Canadian customs officers strike over lack of firepower

| 1/13/2006

Customs officers in the border city of Sarnia , Ontario , Canada , walked off the job Thursday, Jan. 12, in relation to their requests to carry guns.

The Canadian federal government has never armed its border agents, something the customs union said needs to change, according to statements made during a press conference earlier this week.

The Customs Excise Union used the press conference to quote a study by private security firm Northgate Group to bolster its case for carrying guns. The study states the Canadian border is “too porous” and ill-equipped to handle emergencies, including terrorism, without calling on other law enforcement. Northgate suggested Canada employ armed mobile patrols for its border crossings.

This is the second time Canadian border officers have gone on strike since November 2005 in relation to the demand to be armed. The federal government has not yet acted on the issue. Most of the striking officers, according to media reports, returned to work at 5 p.m., Thursday.

Union President Rick Moran began stirring things up last year when he testified at a national committee hearing that Canada had admitted gun and drug smugglers.

Times are changing, Moran has repeatedly told media sources. Government studies dating back to the 1990s have suggested arming Canada ’s border guards.