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Preclearance Act, 2016

An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

In committee (House), as of March 6, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-23.

Summary

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

This enactment implements the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America (the Agreement), done at Washington on March 16, 2015, to provide for the preclearance in each country of travellers and goods bound for the other country.

Part 1 of the enactment authorizes United States preclearance officers to conduct preclearance in Canada of travellers and goods bound for the United States and, among other things, it

(a) authorizes a federal Minister to designate preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters in Canada, in which preclearance may take place;

(b) provides United States preclearance officers with powers to facilitate preclearance;

(c) establishes that the exercise of any power and performance of any duty or function by a United States preclearance officer is subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act;

(d) authorizes Canadian police officers and the officers of the Canada Border Services Agency to assist United States preclearance officers in the exercise of their powers and performance of their duties and functions;

(e) allows a traveller bound for the United States to withdraw from the preclearance process, unless the traveller is detained under Part 1; and

(f) limits the ability to request the extradition or provisional arrest of a current or former United States preclearance officer.

Part 2 of the enactment provides for the preclearance in the United States, by Canadian officers, of travellers and goods bound for Canada. Among other things, Part 2

(a) specifies how the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will apply to travellers bound for Canada who are in preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters in the United States, and extends the application of other Canadian legislation that relates to the entry of persons and importation of goods into Canada to those preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters;

(b) authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations adapting, restricting or excluding the application of provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and that other Canadian legislation in preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters;

(c) prevents, as required under the Agreement, the exercise of powers of Canadian officers under Canadian law with respect to questioning or interrogation, examination, search, seizure, forfeiture, detention and arrest in preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters, as similar powers will be conferred under the laws of the United States on Canadian officers;

(d) allows a traveller bound for Canada to withdraw from the preclearance process, unless the traveller is detained under the laws of the United States;

(e) deems an act or omission committed in a preclearance area or preclearance perimeter to be committed in Canada, if the act or omission would constitute, in Canada, an offence relating to the entry of persons or importation of goods into Canada; and

(f) grants the Attorney General of Canada the exclusive authority to commence and conduct a prosecution of a Canadian officer with respect to an act or omission committed in the United States.

Part 3 of the enactment makes related amendments to the Criminal Code to provide United States preclearance officers with an exemption from criminal liability under the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act with respect to the carriage of firearms and other regulated items. It also amends the Criminal Code to provide for a stay of proceedings against a United States preclearance officer when the Government of the United States provides notice under paragraph 14 of Article X of the Agreement.

Part 4 of the enactment makes a consequential amendment to the Customs Act, repeals the Preclearance Act and contains the coming-into-force provision.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

March 6, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.
March 6, 2017 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That”, and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, because it: ( a) neglects to take into account the climate of uncertainty at the border following the discriminatory policies and executive orders of the Trump Administration; (b) does not address Canadians’ concerns about being interrogated, detained, and turned back at the border based on race, religion, travel history or birthplace as a result of policies that may contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (c) does nothing to ensure that Canadians’ right to privacy will be protected during searches of their online presence and electronic devices; and (d) violates Canadian sovereignty by increasing the powers of American preclearance officers on Canadian soil with respect to the carrying of firearms and by not properly defining a criminal liability framework.”.
March 6, 2017 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / noon
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Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the said bill; and

That fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / noon
See context

Conservative

Tony Clement Conservative Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate. I wonder whether the minister could comment on a quote from May 2, 2013 from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in this place, where he said:

obviously it is unfortunate when debate in the House is curtailed by the use of time allocation or closure. That impinges upon the democratic right of members of Parliament to adequately consider matters that are before the House.

I wonder whether he can explain why he has changed his mind on this matter.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / noon
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Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, we are moving into what will be the fourth day of debate at second reading on Bill C-23. Including today, there will have been over 10 hours of debate. So far, 18 members of Parliament have delivered speeches on Bill C-23 and obviously there will be more to come today. The point is that the detailed work with respect to Bill C-23 is the work that is done in committee, and members, I am sure, are anxious to get into that work so that they can consider the bill in detail. That will be followed by report stage, which will be followed by third reading. This is all part of a very deliberative process where members of Parliament will certainly have ample time to express their opinions. I note also that the hon. gentleman is generally supportive of the legislation.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to lose track of the number of times the Liberals have used this measure to curtail debate. One of the most solemn things that we have as a duty in the House as members of Parliament is to bring forward our constituents' views. By cutting off this debate, the minister is not allowing us to do that. There are very real concerns about this bill. I know that members on that side of the House like to dismiss them, but it is our job to give them voice in the House.

To pre-empt the minister if he wishes to reference our vote on Bill C-37, may I remind him that we did that vote because it was to save Canadian lives, but this bill has been languishing on the docket since June of last year. I do not understand what the rush is.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, indeed there has been ample time for public examination and consideration of this bill. The international agreement upon which it is founded was signed in the spring of 2015. It was tabled in the House of Commons at the same time. The legislation to provide legal force to the agreement was tabled in June of last year. It has all been in the public domain for all of that time. The focus generally has only occurred in the last number of weeks, but the fact of the matter is there have been months and months and months of public opportunity to examine this legislation.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, even though there may be some agreement on different sides in terms of the bill itself, it still is incredibly important that members of Parliament be allowed to voice their concerns and reflect their constituents' wishes.

It is interesting that back on June 3, 2015, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader said:

The government, by once again relying on a time allocation motion to get its agenda passed, speaks of incompetence. It speaks of a genuine lack of respect for parliamentary procedure and ultimately for Canadians.

