A Canadian justice official says it’s a “practical matter” and also a
matter of time before Canadian border agents are equipped with guns.
Member of Parliament Vic Toews of Manitoba was a justice critic for the
Conservative Party when the Conservatives were the official opposition to the
Liberal Party that held power for 13 years.
The Conservatives gained control of the federal government in the
election Monday, Jan. 23, under Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper.
Toews told The Canadian Press following the
election that his party would uphold a campaign promise to arm the nation’s
The announcement is timely for reasons not limited to the election, but
because criminal incidents in recent weeks have forced both sides of the
U.S.-Canadian border into action.
Canadian border agents have to call in outside help or retreat from
their posts when faced with danger like the high-speed chase on Tuesday, Jan.
24, that involved two murder suspects on the U.S. side.
“I understand their concerns very well and don’t fault them,” Toews
told The CP.
American agents stopped the suspect vehicle and shot one of the
fugitives before arresting both men.
Had that vehicle continued through the border crossing from Blaine, WA,
into Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, the authority would have switched to
local or federal authorities and not the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Union officials representing CBSA employees have lobbied hard for
better protection, and incidents like what happened Tuesday only bolster their
“I think they need to be armed,” British Columbia Solicitor General
John Les told reporters from The CP this week.
The debate in the whole matter seems to be narrowing. Toews said he
couldn’t understand why former Liberal Party leaders didn’t act sooner.
“It’s simply a practical matter of how soon these officers can be
trained and the firearms issued to them,” he told The CP.
Back in November 2005, someone pointed a gun at a Canadian border
agent, entered the country without incident, and disappeared. That person was
later caught when he went back to the U.S., but he was no longer carrying the
Illegal firearms in Canada are proven factors in more violent crimes,
and government officials have made entire campaigns out of the issue.