An Act to amend the Customs Act


Ralph Goodale  Liberal


In committee (Senate), as of Oct. 23, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-21.


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Customs Act to authorize the Canada Border Services Agency to collect, from prescribed persons and prescribed sources, personal information on all persons who are leaving or have left Canada. It also amends the Act to authorize an officer, as defined in that Act, to require that goods that are to be exported from Canada are to be reported despite any exemption under that Act. In addition, it amends the Act to provide officers with the power to examine any goods that are to be exported. Finally, it amends the Act to authorize the disclosure of information collected under the Customs Act to an official of the Department of Employment and Social Development for the purposes of administering or enforcing the Old Age Security Act.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Sept. 27, 2017 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
See context


Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to begin the debate on Bill C-21 now at third reading stage in the House of Commons.

The Public Safety Committee has carefully considered this legislation and reported it back to the chamber, with a great deal of consensus and support. I would like to thank the committee for the hard work that was done, and note that one amendment related to the length of time that exit information may be retained after it is collected was adopted by the committee. The original version of the legislation allowed for this time limit to be set at some future date by regulation. The NDP put forward an amendment for a 15-year retention period in the law itself, and this amendment found majority support among committee members.

I believe the amendment makes the bill stronger and the government is very happy to accept it.

Before I discuss the specifics of Bill C-21, I cannot stress enough how important a smooth, secure, and well-functioning border is to both us and the United States.

Every day, around 400,000 people and $2.5 billion in bilateral trade cross the Canada-U.S. border in both directions. We and our American counterparts have frequently reiterated our shared commitment to creating an even safer border that promotes even greater prosperity, two goals that go hand in hand. The bill before us today is a big step toward achieving those goals.

Bill C-21 would help us not only ensure that our border with the United States is more secure but also would ensure that our immigration system and social benefit system are better equipped to perform as intended.

Many Canadians would probably be surprised to find out that we do not currently have a system to track when somebody departs Canada. In fact, we have never had that kind of system. Most other developed countries keep track of who leaves as well as who arrives. Canada, of course, does an excellent job of taking note of who is entering the country. However, we need to address the security loophole and catch up to the rest of the world on who is leaving the country. Canadians might also be surprised to know that the Canada Border Services Agency has very few powers in the law to stop goods from leaving Canada, even if it is aware that the goods should not leave the country. Therefore, the legislation needs to be fixed, and Bill C-21 deals with both of these issues.

First, Bill C-21 would amend the Customs Act to enable the collection of basic exit information when someone leaves our country. With a clearer picture of who is exiting Canada, we can ensure the efficient movement of legitimate trade and travel, and keep our border more secure. Currently, this information is only tracked on foreign nationals and permanent residents leaving Canada by the land border for the United States.

It would be helpful to consider some examples of how the new legislation would be useful to the CBSA. It could, for instance, help to determine if a foreign national is overstaying his or her visitor visa. Canada is a welcoming country, but we expect those who are visiting us to abide by the terms of their visas and travel documents, including any expectation that when their visa has expired, they would return to their home country. At the moment, without Bill C-21, we can never know for sure.

Another example is tracking the exit of those who are inadmissible to Canada and have been issued a removal order. Currently, many individuals in that situation simply board a flight at their own cost and depart on their own initiative. However, with no way to track exit information, the Canada Border Services Agency cannot close the file. The result is often the issuance of immigration warrants for people who may already have left the country.

The exit information that would be collected is brief, basic, straightforward, and unobtrusive. It includes name, nationality, date of birth, gender, and the issuing authority of the travel document—in other words, nothing more than is found on page 2 of everyone's passport—along with the time and place of departure. This information would be gathered without imposing any new requirements on the travelling public.

When a person leaves Canada by land, the person would, as usual, show his or her passport to the U.S. border officer and the U.S. would automatically send that basic information back to Canada. This is a reciprocal arrangement with the U.S., which is in fact already receiving information about people departing that country and arriving in Canada via the land border. For those leaving by air, air carriers would collect the basic passport data from passenger manifests and provide it to CBSA before departure.

In addition to the benefits I outlined earlier, Bill C-21 would be of great use to law enforcement. Canadian authorities would be better able to combat cross-border crime, respond to national security threats, prevent the illegal export of controlled goods, ensure the integrity of our immigration system, and protect taxpayers' dollars by making it easier to identify cases of identity fraud and abuse in certain government programs.

A good example is in the event of a kidnapped child and the ensuing Amber Alert that would be issued. When an Amber Alert is issued and shared with the CBSA, the CBSA would be able to create a lookout for the missing child or for a suspected abductor. If those individuals should cross the land border, U.S. border officials would send the exit information back to CBSA almost instantaneously. When the name of the child matches the Amber Alert, CBSA would be able to inform the RCMP that that particular person has left the country. The RCMP could then coordinate with American counterparts to locate the child and apprehend the offender, or if the lookout matches someone on the passenger manifest of an imminent outbound flight, police could possibly intercept the abductor right at the airport and rescue the child before takeoff.

The same principle would apply in the case of known high-risk travellers. Currently, those on the passenger protect program list, or what we call the no-fly list, can be denied boarding if they attempt to travel overseas to join a terrorist organization. However, to be listed on the passenger protect program, the government must have sufficient evidence or intelligence to merit the listing. That is a rigorous process.

A target at the early stages of an investigation might not yet meet the threshold for formal listing and could still freely travel out of the country, leaving authorities with no way to know that the person is gone. Bill C-21 would create a record of that departure, which could help our intelligence and police agencies build a future case. If the person has been flagged to CBSA by either CSIS or the RCMP, those agencies could get advance warning that the individual is leaving several days before his or her flight departs, and for investigative purposes, that is very useful information.

It would also be an important tool for Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking. For example, if police are investigating a case of human trafficking, border officials could alert the RCMP if any of the suspects leave the country or are planning an outbound flight. This could help police determine the location of a suspect, or a victim of human trafficking. It could help determine the travel patterns of suspects or victims, which in turn makes it easier to identify human smuggler destinations, or implicated criminal organizations, and it could help police to identify other suspects or victims by learning who is travelling with the individual in question.

