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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.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 21st, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I can understand my NDP colleague's concerns about the important question of the applicable authority. In Canadian territory, will the Canadian citizen be subject to American laws or Canadian laws?

The government has ensured that there are some safeguards around this issue. That is one of the reasons why our party wants to discuss this matter in committee. These are very pertinent questions to put to the commissioner in particular. I hope that he will be invited to appear before the committee to provide a more detailed answer to this question.

Once again, what is important is to have a balanced approach that will protect our rights and, at the same time, will eliminate a lot of paperwork and many problems at airports, including the Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, for people who want to travel to the United States.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 21st, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Julie Dabrusin Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

I am happy to speak to Bill C-23, the preclearance act, 2016. This legislation has a number of significant implications for Canada. It is important to our economy and our security, just as it is for our bilateral relationship with the United States.

I have heard concerns from some people in my community about the bill and its perceived impact on the rights of Canadians. I will address these concerns in the course of my speech, but I would like to note at the outset that I am confident the legislation will not adversely affect our rights. In fact, the rights accorded to Canadians under a pre-clearance regime clearly include the extra protections we enjoy in Canada due to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Border management is a top priority for our government, with officials from Public Safety Canada and its portfolio agencies working closely with their counterparts in the United States on a wide range of issues to ensure that we keep our border effective and functional.

Border management is a priority for our government and for senior officials at Public Safety Canada and the agencies within its purview, which are working closely with their American counterparts on a wide range of issues to keep our border effective and functional.

This includes putting in place the best framework and policies that allow for the smooth flow of people and goods while securing our border. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we are enthusiastic to make further bilateral progress on the pre-clearance initiative. To put the statement “smooth flow of people and goods” into context, more than 400,000 people flow back and forth between Canada and the United States every single day. Close to $2.5 billion in two-way trade moves between these two countries every day.

Pre-clearance has long been a part of our strong border relationship and will be key to our future one. With this bill, we have the opportunity to usher in even greater security and economic benefits when it comes to Canada-U.S. border travel. Let me highlight the key elements of this bill and why it is so important that members join me in supporting its passage.

Once passed, this bill will open the door to move ahead with the ratification and implementation of the land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance agreement which was signed by Canada and the United States in 2015. That door, once opened. will offer tremendous benefits to Canadians. There are two primary benefits from this legislation. One, it sets out the legislative authority governing pre-clearance operations conducted by the United States and Canada, including possible future expansion to additional sites and modes of travel. Two, it provides the basis necessary for Canada to eventually conduct pre-clearance in the United States just as the U.S. has done for so long in Canada.

Indeed, the United States has conducted pre-clearance in Canadian airports for many decades. As I live in Toronto, I have seen the pre-clearance regime that is currently operating in one of our airports, that being Pearson International Airport. It is currently operating in eight major Canadian airports, and in five pre-inspection sites in B.C. for rail and marine. Last year, more than 12 million passengers went through U.S. pre-clearance in airports located in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto Pearson, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax.

Pre-clearance has been a boon for business and leisure travel from both nations. For Canadians, having pre-clearance in Canadian airports allows us to land in U.S. airports that have limited or no customs facilities. It nearly doubles the number of American destinations that are accessible directly from Toronto.

The first part of the bill sets out the important aspects of pre-clearance, including where and when new sites can operate, who will have access to the pre-clearance areas, what U.S. pre-clearance officers can and cannot do while working on Canadian soil, and how Canadian police and CBSA officers work with the U.S. officers.

It is at this point that I would like to address some of the concerns that I have heard about this bill. In particular, some have raised a concern that Canadians will have diminished rights in the pre-clearance zones. It is stated, not only in the preamble but also in clause 11, that the operations of pre-clearance by U.S. officers on Canadian soil are subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The preamble states, among other things:

Whereas the exercise of any power and performance of any duty or function under United States law in Canada is subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act;

Clause 11 of the bill states:

A preclearance officer must exercise their powers and perform their duties and functions under this Act in accordance with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

This statement in the preamble and the wording in clause 11 are very important to me. I believe they respond to some of the concerns I have heard. In fact, the bill appears to provide greater protection to Canadian travellers in a pre-clearance zone than we would have at a U.S. border crossing in the United States on American soil. We would not have the protections of the charter, our Bill of Rights, and the Human Rights Act. These are things that are specific to our rights in our country.

I need to underline that there is no compromise on this. Canadians expect us to keep their rights and values top of mind in all of our work, and this is no exception. On this point, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has been abundantly clear.

As it has been clearly established, all pre-clearance activities in Canada must be conducted in compliance with Canadian laws, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There can be no compromise on that. Canadians expect us to always make their rights and values a priority in all of our work, and this is no exception.

The second part of this bill is where we see the reciprocal element come into play. Along with the enforcement authorities that have been provided under U.S. laws, it would give the Canada Border Services Agency the authority to conduct pre-clearance in the U.S., in all modes of transport: land, air, rail, and marine.

This legislation would pave the way to expand the benefits of pre-clearance to any site and any mode of transport in either country pursuant to future agreements.

As we have heard, this legislation will pave the way to expand the benefits of pre-clearance to any site and any mode of transport in either country pursuant to future agreements. Canada and the United States have already announced their intention to begin the expansion with the Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, Montreal's Central Station, and the Rocky Mountaineer Station in British Columbia. These sites were covered by agreements in principle signed during the state visit to Washington last March.

Already in Canada we have made these announcements. The necessary American legislation was adopted last December. It is now time for Canada to do likewise, so we can move forward with this important initiative. Bill C-23 would allow us to build on more than 60 years of pre-clearance co-operation.

I encourage all members to give this legislation their support.