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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 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I found it interesting to hear the minister say earlier that not a single question was asked. The reason for that, first of all, was that the bill was introduced just a few days before the summer recess, just before we returned to our ridings, so, of course, we did not really have an opportunity to ask any questions last spring.

When we returned in the fall, we were asking questions about Bill C-51 and we introduced a bill to repeal it. We were dealing with the consultations that the minister launched in order to take attention away from the issue. There is also Bill C-22. The government is trying to tell us that it is no big deal, and that, if we have concerns about Bill C-23, we will work on it in committee and everyone will have a chance to be heard.

I will use the example of Bill C-22. It is ironic to be talking about this on the very day that we arrived in the House to find that all of the amendments that were adopted by the committee and supported by experts have been rejected by the government.

I would therefore like the minister to explain to me why he has a problem with questions from the opposition. Why should we trust the committee process for a bill so vital to Canadians' rights and privacy? The last time, the government decided to backpedal and not listen to the witnesses or the committee members, even though we were dealing with an issue that should have been non-partisan.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is rather overstating his point.

The committee work on Bill C-22 was very important, and has shaped a number of revisions and changes in that legislation to narrow the scope of the exemptions and exclusions, and that will represent a very substantial improvement in the legislation.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have another question then to the minister, if he could answer this one.

He just said that 18 members of the House have spoken over a four-day period on this bill. There have been many bills that have come before this House that have had many more days of debate. The minister is also assuming how members of this House will vote based on how the 18 members have spoken.

However, I base my thoughts around how a member will speak based on what they say in the House and how that will transfer to their vote. How can the minister assume how all the members on this side of the House will vote when he has not even heard from them at second reading?

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, with a second opportunity, which I greatly appreciate, there was another concern I had in the way the minister has set out the opportunities we have all had. I was in the 41st Parliament.

I am sure the hon. minister will agree that when an agreement such as the one with the United States on pre-clearance is tabled in this place, that does not create any opportunity for debate. It is merely tabled. If one of the larger parties chooses to make it an opposition day motion, then there is an opportunity for debate.

However, there has in fact been no opportunity for debate on this pre-clearance agreement with the U.S. administration in this place until very recently, in the 10 hours of debate which the minister references. The concern I have, and I would hope the hon. minister would share, is this was negotiated by the Harper administration with the Obama administration.

Now we have the Trump administration, and the expression of a desire to have extreme vetting of people who come into the United States by officials I cannot begin to believe will be familiar with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This needs more debate.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the point is that the more that we can provide for border crossing inspections to be done on the Canadian side of the border before a person crosses the border, the stronger the position of the traveller. They will have the protection of Canadian law, the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the protection of the Canadian Bill of Rights, and they will have protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

This legislation facilitates more work to be done in the inspection of travellers in Canada before the traveller leaves. That is very much in the best interests of those travellers.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is my first term in the House, and I am disappointed at the Liberal government's repeated use of time allocation, as are the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, whom I represent. I think time allocation is a tool to be used sparingly.

I voted in favour of it on the opioid issue because lives are at stake, but I will not vote in favour of time allocation in this case, and I do not find referral to committee all that reassuring. Having been a member of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, I have little faith in the committee part of the process.

On February 19, I invited people to my riding office for coffee, and they made an effort to come out and talk to me about their concerns related to Bill C-23. Because I represent them, it is important to me that we have time to speak in the House so we can express our views and convey our constituents' concerns about Bill C-23. That speaking time in the House is critical, and sending the bill to committee is not going to make it happen.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Again, Mr. Speaker, I would point out that there have been three days of debate already and a fourth one has yet to be undertaken. There will be opportunities for members of Parliament to raise their concerns and ask their questions. There is also the daily question period that is an ongoing preoccupation of the House of Commons. I am more than anxious to hear all of the questions that hon. members may wish to raise. I will try my best to provide good, solid, substantive answers so that they know exactly what the government's intention is with respect to this legislation and the details of how the legislation may affect their constituents.

It is my intention and very firm desire to be completely transparent about this subject matter, because this is good legislation, it will be of assistance to Canada and Canadians, and it will make sure that more people can travel back and forth across the border with pre-clearance in Canada under the protection of the Canadian charter.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the many fine words from my colleague with regard to the economic value of pre-clearance, which many Canadians are already very much aware of. Among the actions the minister is taking is enabling other airports the opportunity to have pre-clearance. I am wondering if he could comment about the communities that will have pre-clearance service and its benefits.

I cite as an example the Toronto international airport. From what I understand, if pre-clearance was taken away, half of the direct routes would not be possible. I wonder if the minister could comment, because it emphasizes just how important pre-clearance is.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the airport that services the hon. gentleman's constituency in Winnipeg has the benefit of pre-clearance, but in my home city of Regina, that benefit is not available. There are eight airports in Canada that presently have the service: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto Pearson, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. We intend, in our agreement with the United States, to extend the service to Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City and Billy Bishop airport on Toronto Island. We also intend to extend the service to the train that runs between Montreal and New York City, as well as the Rocky Mountaineer railway that travels through southern British Columbia and into the United States.

