Preclearance Act, 2016

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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 22, 2017

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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 3.‍1 of the enactment provides for an independent review relating to the administration and operation of the Preclearance Act, 2016.

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

June 21, 2017 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States
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 / 12:25 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.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise again to speak to Bill C-23, an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States.

Back in 2011, former prime minister Stephen Harper and former president Barack Obama announced the “Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness”. This declaration—

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My hon. colleague is just three seats away from me and it is absolutely impossible for me to hear him with all the din over here. I would ask members to respect their colleague and to please quiet down and come to order.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague next door.

That declaration had deepened co-operation at the border between Canada and the United States and it would give us an opportunity to exchange best practices. We have successfully launched the automated biometric-based system to counter identity fraud, and we signed a historic agreement on land, rail, and air transport.

We have NEXUS, which is a very simple process to speed the movement of people across the borders from Canada to the United States, and vice versa. I am a proud NEXUS card carrier. I think close to 1.5 million people in Canada have NEXUS cards. It streamlines movement not only in Canada but going to the United States and back.

However, last year I went on a holiday to Mexico and I had to go through customs in the United States. There was a long line of people. My wife pointed out to me that there was a NEXUS line. No one was there, and we had our NEXUS cards. She went through just as slick as could be. I had problems because I put the wrong information in. The lights shone and everything stopped. By the time I answered the questions to verify who I was, corrected the mistakes I had made, and got through, it took about 45 minutes to an hour. My wife looked at me, and she was very mad. I was not sure why. I looked over at the other line that we did not go through, which had been really long, and those people were already gone. I was the last person to go through security.

I bring that up because it was mentioned in the House by some of our opposition members to my left, not across, that their people were having problems, and that the extra authority being given to the border guards under this great Bill C-23 was posing problems. Most of those problems come from either mistakes being made by individuals who are going through, or by their body motions, or the suspicions they might be giving the security guards. It is very important that if our security guards, whether Canadians working on the U.S. side or Americans working on the Canadian side, have reason to believe a person or persons are involved in suspicious activity that they should be able to detain and question them to see what is going on. They cannot hold them, but they can turn them over to Canadian officials, because they are doing those security checks on Canadian land and are subject to Canadian laws.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:15 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 recognize this is good news legislation in the sense that millions of Canadians benefit every year from pre-clearance. I appreciate the story the member across the way put on the record. At the end of the day, Canadians, and Canada as a whole, benefit from pre-clearance. It is important to recognize the economic value of this, whether with respect to our tourism industry or even our products. The potential going forward into the future is really encouraging.

The legislation deals with pre-clearance, meaning individuals and merchandise can be pre-cleared before arriving in the U.S. This allows them to fly to many other jurisdictions in the U.S. which they otherwise would not have been able to if that pre-clearance did not exist. Does the member see this as a very strong thing on which we should continue to move forward?

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. It will speed things up. This is not anything new to Canada. I mentioned in my speech last week about CANPASS, which is the pre-clearance for small private aircraft flying to and from Canada. People give their information an hour before they cross into the U.S. border and because that information is already there, border officials know who is arriving, where they are coming from, and where they are going. Within a few minutes of arriving, they have gone through the customs check. In the past, it often took well over an hour. This will speed up trade and commerce between Canada and the United States, and that is a good thing.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have heard some concerns about the bill with respect to the protections that might exist, and about the way in which screening happens in the United States. However, it is important to underline that we are supporting the bill because the screening that takes place will be on Canadian soil and is subject to Canadian laws and human rights protections. Also, it provides people with better opportunities to leave that situation if they do not like what is going on, opportunities that would not exist if they were being screened on the other side of the border. Therefore, the bill not only facilitates commerce and travel, but also provides for effective protection of human rights.

I wonder if the member could comment on the advantages that come with this legislation, and how it continues the good work that began under former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. U.S. border guards working on Canadian soil to pre-screen Canadians going across into the United States have to do it according to the laws of Canada. Holding people back for a bit of extra questioning is done in accordance with Canadian law. That is good. No one will able to abuse the system.

There are rumours out there that they will have the power to detain and hold Canadians. That is not correct. If there is some suspicion that may lead that way, they have to call Canadian authorities who will then follow the process.

However, it will be good to expedite travel between Canada and the United States, and for trade.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think anyone objects to the notion of pre-clearance. It currently is working fine. The concern is around the additional powers for U.S. officials to, for instance, hold people who have decided they no longer want to cross into the United States. They can hold them for further questioning and continue to keep them within the jurisdiction of that pre-clearance U.S. space.

Could the member explain why we need to give more pre-clearance powers to U.S. officials than those they have now?

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, for persons acting suspiciously, whether at a border crossing or at a road check on the side of a highway where people are pulled over for impaired driving, those who drive up, turn around, and take off, police officers should be suspicious enough to follow them. Those people could be guilty of either impaired driving or another crime, maybe trafficking drugs.

Due diligence and following through is good police work. If people are acting in a very suspicious nature, or are very nervous, or are turning around and leaving, customs officers doing due diligence to protect the rights of Canadians should stop those people to see why they do not want to go through a border check.