Bill C-21 would also help immigration officials make better-informed decisions and better use their resources. For instance, a permanent resident who is applying for citizenship must have physically spent at least 1,095 days in the past five years in Canada. Without exit information, this can be very difficult for both the government and the citizenship applicant to prove.

Bill C-21 would also help protect taxpayer dollars by reducing fraud and abuse of certain federal programs that have residency requirements. By establishing when people leave Canada, we would be better able to determine who is and is not eligible for certain benefits that are tied to Canada being a person's official country of residence. Of course, when people are entitled to benefits based on their residence in Canada, those benefits are properly and generously provided by Canadian taxpayers. However, eligibility criteria exist for a reason, and Canadians would expect the government to administer these programs responsibly. That means making sure the rules are properly adhered to.

Seniors currently collecting old age benefits in accordance with the law, for example, old age security, would not be affected. That is because once somebody has 20 years of residence in Canada as an adult, OAS becomes fully portable no matter where the person lives. Medicare eligibility would also not be affected because exit information would only be used in the administration of federal programs. The information would not be shared with provinces.

This bill also includes measures that would strengthen the ability of the Canada Border Services Agency to deal with smuggling and the illegal movement of goods out of Canada. Members will remember that this issue featured prominently in the report of the Auditor General in the fall of 2015. That report found that improvements were needed to combat the unlawful export of controlled or dangerous goods, including illegal drugs and stolen property. Even more importantly, as we are in the midst of NAFTA negotiations, these new powers would help ensure the CBSA could better combat the flow of counterfeit goods to our neighbours to the south, as well as the illicit diversion or transhipment of strategic products such as steel or aluminum.

Currently, the Customs Act only prohibits the smuggling of goods into Canada but not out of Canada. This legislation would address that gap in the law by making it an offence to smuggle prohibited, controlled, or regulated goods out of the country.

Prior to tabling the legislation, Public Safety Canada proactively reached out to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This was an issue of interest to the standing committee. Privacy impact assessments have already been completed for the current and previous phases of implementation of this program involving the collection of basic data for non-citizens, and summaries of those assessments have been made available on the CBSA website. An additional assessment will be done once this new legislation is passed and the new framework is in place. This is all to ensure the requirements of Canada's privacy laws are properly adhered to by this important measure.

As we have seen with the debate on Bill C-59, which is our national security legislation, in particular the information-sharing provisions in Bill C-59 related to national security, many members of this House are concerned about the prospect of sharing personal information between federal departments, that is, within the government overall but between one department and another. Let me be clear, however, that under Bill C-21, before any information could be shared between CBSA and any other federal agency or department, a formal information-sharing arrangement must be established. Such an arrangement would include information management safeguards and privacy protection clauses.

The exchange of information with the United States would also likewise be subject to a formal agreement to establish a framework governing the use of any information and to set up mechanisms to address any potential problems.

Let me repeat something that I mentioned earlier, because it is very important when considering the impacts of this legislation on a traveller's privacy: the only information that we are talking about in Bill C-21 is the basic information, the basic facts, that appear on page 2 of everybody's passport, which all travellers now voluntarily provide to the customs officers of other countries when they enter those countries. This is simply a matter of making sure that the same information is available to Canadian customs officials so that it works both ways.

The benefits of Bill C-21 are clear, and I am glad to note that there has been broad consensus and support in the House for this measure. It would help ensure the efficient flow of trade and travel, which are are essential to our country's prosperity, and make sure that it continues with a secure border. It would help law enforcement agencies with everything from human trafficking to amber alerts, help the immigration department run its programs with more clarity and certainty, help to ensure government benefits go to those who are eligible for them and not to those who are ineligible, and help to ensure Canada can help to prevent prohibited goods from leaving the country. All of this can be achieved with virtually no impact on travellers and with robust privacy protection measures in place.

In short, this bill is good for Canada. I look forward to seeing it come into force at the earliest possible time and I thank the House for its consideration.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:05 p.m.
See context


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to rise to raise my concerns in this place regarding Bill C-21.

New Democrats take the personal information and privacy concerns of Canadians very seriously. It is clear that since the bill was first introduced in June 2016, Canadians have become increasingly concerned about the privacy of their personal information, as we have seen numerous troubling situations of data breaches, unscrupulous data collection and mining, and targeted misinformation campaigns based on collected personal data, just to name a few things.

Just last month we learned that Facebook estimates that over 620,000 Canadian users had their data improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. In 2017, we found out that Equifax, one of the three largest credit agencies in the world, had been hacked and that the personal, financial, and identification information of an estimated 19,000 Canadians had been stolen.

While these data breaches were in the private sector, we know that these kinds of data breaches can occur in the public sector as well. In 2016, we learned of an employee at the Canada Revenue Agency improperly accessing personal accounts. We learned as well of the loss of a DVD containing the confidential tax information of 28,000 taxpayers in the Yukon.

Canadian taxpayers also had to pay roughly $17.5 million when the government settled a class action law suit at the end of 2017 over the loss of personal information for roughly 580,000 Canada student loan recipients that had occurred five years ago.

Regarding the data that would be collected under Bill C-21, Professor Wesley Wark, a security intelligence expert, stated that “There's been a lot of concern over the years in Canada and elsewhere about data breaches where various malicious actors—criminal groups, hackers, foreign governments—are going after information held by the Canadian government, and this big database will be an attractive target.”

It is our duty as elected representatives to take the privacy and security of our constituents' personal information very seriously, and we must ensure the utmost care any time authorization is given for the collection of their data. We must be even more careful when we authorize that data to be shared if we have no jurisdiction or control over what other entities may do with it.

Bill C-21 does just that. I and my New Democratic colleagues are concerned that the Liberal government is not taking the privacy concerns of Canadians and the recommendations of experts on these matters as seriously as they should.

We saw this in Bill C-59 and again here in Bill C-21. This bill would amend the Customs Act to allow for the collection and sharing with United States authorities the exit information on all persons leaving Canada, including Canadian citizens. Currently no authority exists in the Customs Act to collect exit information from travellers, including Canadian citizens, and there is only limited authority to question travellers departing from Canada.

Bill C-21 would be a significant departure from the current situation. When he spoke on the bill, my esteemed colleague from Beloeil—Chambly spoke about how the government continues to suggest that there is nothing to worry about, that this is just the collection and sharing of basic information, just information that is found on page 2 of a passport.

However, as I said, any time we are expanding our data collection, we need to be sure that we actually need to do so, that this data will be adequately protected, and that it will not lead to any undue harm for Canadians. That third piece is the most important.

The role of the Canada Border Services Agency is not to hand over Canadian information to foreign authorities; the role of the Canada Border Services Agency, first and foremost, is to protect Canada. Once the CBSA turns over data to the United States, there is no way to know how the information will be used. There is no way to know how long those records will be kept. More troubling, there is no equivalent to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in the United States.

In fact, when my hon. colleague, the member for Salaberry—Suroît, spoke to this bill, she pointed out the alarming surveillance that occurs in the United States, which the world learned about through the whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

As we debate this bill at third reading, given the length of time it has taken to reach this stage, we need to acknowledge and examine how things have changed in the nation with which we will be routinely sharing this information since this bill was first tabled. The election of Donald Trump has brought a very real anti-immigration, anti-foreigner streak to the highest level of office in the U.S. We see this not just with refugee claimants crossing into Canada at irregular intervals from the United States and hoping that the Canadian system will provide them a fair opportunity to hear their case, but in also in the numerous instances of Canadians being mistreated and profiled based on the colour of their skin when they were entering or attempting to enter the United States.

American authorities, emboldened by a president who pursues shutting down American borders to Muslims and building a wall to keep Mexicans out, have subjected Canadians to inappropriate questioning and profiling when Canadians attempted to make a routine border crossing. In fact, I rose in this place three times in February 2017, on the 9th, 13th, and 22nd, asking the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Prime Minister what actions will be taken to ensure Canadians will not be subjected to racial profiling while attempting to cross the border into the United States.

We heard about Fadwa Alaoui, a Muslim Canadian born in Morocco, whose Canadian passport was not enough. She was berated by the U.S. border guards about how often she attended her mosque and what her views were on the president, and was even asked if she knew the people killed in the Quebec City mosque attack. After four hours of feeling humiliated, she gave up and drove home.

The Liberals kept assuring parliamentarians and the public that Trump's travel bans and rhetoric would not impact Canadians, but the stories continued. We heard about 19-year-old Yassine Aber, who was a student at Sherbrooke University and a member of the school's track and field team. As part of the team, he was travelling into the United States to participate at a track meet. Mr. Aber was born in Canada and was travelling on a Canadian passport that did not expire until 2026. His parents came to Canada from Morocco over 25 years ago.

He was subjected to similar harassment for five hours. His phone was seized, and he was forced to give the agent his phone's password. He was the only person of the 20 to be subjected to this, and only Mr. Aber was ultimately refused entry. He was told he was not allowed to cross because he did not have a valid visa.

Canadian citizens with valid passports do not require visas to enter the United States. These were acts of discrimination and profiling, plain and simple.

It was also brought to my attention through the sharing of an access to information request that dozens of Canadians born abroad have had their card revoked for vague reasons. It is within this context that we would be passing and enacting Bill C-21.

In addition to the fact that there is no U.S. equivalent to our Privacy Commissioner, President Trump signed an executive order explicitly stating that persons who are not U.S. citizens are now excluded from the protections offered under United States privacy legislation. It is within this context that the CBSA will be turning over information on Canadian citizens to their American border counterparts.

Canada's Privacy Commissioner has expressed concerns regarding Canada's privacy framework. In 2016 he stated:

The issue is that if you allow greater information-sharing, the legal standards authorizing this activity should be such that law-abiding Canadians, ordinary Canadians who should have nothing to fear from surveillance activities of the state, are not caught by the information-sharing regime.

Canadians should also hear about the impact of certain surveillance measures on democratic rights and privacy. A more balanced and comprehensive national discussion is needed.

When it comes to the collection and sharing of their personal data, I believe that we would easily find that most Canadians have moved well beyond the idea that if they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to worry about. Canadians are wary of their personal information being shared among government agencies and Canada's foreign partners because of previous acts passed, such as the Harper government's Bill C-51.

The current government's plan to collect and share even more personal information, without proper independent oversight of our national security agencies, is of great concern to New Democrats. The Canada Border Services Agency was never required to collect information on those exiting Canada, as that was the responsibility of the agency where the individual was travelling to. There is a real concern that Canadian authorities are being asked by foreign governments to hand over the personal information of Canadians. That should not be the responsibility of the CBSA. Our border agency's full purpose is to protect Canada, not to hand over Canadian information to foreign authorities. In the case of extenuating circumstances, where such information needs to be shared, such as threats to national security or criminality, the relevant police agencies, such as the RCMP and CSIS, are already in contact with their international counterparts. In these cases, existing legislation and practices are already applicable. Therefore, in many ways, Bill C-21 is a solution in search of a problem.

To date, the government has failed to truly show this House why this legislation is needed and has failed to provide real assurances that the risks of this additional data collection and data sharing would be properly addressed and mitigated. Given the current context that we would be entering into this new level of data collection and sharing, it is my opinion, and my colleagues', that Bill C-21 needs to be opposed.

During his appearance at the public safety committee on the study of Bill C-21, my colleague questioned the Privacy Commissioner on whether information-sharing programs implemented under the former, controversial Bill C-51 would apply to data collected at the border under Bill C-21. The Privacy Commissioner stated:

Yes, the information collected under Bill C-21 on people leaving Canada could very possibly be shared through the measures established under Bill C-51.

The Privacy Commissioner went on to reaffirm the following, saying:

As you know, I have commented on Bill C-51 as to the standard under which information-sharing is permitted. In my opinion, the standard established under Bill C-51 is too permissive when it comes to information sharing. I stand by those comments.

Once again, we have no ability to control what American authorities do with this data once it is shared.

As I illustrated in examples earlier, we know that Canadians are being impacted at the border by President Trump's rhetoric and policies. Instead of standing up for Canadians who are being targeted and profiled by Canadian border agents on the basis of their skin colour and religion, the Liberal government appears, instead, to be committed to offering to make the agents' jobs easier by collecting for them and turning over more personal data.

It is the responsibility of the government to protect public safety and to defend civil liberties. The government has failed to show that Bill C-21 would do either of these things. Until it is able to do so, the government needs to shelve this bill.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
See context


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member did not pay attention to my speech. If he had, he would realize the points I raised as to why the NDP is concerned about Bill C-21.

Specifically, at committee, this question was asked of the Privacy Commissioner. Let me repeat this for the member's clarity. During his appearance at the public safety committee on the study of Bill C-21, my colleague questioned the Privacy Commissioner on whether information-sharing programs implemented under the former, controversial Bill C-51 would apply to data collected at the border under Bill C-21. The Privacy Commissioner stated:

Yes, the information collected under Bill C-21 on people leaving Canada could very possibly be shared through the measures established under Bill C-51.

If that does not ring alarm bells for the member, it should. Canadians have already voiced grave concerns about Bill C-51, and now we would bring another provision that would very possibly allow further information sharing, which the Privacy Commissioner actually raised at committee.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:20 p.m.
See context


Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would much rather see the Liberal government repeal Bill C-51. I think that is what Canadians wanted to see. However, we did not have that. Let us be clear about that.

With Bill C-21, there are concerns the Privacy Commissioner raised and brought to the attention of the committee. In terms of privacy and information sharing and the data that has been collected, what will happen with that data? At a time when we have so many concerns about data breaches and privacy, why would the government embark on a process that would allow for further information to be shared? If the minister and the government really want to address this issue in a fulsome way, they might actually start by repealing Bill C-51.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:30 p.m.
See context


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in debate for the second time on Bill C-21 and speak about changes to the Customs Act.

I am going to premise my remarks upon the fact that many people in this House of Commons change over time. Sometimes the change is dramatic. I have highlighted the dramatic change of the deputy House leader of the Liberals, my friend from Winnipeg North, who speaks in this House far more than everyone else. He is just a treasure trove of contrary positions on a whole range of issues, particularly how hurt he was personally during the Conservative government whenever there was an omnibus bill or use of time allocation. Now he organizes the use of time allocation for his House leader.

There are also ironies in looking at the long-time member from Saskatchewan, who is now our Minister of Public Safety, because he has been on both sides of every issue. He is doing so wonderfully today. He gave a speech that extolled the virtues of a common entry-exit system with respect to the United States. He also talked about tracking exit information of Canadians for a variety of reasons and how good those reasons were. What did he say about it in 2011? The entry-exit issue has been part of the beyond the border initiative the Conservative government worked with President Obama on for many years trying to make sure goods were delivered faster, that there was exchange of workers across the border, and that security protocols were respected.

What did the minister who is now pushing this rapidly through the House say in February 2011? He said:

If we have a common entry and common exit system, does it not follow that Canada no longer has sovereign Canadian control over immigration and refugees? Canadians need to know what is at risk.

It is ironic in 2018 to hear that minister talk about sovereign Canadian control over our border when his press conference earlier this week in Quebec with several other members of cabinet showed their inaction and incompetence has essentially surrendered any sovereign border controls in this country. This is due to inaction, due to the desire to keep their centre left coalition alive. They will not even do the basic enforcement of border rules and regulations. It is astonishing.

When the Conservatives were exploring the entry-exit system, it was a high priority for our American friends under the Obama administration. The minister expressed concern about it at the time, and now he is driving it through. What else did he say about this in February 2011? He conceded in many ways that if Canada, under the Conservatives, were to go to a common entry-exit system information sharing with the United States, it only should be done under specific circumstances. He said, “Could the Prime Minister at least guarantee minimum gains for Canada?”

What the minister was saying at the time was if Canada was to relent to the American request for the sharing of entry and exit information across our border, we should at least extract something in return. What is going to be the guaranteed minimum gains for Canada? That is what he asked for in opposition. In fact, why did the Conservative government not complete entry and exit information sharing with the American administration? We were fighting for Canadian jobs related to the Keystone XL pipeline. We wanted a gain. We wanted to be treated as a mature partner in the Canada-U.S. relationship. We were fighting for that gain so we did not rush through a bill like Bill C-21.

What has Canada achieved under the U.S.-Canada relationship under the Liberal government? What is the minimum gain we are getting now for this entry-exit sharing? Nothing. In fact, NAFTA is at risk. Our steel and aluminum exports are at risk.

We are not even consulted on decisions of a security nature made by the United States. The government cannot even get its answers straight on whether it is talking to the Americans about fixing the gap in the safe third country agreement.

The minister suggests they are talking. The immigration minister

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
See context


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is basically underscoring my point. My questions relate to when the minister was in opposition. He opposed this very type of legislation. He opposed the common entry and exit system that is at the underpinnings of Bill C-21, if people want to delve into what is in the legislation. That minister, who spoke promoting the bill, opposed it for several reasons in 2011. He said it would give up our sovereign control of our immigration and refugee system. I am suggesting it did not. He said it did at the time.

He also said if Canada is to make an agreement acceding to this request by the Americans to share entry and exit information, we should extract gains for our national interest in the process. We have not secured any gains.

This is a Customs Act decision related to the travel of our citizens and our residents between our country and the United States, the country Canadians, including people in British Columbia and my province of Ontario, travel to the most. We should be very clear that if we are going to streamline that with the Americans, we receive in return respect and things that would help our national interests. We are not receiving that in return for Bill C-21.

NAFTA is at risk. The steelworkers I met with this week who normally support the NDP would probably be shocked that it is the Conservatives who are standing up for them in the House. Our aluminum exports are at risk. When the minister asked that Canada get gains for giving the type of power that Bill C-21 would give, I would like to see what Canada has secured in return, because it looks like the Canada-U.S. relationship is eroding.

We are imposing more exit requirements on Canadians travelling back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border at a time when that government is ignoring the basic laws that require people to report for a CBSA border check.

All of these issues are deeply related, including Bill C-23, which is a companion piece of legislation to Bill C-21. I have spoken to both bills at length.

The changes to pre-clearance should also concern Canadians, because information will be shared when they leave and go. The minister alluded to the fact that benefits are tied to these. It is clear the government is going to go after Canadians for tax purposes, for eligibility for a series of benefits, and sharing that information with the United States.

People may want to delve into what section 94 of the act provides, but changes to section 94 would give border officials upon exit the ability to ask any question of a Canadian going down to the United States for a holiday or a business meeting.

I have already told how the Liberal government has failed to get assurance as part of these discussions on entry and exit, that the American immigration and custom enforcement, the ICE office, the U.S. equivalent to the CBSA here in Canada, will remove the marijuana question from its screening questions.

This bills means that CBSA will be able to ask any question possible of a Canadian leaving our country and that information on Canadians will be shared with the United States, yet we are legalizing marijuana and the government has not even received assurance from the Americans that their border agents, their ICE agents, will not ask Canadians questions about marijuana use, whether medicinal or legal, eventually. Why should that concern people? It could lead to a ban on travel to the United States and could impact someone's employment.

Bill C-21 and Bill C-23 are together the border package presented by the Liberal government. There is nothing to actually solidify and secure our immigration and refugee system and our asylum claim process.

I have said countless times the best way to make sure we keep a high level of Canadian confidence in our system from the people that are in the queue now, from the people that are looking to come to Canada through our refugee system or through our immigration system, is that it run by a rules-based, fair process. That is fair. Canada is a rules-based country.

While we are looking at that, the minister is passing the bill but is not able to get any new assurances with respect to the safe third country agreement. I would note that the minister, referring back to the comments I said he made in 2011, was also a member of the Chrétien government in 2002, which negotiated the safe third country agreement with the Americans.

It is interesting that John Manley, with Tom Ridge as the U.S. Homeland Security secretary at the time, negotiated the safe third country agreement with respect to asylum claims and seeking asylum, meaning that if people are fleeing persecution, they claim asylum in the first country they go to, and that would be recognized. If it were Canada, it would be Canada. If it were the United States, it would be the United States. By circumventing proper border checks, someone who has been called an irregular asylum claimant is also breaking the law by crossing the border.

The system provided for that, and what was said by the Liberal minister at the time, who was a colleague of the Minister of Public Safety? He said the safe third country agreement, which my friend in the NDP wants to toss out or set aside or temporarily suspend, was the Liberal government's response to UN rules with respect to refugees and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, John Manley referred to those two documents in the House of Commons on May 7, 2002, when he said, referring to the Convention on Refugees and the Charter of Rights, “Both of these have driven us to the conclusion...that it would be necessary to negotiate a safe third country agreement.”

The last major border agreement with the United States was by John Manley. The current Minister of Public Safety was in cabinet with him. The next set of border arrangements with the United States is through the current minister, through Bill C-21 and Bill C-23, which gives American customs agents the ability to search Canadians on Canadian soil, but the Liberals will not even touch the loophole in the safe third country agreement.

Therefore, Canadians should be concerned. I raise this matter because there has been a lack of attention to the border, to a rules-based system with respect to asylum claims and immigration. There has been a risk that our border will become thick for commercial transit. That is a real risk for just-in-time manufacturing, particularly for the auto industry. That risk touches my riding, Windsor, and Oakville. If the border thickens and goods and people are slowed, we will lose jobs and investment in Canada.

In 2011, when the Conservatives looked at the Beyond the Border initiative with this entry-exit piece to it, this minister said that the then Prime Minister had better get something for Canada out of it, but the minister is now urging the House to support it, and our relationship with the United States is atrophying. In fact, even NAFTA is at risk under this government. I would like the minister to say what will be gained in Canada's national interest from Bill C-21 and its companion bill, Bill C-23.

The minister also mentioned human trafficking, an issue that concerns both sides of the House, and tried to suggest that we have to support Bill C-21 if we want to combat human trafficking. It is a compelling argument, because he knows members on this side are concerned. Our former colleague from Manitoba, Joy Smith, has dedicated most of her life to fighting human trafficking, and my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London has hosted some events in relation to this issue. We are concerned about this. I find it telling that the minister raises human trafficking as a reason to get behind Bill C-21 but did not defend the national plan to combat human trafficking, which the government let expire in the last budget.

A $20-million plan was started by the Harper government to actually combat human trafficking, not just have it held up as a reason to vote for entry-exit information sharing.

The minister had the gall to raise human trafficking in this House as a reason we should get behind this bill, yet his cabinet and the Prime Minister let the only national program we have to combat human trafficking expire and not be renewed, even though the problem is worse.

It reminds me of the fact that the Prime Minister seems to think that Stephen Harper is still the leader of the Conservative Party. He goes so far as to even cancel programs that combat human trafficking because they originated with the Conservatives. When someone is brought into Canada, across maybe the U.S. border, against the person's will, to be involved in the sex trade or abused in other circumstances, that was the only major program that was cut, largely because it was a Harper initiative. That is sad. The minister now suggests that we should get behind Bill C-21 because of its potential to combat human trafficking. It is unbelievable.

If members look at the minister's viewpoint with respect to entry and exit going back to when he was in opposition, as I said, there is zero consistency. In fact, going back to the safe third country agreement, the Liberals said that they negotiated it to maintain our international obligations with respect to asylum in conjunction with the charter. Now they are allowing it to be eroded and public confidence in it to be eroded by it being circumvented. Suggestions that we apply the spirit and the principle of it to the entire border is mocked, even though the underlying principles with respect to declaring asylum in the first country following persecution was at the basis of the agreement.

We have a quandary. As members can tell, I have been doing my best to show a bit of the hypocrisy of the minister on this specific issue.

Going back to the start of my comments, we actually initiated this under the Conservative government. This is one time that we will not hear the minister referring to the Harper government. The Liberals blame the Harper government for anything. If it rains in Canada, it is because of the Harper government. However, now they are basically implementing a Harper government initiative. The Liberals are not calling it “beyond the border”. They are calling it Bill C-21, and they will not mention Harper. They make it sound like it is their own idea, and they are doing it to support human trafficking and by the way, they are cutting the program on human trafficking.

Here is my quandary: I support the bill, but I do not support them because Canadians cannot trust them. We just need to look to the record.

I invite Canadians following this debate to do some of the basic research that I do. On the Open Parliament website, if we printed out the listing for the Liberals' deputy House leader, it would fill 18 volumes of nuggets he has given us over the years showing his inconsistencies. As I said, we are trying to get to the heart of this and show the minister that we appreciate he is picking up the Harper mantle on the border when it comes to the beyond the border initiative. We appreciate that he is starting to understand why trade is important.

