Sick husband assaulted by Cornwall, Ont., border officials, woman says
A Cornwall Island woman says her husband was assaulted by Canada Border Service Agency officials earlier this week as he attempted to drive himself to hospital in Cornwall, Ont.
Donna Delormier said her husband, Antoine Delormier, 67, was thrown to the ground and pinned at the Cornwall border crossing after he refused to leave his vehicle because he was in “medical distress.”
“He didn’t get out of the vehicle because he was sick. And he didn’t feel he was going to be able to get out,” Delormier told CBC Ottawa on Friday.
Cornwall Island is located in the St. Lawrence River and is home to the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, which straddles three jurisdictions: Ontario, Quebec and the United States.
In 2009, the port of entry was moved from the island to the Canadian mainland after a dispute over the federal government’s plan to arm border guards, meaning island dwellers — even though the island is entirely within Canada’s borders — have to cross through Canada Customs and Immigration to visit Cornwall.
Felt too ill to leave car
Delormier said her husband has recently had four heart attacks, and that when he woke up on Sept. 22, he was feeling unwell. Instead of waiting for an ambulance to arrive on Cornwall Island, Delormier said her husband decided to drive himself — normally a 10-minute trip — over the border into the city.
When he arrived at the border, a customs officer asked him to step out of the vehicle so they could search it. He refused, Delormier said.
“They didn’t wait to let him explain that he was in distress and needed medical attention immediately,” she said.
Delormier’s husband was pulled out of his truck and thrown to the ground, Delormier said. Two more officers arrived, one putting a knee to his back while the other stepped on his head, she said.
Placed in holding cell, arrested
He was placed in a holding cell and was told he was under arrest for hindering the officers, she added.
Eventually an ambulance was called and he was taken to the Cornwall Community Hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Shortly after he was admitted, a CBSA officer came to the hospital and told him he was “unarrested,” Delormier said.
On Friday, he was still in intensive care, she said.
“I’m in disbelief that this could occur,” said Delormier, who was not in the vehicle with her husband during the trip. “My husband’s 67 years old. You don’t do that to elderly people. You just don’t. It’s not human.”
In a statement, the CBSA said that “all such incidents are thoroughly reviewed” to confirm standards are followed.
“Our officers are trained to take appropriate action when necessary to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public, themselves, and other individuals in our facilities,” the statement read.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne said they are paying close attention to how the Delormiers’ situation develops.
Cornwall is about 100 kilometres southeast of Ottawa.