Liberal calls border guards “wimps”

Yesterday in the House, Derek Lee, the Liberal MP for Scarborough-Rouge River had a few choice words for the 60 Canadian border guards that walked off the job in the face of an armed American that was on his way to the border.

Canada-U.S. Border

Mr. Joe Comartin (Windsor–Tecumseh, NDP): Mr. Speaker, yesterday 60 Canadian border guards were forced to walk off four Canadian border crossings because an armed and dangerous criminal was approaching the border.

Mr. Derek Lee: That’s because they are a bunch of wimps.

Later on, MPs from both the Conservatives and the NDP raised their objections to Lee’s comments:

Canada-U.S. Border

Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today in question period, when I was responding to a reply about our border officers, the men and women who serve our country at the nation’s frontiers, a member of the Liberal Party, the member for Scarborough-Rouge River, was shouting out and referring to our brave men and women as wimps.

We tried to ask him informally to cease doing that.

An hon. member: Fifteen times.

Hon. Stockwell Day: It was recorded at least another 10 to 15 times. He continued to refer to our border officers as wimps.

Yesterday on Parliament Hill we attended a service of commemoration for peace officers who have died in the line of duty. The men and women who serve us on our borders do so without side arms. In any given year many times they must apprehend suspects, seize drugs and there are times when they must attempt to seize illegal weapons. They have been asking for side arms and to be trained for such for 10 years but the Liberals refused to do that. We are moving ahead on that.

Regardless of that debate, it is unacceptable that courageous men and women who serve us every day and night in this country are referred to as wimps. We would like a full and complete apology for that.

Our border officers are not wimps. Every day and every night they are on the line for us unarmed because they never received support from the Liberals. I want to hear an apology to our border officers. They are not wimps. They are brave and courageous men and women.

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to recognize the strength, fortitude and courage of all of the people who man our borders. I am not referring to our police or to our military. I am talking of the people who man our borders. I commend the courage of all the people who man our borders if they stay on the job.

I was referring to those who walked off the job merely because apparently there was an American who had a firearm. There are over 200 million firearms south of the border. I admire our border service professionals who stay on the job, not those who walk off. We have never had armed border service professionals, not in the entire 138 years of this country. I admire those who stay on the job, not those who walk off.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when the member for Windsor-Tecumseh was trying to ask questions about the safety situation facing our border guards, he was shouted down by the member for Scarborough-Rouge River again and again, to the point where I could not hear the question properly even though I was sitting so close to him.

I feel this is an important issue. It is not just the disrespect to the House or the disrespect to the men and women who are out in the field. This sends the message that there are some people in Parliament who show an absolute contempt for people who put their lives on the line. For those members to stand in the House today and have the nerve to tell us that they respect people who work but call people who stand up for their legal right to refuse unsafe conditions wimps is a disgrace.

I am speaking on a question of privilege because as a member of Parliament I feel ashamed that people like that would even stand in the House and–

and… then the Speaker ruled the complaints out of order.

That said, the Liberals sure made Canadians scared of Americans and guns during the last election and now Derek Lee is calling border guards — whom the previous government, of which he was a member, dangerously neglected to arm — “wimps” for walking away from a potentially fatal situation in which they were woefully unequipped to handle? Lee should realize how insulting his words are and the context in which he has chosen to speak them.

Lee should also speak to his Liberal caucus colleague Mark Holland, who at the beginning of this month wrote the following (3rd person voice) in a press release:

Holland argues that the House Committee on Public Safety and National Security should examine how this is implemented and the extent to which the new policy is needed. He pointed out that studies done for the previous government found the arming of guards to be unnecessary and recommended that RCMP be used instead when weapons are required.

The Liberals didn’t arm our border guards. Mark Holland insists the guards don’t need sidearms and Derek Lee calls them wimps. What kind of bizarre macho nationalist anti-gun logic is this?