The objective is to make this service more readily available to more Canadians. There are presently 12 million Canadians a year who benefit from pre-clearance and one of the key advantages is the one the hon. gentleman mentioned. Once people have gone through pre-clearance and gotten on the plane, they can then land at any airport in the United States, not just those that have international customs facilities. That means that instead of servicing just 27 airports in the United States, flights out of Toronto can actually land at more than 50.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about time allocation. I hear the minister making some arguments in favour of time allocation in this case, arguments I do not think many members are finding convincing. Of course, many of those same arguments could have applied to other cases of time allocation that were undertaken under the previous government and that this member and others positively railed against as signalling the end of democracy.

I want to ask a very specific question of the minister. Could he articulate what the operating principle is for distinguishing between the kind of time allocation that he thinks is okay and the kind of time allocation that he thinks is not okay? It seems to me that it is a purely partisan filter, but if there is some operating principle, the House would be very interested in hearing it.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a judgment call in each case about how the debate has been proceeding, whether members have had an opportunity to present themselves and present their cases, how much additional time is necessary to allow a subject matter to be thoroughly ventilated, and what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

Given the number of days that have already been devoted to this item of business at second reading, with committee stage, third reading, report stage yet to come, not to mention passage through the Senate, it is a reasonable proposition to say that after one more day, the House should vote at second reading and express itself in principle on the legislation. Then, at committee, we can get into the details and go through the further and subsequent stages, all of which will ensure that members of Parliament have a good and fair opportunity to represent their constituents.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that, contrary to what the minister said, second reading is much more than simply an opportunity to talk about our principles. It is an opportunity to discuss the concerns and issues raised by Canadians.

I want to come back to the question I asked in my first speech on this matter. The Liberals keep singing the praises of pre-clearance. That is fine, and we recognize the benefits associated with it. However, I have to come back to the original question we have been asking for weeks now, one that the government seems incapable of answering: if the current pre-clearance system is working so well, why do the Liberals feel the need to authorize American officers on Canadian soil to carry firearms and do strip searches without a Canadian officer present, as well as detain and interrogate Canadians and permanent residents who choose to leave the pre-clearance area, because, for example, they consider the questioning unreasonable?

In response to my question, I have heard only economic arguments. We recognize the economic value of this measure. We are already benefiting from this aspect.

Can the minister tell me why, if the current system is working well, he felt the need to grant those officers additional powers in order to go ahead with that agreement?

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, indeed the powers that are involved in Bill C-23 are relatively small in comparison to what exist at the present time. The changes that are contemplated here are not a huge deviation from what already exist.

In the case of firearms, I would point out that the arrangement provided in the agreement and in the legislation is completely and mutually reciprocal. In other words, firearms are permitted on the Canadian side when firearms are permitted on the American side, and vice versa. To give a practical example of that, firearms are carried by CBSA officers at some border points across the country, but they are specifically not carried when those CBSA officers are dealing with passengers inside airline terminals. That is the rule that applies to CBSA. Governed by the principle of reciprocity, that is exactly the same rule that will apply to U.S. officers operating in Canada. They will not carry firearms when they are dealing with passengers inside airline terminals. That is the principle of reciprocity, and it is perfectly mutual in all respects under this legislation.

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief follow-up to my previous question. I asked the minister what is the operating principle for distinguishing between the kind of time allocation that he thinks is acceptable and the kind that he thinks is not, and effectively he said it is a subjective evaluation of reasonableness under the circumstances.

The way that this process normally works is that the House leaders discuss the time required for the debate. That evaluation of reasonableness is subjective, depending on the circumstances and the issues. However, that happens through a conversation among the parties. It is not just one party, the government alone deciding what it thinks is reasonable, probably much of the time being what is in its interest.

I want to ask the minister if it is about this genuine evaluation of what makes sense under the circumstances, why not work collaboratively with the other House leaders rather than imposing this? Does this not seem a lot like what the Liberals railed against, which was the government making determinations on its own about how much time should be allowed for debate?

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

March 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, those discussions about the management of time in the House are discussions that are typically undertaken by the House leaders for the respective political parties. They have a meeting at least once a week where they consider the legislative program going forward over the next couple of weeks, and try, in a reasonable fashion, to share time appropriately and make sure that business can proceed in an orderly fashion, that decisions are allowed to be taken, and votes are held and so forth. It is up the House leaders to manage that time and to make the best use of the time in the Canadian public interest.

Reasonability is something that different House leaders might view differently, depending on their perspective and where they sit in the House. However, in all my time here, which goes right back to 1974, I have never seen a more reasonable House leader than the one who currently sits and represents the Government of Canada in this Parliament.