PAJ Issue 3 NA


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C anada Border Services Agency officer Nicolas Girard knew that he was in for a rough ride when the deportee he was escorting saw the plane that would take him out of the country. "He panicked and started shouting," recalls Montreal-based Girard, one of about 400 CBSA officers across Canada who are specially trained to escort people. "He became really uncooperative. The pilot of the plane has the right to refuse unruly passengers on board the aircraft, so first I had to persuade him to let us on." Calming the deportee was another matter. When escorting an uncoop- erative person, officers like Girard must rely on tact, diplomacy and their ability to improvise solutions. "A lot of the job involves finding ways to get the deportee to cooperate," says Girard. "I don't try to be friends with the deportee, but I have to make him my friend to ensure that all goes well. We officers sometimes have to spend as much as 30 hours with the deportee to get him home. This involves using psychology. Myself, I let the person spill everything out at the start. I tell him directly the consequences of the trip and that our being together has to work. I have a way of getting difficult people to cooperate." But being in close quarters for extended periods with some types of of- fenders can test even an officer with Girard's composure. "If you're dealing with a pedophile, say, you have to think of his crimes in the abstract so you can uphold your code of conduct. It's not always easy, since you naturally might want to say or do something else." Deportees can come from the shadiest corners of criminal activity. In 2013, for example, CBSA officers in Southern Ontario escorted 20 members of the Domotor-Kolompar criminal gang out of the country after the members were found guilty of human trafficking in the Hamilton area. Girard had to think fast in the case of the deportee who panicked at the sight of the plane. "He was a Rastafarian, so I asked him to teach me his prayers. I kept reciting them over and over until we reached the final destination. By then, I knew those prayers by heart! Also one of his songs." The 15-hour trip involved two stops en route, which meant that Girard again had to use his diplomatic skills to obtain permission to fly from two other pilots. "If the pilot says no, then we don't fly. There've been times when I've had to ask more than once. Generally the deportee and I sit as far back 33 w w w . p o l i c e a d v o c a t e s j o u r n a l . c o m RETURN TO SENDER Tact, diplomacy and the art of improvising solutions: Canada's Border Services agents get the job done BY VICTOR SWOBODA Thanks to citizen tips, 56 fugitives were apprehended in Canada and 43 of them were sent out of the country. PHOTO: Victor Swoboda

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