Mayor to meet with CBSA over Canada Day comments

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
July 10th, 2012

Grand Forks mayor Brian Taylor will be meeting with officials from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) after comments he made during his annual Canada Day speech this year.

Taylor openly criticized the CBSA for being too tough on American tourists and locals, thereby making the border crossing experience a “frightening” one for many people.

Some people were shocked by the speech, others appeared to be in agreement.

In his speech, Taylor was supposed to be discussing the War of 1812, which happened 200 years ago. The subject took a different turn when he began thinking about Canada’s relationship with the U.S.

“It was a dirty little war,” said Taylor when reflecting on what the speech was about. “I was looking at what that war tells us – across the border we have people we need to get along with.”

He recalled a time in the 1970s when all people would do was wave to the guard as they passed the border. While he knows it won’t ever be like that again after 9/11, he said, “they can do this job and still be polite to people”.

“I want to look at ways to make the trip across the border less confrontational and less stressful for people.”

He said people who do have complaints are afraid that if they say anything they will be singled out the next time they cross.

 “We take the border protection responsibility really seriously,” said CBSA chief Eron Labadie from his Osoyoos office. “The officers live and work in the community and they take great pride in what they do. They work on a daily basis to protect people in their community.”

Labadie personally worked as a CBSA officer at the Carson/Danville crossing in Grand Forks for two and a half years. He said the officers have a challenging job, especially now the objectives of the agency have changed.  Over the past decade CBSA has moved from being mainly a duty collecting based organization to a nationally relevant crime protection agency.

CBSA officers are responsible for over 90 governmental acts and regulations, many of which focus on keeping known criminals out of Canada and seizing illegal weapons.

Taylor will be meeting with CBSA officials next week to discuss his ideas further and to address the concerns he brought up in the speech.

“I hope positive things (will come from the meeting) to help them do their job. I hope to play a role in helping make for a friendlier experience at the border.”

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