Politicians, pot and problems at the border | Macleans.ca

The recent outbreak of political frankness when it comes to past marijuana use, while refreshing, is not without consequences. Political leaders who made such admissions, including three provincial premiers, the leaders of two national parties and the mayors of Toronto and London, Ont., may find, as thousands of Canadians have, that honesty may not be the best policy when trying to gain entry to the U.S. If you’ve ever been arrested for cannabis possession, or even admitted to puffing pot, Uncle Sam does not want you.

There are more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, including admitting to smoking marijuana, a crime of “moral turpitude,” says Thomas Schreiber, Chief Customs and Border Protection Officer at Blaine, Wash., in an email exchange with Maclean’s. He cites the relevant section: “any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of a violation of . . .any law or regulation of a State, the United States or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance . . . is inadmissible.”

That cuts quite a swath. Some 40 per cent of Canadians 15 or older admit to smoking marijuana in their lifetime, says a 2011 Health Canada survey. If a U.S. border agent asks any of those more than 10 million Canadians if they’ve ever used pot, and they answer honestly, they will be barred. Agents have no room for discretion, says Schreiber. “The law is very clear on matters of admissibility.”

Full story: Politicians, pot and problems at the border – Canada – Macleans.ca.

U.S. pushes for cross-border officers to be exempt from Canadian law: RCMP memo | The Globe and Mail

The United States wants its police officers to be exempt from Canadian law if they agree to take part in a highly touted cross-border policing initiative, says an internal RCMP memo.

The debate over whose laws would apply to U.S. officers working in Canada raises important questions of sovereignty and police accountability, says the briefing note prepared for RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson.

“Canadians would likely have serious concerns with cross-designated officers from the U.S. not being accountable for their actions in Canada.”

The planned pilot project — part of a sweeping Canada-U.S. perimeter security pact — would see the two countries build on joint border-policing efforts by creating integrated teams in areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations.

The perimeter deal, being phased in over several years, aims to ensure the safe, speedy passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel while bolstering North American defences.

Full story: U.S. pushes for cross-border officers to be exempt from Canadian law: RCMP memo – The Globe and Mail.

Federal budget cuts could hurt border agency’s fight against gun smuggling, MP says | Toronto Star

In the news: Federal budget cuts could hurt border agency’s fight against gun smuggling, MP says | Toronto Star.

OTTAWA—Front-line border officers are confiscating fewer guns than they did a decade ago and ongoing budget cuts could make it even harder to stem the tide of illegal firearms onto Toronto streets, a New Democrat MP says.

The Conservative government, which has made law-and-order the central plank of its agenda, is being pressed to do more to combat the smuggling of handguns to Canada from the United States.

“The proliferation is enormous . . . they’re used in crimes. They’re used by youth,” NDP MP Mike Sullivan said Friday.

Full story.

Toronto gets new U.S. special agent, targeting gun smuggling – thestar.com

In the news: Toronto gets new U.S. special agent, targeting gun smuggling – thestar.com.

When a bullet kills or harms someone in Toronto, one of the first questions asked is where the gun came from.

If the weapon is thought to be American, a Toronto-based U.S. special agent pairs Canadian police with U.S. authorities to discern how it got here.

For the past seven years, that agent was Regina Lombardo, who opened Toronto’s office in 2005. This month, a new agent took her place with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which has the authority to get U.S. firearm makers to provide sales records.

Lombardo arrived here shortly after the Summer of the Gun. Her replacement, Special Agent Peter Forcelli, also arrived months after high-profile gunfire on the Toronto streets.

“There’s been a lot of rival gang activity happening this past summer,” Lombardo said in an interview at the U.S. Consulate, where she was based. “If they are U.S.-sourced weapons, that’s where our involvement comes in.”

Toronto police have said 70 per cent of guns seized after crimes were smuggled from the U.S.