Canada: Cornwall Island residents sue over border crossing requirement within Canada - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaCornwall Island residents sue over border crossing requirement within Canada

07:20  17 july  2019
07:20  17 july  2019 Source:   thestar.com

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Inside Canada : Crossing the Border - Before you visit Canada , visit TripAdvisor for the latest info and advice, written for travelers by travelers. This applies if your trip includes a flight between a Canadian and American airport. However, if you have an Enhanced Driver's Licence or U.S. Passport Card, you

The Canada Border Services Agency opened the temporary facility at 6 a.m. ET, allowing everyday traffic to cross the bridge over the St. Lawrence River into the U.S. for the first time since Cornwall police Chief Dan Parkinson said tempers have remained calm on the Canadian side of the border .

Cornwall Island residents sue over border crossing requirement within Canada © Provided by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited Jody Swamp is the proposed representative plaintiff in a class action lawsuit that claims the residents of Cornwall Island are being discriminated against by being forced to go through a border point on entry when they travel to the mainland, even though they have not left Canada.

The Mohawk residents of Cornwall Island face a barrier that isn’t faced by any other Canadians — they need to cross a border point of entry to access the rest of the country.

That has rankled for a long time and so now they’re doing something about it.

A team of lawyers has launched a class-action lawsuit in Ontario court on behalf of the Indigenous residents, claiming they are subjected to “illegal interrogation, inspection, detention and seizure” at the only border checkpoint of its kind in Canada.

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“The proposed class members experience humiliation and degradation on a daily basis by having to be subject to the suspicion and arbitrary detention by (Canada Border Service Agency) agents at the port of entry even though they are domestic travellers,” reads the statement of claim.

The proposed class action suit is seeking $150 million in damages.

In 2012, the Canadian government created a CBSA-controlled port of entry that requires the island’s residents to pass through it anytime they want to go into the nearby city of Cornwall on the mainland.

The federal government has essentially put up a border at Cornwall, and empowered CBSA agents to treat the residents as if they are international travellers — even when they haven’t left Canada, says Toronto lawyer Cameron Fiske, whose firm is involved in the legal action.

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Amtrak services that cross the US- Canadian border are subject to inspection by Canadian and American law enforcement officials. The Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection Department are very concerned about the safety of children crossing the border .

A Canada -U.S. border station on Indian territory that straddles Canada and upstate New York was Canadian border guards abandoned their posts at the Seaway International Bridge near Cornwall , Ontario The Canwest News Service noted Akwesasne residents have never protested U.S. border

“This would be like forcing people from the Toronto Islands to go through a border when coming to downtown Toronto,” Fiske wrote in an email.

Cornwall Island is in Canada, but the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve straddles Canada and the United States.

The proposed representative plaintiff of the class lawsuit is Jody Swamp, a member of the Mohawk Nation who resides on Cornwall Island. The Attorney General of Canada and CBSA are named as defendants.

In 2017, Swamp was arrested on multiple charges under the Customs Act after firecrackers were discovered in his vehicle when he was detained by a CBSA agent. Swamp told the agent he was coming from Canadian territory.

In April, a judge in Cornwall agreed with the defence that the agent had no reasonable grounds to believe otherwise so the secondary search of his vehicle was unlawful.

Swamp told the agent he was from Cornwall Island. Accordingly, he should have been treated as a domestic traveller, not a foreign arrival, according to the judge’s decision.

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Inside Canada : Crossing the Border - Before you visit Canada , visit TripAdvisor for the latest info and advice, written for travellers by travellers. This applies if your trip includes a flight between a Canadian and American airport. However, if you have an Enhanced Driver's Licence or U.S. Passport

Canadian Border Regulations and Requirements . The Canada Border Services Agency solely determines entry into Canada , in accordance with Canadian laws. When returning to the United States over land borders or by sea, U.S. citizens need to show a valid WHTI-compliant document.

The ruling stated that “domestic travellers are not to be subject to the regular search powers of the CBSA,” which are “very broad” for international travellers.

The judge excluded the evidence of the firecrackers and dismissed the charges. The Attorney General has appealed the ruling and a hearing is set for September.

The statement of claim for the proposed class action says that Swamp’s experience of arbitrary detention is common for many domestic travellers at the Cornwall checkpoint.

Akwesasne residents who routinely conduct business in Cornwall, requiring them sometimes to go back and forth, have been subjected to harassment, searches, and seizures of property, the statement says.

Border guards at the port of entry also subject domestic travellers to inspection because they purportedly have family members with criminal records. “This is a form of discrimination,” the statement of claim says.

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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