Wednesday, January 25, 2006


On Boxing Day 2005, white middle class Toronto got a wake up call with the death of Jane Creba, a student shopping downtown, killed by a stray bullet from lowlifes trying to off each other. Toronto's something of a sleepy place though and it already looks to me (and Dunner) like the snooze button has been hit - black people getting shot in poor areas of the city are treated as background noise. However, for that few days, talk was all about policing the border more strictly, searching more often for weapons and arming the currently unarmed (save for pepper spray) Canada Border Services agents.

Now, the US-Canadian border is a pretty funny place. The US is big on hauling non US/Canadian citizens into the office for a chat and also enquiring about meat or dairy. The Canadian side gives the impression of being all Customs and Revenue and no Immigration. It's kinda like when I arrived at Cork airport a while back and the Irish posters are all about farming stuff like bovine TB rather than human stuff like SARS.

People don't want their cars searched for weapons when they have hundreds of dollars in stuff bought in the Niagara Falls, NY malls in the back of the car. They do of course search some cars - I've seen them do it - but the perception is that the number is small.

Now this happened. The customs agents left their posts, and it was explained later that health and safety policies allowed them to leave their post in the face of the armed criminals. The Irish Gardai and Army must have wished they could have done during the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 80s, when two of my uncles (one Guard and one Army) served time on the Border and questionable characters were intent on crossing to seek haven in Dundalk housing estates. The incoming Tories have today promised to arm the border guards, something they were probably going to do anyway but now have the perfect excuse to expedite. RCMP are currently called on in cases of trouble but they are often not stationed nearby and are already overstretched. However, without increasing the resources available to the Canada Border Services Agency in areas such as sniffer dogs which can detect firearms and so on and a more updated list of previous deportees to end the boomerang effect some dubious characters seem to have, the public will still see tax collectors - just better armed ones.
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