I am not sure if the minister was around in the 1988 election when the Liberals ran against U.S. free trade. I am glad they are coming around to the importance of trade and good relations with the United States, but I would sincerely hope that the next time the minister speaks to Bill C-21 he would thank Stephen Harper for this legislation.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
See context


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my time on the public safety committee with my colleague, or kind of with him, because the government has parliamentary secretaries who sit there and observe, but unfortunately, they are not as involved as really they should be. That member has considerable experience in public safety issues, and that would be appreciated in the discourse.

As I said, the Charter of Rights, which grew out of the Diefenbaker Canadian Bill of Rights, is something all Canadians can be proud of. It is why the safe third country agreement, like any type of traffic across the border, including the exit of Canadians under Bill C-21, must respect charter rights.

Bill C-23 would allow American ICE officials to search Canadians, including body searches of Canadians, on Canadian soil. As I said, Bill C-21 and Bill C-23, read together, are the most profound two bills on our border our Parliament has seen.

The safe third country agreement handled asylum claims. I talked about how John Manley and his colleague, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, thought it was appropriate to have a rules-based system that was consistent, in their words, with the charter, with the Geneva Conventions, and with international obligations with respect to refugees, and that is what we should all support.

What we should be worried about is that this bill is being introduced under the premise of human trafficking, yet the Liberals are cutting the national program to combat human trafficking. This bill is also being premised upon improving the use of the border, while at the same time, the government is not even speaking on one page with respect to the safe third country agreement. We need a rules-based system to make sure that Canadians maintain confidence in our world-class system.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
See context


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Toronto—Danforth's taking me back to law school as well, where often, with those long decisions, we would want to flip to the end to see what they were getting to. However, the member should note that the ratio for my decision here today is that the minister and the government need to be more consistent on these issues. The Liberals did not support the beyond the border initiative, because they said they wanted Canada to get a big win vis-à-vis the United States. They should state what that win is in return for Bill C-21 now. It is as much about consistency as it is about supporting the underlying elements of this bill.

The member did highlight something important. I have my social media feeds tied to the Amber Alert and the Missing Children Society of Canada to leverage the power of the network effect to tackle these. This bill would help us share information at the border in kidnapping or custodial situations. We should applaud that.

I said that publicly when the government finally moved on the no-fly list kids with respect to names on the no-fly list, which could be removed in the United States through the redress system. We did not have a redress system, and we saw that there was bad data. It was unfair to Canadians, and it was also bad data that was going to make our security assessments complicated. I praised the government when it listened to many members from all sides of this House to provide families with that.

We are only going to be travelling more. That is why we have to be able to rely on the programs and have Canadians aware of the fact that they may have to answer any question at the border and that their information will be shared. However, the border itself also has to be respected.

We cannot ignore public policy challenges just because they are difficult issues. Yes, it is difficult to govern, but that is what we are here for. Inaction, and actually, the sideshow we have seen lately with respect to our border, are slowly going to erode public confidence. That is something all parliamentarians should work against happening, because we have benefited throughout our entire history from a safe, effective, and generous immigration and refugee system.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
See context


Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I have great respect for our police forces and our border services officers.

I am very happy to hear the member knows about the great work done by our men and women at the border. Absolutely, he is right that the bill and its companion, Bill C-23, do complicate their roles. They already have immense challenges at our border, particularly as we have seen in Quebec lately.

This is why, in many ways, we provided additional peace officer powers for CBSA agents in the last government. We armed agents at the border for the first time in our history. It is not that we do not like having the world's longest undefended border, and I think Canadians are very proud of that, but when we task CBSA agents to go after drugs, to go after illegal weapons brought in from the United States, which is where the problem is, and not the way the government has been suggesting lately, when we ask them to go after those organizations, we have to ensure they have the tools to do the job, the training to do the job, the numbers to do the job.

Bill C-21 and Bill C-23 are huge enhancements and not all of it can be done through computerization, particularly at the frequency.

Now we have a situation where border resources are stretched thin. There are additional requirements. There will be American ICE agents as part of Bill C-23 on our soil searching Canadians. We have an IRB process that the minister's own documents warn, due to the government's inaction, will go to 11-year wait times for IRB processing, which is remarkable. The social cost associated with that, mainly for the provinces, in four years alone, will be $2.9 billion.

I know my colleagues in Quebec, in the Conservative caucus and certainly in the NDP as well, have been looking at how they can ensure our CBSA agents have the tools they need to do the job and how they can ensure decisions related to the border, Bill C-21 and others, do not overstress the social costs on our provincial partners. That, too, will erode overall confidence in the system.

I am supportive of Bill C-21, but I want to see a much more serious approach taken with respect to travel across our borders.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 5 p.m.
See context


Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Surrey—Newton, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with my esteemed colleague, the member for London North Centre. I am also pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-21, which would amend the Customs Act to make our borders and streets safer.

Even though the NDP has some concerns about collection of information, I want to assure Canadians that the proposed legislation will enable the collection of only basic information when someone crosses the border to leave Canada. I certainly would love to ask the hon. members on the NDP side to support the bill, as it would improve our ability to prevent people from travelling overseas to join terrorist organizations, combat human trafficking, better respond to Amber Alerts, and ensure the integrity of certain social benefit programs with residency requirements. The bill would also help prevent controlled goods from being smuggled out of the country.

Over the years, there have been many discussions with our American neighbours about strengthening our relationship that currently sees 400,000 people and $2.5 billion in trade cross the border every day. One of the key goals that both countries are committed to is establishing an entry and exit system through the improved collection of information.

Currently, no information is collected from most individuals exiting Canada. The practice of tracking exit information is followed by many nations around the world, and it is a loophole that needs to be closed in our country.

Currently, CBSA only has the authority to collect exit information on foreign nationals and permanent residents leaving Canada at land border crossings. Bill C-21 would grant CBSA the authority to collect basic information for all people leaving this country, whether by land or air. We have to ensure that when individuals leave Canada, we are able to keep track of their exit, so we can prevent people from joining terrorist groups abroad and prevent people from fleeing from Amber Alerts.

At the same time, we have a duty to ensure the protection of Canadians' privacy, which is why I want to be very clear that the information that would be collected is very basic. No information other than what is on page 2 of the Canadian passport, such as name, date of birth, and gender would be recorded, along with the time and from where one would be exiting Canada.

We have worked closely on this matter with the Privacy Commissioner and we will continue to do so to ensure that the information is only disclosed in accordance with Canadian law.

