Rein In The CBSA At The Airport



The really troubling part of this is that these new scanning machines at Ottawa airport are in the hands of the Canadian Border Services Agency which has a rather troubling record.

You might remember the incident at the Thousand Islands border post where a CBSA agent found a very small amount of marijuana on a bus and then the staff strip-searched the entire group of U.S. students on the vehicle.

What was worse was that the Toronto Star found that higher-ups congratulated the staff for its diligence which was completely out of place and then developed a media strategy to deal with the incident if the media found out. The media found out.

Photo above: The Thousand Islands Bridge: Canadian Border Services Agency officials have gotten out of line there.

Police officers in private moments will tell you they think the training of CBSA agents is inadequate and that they wouldn’t trust them with firearms. In fact some don’t trust them at all.

What will CBSA do with the information gathered at the scanning kiosks?

I don’t trust them either.

When it comes to professionalism at the border, your agent finds that U.S. Customs is much better to deal with than the CBSA.

I had one instance at the Thousand Islands border post where I was paying about $7 duty when the official shouted “Gray” in a loud rude voice. I was the only non-CBSA person in the post. I politely suggested that he call me “Mr. Gray”. We all deserve respect as Canadians re-entering our country.

“Well Mr. Gray that woman over there is going to search your car.”

She gave it a cursory glance and seemed quite embarrassed by it all. It was a significant abuse of power and it happened about the same time the U.S. students were strip-searched. Lucky I didn’t get the same treatment.

I sent an email to the minister when I got home and the office said it reminded the officer that he should be polite to returning Canadians.

Now the CBSA goes forward with these scanning machines at Ottawa airport without obtaining the proper approvals.

Not surprising. The CBSA is a power unto itself and has developed an over-bearing and rude approach in its dealings. Perhaps the rules governing the CBSA are only suggestions in the minds of the agency. Who is at the border to monitor what these people are doing … right or wrong?

Now it flies in the face of privacy regulations.

Our local MPs should be looking into this and the minister in charge should be starting to implement a significant cultural change in the CBSA.

The agency has no right to abandon regulations and abuse its significant power.

We need an organization to oversee the CBSA and it needs real teeth.

And a smile and good manners might be in order as well.



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9 thoughts on “Rein In The CBSA At The Airport

  1. One of the problems is that, if you’re at the border, you’re probably on your way to or from somewhere with limits on your travel time. Many people will give in to unreasonable demands and potentially illegal scrutiny simply because they have places to go and people to see. You know that if you give the border guard any “trouble”, you can be delayed for a very long time and possibly get yourself flagged meaning the same thing will happen any time you turn up there in the future.

  2. I would be very surprised if facial recognition technology is new to the passport control areas at airports. When one stands in front of the CBSA agent while she/he scans your passport, looks at their computer screen and asks you a few innocuous questions there is lots of opportunity for a discretely placed camera to have scanned your face for comparison to the digital version of your passport picture. What is new is the use of kiosks, making the facial recognition process more obvious. In other words, the time for worrying about privacy issues is long past.

  3. Having been ordered to remove something by a young (abusing his authority) airport security screener, debated whether to ask for his supervisor. Had the time to make a fuss but must admit I opted not to aggravate myself (but if looks could kill …).
    This begins with recruitment, training and the need to weed out the bad apples.
    Also time that people remember they are public servants.

    1. A comment from Dr. Sheldon Cooper, of The Big Bang Theory comes to mind. “Beware the petty bureaucrat with a clipboard.”

  4. The TSA is making their pat-down searches more “comprehensive”. They have apparently notified local police forces in airport communities to expect more complaints of inappropriate sexual touching from passengers because of the new procedures which include using the palm-side of the hand rather than the back for pat-downs. How long before CBSA follows suit?
    One more reason to avoid flying the “friendly” skies!


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