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Harper backs controversial ‘Border Security’ TV show

Cancel Border Security TV

A television show that the Council of Canadians has described as “disgusting” is being backed by the Harper government and is now being filmed in British Columbia and Ontario. The program is called ‘Border Security’ and it gained public notoriety in March 2013 for filming a border agency raid and arrest of undocumented workers at a Vancouver construction site. At that time, we expressed our disdain for a federally-funded for-profit TV show that turns deportation into entertainment.

Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal has commented, “Since this show appears to be filming people without their free and informed consent, it is now time for all of us to proactively protect our individual privacy rights and to collectively assert that we will not participate in this media production subsidized by the federal government that exploits stories of personal humiliation at the hands of law enforcement.” The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is pursuing a complaint that says the privacy rights of those filmed have been violated.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The issue blew up into a media firestorm. The wife of one of the detained workers started an online petition calling for the show’s cancellation, which attracted more than 25,000 signatures. The CBSA’s involvement was debated in the House of Commons, where NDP public-safety critic Randall Garrison called the show a ‘dangerous and reckless PR stunt’. The BCCLA held a press conference and fired off a formal complaint with the federal Privacy Commission. The Council of Canadians called the show ‘disgusting’. At one point, protesters gathered outside Force Four’s Vancouver office.”

Notably, the Harper government is pushing ahead with support for this series despite the concern of a top civil servant within the border services agency. CBC reports, “In a four-page memo last October to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Canada Border Services Agency president Luc Portelance said he was ‘unable to recommend that we consider a third season at this time.’ …It concluded the ‘risk/reward ratio for the project is questionable.'” That article also notes, “The border agency contributes $200,000 in communications support to the show annually along with some management oversight.”

More than 90 organizations have called for ‘Border Security’ not to be aired including Amnesty International, the BC Government and Service Employees Union, the Canadian Labour Congress, Kairos, Idle No More, Leadnow.ca and the Law Union of Ontario.