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Wednesday, 04 March 2015 15:32

Gov’t needs to fully support border services

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A tragic story is playing out in Fort McMurray, Alta. as two children have died following a situation where in an effort to kill bedbugs in a home, a mother of a young family of five used agricultural pesticide pellets called  phosphine which she brought back from Pakistan.

When the pellets react to moisture it releases a low-rising, but very toxic gas. It’s often used to fumigate for rats in grain.
It is a horrific and terribly sad situation as a family has lost two and the three remaining are/were still hospitalized.
No parent should ever have to suffer through that kind of torment regarding one of his or her own.
This horrible story could have been worse, as the event took place in an apartment complex and others in the building could have been harmed.
They were thankfully evacuated in time.
Phosphine is legal in Canada, but farmers and others who use it, need the proper pesticide applicator certificate or licence. Health Canada warned of its use Feb. 27. 
The fact the pesticide was able to be imported into Canada is troubling.
The pesticide should have been caught and at the very least questioned at the border.
Why wasn’t it?
Maybe someone just missed it, mistakes happen. Maybe it was extremely busy at the airport that day. Perhaps it has to do with budget cutbacks and there wasn’t enough staff to catch everything.
In 2012, the federal government cut staff with Canadian Border Services Agency due to budget belt tightening. In a report to the national media Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said that within three years more than 1,300 jobs would be effected.
Post Media reported spending figures for 2013-14 released after the federal budget show about $141 million in cuts to the department with the union noting this included about 150 intelligence officers and 19 detector dog teams.
One can’t say definitively or blame a lack of personnel on questioning why someone was carrying pesticide in luggage into Canada, especially when travellers are getting hassled about bringing across baby walkers, cans of pop or jequirity beans, however it begs the question: if an ordinary citizen can do that, how would a terrorist or someone trained in espionage fare?
Mistakes are always going to happen, however, in a day and age where terrorism is no longer something from which Canada is immune, the federal government needs to ensure its citizens are protected to the fullest.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor