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An Act to amend the Customs Act


Ralph Goodale  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of June 15, 2016

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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.

April 11th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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Assistant Deputy Minister, Americas, and Chief Development Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

David Morrison

Sure. I'm joined today by my colleagues Martin Moen, the director general for North America and investment at Global Affairs Canada, and by Heidi Hulan, the director general of the international security policy bureau.

I'll make the opening statement touching on many of the issues that I think you are looking at. We were given a list of nine wider issue areas. Then my colleagues and I would be very happy to answer questions.

By way of preamble, I was going to say that working with parliamentarians is a critical feature of Global Affairs Canada's outreach strategy in engaging the Trump administration. In fact, the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group has been down in Washington, and the embassy there has been hosting a wide range of parliamentarians individually and in groups as we seek to forge new relations with the Trump administration. We believe that a cross-party, non-partisan approach is the best way to have an impact on American decision-makers and opinion leaders.

The first question in your study is about the overall priorities in Canada's relationship with the United States under the Trump administration. In a certain sense, this was the subject of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington, D.C., on February 13.

The priorities are set out in the joint statement, which is a roadmap for future cooperation between our two countries. It includes five areas of focus, each with concrete commitments. I’ll give you some examples.

The first example concerns the growth of our economies.

When it comes to regulatory cooperation, the Treasury Board Secretariat is leading an ongoing dialogue with senior American government officials. The goal is for the officials to reaffirm the support of the new American administration for the efforts to continue the work and advance regulatory cooperation and alignment opportunities across key economic sectors.

Minister Brison has met with his American counterpart in Washington, and both parties are keen to push this agenda forward.

Another point mentioned in terms of growing our economies was the Gordie Howe International Bridge. This project is under way, and the winner of the call for proposals for the public-private partnership will be chosen in the spring of 2018.

The second area in terms of growing the economies was on promoting energy security and the environment. On energy security, as we know, the KXL pipeline has now received its presidential permit, and several other projects, either pipelines or electricity transmission lines, are at different stages of review in the U.S. process.

Another area mentioned was air and water quality. Environment and Climate Change Canada is working closely with the U.S., and broad co-operation continues on air and water.

Another area highlighted was keeping our borders secure. Part of this is the entry-exit question. Bill C-21 has been tabled and implementation is expected by 2018.

On pre-clearance, Bill C-23 is at second reading and is shortly going to committee. Implementation is still to be determined and we are now also actively exploring with the U.S. how to do joint pre-inspection for cargo.

Another area was working together as allies in the world's hot spots. NORAD was mentioned specifically. The next steps in modernization of NORAD will be tied to the government's defence policy review, which I believe will be coming out shortly.

On Daesh, Minister Freeland attended a Global Coalition against Daesh meeting in Washington, D.C., hosted by Secretary Tillerson on March 22. As you know, Canada is a member of the 68-member coalition to degrade and defeat Daesh.

Finally, on growing our economies, there was the establishment of the Canada-U.S. Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. This council is committed to removing barriers to women's participation in the business community and supporting women by promoting the growth of women-owned enterprises to further contribute to overall economic growth and competitiveness.

Let me now say a word about the government's overall engagement strategy with the new U.S. administration and the new U.S. Congress, as well as at the state level.

On January 20, the Government of Canada, provinces and territories embarked on an ambitious whole-of-Canada strategy of engagement and outreach toward the United States. This includes not only the Prime Minister's official visit to Washington in February, but also numerous visits, meetings and other exchanges between senior Canadian government officials and their American counterparts, as well as with political leaders at both national and state levels.

The Prime Minister, cabinet members, parliamentary secretaries, premiers, provincial and territorial ministers, parliamentary committees and other parliamentarians have completed over 70 visits, of which 40 were by 18 cabinet members and three parliamentary secretaries. These figures will continue to grow as senior Canadian government officials embark on outreach to the United States in the coming months.

Our strategy has been to engage with as wide a spectrum of interlocutors as possible from across the United States. We've developed an 11-state outreach program for cabinet ministers. Our goal is to bring our message to parts of the United States that often don't get national-level attention but are nonetheless critical to the success of Canada-U.S. relations.

