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.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Mark Holland LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise again to speak to Bill C-23. I had an opportunity to illuminate many of the great benefits the bill would bring to Canadians in my speech at second reading.

I want to begin my comments by thanking all the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for their work. It is evidenced by the fact that our government adopted all of the committee's amendments, including the NDP amendment for a five year review. There is an excellent relationship between the committee and our ministry in making sure we have the most effective bill possible. It has been a pleasure to work with the committee members, and I want to take the opportunity now at third reading stage to thank them.

It is appropriate that we are speaking to Bill C-23 on the eve of summer. Many Canadians are getting ready for their travel plans, visiting family, or taking a vacation. One of the things they do not want to deal with on vacation is long lines, hassles, and problems getting to where they want to go.

Pre-clearance would help us facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people, making sure people are avoiding long lines, and that they can expand the number of destinations they can go to. In fact, some 12 million passengers each and every year in the airline sector alone already use pre-clearance. Some people may use pre-clearance, and not even realize they do. People flying out of Pearson have the opportunity to go through customs before landing on U.S. soil, which not only accelerates the opportunity for them to get to work, see family, or start their vacation, it also means they get to have that process happen on Canadian soil. I will get back to that in just a moment.

On the range of airports, it means there are a vast number of airports that suddenly open up to airline passengers as if they are domestic travellers. If people want to go to Nashville, for example, in the absence of pre-clearance, they will be in for a lot of transfers. With pre-clearance, they get to go there directly, roughly doubling the number of cities they can travel to as Canadian citizens. That is certainly a big benefit as a traveller.

The other point, which is incredibly important, is that often in this debate, we have a discussion in abstraction about whether or not there will be issues with moving pre-clearance on this side. Aside from the fact that it has already been happening for six decades, there is the point that someone who is already travelling to the United States gets to have that process happen on Canadian soil. The great benefit of that is that individuals have the opportunity to have the full protection of the Canadian charter, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and Canadian law, generally, so that if something were to happen that they did not agree with, there is the opportunity in the process to have that protection on Canadian soil.

It is important to look at this in conjunction with the work we are doing on oversight, more generally, to ensure as we look at our oversight mechanisms more broadly, when someone does have problems, CBSA has independent oversight. Members can see what is proposed with oversight more generally with Bill C-59, which was tabled just yesterday. It was the largest update of our security intelligence framework since the creation of CSIS. It would put in place rigorous and effective oversight, both in the form of a security and intelligence review body, but also in the form of a committee of parliamentarians. I was very pleased to see the Senate adopt BillC-22 without amendment yesterday. It will allow us to bring forward that committee of Parliament.

Therefore, it can be seen that we are looking at oversight, and making sure that the laws and powers that are extended have rigorous oversight. Of course, one of the great advantages of having pre-clearance happen on Canadian soil is the leverage. If something were to go wrong, there is the opportunity to have discussions bilaterally with our U.S. neighbours to ameliorate that.

There have been some questions about different elements of the bill. For example, if people walk into a detention area, they have to explain why they are there. Some people have taken issue with that, saying there should not be unnecessary delays. Of course, that is exactly the language of the bill. One should only be detained for a limited period of time, and it should only be to ascertain necessary information. Some people have asked, why? Very importantly, we could imagine that if somebody walked into a detention area, was just looking around, casing out a pre-clearance zone, and then made a decision to leave, we want to know why they were there, why they showed up. Asking questions in that regard is extremely important.

I spoke to many of these matters when we were at second reading. I want to come to the testimony we heard at committee. The committee had an excellent opportunity to hear from a very wide array of witnesses as to the economic and other benefits that would come as a result of Bill C-23.

We are all aware of the aspirations of the Jean Lesage and Billy Bishop airports. It is important to enumerate and talk about some of the other witnesses we heard from in terms of the benefits of this bill. In conjunction with that, technical briefings were provided to parliamentarians by Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency that expanded upon some of the concerns, and I hope answered them.

I would like to go to the individuals from a variety of sectors such as tourism, Canada-U.S. trade, airports, and others. They told the public safety committee how pre-clearance would benefit their businesses. On that basis, I am going to begin with the tourism industry.

Rocky Mountaineer, one of the sites included in pre-clearance expansion, spoke to committee about how the current customs process works at their station in Vancouver, B.C. With routes that run between Vancouver and Seattle, Rocky Mountaineer currently uses post-clearance customs and immigration processes.

For example, on a southbound journey, U.S. customs and border protection officers conduct customs proceedings on arrival in Seattle. It can take 30 to 45 minutes to clear an entire train upon arrival. With pre-clearance, passengers would be cleared as they arrive to the train station, similar to the experience they go through at one of the eight Canadian airports with pre-clearance operations, some of which I was referring to earlier. Instead of a large group of people arriving simultaneously to be cleared, passengers could be managed as they arrive, and check in for their trip. It would be a more comfortable and manageable experience for passengers, and much more efficient for customs and immigration officers. That is the primary goal of Bill C-23 more broadly, to make the traveller experience more efficient, while maintaining security standards at the border.

As the Business Council of Canada pointed out during its testimony to committee, travellers seek out the path of greatest convenience and least resistance in air travel. It is not just the convenience factor, but there is a major economic benefit to the changes being talked about today. As Canadians or others are contemplating what kind of travelling they may want to do this summer, or any point in the year, they are going to choose the options where they are least inhibited, and are going to be dealing with the least number of headaches. Helping facilitate that is only in our best interest, particularly when we are thinking of foreign visitors who may be attempting to travel in and around North America.

Pre-clearance would give Canada a competitive advantage. It would increase the number of destinations Canadians could travel to directly. I gave examples earlier, and Reagan airport in Washington is another great example. Without pre-clearance facilities, a traveller from Ottawa would not be able to fly directly to Reagan because it does not have customs and immigration facilities. I gave the other example earlier of Nashville.

Once travellers would be pre-cleared in a Canadian airport, they would arrive in the United States just like any other domestic travellers in the U.S. It would let them step off the plane immediately, make a connection, head to a meeting, or begin their vacation, all because they were able to pre-clear at the start of their travels in Canada.

The Business Council of Canada further stated that our country has a great desire for increased trade investment in tourism, and expanding pre-clearance would give a tremendous competitive advantage. It is worth noting that, in an age when there is so much competition for trade and commerce, anything we can do to eliminate obstacles and red tape, and move people, goods, and services in a better fashion is only to our advantage. Where we do not put it in place, we have a competitive disadvantage that is incredibly inhibiting. What we heard in testimony is how important it is to have pre-clearance go through to make sure we continue to have a strong competitive advantage.

Billy Bishop Airport also spoke specifically to this advantage. It has worked extensively to bring pre-clearance to the Toronto Island Airport over the last several years, and would work to implement pre-clearance facilities at its airport with the passage of Bill C-23.

I have had the opportunity to meet with the folks who are responsible for Billy Bishop, and they are ready to go. They foresee enormous economic benefits, not only for that airport, but for the entire greater Toronto region, and of course for the Canadian economy.