I would say that we are seeing a real lack of competence on the government side in terms of being able to work together with all sides of the House to get its agenda passed.

What are the plans going forward? Is this what we have to look forward to in the next two and half a years, that every time MPs want to speak, they are going to be shut down by the Liberals?

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, again, I would remind the member that this subject matter has been in the public domain for detailed discussion and debate going back to the spring of 2015. The legislation has been on the Order Paper since June of last year. Already in the debate there have been four days devoted to second reading. There have been 10 hours of debate. Eighteen members of Parliament have delivered speeches, and more will do so today. This will be followed by the committee stage, report stage, and third reading stage of the bill. There is going to be a lot of opportunity for members to express their opinions.

I want to thank the hon. member for the support that her party has shown for this legislation.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, just because a bill has been placed on the Order Paper does not mean that members have had the opportunity to debate it. Given that the government has claimed to want to elevate the role of Parliament, I find it astonishing that the Liberals are now saying that this is no big deal because the bill was introduced in June. We are debating the bill now, and the government wants to limit the time we have for that. That is very disappointing. I know that the previous government liked to use this sort of tactic, but it seems the current government does as well.

That is all the more worrisome when we consider how concerned Canadians are about this bill. It is not just Canadians who are concerned. I think that something major is happening in the world and the government is ignoring it.

A great example of that is the Netherlands which ended negotiations on pre-clearance in light of Trump's policies. Does the minister think that the Netherlands is out to lunch on that, or does he agree that if, as he says, the current system works so well, and we agree, why is it necessary to give so many additional powers to American agents? As people say, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.”

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that this whole issue was given a great deal of prominence in March of last year, just about a full year ago, when the Prime Minister and the president of the United States at that time discussed it very much in detail and very positively. At that time, the proposed legislation was fully described. It was tabled in June. I find it very interesting that in that whole period of time, from the spring of 2015 to June 2016, until about two weeks ago, not a single question about this proposed legislation was asked by the official opposition or the NDP, not one question.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for what has been put forward here as excuses, but I am not persuaded at all that this is an appropriate time for time allocation.

At the largest level of concern that I have for parliamentary democracy, it is that what became common under the Harper administration is now being used all too frequently, even if less, by the new government. I had been hoping that contained in the mandate letters to the ministers, and I remembered clearly the mandate letter to the hon. government House leader, there would be instructions to be more transparent, to allow opposition voices to be heard.

In my case, as a member of Parliament for the Green Party but without adequate seats to become a recognized party, we do not get opportunities to speak to the bill, have not spoken to it yet, and the Liberals, just like the Conservatives, pass special motions at every committee, depriving me of my ability to put forward amendments at report stage.

The combined effort of all this is that it does not feel all that different from what occurred before. I am hearing real concerns about Bill C-23 from my constituents.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the debate is ongoing. There are many stages yet to be undertaken. The bill will receive full and proper ventilation.

I hope many of those voices in the public will come forward to express their opinion, like, for example, the transportation entities that work along the west coast in the railway business, in the cruise ship business in and out of the port of Victoria that are very anxious to see this legislation adopted, as is the Chamber of Commerce of the City of Quebec, the airport authorities at Billy Bishop in Toronto and at Jean Lesage in Quebec City, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Quebec Chamber of Commerce. I hope all of those voices will be heard in the course of this debate because they strongly support this legislation.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a quote I would like to read back to the minister, because this was after the last election.

On November 2, 2015, the Regina Leader Post said that this minister said at the time, two days before he became the minister, that Conservative tactics like omnibus bills and time allocation procedures, which this government has used, made Canadians feel that “their democracy was eroding.”

Will the minister then agree with himself in 2015 that he himself is now eroding Canadian democracy in 2016?

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the debates around different pieces of legislation always involve different configurations of members of Parliament.

I think it is important to note in this case that the legislation is obviously advanced and supported by the government. It is also being supported in principle by the official opposition. That represents a very large majority of members of the House of Commons.

It is not unreasonable to allow the debate to proceed in an orderly fashion with a reasonable amount for second reading and then the detailed work at committee stage, and especially so when there is such a large percentage of members in the House who do in fact support the legislation.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have voted in favour of time allocation only once since I first became a member of the House. It was a few weeks ago because the lives of too many Canadians were at risk.

I will repeat what the minister said earlier. He said that 18 members of Parliament have delivered speeches on this bill. That is 18 of 338 members. The government is imposing a gag order on an awful lot of ridings for a bill that is far from perfect as it now stands.

I would like the minister to explain to us why it is so urgent to ram this bill through when so much work still needs to be done to get it right.

Bill C-23—Time Allocation MotionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the point is that those steps that might be taken to perfect the bill will be steps that members deem necessary when it gets to the committee stage.

The speeches that take place at second reading are largely, according to the rules of the House of Commons, speeches that discuss the bill in principle. The core work, the heavy lifting, occurs in committee, and that is where people like those I have just mentioned, from the airport authority in Quebec City, the Chamber of Commerce in Quebec City, the Mayor of Quebec City can express their support for the legislation, as will those who are anxious to see improved services at Billy Bishop in Toronto, on the train service between Montreal and New York City, on the Rocky Mountain Railway that goes from British Columbia into the United States, the cruise ship business along the west coast, all of those enterprises stand to see major improvements under this legislation.

It is important to remember that the border between Canada and the United States handles 400,000 travellers every single day, and $2.5 billion in trade every single day. Those are indeed important reasons to move in a measured but expeditious manner to pass this legislation.