Cooler heads needed on bor­der dis­cus­sion

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - OPINION -

The op­ti­mists could be for­given for think­ing that in the nine years that have passed since

Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency of­fi­cers left Ak­we­sasne, tem­pers have cooled. Ap­par­ently not.

To re­fresh our mem­o­ries, CBSA parted ways with Ak­we­sasne in 2009 af­ter the fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­cided bor­der guards would be armed. For a First Na­tion al­ready queasy with the idea of fed­eral agents sta­tioned on its ter­ri­tory, this was the fi­nal straw.

As of 2014, the port of en­try sits along the north shore of the north chan­nel of the St. Lawrence River. The move put is­land res­i­dents into a weird sit­u­a­tion. Now, when cross­ing onto the north shore to do the rou­tine things the rest of us take for granted, these in­di­vid­u­als must re­port to CBSA.

As far as I’m aware, it’s the only area in this coun­try where, to cross from one part of Canada to an­other, you must pass through a port of en­try.

It also has meant an in­con­ve­nience for those en­ter­ing Corn­wall Is­land from the U.S.— if they in­tend to stay on the is­land, they must re­port to CBSA in Corn­wall, go through the process of cross­ing the U.S./Canada bor­der, then re­turn to the is­land.

Many of these res­i­dents are sim­ply com­mut­ing from one part of Ak­we­sasne to an­other.

Over the years these sce­nar­ios have been in place, we’ve oc­ca­sion­ally cov­ered when things have gone wrong. Court cases and con­vic­tions have been meted for those who don’t re­port to CBSA.

Not that CBSA of­fi­cers have come off as saints here ei­ther. The high­est-pro­file re­cent ex­am­ple was that of An­toine Delormier, who had an in­ci­dent with CBSA of­fi­cers while trav­el­ling from the is­land to Corn­wall Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal that wors­ened his health.

The MCA has been work­ing, it says, to re­solve these ir­ri­tants. When some progress was shared with the com­mu­nity at a re­cent MCA gen­eral meet­ing, it only pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to show the an­i­mos­ity be­tween CBSA of­fi­cers and Ak­we­sasne per­sists.

Cus­toms and Im­mi­gra­tion Union pres­i­dent Jean-Pierre Fortin didn’t help, throw­ing ice wa­ter on the pro­posal for a re­mote check-in sta­tion on the is­land that could re­solve one of the chal­lenges. That he painted our bor­der’s port of en­try as the wild west, with its se­cu­rity chal­lenged by is­land res­i­dents on a daily ba­sis, lacks cred­i­bil­ity and only in­flames the sit­u­a­tion.

The telling state­ment of lin­ger­ing an­i­mos­ity was Fortin’s re­fer­ral to the “bad ex­pe­ri­ence” of the past. Sorry, but that’s a poor ex­cuse not to con­sider op­tions that would help erase a more strin­gent bor­der be­tween Ak­we­sasne and Corn­wall.

In the spirit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and with re­spect, cooler heads must pre­vail as the dis­cus­sions on these mat­ters be­tween the

MCA and CBSA con­tinue.

— Hugo Ro­drigues

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.