Billy Bishop welcomed 2.7 million passengers in 2016 alone, generating $2.1 billion as an economic impact per year. It is a huge amount, and that is before it has pre-clearance. It is the sixth-largest departing airport for U.S.-bound passengers, and the ninth-largest airport in Canada. Expanding pre-clearance to Billy Bishop will promote speed, access to increased destinations, and efficiencies, all without compromising security or safety of the border. In fact, from my earlier comment earlier, it would enhance them. It would make sure that Canadians are getting their pre-clearance done on Canadian soil under the full protection of Canadian law.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is the original example of the benefits of pre-clearance, as the original airport to be granted pre-clearance. As the Greater Toronto Airport Authority testified before committee, each new link or flight route is an opportunity for trade and jobs, something I do not think anybody in this House wants to stand between.

Toronto Pearson has become the fourth-largest air entry point into the United States. It pre-cleared six million passengers last year alone. It has had a 30% increase in pre-clearance traveller growth in the past five years. Quite simply, these numbers demonstrate the undeniable need for expansion and pre-clearance. If we see the benefit and impact of pre-clearance at Pearson, and we imagine Billy Bishop and all the other locations that are contemplating pre-clearance, and we magnify that increase in travel and that increase in commerce, it is not hard to get to a very significant number and the billions of dollars in increased activity for our economy.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada spoke to these benefits as well. It noticed last year that $91.6 billion was generated from tourism revenues in Canada alone. Over 627,000 Canadians are employed in the tourism industry. It is a massive number of people who are counting on us to have a regime that works for them, and facilitates movement of people, goods, and services.

As Canada's tourism industry grows, we must ensure that we are doing all we can to modernize, and expedite the flow of people and products across our border with the United States. Not only does pre-clearance attract tourists, but it can attract the air service, and allow airports to offer enhanced connectivity in an incredibly competitive global industry. It is a huge boon for both travellers and airports.

Canadian airports connect and manage over 133 million passengers each and every year. Of those, 9.8 million are tourists to Canada. In 2015, 12 million travellers were pre-cleared in Canadian airports to travel to the United States. The expansion of pre-clearance to additional airports, and other modes of travel, such as rail, will build on the success of pre-clearance operations. The economic and traveller benefits cannot be overstated. As we heard from many in the tourism, airport, rail, and Canada-U.S. trade industries, these changes are absolutely vital. Bill C-23 would ensure that more Canadians have access to pre-clearance, while making border travel and trade easier, more profitable, and more secure.

Perhaps in the closing time that I have, I can go over some of the concerns that have been raised, and how we think those concerns can be fully addressed. One of the concerns that was raised, both during the committee proceedings and outside of them, was the ability for officers to conduct strip searches of travellers in Canada.

The rules governing searches by U.S. pre-clearance officers will be almost the same under Bill C-23 as they are right now. A U.S. officer will still have to ask a Canadian officer to conduct a search involving the removal of clothing. The only difference is that in a rare circumstance that a Canadian officer is unavailable, the U.S. officer would be able to conduct the search. Any search by an officer of either country would be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is important to note just how rare a circumstance that would be, that a Canadian officer would not be present, but also how important, that if there were not a Canadian officer, that search could still take place.

Sometimes individuals have something on their person that could represent an immediate risk and danger to officers, and if officers are unable to conduct that search, it could put them at great risk, so it is something that cannot be deferred or simply held back.

Some people have asked what protections would exist for a transgender traveller being strip-searched by a U.S. officer. I can say that CBSA has policies in place allowing exceptions to the rule that strip searches must be conducted by an officer of the same sex as the traveller. For instance, in the case of a transgender person, searches of this nature by U.S. preclearance officers in Canada would be conducted in accordance with CBSA procedures and Canadian human rights jurisprudence. U.S. officers would be provided training to ensure that their conduct met these standards. This is yet another benefit of undergoing U.S. border procedures on Canadian soil.

I think I have explained why people have to identify their purpose when they arrive in a preclearance zone, so I will not talk about that any further.

Some people have questioned the term “unreasonable delay”. They have suggested that “unreasonable delay” of someone in a preclearance area is overly vague. Liberals would disagree. The concept of reasonableness is used widely in legislation and case law and usually means that other people in the same situation would reach the same conclusion or behave in the same way.

With respect to officer authorities, it has been used to refer to generally accepted standards. In fact, when the existing preclearance law was being debated in 1999, the NDP at that point argued in favour of adding the word “reasonable” to the section on the use of force as a way of limiting officer authorities. Certainly the NDP, in 1999, agreed that the term was specific enough to provide the protection and coverage required.

Others have questioned whether Bill C-23 would entitle U.S. officers to carry guns in Canadian airport terminals. The answer is no. Let me be very clear on this point. American officers would carry the same weapons as Canadian border officers in the same environment, without exception. Canadian border officers carry firearms at land, rail, and marine ports of entry, so U.S. preclearance officers would do the same. However, Canadian border officers do not carry firearms in airport terminals, so neither would Americans.

The same principle of reciprocity would apply to Canadian officers conducting preclearance in the U.S. One of the important tenets of the agreement reached with the Americans is the element of reciprocity. We would never see U.S.border officers with guns or comporting themselves in ways that would not be applied in the U.S. under similar circumstances.

It is worth mentioning that our hope and aspiration in passing this bill is that not only would preclearance be vastly expanded to include more locations across Canada but that we would see the same economic benefits and the benefits of the rapidity of travel we saw at YYZ . However, we hope, and have every reasonable expectation to believe, that the Americans will themselves also engage in preclearance in the opposite direction, which would have tremendous economic benefits and is something we would open by adopting Bill C-23.

The last question put to us was the question of permanent residents of Canada being denied entry by Canadian preclearance officers in the U.S. That is not a concern. In almost all cases, permanent residents would be treated exactly the same way in preclearance areas as they would be at any other entry point in Canada. The rare exception would be where there was a major issue of inadmissibility, such as serious criminality. Such individuals would still come to Canada, subject to the usual admissibility rules, at an ordinary point of entry. They just would not have the benefit of preclearance.

I hope I was able to outline for the House the tremendous benefits we have before us with Bill C-23. We need to get moving on this so we can help our tourism industry, trade, and Canada more generally.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, for some people, the gut reaction is that we are going to let Americans do that on our soil. Could they do it on Canadian soil and at Canadian airports, or would they have to be on American soil? When people think about it, they will realize that when they are on Canadian soil, they would have the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian law. If we did not have preclearance and people chose to go to American ports of entry, they would have a lot less protection, and the Americans would have more power. I think people would see the benefits of preclearance.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is absolutely right. Sometimes when we say preclearance, it sounds like an abstract concept. People get confused and do not realize that 12 million people a day are already using preclearance in air travel. Anyone who has travelled to the United States from Toronto Pearson, as an example, has already benefited from this. It has been around for six decades, and the only thing we have seen in that period of time is increased trade, greater ease of movement, and greater access to the United States.

The member makes an excellent point that this is for someone who wants to enter the United States or is attempting to leave the country. At some point, people are going to have to be searched, and the question we should ask ourselves is where that should best occur. Is it best to have that happen on U.S. soil, where there is not the protection of Canadian law and the Canadian charter and where we have very little or minor recourse bilaterally in terms of leverage, or is it best to have it on Canadian soil, with Canadian law and Canadian protection, with a reciprocal agreement that very clearly spells out the expectations with regard to how travellers are handled? It would not just be more efficient. It would not just expand benefits to the economy. There is a very strong argument that this would increase Canadians' protection and rights.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Madam Speaker, it is important to understand that the preclearance agreement is not limited to just airports and train stations.

