBU) Whether CEUDA's perceptions are well-grounded is
the key question. It is true that over the past few years
the GoC has provided expanded Peace Officer powers to
Customs staff, and made pepper spray, nightsticks and body
armor available - it is not inconceivable therefore that
CBSA Officers may be in line for more authority and more law
enforcement tools, including side-arms. The receptivity to
examining this issue appears to be a significant change from
the Minister's long-standing position that there is no
evidence for any need to change the status quo.
5. (SBU) On the other hand Emboff discussed this issue with
Sara Wiebe the Assistant to the Prime Minister's National
Security Advisor who categorically denied that Customs
Officers will gain an enhanced law enforcement role along
the border; instead Emboff was told that RCMP will retain
the role of enforcing the law between ports of entry and
that if an enhanced presence is required it will be achieved
through increasing resources for RCMP rather than creating
new organizations. She concluded by stating that Customs
Officers will not be getting side-arms.
6. (U) Minister McLellan is supposed to appear before the
Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on July 13
to answer questions on Bill C-26, the bill that formally
creates the CBSA. We understand that the Senators will be
pressing her on the firearms and border patrol issue - her
response will be illuminating. Emboff intends also to meet
with CEUDA President Moran the next day to obtain the CEUDA
perspective of that Committee hearing.
7. (SBU) Comment: Should the GoC decide that issuing side-
arms is a serious issue for consideration it will signal a
sea change in political attitudes toward law enforcement in
Canada and could provide beneficial consequences for cross-
border law enforcement cooperation, possibly by helping us
address the thorny carriage of arms and hot pursuit issues.
End comment.
8. (U) With respect to obtaining an objective assessment of
the need to equip Customs officers with side-arms, CEUDA
expects in the next few weeks to decide whether or not to
hire the NorthGate Group, a consulting firm based in Ottawa
that specializes in security issues. CEUDA expects that
NorthGate, should they be hired, will want to speak with US
state and federal law enforcement agents along the northern
border to gauge their attitudes toward the security
situation along the border and the necessity of firearms.
We have suggested that NorthGate discuss this subject with
Embassy DHS Attach.

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