Steve Harper has announced that some guards in the Canadian Border Service Agency will be armed in a rather slow advance.
Canadian border guards will be armed starting in September 2007 but it will take 10 years to fully implement the plan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday.The rest of Harper's speech contained the usual nauseating political garbage about how the CPoC "gets things done". (How about those hospital wait times, eh Steve?!)
Harper announced at a border crossing south of Vancouver that the federal government will have at least 150 officers with sidearms deployed by the end of March 2008.
He also reiterated a $101 million promise from the federal budget to hire 400 additional officers. They will be used, among other things, to double up on Canada-U.S. border crossings that only have a single officer on duty.
It was one of Harper's campaign promises and I honestly have no real opinion one way or the other on it. Given the way things are going we'll soon be arming bylaw enforcement officers "to protect the Canadian people" against heavily armed parking meter violators.
I'm not certain this has anything to do with safety as much as it has to do with ego soothing for Canadians who work just meters away from their armed American counterparts. Let's face it, the dogcatchers are armed in some US counties, but that's another issue, isn't it?
I do have some questions though?
Given that border guards will get the firearms they have been demanding does this mean they will no longer leave their posts if they feel their safety is in jeapordy? That's the reason they give now and they point to the lack of weapons as their reason. Will their collective agreement with the Treasury Board have that item removed?
Will those people, identified as being required to carry a firearm in the performance of their duties, lose their job if they fail to qualify with the firearm issued to them? What if they don't pass the new eyesight test? (Yes... there is an increased eyesight requirement for those who carry firearms.)
Once a border guard is off-duty where does the firearm go? Is it secured at their place of duty or do they get to pack it about unfettered?
When do they unholster their firearm?
There's little information on how the government intends to arm these people. Let's assume 9 mm semi-automatic pistols. What happens if the criminal element is moving around with AK-47s and and FAL assault rifles? Once the border guards realize they are out-gunned do we sling automatic rifles on them?
OK, that's just a few. I have a few more because I'm at a bit of a loss.
I looked but could not find any recent incident where a border guard was shot at the border. Has there ever been such an incident in the last 10 years?
Are Canadian border guards trained in the use of and is each border crossing equipped with spike belts? Just, you know, asking.
Anyway, I do hope the border guards are happier now that they're getting a Glock, or whatever. Now they can look and feel just like their American comrades.