Failure to include Canada's customs and Immigration professionals and inability to meaningfully interdict contraband tobacco leaves legislation flawed
TORONTO, Dec. 9 /CNW/ - The federal government's newly introduced legislation, Bill C-60, is a missed opportunity to enhance border security according to the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT). The Shiprider program of joint Canada and US border enforcement began as a pilot project in 2007 and allows for US and Canadian law enforcement officials to jointly man ships patrolling border waterways.
"The Shiprider program is a good one, but the government missed an opportunity with this legislation to enact complimentary measures to secure the border. The gap left in our border by this legislation can't be ignored. It's like making sure the front door is locked, but leaving the window open," said Gary Grant, spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco and retired Staff Superintendent of the Toronto Police Service. "The government's Bill C-60 may formalize the Shiprider program, but it fails to address one of the most serious cross-border crime conduits in the country - the flow of contraband tobacco from the US, through the Awkesasne reserve and into Ontario and Quebec."
RCMP sources note that the vast majority of the contraband tobacco in Canada comes through the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory aboriginal reserve, which straddles the US/Canada border near Cornwall, Ontario. RCMP estimates that 90% of the contraband tobacco distributed in Canada is illegally smuggled into the country though this corridor.
"As an organization the Customs and Immigration Union's key concern with Bill C-60 and Shiprider is that Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is not even part of the equation," said Ron Moran, National President, Customs and Immigration Union and member of the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco. "As would be expected with a cross-border enforcement initiative like Shiprider, the US Customs and Border Protection Service is front-and-centre but, in contrast, the Canadian Customs and Immigration Service is altogether absent. If the government is serious about tightening up the border, CBSA and Canada's customs and immigration professionals need to be involved."
Studies have also shown the prevalence of contraband tobacco is rapidly growing in Canada - particularly in Ontario and Quebec. In both provinces, almost half of all cigarettes being sold are illegal - circumventing all government restrictions on the responsible sale of tobacco products. In addition, more and more police arrests and seizures are occurring in Atlantic & Western Canada, where the illegal traffic is growing at an unprecedented rate.
Contraband tobacco is a major problem in central Canada and one of the most vulnerable populations - our kids - is at risk because of illegal cigarettes. A recent study by the NCACT and Canadian Convenience Stores Association of Ontario and Quebec high schools found that 30% of the cigarette butts found around Ontario schools and 45% at Quebec schools were contraband tobacco. More detail on the study can be found at www.stopcontrabandtobacco.ca.
The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat.
The members of the NCACT include: Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Retail Council of Canada, National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Duty Free Association, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Conseil du Patronat du Québec (CPQ), l'Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Customs & Immigration Union (CIU).
SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)
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