Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
It took an anonymous whistleblower to flag the "highly inappropriate" behaviour, which predated the unnamed CBSA officer's hiring, spotlighted in a report tabled Thursday by the federal public sector integrity commissioner.
The officer, who worked for years at a border crossing near Thunder Bay, Ont., has been fired for his off-duty hobnobbing with a "participant in the No. 1 criminal organization in Ontario."
According to Mario Dion's investigation, "intelligence reports, photos and information from law enforcement agencies" leave no doubt there was a "close relationship" between the officer and the criminal.
The watchdog found the officer breached CBSA ethics rules by refusing to conduct searches on some of his criminal pals.
He received a black mark in his 2009-10 performance report for that, but no other disciplinary action was taken.
He was caught trying to "evade the law during a police operation" in a local Thunder Bay bar at 2 a.m. by identifying himself as a CBSA officer.
He brushed off warnings by a supervisor and colleague about his choice of friends, the report found.
There was no evidence the officer was involved in any criminal activity, but RCMP and local police have opened their own investigations.
A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement the government takes "any misconduct by law enforcement very seriously." Neither the CBSA or Public Safety responded to requests for interviews.