I believe that the agreement is much broader and could even potentially be extended to include other types of transportation.

I invite my colleague to explain in greater detail the scope of the agreement covering all types of transportation for expanding trade with our neighbour to the south.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, I absolutely agree with my colleague’s comments.

The change brought about by the agreement will benefit more than just airports. In my speech, I talked about how it would benefit passenger rail service, particularly in the Rockies, but it would certainly benefit marine transportation, as well. In fact, there are a lot of benefits for cruise ship passengers.

We certainly heard from the cruise ship industry. If we can imagine people who are going to multiple ports of entry in Canada and the U.S., getting those preclearance operations out of the way means they can get to the business of enjoying their cruise. They are not having to go through a whole rigamarole every time they get to a different port.

There are huge advantages to this that extend beyond the airports, and I spoke to some of them in my speech. The hon. member is absolutely correct in highlighting that it is much broader than that.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, I can recall a number of years ago when my wife and I were travelling between Seattle and Vancouver, and as we came into the train station, from Seattle into Vancouver, we were caged off in an area with other travellers as we were properly taken through the process of entry.

Can the member comment on the impact if the reciprocal agreements are made? How would this change the experience of people, and how would it further enhance the economic benefits in travel and tourism generally?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands for sharing his experience. It is important to look at preclearance as one piece in a suite of measures being taken by the government to improve the experience of travelling back and forth across the border. For individuals who do not represent a risk, we want that to be an effortless experience. Obviously, the NEXUS program, the trusted traveller program, is an important component in helping to accelerate it. There are the automated kiosks folks see when they come off a plane. People will notice how fast the experience is as we move in those automated kiosks to accelerate the process.

Preclearance is a component of a broader strategy to help eliminate the kind of experience the member and his wife encountered. Frankly, it is happening every day and is very frustrating for Canadians. At the beginning or end of their trip it is not what they want to be facing. They either want to get to where they are going or they want to get home. We want to make sure we facilitate that.

By enabling it to be allowed on the American side, and by opening it up to more locations on this side, there will be more carefree, worry-free travel. As an example, imagine it from the American side. It could make a difference in someone deciding to visit us or not. If people are looking at their vacation plans, and they have a choice between going to Vancouver or going to Portland, we do not want a negative experience at the border to prohibit them from making a choice to visit Canada and spend their dollars in Canada and help our economy. The suite of things we are working on, not just preclearance, is to get exactly what the hon. member was talking about.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 5 p.m.
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Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, luckily I am already wearing a tie.

One of the major federal issues in my riding concerns the Mont-Tremblant international airport, in La Macaza. This airport is a port of entry with no customs service on site.

In 2008, a motion to concur in a committee report on the matter was unanimously agreed to by the House; it concerned the airport in the community of La Macaza. The motion, moved by my predecessor, Johanne Deschamps, on June 17, 2008, sought to waive the customs charges at the airport. These charges, which do not apply to the largest international airport, can run over $1,000 per airplane, because officers have to come in from Mirabel for each flight.

Bill C-23 finally provides a solution that will allow more international flights to land in our region, which is supported just as much by tourism as by the forestry industry. By eventually having Canadian preclearance services throughout the United States, we will have the opportunity to have a port of entry that we will really be able to use.

I would like my colleague, the member for Ajax, to give us an idea of the process and the timeframes involved in reaching agreements that will allow tourists to visit the Upper Laurentians by having international flights service the Mont-Tremblant international airport in La Macaza directly. This would also be a boon for the Aéro Loisirs flight school and aviation as a whole.

This is also a great help to a region such as ours that relies so heavily on the airline industry, like other similar airports and communities across the country.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I know it is the end of the sitting and I am happy to rise to debate Bill C-23. The ability for me to speak on it is a privilege.

My friend, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, seemed to end the sitting a little early. He was already changing into Hawaiian shirts for the summer. He did not have his tie on. I have a lot of time for the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, particularly his concern for our men and women in uniform. I know he has been advocating on some mental health reforms, which have had him at odds with the Minister of Veterans Affairs sometimes. I respect him for doing that. I will chide him, but I will also compliment him. He also attended the Highway of Heroes Durham Light Armoured Vehicle launch in Durham last year, and that was an honourable thing to do. When he is appropriately attired, he is a very good member in this place.

Today, I want to take the time I am privileged to have to talk, for a moment, about the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship. It has been commented on throughout the history of Canada. In many ways, we can look to Canada as a country of evolution as opposed to revolution, as one historian said. We certainly both had our roots in the British influence, although of course Canada had two founding nations in France as well. We have the parliamentary democracy in our system of government that we owe to that time. Then Canada evolved with Confederation, which we will be celebrating on July 1, recognizing 150 years of the Dominion of Canada.

Then the statute of Westminster, which kind of cut the cord with the mother country, so to speak, allowed us to emerge following the Great War. Our independent actions were celebrated, quite rightly, in France in April, with the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. Canada very much earned its place on the world state through the blood, sweat, and efforts of our forebearers.

No relationship is more important to us than the U.S. relationship.

Each prime minister has brought their own approach to it, but I do not think any of them would say it is not the most fundamental relationship of which the Prime Minister needs to think.

In fact, the father of the current Prime Minister is quite famous for his quote, which he delivered in Washington. with respect to the U.S. relationship. He said that Canada “is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant...where we feel every twitch and grunt.” That is true. When the American economy stalled in the years of the great recession, it really took the leadership of Stephen Harper and the Conservative government to ensure we were not pulled into the depths of the global recession and the great recession the Americans saw in the United States. I am very proud we did not see that disruption, with hundreds of thousands of people permanently displaced from the workforce. In Canada, we saw a net job gain in excess of a million jobs at the end of the recession.

At times, our policies are similar. At times, we collaborate. Many times in our great history of two countries, we fought alongside one another.

I had the honour as an MP on the veterans affairs committee, to visit the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery, some of the most hallowed ground in the United States. Mackenzie King erected a Cross of Sacrifice to the hundreds of Americans who died in the Great War, fighting with Canadian units. We recognize that in both the First World War and the Second World War, Canada was in the war faster than the United States, despite attempts by the government to suggest we had 150 years of peacekeeping in our past. We were in those conflicts alongside our allies and alongside our values before our friends in the United States and their own sons and, in some cases, daughters came to Canada to help the war effort.

We have a proud history as friends, as trading partners, as collaborators, as people who fought and bled together.

In all of those things, along with familial ties, and I am sure a lot of us in this chamber have relatives living and working in the United States, create a bond that is precious. Therefore, the relationship between Canada and the United States of America is critical.

Conservative governments throughout our history, particularly the Harper government and the Mulroney government, took that relationship very seriously, a relationship of equals, fighting for deals, fighting for agreements that were in our national interest. We can get along with a friend, an ally, a neighbour, but we can also fight for our own interests.

The reason I have this long prologue to my speech is because Bill C-23 represents probably the most one-sided ineffective deal I have seen in my four years in politics. I bring to that experience from my time in the military and the private sector.

The relationship between Canada and the United States, under the current Prime Minister, has been a one-sided relationship with two U.S. presidents now. This has been the history of the Liberals. We saw the antagonism under the Chrétien government, with officials from the Prime Minister's Office having to resign for publicly criticizing a U.S. president. One of the Liberal members from Mississauga made inappropriate comments about a head of state. We have seen that relationship frayed and abused under the Liberal governments, and this is a perfect example.

I will use Bill C-23 as the example of that erosion because it comes out of the Prime Minister's trip to Washington last March. On that day, as he is apt to do, the Prime Minister issued a tweet from Washington, which stated, “There is no relationship in the world quite like the Canada-US relationship.” I would agree.

Months later, the Prime Minister introduced President Obama in this chamber, the then president of the United States, before he left office. He embarrassed many of us in the House when he then referred to the two of them as a “bromance” and that these speeches would be an example of “dudeplomacy”. I hope Hansard can get that right. It is an anagram using the words “dude” and “diplomacy”. It is unbefitting for the Prime Minister of Canada to introduce the then president of the United States in our House of Commons that way. It was the same podium where Winston Churchill spoke and gave the “Some chicken! Some neck!” speech in the midst of the Second World War. To now have a Prime Minister who uses such laughable and immature terms shows why our relationship with the United States is fraying.

With that bromance in mind, how did Canada fare under the current Liberal government and President Obama? Within months of the Liberals assuming office, the president cancelled Keystone XL, a pipeline that would have ensured that Canadians got the fair world price, or a more, for our resources. It was a project championed by Canadian industry, by people who get their hands dirty in the oil sands in Alberta. Corporate Canada wanted to fund and finance it so our resource could be refined and we could have multiple options to get a better world price. He cancelled that deal because he knew the new Liberal Prime Minister would simply accept that.

Ironically, the change in politics in the United States has led to a president who is re-evaluating that deal, because Keystone has virtually zero impact on climate change. That assessment is from the U.S. State Department.

Therefore, Obama knew that he would receive silence from the Prime Minister with respect to a decision that hurt our economy and particularly hurt the province of Alberta, which we know is suffering terribly at the moment. Therefore, we lost Keystone under the bromance.

What else did Canada get? President Obama praised the Prime Minister's carbon tax scheme and carbon pricing across the country. However, we certainly did not see President Obama introducing a carbon tax regime in the United States. Therefore, by praising the ill-informed move of the Canadian Prime Minister, President Obama allowed the Prime Minister to put Canada and our North American integrated economy at a disadvantage. The manufacturing facilities in the auto sector and other industries in southern Ontario compete against U.S. plants for business.

The Bakken shale deposit in Saskatchewan does not end at the Canada-U.S. border. Therefore, if there is going to be an input cost for carbon at a plant in Windsor, because of the Prime Minister and Kathleen Wynne plan, and there is not in Michigan mere kilometres away, where do members think the new vehicle will go?

I had the honour of being legal counsel for Procter & Gamble in Brockville. I was very proud that. For many years, every Swiffer pad members used in their homes was made there, in Canada, by people in Ontario. However, these plants are integrated. Of course, consolidation of manufacturing is now happening at an American plant and it has announced the closure of the largest employer in Brockville.

The U.S. president at the time, Mr. Obama, watched as the Liberal Prime Minister put Canada's economy at a competitive disadvantage.

The third issue is defence. Mr. Obama mentioned that in the chamber as well, asking Canada to step up more to meet our NATO requirement, which is 2% of GDP. In the last two weeks, the government released, with great fanfare, a defence policy, but it is fantasy. The Liberals' first two budgets cut $12 billion from defence. However, if we trust them, sometime before 2026, they will put more money back in.

I judge people not by their words but by their actions. I had quoted Mark Twain for the Liberal government. “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” The government has platitudes aplenty, but very little action when it comes to supporting our Canadian Armed Forces and supporting our manufacturing and resource sectors.

That brings me to Bill C-23. I am glad my friends on that side are still listening at this point. Hopefully they will see I am right.

Why do I call this the worst deal in Canadian-U.S.?

Some members agree with it and some do not, but the Prime Minister's signature promise was to legalize marijuana. Therefore, this preclearance bill should have anticipated that move. However, I will tell people why this is the most comprehensive change to customs agreements between Canada in the United States.

We are giving the Americans the ability to have American officials search Canadians on Canadian soil, and I wish I were kidding. In clause 5, definitions, of Bill C-23 are frisk search and strip search. I am sad to say this late in the sitting, but in clause 23 is a monitored bowel movement. Therefore, it is an unprecedented, literally, level of access and powers, five enumerated grounds of powers for U.S. officials on our soil, including the gathering of biometric data.

What did we get in return?

The United States and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ICE, did not even agree to remove one simple question on preclearance: “Have you ever smoked marijuana?” The Prime Minister could not even get that one question removed from the U.S. preclearance. Why is that important? Because, despite Colorado and some of the U.S. states, if a Canadian answers “yes” to that question, he or she can be banned from the United States. Therefore, people will be losing jobs, and we are already hearing of that, at a time when the government is legalizing marijuana.

The Liberal government seems to forget its evidence-based decision-making, which the Liberals talked a lot about in opposition, including my friend for Winnipeg North. It is bad for the public's health. The Canadian Medical Association has criticized this decision. It is also bad on public safety and customs.

Canadians may think it is all fine because the Liberals are legalizing marijuana, but the Americans can still ask them that question, and they can then be banned from travel to the United States.

I was intrigued when the member for Yukon rose in debate here, because the other disaster of the March 10 agreement in Washington was what the Prime Minister did to our Arctic. With zero consultation with the Inuit and first nations of our north, the Prime Minister unilaterally agreed with President Obama to restrict 10% of our waterways and 17% of our land mass in the Arctic from development. Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. I guess he missed the duty to consult there. President Obama asked him to do it, and he gave a cursory phone call to territorial and aboriginal leaders mere hours before he pledged to give away their right to determine their destiny.

I heard about it when I was in Yukon. I know my former colleague, Leona Aglukkaq, was outraged by the Prime Minister's acting in that fashion. Right now the Prime Minister has not even been to Yukon. He has been to private islands and all over the world, but he has not been to Yukon, and we have no cabinet representation from our Arctic. That was another disaster from the March 10 agreement in Washington.

The Prime Minister and President Obama also talked about the Paris accord, but as I said before, although President Obama praised the Liberal carbon tax, he certainly did not emulate it, and we are now falling further and further behind when it comes to competitiveness on a North American basis.

Bill C-23 is the culmination of a one-way relationship: the Americans get what they want, and under this Prime Minister, Canada accepts. With Bill C-23, the Liberals could not even get the Americans to take one preclearance question out of the ICE questions they can ask Canadians. They could not even get one question removed, but they are prepared to allow American officials to search our people on Canadian soil and they think that is fine.

The relationship between our two countries is critical, but it is also critical to look at it as a relationship of equals. So far, all that I have seen the current government achieve in Washington is a state dinner, tickets for family and friends, and lots of photos. In fact, if we look at the tweets, the public safety minister was more impressed with tours of the Oval Office in Washington in March than he was in securing a deal in Canada's interests. At a time when we are seeing our auto and resources industries falling farther and farther behind, with marijuana becoming legal, people feel they can just voluntarily tell an American official that they have smoked marijuana. They probably do not know that they could lose their ability to travel for work because the Liberals could not get that one question removed.

Finally, the most egregious element of that day in Washington that led to Bill C-23 was the mistreatment of our Arctic and the lack of respect for our Inuit and first nations. The Prime Minister, who talks about healing the relationship as being central to the current government, gave a courtesy phone call to territorial leaders minutes before announcing that he was restricting their ability to be the masters of their destiny over their traditional lands and their traditional waterways.

I am glad my friends on the government side have listened intently. I hope they can reflect on these elements and how critical it is for Canada to have a mature foreign policy with our friends in the United States. I hope they can come back in the fall and rein in the Prime Minister and tell him that we want deals that are not just good for Canada, for our workers, for our first nations, and for our aboriginal people, but we want to make sure that our friends in the United States take us seriously. It is more than just tweets, photos, and state dinners; it is about getting a result that is good for Canada.

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June 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, I was going to ask the member opposite if he is worried about the cannabis question because he is afraid of saying yes.

On a more serious note, the access to information, privacy and ethics committee has recently undertaken a study of the protection of Canadians' privacy at the border and in the United States. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and the ACLU testified at committee recently. We walked through the guidance from the government to the CBSA. There was an argument over the extent of the privacy protections, and although there are substantive protections in place for searches, particularly of electronic devices at the border, we heard from the ACLU that there are zero protections for Canadians crossing United States borders and that Canadians who refuse a full search of their electronic devices would be sent back to Canada.

When we talk about preclearance and the protection of Canadians' privacy rights, is it not important to have the searches and questioning of Canadians take place on Canadian soil, with Canadian laws and Canadian protections?

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June 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I like the member for Beaches—East York for two reasons. I used to live in Beaches, and I like him and the neighbourhood a lot. I also like how he gives people in what used to be called the Langevin Block some headaches. I hope he continues to do that in the run-up to announcing his bid for the NDP leadership. Was I not supposed to say that?

I will answer for the benefit of my friend in Winnipeg North, who has been a good friend the last few weeks. I have quoted him at length, not from this Parliament but the last one. I know he does not like that, so I will answer the question. The answer is no, because I wanted to join the Canadian Armed Forces.

However, I did think in the last Parliament that we should have modernized our approach to cannabis, and I was on the record about that. I and the former Toronto police chief, now a member of this place, had some good debates on that question.

The member has raised a good point. The only way that Canadians can assure themselves of their privacy protections and protections against search and other things granted in Bill C-23 is to withdraw from preclearance, which means not to go to the United States. It is in the bill.

As I said, this was an example of three things that were rushed that day in Washington, and we should take more time to get it right.

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June 21st, 2017 / 5:25 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the speech of my hon. friend from Durham was riveting. There is just one really big problem with the thesis, which is that this terrible bill—and I agree with him on that—is not the product of bad negotiations by the current government, but bad negotiations under Stephen Harper, because the preclearance bill was negotiated and concretized in 2015 between the previous government and the Obama administration.

The U.S. Congress passed its version of the bill back in early December. This version, we were told in committee, is take it or leave it, because it is already in an agreement that was negotiated under Stephen Harper. I believe it is better to leave it than to take it, but I did want to correct that aspect of my friend from Durham's narrative, as riveting as it was.

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June 21st, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to respond to my friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands. I enjoyed my time in her lovely riding during my travels in the last eight months.

She is partially correct. The last government was very close to a deal, but this was one of areas that led to its not being confirmed. In fact, Prime Minister Harper at the time was very well known for his strong advocacy for Keystone, even in the U.S., where he said it was a no-brainer. The member is only partially right. This was a central negotiation point because Harper fought for deals in Canada's interest. I have yet to see this from the current Prime Minister.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-23 today. Since the last time this came up in the House, we have gone through the committee review process, and I would now like to share some of my thoughts.

I would like to begin, though, by reiterating why we, New Democrats, are opposed to Bill C-23. First, it grants egregious powers to American officers on Canadian soil. I want to make it clear that we recognize the benefits of preclearance, which is already happening. That is why we have to wonder why expanding a system that is already working very well means giving American officers all of these additional powers. We never did get an answer to that question from the minister or other experts who testified in favour of the bill.

The government's main argument, which we heard earlier in the parliamentary secretary's speech, is about the economic benefit of expanding the preclearance process, which would happen in more airports, train stations, and eventually, border crossings.

If that is the only argument in favour of doing this, we need to ask ourselves what justifies these additional powers.

Let us go through some of the powers to be given to American agents, on Canadian soil, through the bill and through the deal that was been signed by the Government of Canada and the U.S. administration.

First, there is the excessive powers of American agents in a situation where a traveller chooses to leave a preclearance zone. The minister assures us this is okay, that it simply has to do with the safety and integrity of these preclearance zones. We have police, CBSA officers, and other forms of security in airports already. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why an American agent would be given the power, on Canadian soil, to question a Canadian who chooses to leave the preclearance zone and, even in some cases, detain that individual under the vague language in the bill.

A Canadian would rightfully say that this seems reasonable, that if someone leaves the preclearance zone, it must be suspicious. That is not the case. We have seen some of the treatment Canadian citizens receive at the border. They are victims of American agents based on their religious beliefs, or the colour of their skin or their country of origin. This was testimony at committee. Who is to say that Canadians of certain origins might decide that an abusive line of questioning is not something they are willing to accept, so they decide to take their bags and go home. That would be sufficient reason to leave the preclearance zone. Unfortunately, under the bill, and under the agreement, that would allow the American officer, on Canadian soil, to potentially go all the way to detain them and interrogate them. We find that unacceptable.

The other very important matter has to do with strip searches, another issue raised by the parliamentary secretary. We can all agree that we give up some of our rights when we go through customs. For instance, we allow our luggage to be searched. Still, I have difficulty understanding why we should allow American agents to search Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

The bill states that if no Canadian agents are available or willing to do the search, perhaps because they do not consider it necessary, an American agent may do it. The minister justified this by saying that it is nothing to worry about because in the 60 years that preclearance has existed, no Canadian agent has ever been unavailable or unwilling to do a search.

Just because the exception happens to prove the rule in this case does not mean that this legislation safeguards the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

Legislation cannot be drafted on the premise that the exceptions prove the rule. Our legislation must be robust and comprehensive in order to ensure that there are no potential loopholes that would allow the rights of Canadians to be violated on Canadian soil.

The other issue is with regard to the carrying of firearms. The bill, based on reciprocity found in the agreement, would exempt American agents from elements of the Criminal Code that would normally prevent an American agent officer from carrying firearms on Canadian soil.

The minister has assured us that there are memoranda of understanding that it is reciprocity, and that this would only happen in places where Canadian border officers are already carrying firearms. The example the minister gave was at Pearson airport where the Peel Regional Police ensures security. The American agents would not be carrying firearms because Canadian agents do not. It is the local police that ensure the security of the airport.

