On Friday the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced in a news release that the first 39 graduates of the CBSA’s firearms training program were congratulated by Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and will be deployed throughout the country within days.
In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, the CBSA was established in December, 2003, by combining Canada Customs with border and enforcement agents from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. As the name suggests, the CBSA is responsible for all of Canada’s border operations, which has increased its emphasis on national security.
The news release says that Canada’s government is more committed than ever to protecting its borders, while still making every effort to allow legitimate commerce and travel to go on without delay or interruption.
In August 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced funding of $101 million over two years for CBSA officers to be firearms trained in an effort to strengthen Canada’s borders and enhance overall safety. Some 4,800 CBSA officers will be trained, including training for an additional 400 officers who will make it possible for officers to work in pairs, eliminating the more dangerous single-officer locations. The government expects to have more than 250 armed officers in the field by the end of March 2008, with full implementation of the program completed within 10 years.
The graduates will be sent out to ports throughout Canada, which has 61 border crossings on land, nine airports that receive international flights, and three major seaports.
Minister Day says in the press release: “Canada’s New Government is taking action to strengthen our border security, and that starts with giving our CBSA officers the tools and resources they need to protect our border and keep our communities safe. Now that the firearms training program is underway, we expect to have more than 100 officers deployed throughout the country by the end of August.”
Ron Moran is the president of Customs Excise Union Douanes Accise. He said: “This is a long awaited day. Through its arming and doubling-up of single-person shift initiatives, this government has done more to enhance officer and public safety than many previous governments combined, and for this we applaud it.”
The next firearms training classes will begin August 13 at the RCMP facilities located in Chilliwack and Ottawa. In addition to training in the practical use of firearms, the trainees practice their skills in simulated exercises, learning to recognize and measure various levels of threats and risks.
News release, Minister Day attends graduation of Canada’s first armed border services officers; http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/media/release-communique/2007/0727chilliwack-eng.html