It is difficult to imagine what an internal report by the Canada Border Services Agency can possibly add to the known facts about the wrongful arrest, strip search and jailing of a grandmother from Minnesota.
Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, is refusing to denounce the work of Agency officers until he has read this revelatory document. Maybe it's for the best. It would not serve the public interest to have Mr. Toews dispense the same kind of arbitrary justice that his officers appear to have done.
It is hard to conceive of a less likely person to be involved in drug trafficking than Janet Goodin, 66, a retired girl scout registrar and grandmother of 12, who lives in a trailer park in Warroad, Minn., pop. 1,781. Guards stopped her at a crossing en route to play bingo and see her daughters in Canada. An inspection of her vehicle found a canning jar with a suspicious substance. They performed a spot "test" that convinced them it was heroin, in a liquid form.
Warroad is not known as a global centre for the trafficking of heroin, and even if it were, Ms. Goodin hardly fits the description of a drug mule. Yet on the basis of this evidently seriously flawed field test, Ms. Goodin was arrested, handcuffed, strip-searched (twice) and charged with possession of a drug for the purpose of trafficking, as well as importing a controlled substance. Because she could not raise bail, she spent 12 days in jail. At some point, you would have thought someone in the justice system would have heard an alarm bell go off. But the only justice for Ms. Goodin came when separate tests conducted by the RCMP showed that the "heroin" was used motor oil.
Mr. Toews has thus far refused to comment on "operational matters" related to the case, but when he does get his report, which should be soon, he needs to apologize to Ms. Goodin, and immediately suspend and review the spot testing procedures. He also needs to discipline the CBSA officers involved. It is a difficult job they do, but fundamental to it is some judgment.