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Postmedia News - Ottawa - November 25, 2010

Air passengers in Canada could soon confront amed airport border guards after having already cleared a full-body pat-down in a spearate screening room.

Federal authorities say they are consideirng arming the airport border guards who greet travellers arriving on international flights.

The Canada Border Service Agency wants to review the risks faced by frontline, uniformed guards at major airports "and the threat of bodily harm or death to them or to travllers in the area", says a request for proposal posted Tuesday for an independent study of the issue.

The CBSA began arming its 4800 land border and marin port guards and inland enforcement officers in August 2007.   

Airport guards who inspect inernational passengers for customs, tax and immigration compliance, were excluded because CBSA believe the presence of police in air terminals and prior security screening of the arriving passengers countered any need for guns.

But based on "feedback recevied from employees and manager" that reasoning is now being reassessed "with a view to determining whether...(they) should carry firearms" says the call for poposals.

"Officers sometimes find themselves in situations where they msut deal with aggressive behaviour on the part of the public," it explains.  "This behaviour may include anything from threatening gestures during primary questioning to an unprovoked assault.

"There is a public expectation that they will hav ethe training and tools necessary to safely carry out their mandate."

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