Cornwall Ontario – You really can’t have your cake and eat it too as MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict doesn’t quite understand.
When the people of Akwesasne rejected having a CBSA border crossing where it had been historically if Union members wore arms, it ultimately inflicted a lot of pain in the community.
Right now residents returning from Snye or the US have to still drive to the new CBSA digs in Cornwall just to turn around and head home. This has caused a lot of grief for the community of Akwesasne, and frankly anyone having to cross at certain times of the day including this writer who endured a very long Monday afternoon return trip to Cornwall.
A potential solution was leaked, about having a remote station near where the old CBSA digs were which led to a rejection from the union. There still are a lot of sore feelings from the bridge closure drama of 2010.
Chief Benedict was quoted in other area media:
MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict described the objections expressed by union president Jean-Pierre Fortin on behalf of local border agents as being “ misinformed.” It is the people of Akwesasne who will decide whether the alternative reporting station is allowed to go ahead, said the grand chief. The federal government has made a better relationship with First Nations a priority, and the union should get with the program.
“The current government of Canada is about relationship building … and improving relationships with all partners including Indigenous partners. So I find his comments to be not in line with the rest of the political bodies and representative organizations are saying in this day and age,” said Benedict. “We will continue to negotiate with the federal government, and not the union.”
That tone simply isn’t productive. The Chief is only half right. If CBSA is WILLING to have a remote station it still has to go through its union. It’s not the Chief’s call in the big picture, and frankly his community and the union ultimately have to live together with whichever resolution is decided or if there is no change.
And ultimately the remote station will not happen because of the MCA’s stance on agents being armed on Cornwall Island, and the agents very valid concern that if an emergency occurred at the remote station their actions could result in a …..mess.