Vive Le Canada

Customs officers resume walkouts over right to carry guns
Date: Sunday, January 15 2006

Customs officers resume walkouts over right to carry guns

SARNIA, Ont. -- In yet another round of protests, Canada Customs officers walked away from their post at the Sarnia, Ont.-Port Huron border because the Canadian government continues to deny them firearms.

Truckers and car drivers trying to enter Canada were delayed for several hours yesterday at the Blue Water Bridge when officers resumed their ongoing dispute with the feds over the right to carry guns on the job.

Most of the officers returned to work at 5 p.m.

The walkout coincided with the release of a study conducted on behalf of the officers' Customs Excise Union, which found that front-line customs workers -- like police officers -- need to carry weapons because of increasing dangerous situations and the risk of encountering armed terrorists at the border.

He's not Packin': Canada Customs officers want more than just contraband detectors. The study, conducted by private Ottawa-based security company Northgate Group, continues by stating that the Canada-U.S. border is porous and suggests armed mobile patrols to secure it.

"From assaults, to intimidation to being take hostage, these officers are faced with a daily risk to their lives exacerbated by the unpredictability of human behaviour," the study states.

The union says it's frustrated with the government's response on the issue, especially since the feds' own reports -- including a Canadian Senate report released last summer -- also recommended border agents carry weapons.

In November, customs officers created traffic chaos at several border crossings in Southern Ontario when they staged a series of similar strikes over the gun issue.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on January 15, 2006]


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