The news that the federal Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill included a clause that will allow American police officers to cross the international border and make arrests should be deeply disturbing to all Canadians.
The Integrated Cross Border Law Enforcement Operations Act changes the law that covers maritime operations, allowing U.S. officers to continue their pursuit in some cases while on Canadian soil. Previously, U.S. police could only enter Canadian waters while chasing suspect boats. Now, if they are in hot pursuit and the suspects reach land on the Canadian side of the border, they are able to continue their pursuit and make an arrest.
It may seem like a small thing, particularly if the bad guys get what’s legally coming to them, but it raises some very serious questions. How far inland, for instance, can the pursuit go? Are armed U.S. police officers operating on Canadian soil going to become the new normal? We certainly don’t think it should be. The RCMP has a good track record in dealing with drug traffickers and, realistically, they’re as close as your phone. What’s wrong with having a detachment of mounties on hand to tie up the drug runner’s boat when it pulls to shore?
True, the U.S. agents would be required to be under the command of a Canadian officer, but what would happen if a U.S. officer found it necessary to fire his or her gun? What if someone was killed?
The biggest concern of course has to be the loss of Canadian sovereignty, particularly in light of the very real possibility of mission creep. What will be the next step? How far will it go?
As well, one has to wonder why this particular measure was buried as a minor subsection in an enormous federal budget bill. While there could be some financial implications, surely this is the sort of measure that requires full, stand alone debate as a separate bill in the House of Commons.
— Editorial by Neil Horner