Let me now turn to some of the pressing commercial issues. Given the administration's “America first” approach, several commercial issues have received media attention recently. We would like to provide you with an update on some of the key files.

On NAFTA, the U.S. administration has clearly noted its intention to renegotiate the agreement, but it has not yet notified Congress accordingly. Canada is open to discussing improvements to NAFTA that will benefit all three NAFTA parties but has not discussed the scope or objectives of any renegotiation. Should these negotiations take place, Canada will be prepared to discuss improvements to the agreement at the appropriate time, as the government has stated. Advocacy efforts are also under way in the U.S. to emphasize the importance of the Canadian market to U.S. exporters, and officials are working with provinces and Canadian businesses to coordinate messaging.

On softwood lumber, Canada continues to believe that it is in both countries' best interests to negotiate a new softwood lumber agreement. Minister Freeland and Ambassador MacNaughton are laying the groundwork with our American counterparts for the eventual restart of negotiations. Canadian negotiators stand ready to re-engage as soon as the United States is ready to do so.

While Canada is committed to negotiating a new softwood lumber agreement, we will not accept a deal at any cost. We want an agreement that is in the best interests of our industry. Also, although we would prefer a quick resolution to this dispute, the Government of Canada is also prepared to defend the interests of the Canadian softwood lumber industry, including through litigation at the WTO or under NAFTA, as appropriate.

Let me touch now on the border adjustment tax.

The concept is currently being contemplated by Republicans in the House of Representatives. We think the measure would be bad for both countries. It would impose extra costs on American companies and disrupt trade at our border. The government, through the Prime Minister, has been raising concerns and soliciting views from a range of stakeholders in the United States, notably in the business community, to help reinforce these points with members of Congress.

I'll touch briefly now on steel. The commerce department in the United States was asked back in January to develop a plan to ensure that steel for the construction, renovation, and enlargement of pipelines in the U.S would be sourced from within the United States. We are preoccupied with this for two reasons.

The first is that the steel industry in North America is extraordinarily integrated and runs on both sides of the border. The second reason that we are concerned about steel is that this is an attempt to determine procurement that is usually done via the private sector. This is not public procurement; this is the government telling private enterprises from whom they should buy. Those things are usually left to commercial considerations. We have made observations in this regard to the Department of Commerce in the course of its regular consultation process, which is ongoing. As I mentioned, my colleague Martin Moen would be pleased to answer questions on any of these commercial issues.

Let me now turn to trilateral relations, which are also a part of your study.

Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have a long history of collaborating as continental partners in the areas of security, commercial relations and competitiveness, the environment, and other areas. Since 2005 the three countries have been meeting for the North American leaders' summit, which is aimed at advancing common policy objectives in many of the areas I just mentioned. The last such meeting took place in Ottawa last June.

While there are uncertainties about the direction of trilateral co-operation since the election of President Trump, there are at the same time early signs that indicate a number of trilateral commitments from the 2016 North American leaders' summit here in Ottawa will continue. I won't elaborate on them—they have to do with the border, energy security, and regional co-operation—but I'd be happy to answer questions on those trilateral dimensions.

In addition, the annual trilateral energy and defence ministers' meetings are being planned for this spring. There's also been some talk of a trilateral foreign ministers' meeting. These meetings, along with the developments in the renegotiation of NAFTA, will provide us with signals as to the future direction of trilateral co-operation.

I'll now talk about foreign policy cooperation.

The Trump administration came to office with a very forthright “America First” approach to foreign policy. This approach overtly places the United States and its interests at the forefront. The approach focuses on economic nationalism, protection of American sovereignty and hard power.

This policy is in distinct contrast with the policies of both Democratic and Republican administrations that have led the United States since the Second World War. These policies emphasized American leadership in advancing democracy and human rights, promoting freer trade, building international institutions, and working closely with allies to advance these objectives.

At this point, it isn't clear how the overarching principles of “America First” will translate into day-to-day policies. Furthermore, many of the senior positions in the administration, such as in the State Department, haven't been filled yet. We're in a very early phase.

Intervening events, such as North Korea's missile test or Syria's use of chemical weapons on civilians, may significantly shape the Trump administration's foreign policy. Canada condemned the chemical weapons attack and fully supported the United States' response.

As I mentioned earlier, my colleague, Heidi Hulan, will be pleased to answer any detailed questions.

Let me end there. I've tried to give you a brief overview of some of the main themes in Canada-U.S. relations right now. We look forward to the committee's deliberations and the eventual report.

We would welcome your questions and comments. Thank you.

February 15th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims

Ihsaan Gardee

Our organization is also looking at it and reviewing Bill C-23 and Bill C-21. We will be putting together submissions on that.

At the same time, we recognize that the U.S. is a sovereign nation that is able to determine who is or is not able to enter its jurisdiction. At the same time, some of the discriminatory and intrusive treatment that has been reported by Canadians is problematic. We're looking, really, for assurances that the government will go to bat for its citizens. We're calling on the public safety minister to reconsider proposed legislation that would grant further powers to American border officials in questioning and detaining Canadian travellers. This kind of pre-clearance law will erode the rights of travellers, including those of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The agreement, which was negotiated during the previous American administration, takes on a whole new meaning in this new era.

Canadian Muslims in particular are deeply concerned and anxious about travelling to the U.S. This is troubling, as many Canadian residents have family and work commitments there. This climate threatens to unfairly infringe on their freedom of movement.

February 15th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Executive Member, Immigration Law Section, Canadian Bar Association

Peter Edelmann

The Canadian Bar Association is in the process of studying bills C-21 and C-23. We will have some proposals for you once they have been approved. Currently, they are at the revision stage.

We do indeed have concerns with how the measures proposed in those bills will work, as well as with the integration of the borders. Communicating information, co-operation and oversight of our national security agencies are also questions that I brought up previously.

That is precisely what the Arar Commission focused on. Mr. Arar’s experience was actually the result of a complex co-operation problem, specifically with regard to the information that was communicated.

February 15th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I apologize to the witnesses and my colleagues for my tardiness. I have no one else I can substitute for me here, so that's a reality I have to deal with.

I would like to ask a question about the border; it goes to both the Canadian Bar Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Obviously, this subject is very much in the news these days. In general, do you have concerns with the expansion of powers at the border or with the border becoming more integrated, as was mentioned this week? How should we proceed in this situation, particularly in terms of bills C-21 and C-23?

February 13th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

To the representatives of ISNA, if I'm not mistaken, not only was Bill C-51 brought up, but also Bill C-21 and Bill C-23.

I'm wondering if you could perhaps expand on that, because we are continuing this push towards a more integrated border with our American neighbours. I'm wondering what concerns you have with those pieces of legislation and with the whole plan in general.

February 8th, 2017 / 3:35 p.m.
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David McGovern Deputy National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Office of the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Privy Council Office

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to appear before you today.

My name is David McGovern. I am the deputy national security adviser to the Prime Minister. However, I am here today in my previous role as senior adviser to the Privy Council Office responsible for the border action plan implementation from May 2014 until January 2015, when I was named the deputy national security adviser.

After my appointment, I continued to work on the Beyond the Border initiative while we were transitioning toward the current government.

In the Beyond the Border Action Plan of 2011, over 30 commitments were made to improve security and expedite legitimate movement of people, goods and services across the border.

Canada and the United States have a long-standing history of co-operation along our shared border, recognizing that we are each other's closest ally and most important security and economic partner. Included in this plan were two specific commitments that I wish to draw to your attention to, related to implementation and oversight. Responsibility for ensuring inter-agency coordination rested with the Prime Minister and the President, and their respective officials.

In Canada, this responsibility was led by the special adviser and a specially created small team in the Privy Council Office. This approach was mirrored in the United States, where it was led by a senior official in the National Security Council in the White House. The joint leads established an inter-agency “beyond the border” working group called the executive steering committee, comprising executive heads or associates from relevant departments and agencies that were implicated in the action plan.

