Feds' Soft Border Rules Cross the Line: Cops!

Feds' Soft Border Rules Cross the Line: Cops!
Posted by FoM on August 01, 1999 at 07:52:39 PT
By Ian McDougall, Edmonton Sun
Source: Edmonton Sun
 Putting politeness above protection at border crossings is like laying out a welcome mat for crooks and smugglers, says the spokesman for Alberta's beat cops.
Ottawa has commanded border guards to stop asking visitors any questions about their criminal backgrounds because it would violate their privacy and could force people to lie about their records to avoid embarrassment."It's totally, absolutely absurd," said Jon Netelenbos, president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations and vice-president of the Canadian Police Association."The next thing we'll have is balloons waiting for the criminals with a brand new car waiting for them. I'm astounded."Netelenbos said if customs officers aren't even allowed to ask a visitor if they have a criminal record, they might just as well be replaced by Wal-Mart greeters.The policy underlines the need for a U.S.-style border patrol with power to arrest criminals entering Canada, added CPA president Grant Obs. Borders and harbours are already flooded with contraband such as drugs and illegal guns because federal workers have such limited powers, he said."Probably the only people who take offence are people who do have criminal records,'' he added.Under the Immigration Act, travellers are not to be admitted to Canada if they have committed a crime punishable under Canadian law by 10 years or more in prison. But questions about criminal activity can only be asked by border guards selectively at a later stage, after visitors clear primary inspection lines.This spring, a Detroit criminal earlier deported returned to Windsor illegally and he is now accused of first-degree murder in the killing of a gas station attendant.Ottawa's polite border policy could give Canada a bad international reputation - particularly with the U.S., said Reform immigration critic Leon Benoit. "Our security is so lax Americans just can't trust us to do the job,'' he added.When it comes to a person's privacy versus the safety of Canada, "the security of the country should be top priority and we're forgetting that," Benoit added.Immigration and customs workers at the Alberta border crossings of Coutts, Carway and Del Bonita refused to comment about the latest policy and referred calls to their supervisors, who would not be in until after the long weekend. Sunday, August 1, 1999 Copyright  1999, Canoe Limited Partnership.All rights reserved. 
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