Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Argument Used by Canada Border Services Officers When They Get Into Trouble

On Friday May, 6, 2011, I came across an interesting article in the Globe and Mail written by Paul Waldie entitled "Border guard's suspended after putting gun in filing cabinet". For a copy of the article, please go to the following link -

I am sharing this article because it demonstrates that even Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers make mistakes and seek forgiveness. CBSA officers expect travelers to be perfect in their dealings with the CBSA --- but, from time to time even CBSA officers are not perfect.

The new article relates to a CBSA officer (superintendent and special investigator at Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls) who was not feeling well and he went home early. He stored his newly issued gun in a drawer of a filing cabinet and not in the proper assigned secure locker. He forgot where he had put his gun and it was found by chance two days later. The officer was suspended for 10 days without pay. The officer appealed the penalty.

The arguments he raised in his defence included:

1) It was the first such incident;

2) The penalty was unfair and "too heavy"; and

3) The officer's "error was a single act of carelessness, not wilful misconduct, in an otherwise unblemished career".

I share these because many travelers run afoul of the CBSA's rules in situations where similar arguments may be raised. I am not talking about the travelers who smuggle goods or prohibited goods in to Canada. I am also not talking about the vacationer who buys an expensive item outside Canada and deliberately fails to declare the goods. I am talking about the tired traveler who does not answer a question in the best manner possible and that answer results in a level 2 seizure and/or a confiscation of a NEXUS card. Innocent people make errors in circumstances where there is "no risk to the CBSA".

If you require assistance with a disagreement that you have with the CBSA, please call Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at McMillan LLP at 416-307-4168.

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