Election candidates tangle over northwestern B.C. border crossing

Telephone reporting system at Stewart border crossing called a threat to security

  • Thu Aug 27th, 2015 1:00pm
  • News

The Canadian border post between Stewart

TWO of the Oct.19 federal election northwestern B.C. candidates have weighed in on a change at the Stewart border crossing with one pledging a return to previous service and the other saying security will be maintained.

At issue is a telephone reporting system installed at the border earlier this year for the eight-hour period from midnight until 8 a.m.

It replaces what had been a full service presence by Canada Border Services Agency agents at the post between Stewart and Hyder, Alaska.

People wishing to enter the country during that eight-hour period now phone an agent on duty in Beaver Creek, Yukon in order to be cleared.

The move has been criticized by the border agents’ union, the Customs and Immigration Union, which says the move is a security threat.

Incumbent Skeena – Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen says a NDP government would restore 24-hour service.

“This decision by the Conservative government has taken a toll on families and the local economy in Stewart and on our friends in Hyder, [Alaska] and poses major risks to public safety in the event of an emergency,” said Cullen.

He said the decision early this year to first close the border between midnight and 8 a.m. and then amended in the spring to install a phone was done without speaking to local residents.

But Conservative candidate Tyler Nesbitt said the border services agency “will ensure that security is maintained while making legitimate travel more convenient.”

“Outside of regular hours special accommodation is made for emergency service vehicles and locals can report remotely outside of regular hours,” he said.