The executive steering committee was also tasked with reporting on implementation of the action plan through the publication of an annual joint Canada-U.S. implementation report. Four such joint implementation reports were released. These documents describe progress in meeting the action plan commitments. Like all key beyond the border documents, they are housed on Canadian and U.S. government websites.

The Executive Steering Committee met five times, the last time being in October 2016.

In Canada, the Committee of Deputy Ministers on Borders was established to complement the work of the Executive Steering committee. The committee of deputy ministers was chaired by the special advisor and made up of deputy ministers or associate deputy ministers from Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Industry Canada, and other departments and agencies as needed.

The committee of deputy ministers was established to discuss implementation issues, report on progress, identify stakeholder concerns, solve problems and, at a later stage, consider issues related to planning for the 2015 transition.

The deputy ministers' borders committee was also supported by a shadow assistant deputy minister steering committee, which was chaired by the border implementation team's assistant secretary. PCO received temporary funding in 2012 through the beyond the border initiative to support a small secretariat. This secretariat has since been wound down throughout 2016.

By the time the election was called in 2015, a large majority of the initiatives had either been completed or were on track. Of the issues that were not yet completed or were experiencing challenges, two were considered key from both a Canadian and a U.S. perspective, namely entry-exit and pre-clearance.

In March 2016, several key deliverables were announced at the Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama's summit, including co-operation on issues that affect our shared border. The two leaders reinforced their intentions to bring into force the Canada-U.S. agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance.

Building on more than 60 years of pre-clearance co-operation, the new agreement will further enhance both countries' mutual security and facilitate low-risk cross-border movement in all modes of travel. The two countries also agreed to explore the conditions necessary for cargo pre-clearance and to identify opportunities to pilot this approach. Both countries also committed to fully implement a system to exchange basic biographic entry information at the land border. This builds on the process already in place for third-country nationals, and will allow Canada and the U.S. to enhance border security in an effective and responsible way.

This will be done in a manner that respects our respective constitutional and legal frameworks, and protects our citizens' right to privacy.

The legislative provisions related to entry and exit, in this case Bill C-21, were tabled in the House of Commons on June 15, 2016, and are currently awaiting second reading.

The legislative provisions related to preclearance, in this case Bill C-23, were tabled on June 17, 2016. They are also awaiting second reading. President Obama signed the necessary U.S. legislative provisions for the entry into force of the Pre-clearance Agreement on December 16, 2016.

Canada and the U.S. intend to continue our robust relationship. Prime Minister Trudeau has committed the Canadian government to improving relations with the U.S., and to work to make substantial progress on reducing impediments to trade and commerce between our two countries, including by improving border infrastructure and security, streamlining cargo inspection, and facilitating the movement of people.

Thank you very much. I'd be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

October 6th, 2016 / 4:30 p.m.
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The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Committee, I know you'll be very pleased that we're going to get right to questioning. The opening statement was done by the minister, and we now have witnesses here.

Mr. Brown from the department is still here. He is now joined by Ms. Beauregard.

Monsieur Coulombe, from CSIS, welcome again.

Mr. Paulson, it's nice to see you back.

Thank you for taking the time to join us.

As you know, we are beginning a fairly large study of the national security framework. This is not a legislative study. It is a study by parliamentarians on the whole framework, which we hope will help to advise the minister as he considers both policy and legislative changes in the coming year. That is the nature of our work. We're not dealing with any legislation in particular. We will be dealing with Bill C-22, now that it has been referred to us. If Bill C-21 and Bill C-23 pass in the House, we expect they will also come to us. This is really very much at the theoretical level of what we as parliamentarians need to be advising the minister on, having listened to the agencies and Canadians.

Welcome, Ms. Khalid. We're glad to have you and Ms. Petitpas Taylor as well. Thank you for joining us.

We're going to begin this round of seven-minute questions with Ms. Damoff.

Customs ActRoutine Proceedings

June 15th, 2016 / 3:10 p.m.
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Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan


Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)