CBSA faces complaints of racism and rudeness

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Last year alone the CBSA faced more than 100 founded complaints from travellers last year, including allegations of racism and rudeness.

Data provided to The Canadian Press through access to information legislation said that in 2017-18 these were among the 105 “founded” cases of complaints of officer misconduct — about 12 per cent of 875 misconduct complaints filed in that time.

The total number of complaints through the CBSA’s online “Compliments, Comments and Complaints” website remains at less than a tenth of one per cent of the 95 million travellers seen by officers in the past year.

Civil liberties groups say the latest collection of incidents shows that Canada needs an independent complaints agency like those used to oversee police forces that can produce public reports and make binding recommendations to the agency.

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As it stands, the definition of “founded” provided by the agency says that “aspects in the allegations made in the complaint were valid”.

The descriptions of the allegations in the access documents are brief.

On Nov. 6 last year, one of the reports said, a “client states the border service officer was rude and yelled at her until she passed out.”

A CBSA spokesperson said in an email the medical distress wasn’t directly caused by the officer.

“During secondary examination, the traveller was found to be in medical distress. The border services officer followed proper first aid protocols in line with the training provided to all frontline staff. The investigation concluded that the [officer] did not play a role in the travellers medical distress,” wrote spokesperson Nicholas Dorion.

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In another report, an officer allegedly “was yelling and berating travellers, swore at the clients, lacked respect.”

In one April 17 allegation, an officer “was racist, called the client ugly, abused his authority.”

The CBSA didn’t provide further details in these cases.

While there are times the CBSA officer could get frustrated after encountering difficult or suspicious individuals or could simply be having a really bad day, there is no excuse for rudeness or comments with racist overtures, certainly not from a CBSA official in uniform. – CINEWS

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