Potemkin Bor­der

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

Toim­press Em­press Cather­ine the sec­ond, Prince Grig­ory Potemkin sup­pos­edly cre­ated whole vil­lages in Crimea, made up of façades. Since then, a Potemkin vil­lage is a syn­onym for fak­ery. If you watched the news over the week-end, you may have seen, as a back­ground for all the in­ter­views done at the Rock Is­land Cus­toms of­fice, two nice and shiny ve­hi­cles, one from the Cana­dian Bor­der Ser­vice Agency and the other one with the liv­ery of the RCMP.

They were so ob­vi­ously dec­o­ra­tive pieces that this news­pa­per didn’t even care to take a pic­ture of them.

So are we just a bit sur­prised that, yes­ter­day, eleven il­le­gal im­mi­grants were ar­rested in Ma­gog? A bit sur­prised, yes; but a lot more fear­ful. It doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist, not even a mem­ber of Harper’s cab­i­net, to know that there is noth­ing more dan­ger­ous than a brazen crim­i­nal. And let’s face the facts, hav­ing the gall of cross­ing the bor­der il­le­gally into Canada af­ter all the pub­lic­ity given to the sub­ject that this is a por­ous bor­der in Stanstead, takes a bit of bravado. But, the crossers could also be­come des­per­a­dos and then it could get ugly. Car chases are nice on the movie screen, they last a cou­ple of sec­onds, ev­ery one of them tak­ing hours of prepa­ra­tion and re­hearsal; in real life, in a small town like ours, car chases could kill in­no­cent peo­ple. They could also kill bor­der of­fi­cers. Those bor­der of­fi­cers would have the hon­ours of a na­tional funeral at­tended by those who are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for their deaths.

Be­cause this would not be a sim­ple case of bad luck: most of­fi­cers of the peace who have lost their lives in the line of duty sim­ply hap­pened to be at the right place at the wrong time. Called to an in­ci­dent, they ex­pect any­thing, know­ing that luck is be­hind them most of the time. No, in this case it would be ut­ter neg­li­gence.

While our lo­cal MP, Jean Rousseau, good NDP mem­ber that he is, is blam­ing cuts to the Bor­der Agency for the rash of il­le­gal cross­ings, it is only part and par­cel of the prob­lem.

It is a lack of re­sources that pre­dated the re­cent cuts. We have no phys­i­cal, full-time po­lice pres­ence in a bor­der town; one would be hard pressed to find an­other ex­am­ple in the whole world. Look at the num­ber of po­lice and bor­der cruis­ers just across the bor­der to get an idea of how bad the sit­u­a­tion is in Canada.

We will re­peat that, as long as we do not have a full time po­lice pres­ence in Stanstead, not a cyn­i­cal Potemkin-like one as we saw over the week-end, this town is now in dan­ger. The crim­i­nals be­hind these il­le­gal cross­ings will be­come bolder and bolder; there is money to be made in hu­man traf­fick­ing and we sus­pect that some lo­cals are more than happy shar­ing knowl­edge with them.

If last week we could only wish, now we must have ac­tion.

A fi­nal note: while all lo­cal and re­gional me­dia have some aware­ness on how these peo­ple are cross­ing the bor­der, we have made it a duty to keep quiet on how it is done.

Roger Du­rand, gover­nor of the Fon­da­tion Des­jardins, and De­nis Paré, re­gional coun­cil pres­i­dent, are sur­rounded by the thir­teen bur­sary re­cip­i­ents at the cer­e­mony.

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