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Thursday, August 31, 2006 - Page updated at 10:54 AM

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Canadian border officers to be armed with guns over 10 years

The Associated Press

SURREY, B.C. — Canadian border guards will be armed starting in September 2007 but it will take 10 years to fully implement the plan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today.

The federal government will have at least 150 officers with sidearms deployed by the end of March 2008, Harper announced at a border crossing south of Vancouver, B.C.

He also reiterated a promise from the federal budget to hire 400 additional officers. They will be used, among other things, to double up on Canada-U.S. border crossings that only have a single officer on duty.

Canada has about 5,000 border guards who have been demanding to be armed to help them deal with cross-border criminal activity.

Officers left their posts in British Columbia earlier this year when they were told that two murder suspects from California were headed their way. The men were apprehended by armed U.S. law enforcement officers.

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