Before CBSA shares any information, there would have to be a formal information sharing agreement that would govern the use of personal information. Once these agreements are in place, police investigations across Canada will be able to benefit from the information as they will be able to identify if someone they are investigating has fled or is trying to flee Canada.

When we discuss responding to Amber Alerts, controlling the flow of illegal drugs into Canada, or responding to national security threats, knowing who has entered Canada is important. It is also equally important to know who has left.

For example, if police are involved in an investigation of a murder or abduction, they will have the ability to consult with CBSA and be alerted if the suspect arrives at any one of our borders in an attempt to escape. At this point, that person can be stopped. If the person has already left Canada, Canadian police forces can work with their American counterparts to apprehend the suspect and return he or she to Canada.

We regularly see Amber Alerts for children who have been abducted and taken out of the country. It is heartbreaking to imagine the trauma that children and their loved ones go through. This bill would ensure we could do more to locate these children and bring them back to safety.

The importance of and the need to pass the bill is not just to collect information to target those who may be fleeing from a crime. The bill is also important to help the CBSA catch and stop the smuggling and illegal flow of drugs and other goods out of Canada.

These initiatives are important advances in protecting our borders, increasing safety in our streets, while maintaining the privacy of Canadians.

It is important to also add that none of these changes will obstruct or slow the time it takes to go through CBSA at borders or airports. Law-abiding Canadians will continue to simply show their passports and cross borders as they normally would.

People collecting social benefits in accordance with the law will not be affected by Bill C-21. Anyone who has spent at least 10 years in Canada as an adult is entitled to receive old age security regardless of what country they live in. This bill would ensure that we would protect taxpayer money by making it easier to identify fraud and abuse of social benefit programs with residency requirements.

Another benefit of implementing an entry-exit system for all travellers includes identifying visitors who do not leave Canada at the end of their authorized period of stay. This will allow immigration authorities to make more effective use of resources by eliminating wasted time and resources spent conducting investigations on people who have already left the country.

We have brought forward these measures and many others contained in the bill, with the understanding that we have a duty to protect the privacy of Canadians and, at the same, their safety and security. For that reason, we have worked closely with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to take concrete steps that the information that is collected is limited and protected from being misused.

I hope everyone in the House will join me in supporting the bill to strengthen our borders, to protect Canadians, and to support our police forces with the information they need to successfully conduct investigations.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
See context


Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague across the aisle to cast his mind back two or three years to the time when his party was outraged by several elements of Bill C-51. Regardless, he pledged to vote for the bill and amend it once his party came to power.

Now we are faced with Bill C-21, which is essentially an extension of that other bill. Bill C-21 could give Canadian citizens legitimate grounds to fear that their cellphones will be confiscated for the purpose of accessing their data and seeing if there is any information worth giving or disclosing to the Americans.

Is he aware that his own party promised to amend Bill C-51 and make it less intrusive?

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.
See context


Ruby Sahota Liberal Brampton North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that covering this hole we have in our system will be done through Bill C-21. It was also very interesting to hear my colleague talk about the genuine concerns that our own citizens have.

My office constantly has seniors coming in with OAS issues. Sometimes even those who are very genuine about their travel history have lost a passport or have not documented accurately the trips they have taken outside Canada, and it becomes very difficult to prove when they left and when they entered the country. This can sometimes cause a great hindrance to the seniors' ability to provide for themselves.

I wonder if the member could expand on what he sees in his riding when it comes to helping vulnerable seniors.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
See context


Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act. Simply put, the proposed changes would provide the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, with the legislative authority to collect basic exit information on all travellers leaving Canada. The information we are talking about is simple biographical data, such as name, date of birth, and nationality, just enough to know who left the country and when.

Up to now, this has been something the CBSA has not been able to do. The CBSA collects information on all travellers entering Canada, but it collects exit data only for non-citizens who leave by land. Bill C-21 would close this information gap by providing a remedy. It would authorize the CBSA to collect exit information on all travellers. For those leaving by land, it would get it from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which collects the same information on entry into the United States. For those leaving by air, it would get it from the airlines. In other words, travellers would not have to provide any additional information or be otherwise inconvenienced in any way.

The process by which information would be collected and exchanged under Bill C-21 was the subject of extensive consultations. The government has made privacy a paramount consideration in the development of this legislation. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has been extensively engaged on this subject. In fact, when the commissioner testified before the public safety committee, which I have the honour of sitting on, he said that the information in question is “not particularly sensitive”.

Even so, the new system of exit data collection would require that privacy impact assessments be carried out, potentially by a number of federal organizations, before being implemented, always, of course, in accordance with Canadian law. This is in line with our commitment to accountability and transparency, particularly in the realm of national security. Canada now has the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, and Bill C-59 would create a new review agency for security and intelligence activities. In addition, the public safety minister has said clearly that the government is examining options for a specific review body for CBSA.

All of this should give Canadians confidence that the measures in Bill C-21 would be implemented with the utmost consideration for rights and freedoms, including the right to privacy. The Privacy Commissioner said at the committee that Bill C-21 would serve “important public policy objectives”, and I certainly agree with that.

It would, for example, address several security blind spots caused by the fact that we do not currently keep track of who leaves our country. For example, at the moment, very curiously, we have no way of knowing if wanted individuals are fleeing Canada to escape prosecution. Similarly, we might not know that an abducted child who is the subject of an amber alert has been taken out of the country, or that someone who is radicalized is leaving Canada to join a foreign terrorist group.

This lack of information also creates administrative problems. For instance, it complicates the administration of social benefit programs with residency requirements and applications for citizenship and permanent residence, because there is no quick and reliable way of knowing that an applicant spent the requisite amount of time in this country.

The public safety committee heard from a senior immigration department official, and I will quote this because it is very important to get it on the record. She said, “I cannot stress enough how access to this information will enhance program integrity across multiple lines of business by providing IRCC's officers with a tool to objectively confirm an applicant's presence in, absence from, entry into, or departure from Canada.”

Immigration officials also told the committee that Bill C-21 would help to ensure that people who are entitled to Canadian citizenship and permanent residence can get it with a minimum of hassle. Rather than requiring applicants to produce documentation to prove their travel history from years past and expending department resources to conduct investigations and verifications, reliable and accurate information about who was in the country, and when, would already exist.

