Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca has officially cut ties with the Canada Border Services Agency as a result of a controversial roundup of undocumented workers in August.
“Effective immediately the ministry will no longer partner with the (border agency) in commercial motor vehicle enforcement initiatives,” Del Duca said in a letter Friday to federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney released to the Star.
His decision follows an operational review — first reported in the Star — of the incident on Aug. 14 when CBSA officers used a commercial vehicle roadside blitz along Wilson Ave., between Jane St. and Hwy. 400, to arrest 21 illegal immigrants, several of whom were deported.
That sparked harsh criticism from groups dedicated to helping undocumented workers, the Ontario Federation of Labour and opposition critics who agreed the province should not be helping to arrest of workers suspected of being in Canada illegally.
“The review found that the partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency did not align with our mandate” of road safety, Del Duca stated in the two-page letter.
“The ministry will only partner on joint enforcement initiatives with road safety partners to protect and ensure road safety and commercial carrier compliance,” he said.
The minister’s office has insisted the MTO and the CBSA did not work in tandem but rather in two separate spot checks some distance apart and that the ministry’s only concern was the safety of commercial vehicles. And the Ontario Provincial Police has maintained it had just one officer there who did not participate in the CBSA initiative.
The CBSA told the Star earlier it was fairly routine to work with the Transportation Ministry and insisted it was invited in August after partner agencies “noticed that many drivers stopped during blitzes had immigration warrants.”
“As a result, it was determined that the CBSA’s presence would be beneficial in the processing of these individuals,” the federal agency stated earlier.
Blaney issued a statement last month making no apologies for the CBSA doing its job.
“We will not compromise the integrity of our immigration system,” Blaney spokesperson Jason Tamming, said in an email to the Star.