I asked the minister in committee if he could tell me, given the fact that the bill would specifically create these Criminal Code exemptions, if there was any other legal provision or protection beyond memoranda of understanding, which have no legal authority, and the agreement, that would prevent an American border officer from carrying a firearm. The response received was no response at all. There are no guarantees to say there is any legal remedy for an American officer that might be in said airport, for example, at Pearson, on Canadian soil carrying a firearm. That is not acceptable.

In committee, we identified a number of problems with the process. I asked officials from the Department of Public Safety a question in order to find out what regulatory changes would be made. The government is making regulatory changes to address the cases of people who are exempt from certain procedures. Take, for example, employees who work in a port and who would need access to a preclearance area to do their job every day. They would not be subject to American authority while at work, which is the least we could expect. These are the kinds of exemptions that the regulations would change.

In committee, we debated a bill that makes fundamental changes, yet no one was able to tell us what regulations would be changed. Everyone knows that regulations are not subject to debate in the House because parliamentarians do not vote on them. One fundamental problem with the changes made by the agreement and by Bill C-23 has to do with the minister's discretionary power.

I will give the department credit because it did provide a written answer to my questions. However, in the written answer, the department indicated that it was uncertain which regulations would be affected. We think it is unacceptable that we are not being given a definitive answer on this.

The government's main argument around all these issues around Canadians' rights potentially being violated by American border officers on Canadian soil is not to worry because Canadian law and charter rights apply. That is what the bill says, but what would the bill actually do?

In committee, witness after witness reminded us that, because of the State Immunity Act and how the bill is drafted, there really is no legal remedy. Even the Conservative public safety critic sitting on the committee, the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, agreed that there is no legal recourse.

Why is that important? The protections accorded to us as Canadians by law and charter, if those rights are violated, what do we need to do? We need to go to court to uphold those rights. If we cannot bring the American officer to court, based on how this bill is drafted, then there is no remedy. Those charter protections are just words on paper and not given force of law and force of our constitutional rights. That is totally unacceptable to us.

A specific argument was raised both in committee and here in the House. The Liberals claimed they were bound by the agreement to enact certain provisions, and that they were sorry if some members did not like it. They added that the agreement was negotiated and signed under the previous Conservative government and under the Obama administration, and not under the current president, and we have to live with it.

It takes courage to say that this is a bad agreement. After the study in committee, where we heard from groups like the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, various associations representing Canadians from countries targeted by President Trump's executive orders, and the Canadian Bar Association, we concluded that it was a bad agreement. It takes courage to tell the Americans that we will not allow the rights of Canadians to be jeopardized because of the presence of American agents on Canadian soil. I think that is the minimum we can do.

The Prime Minister himself actually said that if Canadians are subject to racial profiling or their rights are violated at customs, at least it will happen in Canada where they are protected by Canadian laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What this really tells me is that we currently have a serious problem regarding how American agents are treating Canadian citizens at the border. The situation is completely unacceptable.

The previous government signed the agreement. The former public safety minister, now the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, signed the agreement with his American counterpart, but the Conservatives did not get the bill through the House to set up the legislative measures needed to implement the agreement. I gather from what they said in committee that the Conservatives felt there were problems with the agreement. They may not be as disappointed as us about the loopholes this will create, but even the Conservatives on the committee recognized that it would not be appropriate for an American officer to strip search someone on Canadian soil.

It is about time, when it comes to dealing with the Americans, that we have a government that understands that when we negotiate, we do not just give. We have to get something in return, and in this agreement, beyond the expansion of where pre-clearance takes place, all we have seen here is the government being really willing to roll over, and give all these new powers to American agents on Canadian soil.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I were a member of the government, and saw how things were going in the Senate and the position the Liberals have put themselves in, I suppose I would be stirring around in the House in the same way.

We realize that the Liberals have said they are disappointed in withdrawing from Paris, and they remain completely silent on the matter of Trump's travel ban, which was outright discrimination, and flew in the face of everything we should stand for as Canadians. This is exactly what we have here with this agreement.

Once again, we see Liberal MPs in committee saying, “It is too bad. That is what the agreement is, and we have to live with it.” No, we as New Democrats refuse to just live with it. We will not accept creating loopholes in legislation just for economic gain, which we acknowledge pre-clearance can bring, just to give all these extra powers that just simply are not necessary.

If pre-clearance, as it happens today, right now, before the adoption of this legislation, is so great, as the government tells us, I keep asking the same question that I asked at the outset of my speech. Why do the Americans need all these new powers? I guess the answer would be simply because they asked for them. That is not justification enough for creating a situation where American officers can limit Canadians' rights on Canadian soil. We will not accept that.

I want to wrap up by saying that we proposed a number of amendments in committee that would have added the necessary legal protection. We even wanted to change the word “sex” to “gender” to protect transgender people.

I remember that, on the day of the photo with the pride flag and the Prime Minister in front of Parliament, everyone was running up for a picture, as usual. The government was too chicken to agree to that change so the language of the bill would be in sync with the times, open, and inclusive. They are happy to do photo ops, but they refuse to protect transgender Canadians in the legislation, and yet they go on about walking the talk.

We proposed amendments that would have guaranteed protections for Canadians. A strip search would be conducted only by a Canadian agent on Canadian soil. The government rejected that. We also proposed amendments to ensure clearer language, for instance regarding something the bill calls “lawful authority”. This is important considering how the bill is currently drafted. In fact, “lawful authority” could be an executive order. It could be the kind of executive order that states that all travellers, whether they are Canadian from Canada or from anywhere else in the world, who enter the United States must unlock their cellphone and social networks. This could be unconstitutional and yet this bill leaves the door wide open to that.

Once again, that is completely unacceptable.

We see the uncertainly with regard to the cavalier way in which the current U.S. administration treats cellphones at the border, for example. A Canadian from Vancouver was turned away at the Washington state border because American agents went through his cellphone. When they realized his sexual orientation, they were afraid he was going to the U.S. to be a sex worker.

Who is to say we will not see that kind of thing happen on Canadian soil? It is very possible with the way the bill is drafted.

In closing, I want to reiterate that when it comes to free trade agreements or any other agreement to be negotiated with the United States, Europe, or any other country we might deal with, we in the NDP will never agree to sacrificing the rights and freedoms of Canadians, especially on Canadian soil, let alone for an administration like the current American administration. That is non-negotiable.

We recognize the economic benefits of preclearance and the convenience of it under the current regime. However, there is nothing to justify negotiating an agreement that gives the big end of the stick, in fact the only stick, to American agents, on Canadian soil, to breach the rights of Canadians. We will never will stand for that.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:45 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on the work he has done on the bill. I also thank him for his expression of support of the notion of preclearance but highlighting the fact that the bill goes above and beyond simply preclearing people in Canada. It actually presents significant threats to the rights of Canadians on Canadian soil. He raised the example of American border agents being able to compel Canadians to provide their passwords to their phones and then being able to look through them.

Under the bill, Canadians will not be allowed, if they feel they have been treated unfairly, to simply walk away. Once they are in the hands of American border agents, despite being on Canadian soil, they will be unable to leave.