Bill C-21 would address these and other gaps, improving Canada's ability to combat cross-border crime, effectively administer immigration and social benefit programs, and continue to manage the border in a way that contributes to the safety and prosperity of Canada and Canadians.

Most of our allies, including those in the Five Eyes, have similar systems already in place and this is for good reason. This legislation would bring Canada in line with our international partners in ways that we have not seen before.

As hon. members well know, our highly trained CBSA officials play a critical role in keeping our borders secure and facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel 24-7. No matter how well we train our border services officers, we must understand that their effectiveness depends on having the right tools. This includes complete and accurate data. That is why the bill is about accurate, timely, and complete information for border services officers in both Canada and the United States.

We owe it to the country's citizens to close the information gaps that exist in our current border operations, and in this light, I ask all members to support the bill.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 5:25 p.m.
See context


Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Madam Speaker, I have spoken to Bill C-21 already, which is an act to amend the Customs Act. The majority of its content is supportable, but my issue is that right now there is absolutely nothing in it to deal with one of the most emergent problems facing Canada right now, which is that tens of thousands of people are streaming across our border from the United States illegally. There is no signal from the government whatsoever that it has any plan to amend the safe third country agreement.

Frankly, this is a more pressing concern than Bill C-21, given the fact that this has placed an enormous strain on the Canadian Border Services Agency. By the minister's own admission, 99% of the people who have come to Canada illegally over the last year are still in Canada. Our colleague, who is the shadow minister for public safety, spoke about how he had heard from CBSA that the amount of hours spent screening people who were entering the country via this mechanism had been reduced by 400%.

I do not understand why the government is putting forward this legislative priority before the summer when there is nothing in here that is going to deal with the issue we have at Roxham Road in Quebec. This is an abdication of responsibility, and I welcome the chance to talk about this at great length during the next reading of the bill.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, once again, we have a wonderful piece of legislation before the House of Commons. It is truly amazing in terms of the wonderful, positive measures that this government has been able to achieve in less than two years. I see my colleagues across the way enjoy that fact, and we continue to encourage opposition members to support good government initiatives, and this is yet one more example.

It was not that long ago that we were talking about pre-clearance issues and the benefits to Canada and the U.S., but in particular for Canada, on the whole issue. We learned quite a bit from that legislation in terms of how that enabled Canadians to get into the U.S. in a quicker fashion by being pre-cleared here in Canada so that, when they arrive in the U.S., they could walk off the plane into the communities to which they have flown, and the economic impact of having that.

I would reference the additional airports that were being incorporated under pre-clearance and how those communities in different regions of our country were economically going to benefit by that, not to mention Quebec and B.C. and the benefits in terms of the railway pre-clearance concept.

The legislation we are debating today is yet one more step, and this is a very aggressive, progressive government wanting to take advantage of what is really important to Canada's middle class and those who are aspiring to be a part of it, and that is growing the economy. I would suggest that is what the bill is about. It deals with the exportation of products. Though we hear concerns at times from members across the way regarding exportation of some products, this legislation deals with that.

I would like to go into some of the specifics, but before I do that, I want to highlight what I believe are some of the initiatives that this government has taken on the important issue of trade. Even today we are in negotiations in regard to trade with the United States. We have a minister who is diligently, in a very robust way, ensuring that Canadians' best interests are at the table. We have industries, such as agriculture to aerospace and all the industries in between, that are being well represented by that current negotiating team. It goes without saying that Canada has some of the best, if not the best, trade negotiators in the world.

We have seen that in terms of some of the agreements we have been able to accomplish in the last couple of years. Yes, in some ways the previous government was able to initiate some trade agreements and we were able to continue the discussions. In some cases we actually saved the discussions, so that ultimately we would have a final trade agreement. I see that as a very strong positive, because it adds value to Canadians in terms of jobs and opportunities.

Canada's middle class is best served when we have a government that is in tune with the needs of our middle class. Today, through this legislation, we are seeing a number of initiatives, and I would like to share through the bill's summary what Bill C-21 would do:

This enactment amends the Customs Act to authorize the Canada Border Services Agency to collect, from prescribed persons and prescribed sources, personal information on all persons who are leaving or have left Canada. It also amends the Act to authorize an officer, as defined in that Act, to require that goods that are to be exported from Canada are to be reported despite any exemption under that Act. In addition, it amends the Act to provide officers with the power to examine any goods that are to be exported. Finally, it amends the Act to authorize the disclosure of information collected under the Customs Act to an official of the Department of Employment and Social Development for the purposes of administering or enforcing the Old Age Security Act.

There are significant benefits from this legislation. I will list but a few of them. We would improve the ability of law enforcement to respond, for example, to things like an Amber Alert and to the outbound movement of known high-risk travellers, child sex offenders, human traffickers, and fugitives from justice, all of which I believe are important for us to recognize. It would help to prevent radicalized individuals from travelling overseas to participate in terrorist activities, and it would help to prevent the illegal export of controlled, regulated, and prohibited goods from Canada. It would also allow for the verifying of travel dates to determine applicable duty and tax exemptions, rather than relying strictly on self-declaration.

In addition, it would continue to identify individuals who do not leave Canada at the end of their authorized period of stay. That has always been a very strong personal issue for me because I would travel, especially while I was an MLA and even in my first couple of years as a member of Parliament. People go to places like the Punjab or India or the Philippines and one of the issues when they talk to immigration officials, in trying to serve the constituents whom we represent, is that the officials will say that there is a certain process that needs to be followed for visas to be issued.

One of the issues that consistently has come up over the years is whether a person will in fact return to their own country if that person is issued a temporary visa.

Far too often, we get family members who want to be able to come to Canada to participate in special celebrations like weddings, graduations, and, sadly, funerals of family members, and they are rejected. I would suggest that the primary reason they would be rejected is that the officials have a question mark as to whether those people would return to their homeland. Time and again and still to this very day, I consistently argue that we need, as much as possible, to give the benefit of the doubt to those family members so they are able to be with their families in Canada during those celebrations and otherwise. The officials often could not quantify it; they could not say that we have x number of people not leaving the country. This piece of legislation would help deal with that.

I see my time is quickly running out, so I will continue after question period.