Preclearance Act, 2016

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


Ralph Goodale  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of June 17, 2016

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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.


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.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

February 17th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Matthew Dubé Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I do agree, but the problem is what the U.S. wants to do and the deafening silence we heard from the Prime Minister when he met the U.S. President.

While Canadians are being turned away at the border, the minister continues to downplay concerns about Bill C-23, which has far-reaching consequences and could lead to even more Canadians being treated unfairly at the border. Bill C-23 would grant worrisome powers to U.S. border agents on Canadian soil, such as permission to carry firearms and without the appropriate criminal liability framework.

I ask again. What will it take for the government to finally stand up and protect Canadians' rights both here and at the border?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

February 16th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Winnipeg North


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

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue to debate the Conservative opposition motion. Tomorrow we will commence debate on Bill C-18 concerning Rouge Park. My hope is to finish third reading debate on Friday. If debate is not completed, we will call it again on Tuesday morning, with Bill C-23, preclearance, as a backup. We will continue with Bill C-23 debate on Wednesday and Friday as well.

I remind the House that we adopted a motion to have Monday sitting hours next Tuesday, February 21.

Finally, next Thursday, February 23, shall be an allotted day.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

February 13th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister needs to defend Canadians against President Trump's discriminatory orders and attacks on privacy.

We have serious concerns about Bill C-23. U.S. officers on Canadian soil would be armed and authorized to conduct strip searches and detain and interrogate Canadians.

In a joint statement just released between the Prime Minister and the President, instead of standing up for Canadians, they decided to double down on information sharing and measures like this that go against Canadians' rights.

Can the minister stand up and confirm that, in the clearest of terms, they will stand up for Canadians' rights once and for all?

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.

Public Safety
Oral Questions

December 12th, 2016 / 2:55 p.m.
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Ralph Goodale Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, border preclearance between Canada and the United States has existed for 60 years. It makes our border more secure and more efficient both ways. Last spring, the Prime Minister and the President of the United States agreed upon a major preclearance business expansion into the locations mentioned by the hard-working member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

In Canada, we introduced the necessary legislation last June. I am pleased to note that both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate enacted their preclearance law this past week. The ball is now in our court to pass Bill C-23. Let us do it this afternoon by unanimous consent.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

November 17th, 2016 / 3:05 p.m.
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Bardish Chagger Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will continue our debate at second reading of Bill C-26 on the Canada pension plan.

Tomorrow, we will resume debate on Bill C-16 on gender identity. If time permits, we will also examine Bill C-25, the business framework bill.

On Monday, I will call Bill C-30, the CETA implementation legislation, for consideration at second reading. The bill will be on the agenda for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is my hope that this bill will be referred to committee on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, we will consider second reading of Bill C-23 respecting pre-clearance.

Next Friday, I will call Bill C-18, the Rouge national park legislation, for second reading debate.

October 7th, 2016 / 3:50 p.m.
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Assistant Professor, Department of History and Politics, University of New Brunswick Saint John, As an Individual

J.P. Lewis

I think the amendments that we were made to Bill C-23 gave it some clarity, but there is still some ambiguity around what the role of the Chief Electoral Officer should be, so you could strengthen language in that way. The research was showing that it wasn't just Elections Canada having to do it on its own. Sixty-four per cent of the civic education policy groups shared information or data with another organization within that policy community; 50% did joint research, with one NGO or government agency working together; and 20% shared personnel. It's a strong community there. I'm sure you maybe heard from some of the NGOs that it's about resources and things like that.

I think maybe it's just a matter of emboldening and clarifying to whoever the next CEO is that they can play that role. Then it comes back to this big question—and I mentioned it briefly and maybe it was during my fast-talking—of how versus why. That's where the debate is.

It's very normal with regard to the how. That's directions to where you vote, how to make an X, and things like that. It's more contentious around the issue of why one should vote. We see evidence of that. I've also done a survey of what you would find on election agencies' websites. You find tools for educators and things like that. That would kind of encourage voting.

I think if there is a new electoral system, those questions become a lot closer, because not only do you have to explain.... This is actually an interesting experiment right now, for people who haven't read about Mr. Elbert's new electoral system, to watch people trying to follow along a new system as we're sitting here.

I think the committee really needs to take into consideration that this will have to be explained to the Canadian public, and it will also have to be justified and given legitimacy.

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

Public Safety
Oral Questions

September 23rd, 2016 / 11:50 a.m.
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Erin O'Toole Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians have their mobility rights and livelihoods threatened because of the potential ban from entering the U.S. if they admit to ever having used marijuana, a drug the Liberals are now making legal.

The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness totally missed the mark. He just concluded a customs pre-clearance agreement with the United States that failed to address this issue. That is a huge mistake.

Will the minister withdraw Bill C-23 and renegotiate an agreement with the U.S. on pre-clearance that actually protects Canadians?

Preclearance Act, 2016
Routine Proceedings

June 17th, 2016 / 12:05 p.m.
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Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-23, an act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States.

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