Could the member expand a bit more on what that means for Canadians? We are told by the government that Canadians ought not to worry because this will happen on Canadian soil and they will enjoy the full protection of Canadian law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. My understanding is that this is simply not true.

Could he better explain the mechanics of how the bill would deprive Canadians of the usual protection of law they would expect on their home soil?

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:50 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the issue of cellphones. I had the opportunity to sit in on the ethics committee just last week when it was doing a study of privacy at the border. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, and even their American counterpart, the ACLU, were talking about how critical this issue is. The two Canadian associations represented on that panel both raised the issue of the language in Bill C-23 with regard to pre-clearance and the consequences that can have, given a future presidential executive order that might come down relating to the search of cellphones.

The fact is, the parliamentary secretary, on a media panel we did when the bill was first debated in the House, said that we need not worry because there is an internal departmental directive. I am sorry, but I am not going to protect Canadians' rights with an internal departmental directive. I want it to happen in the legislation that is tabled in the House of Commons. This leads us to another debate, which is the fact that we need to update our laws based on how we treat cellphones at the border, but that is a whole other discussion in and of itself.

Regarding the specific question as to the actual remedies that exist, charter rights and Canadian law are mentioned in the bill as applying, but if we cannot take the person committing the offence to court because of other parts of the bill, then we have no legal remedy. What good are those protections if we cannot actually have them upheld in court and have any sort of consequence on the American officer, in this case, committing the offence? It is not just me who is saying that, but it is what, among others, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, told us in committee with regard to how the State Immunity Act plays out in this legislation.

Members do not have look to New Democrats, but they need to look to committee testimony from the independent witnesses and experts who specifically told us that this would be an issue. As I said, even my Conservative counterpart agreed with me. The Conservative public safety critic said that there would be no remedy, and he is a lawyer, so we can take his word for it, too.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am also a lawyer, but the member does not have to take my word for it either.

I was very pleased to be at the table at committee, although, again, I would have rather had my rights restored to present amendments at report stage. However, I did present about 12 amendments on Bill C-23 at clause-by-clause in committee.

To zero in on what is wrong with the bill, it is the nitty-gritty areas, and I completely agree with my colleague's speech. If we look at what is called “traveller’s obligations” in the bill , when a traveller is in this pre-clearance zone, which is still Canadian territory, it is interesting that if the traveller chooses to withdraw, the traveller does not just have to answer questions from the pre-clearance officer for purposes of identification, but the traveller must also provide reasons to assist the agent in determining the person's reason for withdrawing. The person should not have to offer a reason for deciding, on Canadian soil, to leave a place where he or she is being made to feel uncomfortable for any reason.

Again, as the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association said:

We are aware of no sufficiently compelling justification to eliminate the right to withdraw in situations where there is no reasonable suspicion of an unlawful purpose on the part of the traveller.

I think we in this place agree generally that pre-clearance is a good and convenient thing for travellers, but is it worth taking the risk of reducing the charter-protected rights of Canadians? It is fine to say that the U.S. officers operating on Canadian soil will be trained on how to apply the charter, but it seems to me that U.S. agents on U.S. soil seem to be only dimly aware of their own Bill of Rights, and therefore, I do not think they are going to become experts on our charter.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:50 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that my colleague is also a lawyer, I will take her word for it as well, with pleasure. I was pleased to support many of her amendments. Many NDP amendments, if not quite identical, sought to accomplish the same goals. I want to thank her, in particular, for some of the amendments she proposed to change the language to protect permanent residents from some of these egregious powers. They could be particularly victimized in the event that they chose to withdraw from the preclearance zone. As MPs working with many permanent residents on the path to citizenship, we would not want these overarching powers for Americans to threaten their ability to get citizenship.

More specifically, to the notion of how things are perceived by an American officer versus a Canadian one, an issue with this bill is what would be considered reasonable suspicion. With some of the horror stories we have heard in the news lately, when even groups like the Girl Guides of Canada do not want to travel to the U.S. anymore because of how they might be treated at the border, we know that the threshold for reasonable suspicion is very different for an American officer than for a Canadian one. That is the problem when it comes to these kinds of situations. That is why my colleague and I proposed the amendments we did.

People may choose to withdraw from the preclearance zone because, for example, they refuse to answer a question like, “Why do you go to that mosque?” That is obviously a question that is purely racist in intent. When a question like that is posed, and a person says he or she will go home and not be treated that way, as the bill stands right now, that could be considered reasonable suspicion, which would lead to the detention measures, and so forth, in the bill. That is not something New Democrats are going to accept.

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June 21st, 2017 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to congratulate my colleague on his very informative speech. His expertise never ceases to amaze. I am very proud to work with him.

I have a question for him. He provided a lot of information on the reasons for his opposition to and dissatisfaction with the bill. I have a rather simple question about the botched nature of the bill and the many gaps in it.

A few months ago, we might have thought that the Liberals had an idea, a tactic, or a reason for acting the way they are, but does it not just boil down to incompetence? They are being lazy and introducing flawed bills. I see it in so many other areas. I would like my colleague's opinion on that.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

June 21st, 2017 / 6:55 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his kind words. He is praising me while the government is criticizing me.

This is very important. As I said, it is not as though we were debating a bill on a free trade agreement. This bill is on an agreement that was negotiated by the previous government. The Liberals tried to get out of it by saying that it was not their fault and that they had to make do. As I said in my speech, they could have simply renegotiated the agreement. There is no hope of renegotiating it with the current president because we know how that will go. Nonetheless, they had a year to work with another president with whom they had a positive relationship. They could have considered this possibility at the time.

That being said, it is also important to remember that, in March 2016, when the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was in Washington with the Prime Minister, they reiterated their support for this agreement. Let us stop blaming the previous government. The Liberals have to take responsibility for the fact that they are party to a bad agreement that violates Canadians' rights and freedoms, particularly with regard to American officers on Canadian soil. They need to take responsibility for that.

They support the bill. If they were not so lazy, as my colleague said, and if they really wanted to protect Canadians' right and freedoms, they would go back to the Americans and tell them that they will not go along with this measure. That is certainly what we would have done.

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
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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.

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

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

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to discuss Bill C-23, which would allow for the expansion of pre-clearance operations. This is the system that, for over 60 years, has allowed travellers in Canadian airports, currently Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto Pearson, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, to go through American customs and immigration procedures in Canada. It saves travellers having to wait in long customs lineups once they arrive in the U.S., enables direct flights to U.S. airports that otherwise only accept domestic travel, and allows Canadians to undergo American border procedures while under the protective umbrella of Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution. This arrangement, which is currently in place in eight of our airports, has been an overwhelming success for ordinary Canadians as well as for Canadian business.

Recently, the Minister of Public Safety told the House:

Four hundred thousand people move back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border every single day and $2.4 billion in trade moves back and forth across that border every day. We have to make that border secure and we have to make it efficient for the movement of people and goods.

In listening to the debate on this bill, it seems that there is widespread agreement among hon. members that pre-clearance is a good thing, and I am glad to hear that. However, I have also heard members of the NDP and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands say that while they are in favour of pre-clearance, they want it to continue under the current legislative framework, and they do not understand why new legislation is necessary. I have also heard from constituents who have expressed concerns about the bill because of misinformation, so I appreciate this opportunity to explain it.

The short answer is this. If we stick with the current legislative framework, we remain stuck with the current pre-clearance locations, with no opportunity to expand to other locations, such as the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City, Montreal Central Station, and the Rocky Mountaineer in Vancouver. If, on the other hand, we want more Canadians in more parts of the country to reap the considerable full benefits of pre-clearance, including more convenient travel to and trade with the United States, the way to do that is to pass this bill.

In my opinion, the most important thing to bear in mind is this: Canadians will continue to travel to the U.S., whether or not we have pre-clearance. However, with this pre-clearance legislation in place, U.S. officers must exercise their duties in accordance with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Ports of entry within the United States have none of these safeguards.

Without pre-clearance service at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, it could not offer direct flights to almost half its destinations in the United States, because those airports do not have customs and immigration facilities. With pre-clearance, it has direct flights to 50 U.S. airports, as opposed to only 27 if pre-clearance did not exist.

Pre-clearance operations necessarily involve two countries, in this case Canada and the United States. Therefore, any expansion requires both countries to agree. This agreement has been reached. It is called the Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance Agreement, and implementing legislation must be passed in both countries for it to take effect.

The United States adopted its required legislation last December, with unanimous support in both Houses of Congress. The Canadian legislation needed to implement the agreement and expand pre-clearance is the bill before us now.

Here is the choice we face. Pass Bill C-23 and open the door to pre-clearance in new Canadian locations and on new modes of transport, pre-clearance of cargo, and Canadian pre-clearance in the United States, or do not pass Bill C-23 and achieve none of that. Given the tremendous upside of expanded pre-clearance, there would have to be something really terrible about this bill to justify denying Canadians the economic and travel benefits it would bring.

Certainly, the reaction from the NDP and the Green Party to the provisions laying out the authorities granted to U.S. pre-clearance officers gives the impression that Bill C-23 is the worst bill we have seen. However, when we read those parts of the legislation, they are, frankly, moderate and reasonable and quite similar to the legislative framework already in place.

For example, under existing law, U.S. pre-clearance officers can conduct frisk searches. Likewise, under Bill C-23, U.S. pre-clearance officers can conduct frisk searches.

Under existing law and under Bill C-23, a U.S. pre-clearance officer may detain a traveller if there are reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has committed an offence, and the traveller must be transferred as soon as possible to Canadian custody. Under existing law, a pre-clearance officer may detain a traveller for the purpose of a strip search and must request a Canadian officer to conduct the search. Likewise, under Bill C-23, a U.S. pre-clearance officer may detain a traveller for the purpose of a strip search and must request a Canadian officer to conduct the search. The only difference here is that U.S. officers can conduct a search themselves in the very unlikely event that a Canadian officer is unavailable.

In the existing law and in Bill C-23, the provisions governing use of force by American officers are virtually identical. The provisions laying out the penalties for lying to or obstructing pre-clearance officers are exactly identical. Neither the existing law nor Bill C-23 confers any powers of arrest whatsoever on U.S. officers in Canada. Moreover, under both existing law and under Bill C-23, travellers are free to withdraw from the pre-clearance area. The only change is that withdrawing travellers would be required to say who they are and why they are leaving. The intent here is simply to address the problem of travellers entering pre-clearance areas to probe for weaknesses in border security before withdrawing undetected.

With regard to arming, U.S. pre-clearance officers would be permitted to carry only the same weapons as Canadian border service officers in the same environment. In other words, since Canadian border service officers do not carry firearms in airport terminals in Canada, neither would their American counterparts. By the way, this provision, like the entire pre-clearance agreement with the United States, is reciprocal. That means that if Canadian pre-clearance officers eventually begin conducting operations in the United States, they will similarly be allowed to carry the same weapons as American officers in the same circumstances.

Therefore, this is not, as some have styled it, a ceding of sovereignty. Rather, it is a mutually beneficial agreement that would confer the same authorities and obligations on both parties.

Above all, as I mentioned earlier, U.S. pre-clearance officers operating on Canadian soil would have to conduct themselves in accordance with Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To put that in practical terms, a traveller flying today from, for example, Billy Bishop airport to Newark, has to submit to U.S. border procedures after landing in the U.S., with no Canadian legal protections. With Bill C-23 in place, that traveller could be processed by U.S. officials while still in Canada. If people are concerned about how they might be treated by American border officers, would they not rather undergo questioning and searches under the umbrella of Canadian charter protections, rather than fending for themselves in the terminal at Newark?

I appreciate that it is the role of the opposition to put legislation through the wringer, and I certainly do not begrudge the opposition members their right to raise concerns and vote against the bill if they so choose. However, we are talking about a measure that would bring tremendous benefits to Canadian travellers and businesses. The worst criticism the New Democrats can muster is that a person who wants to leave a pre-clearance area may have to say why. To me that seems an odd hill to die on. For my part, I will be supporting this legislation and looking forward to the advantages of expanded pre-clearance. I encourage all hon. members to do the same.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, frankly, I think my hon. colleague is falling into the same trap of misrepresenting our position. No one within the NDP has said that we are against pre-clearance. I have used pre-clearance. It has certainly helped me get through the Vancouver airport to United States destinations. We know it works. It works well as it currently is.

I have yet to hear a convincing argument from that side of the House in favour of provisions in Bill C-23 that would give U.S. customs and border officials the right to carry firearms. With respect to the concept of sovereignty, it is a precious thing, and when they start setting precedents and slowly giving it away, it makes it easier in the future to institute new forms.

Why do U.S. agents on Canadian soil need to carry firearms? Why can we not rely on our own police forces, who have sworn an oath of allegiance to the crown, to do that very same work? I have yet to hear a convincing argument for that.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the hon. member's party is in favour of pre-clearance.

The most important thing to consider is that at no time would U.S. border officers be carrying arms unless we, as Canadians, determined that Canadian border officers needed to carry arms. If we as Canadians made that determination, that would be the only time U.S. border services officers would be able to carry arms. We would not allow them to do anything that we had not already decided, as Canadians, we expected in our airports.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, Conservatives agree on the substance of this legislation, but I want to take this opportunity to ask the member about the use of time allocation. Members of the government lit their hair on fire every time this was used previously, and now we see the increasing use of time allocation by the government. I know that the member was not a member in any previous Parliament, but does she not see some irony in the repeated use of time allocation by the same people who used to decry it as sort of marking the end of democracy as we know it?

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that a member of the Conservative Party is asking about time allocation.

This is important legislation. It is important to Canadians. It is important to Canadian travellers and Canadian businesses, and we feel that this legislation needs to move through the House in a timely manner. It is important that we use our time in the House to discuss the bill. I am happy to answer further questions on the bill itself.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Whitby Ontario

Liberal

Celina Caesar-Chavannes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her speech and her explanation of this much-needed bill, one that, as she said, would help Canadian travellers as well as businesses.

I wonder if she could elaborate further on the provisions in the bill that would ensure that when Canadians travel, they will be protected by Canadian law, and in particular, our human rights law, with the pre-clearance regime.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is important about this bill is that any Canadian traveller going to the United States with pre-clearance would be protected by our Canadian laws, our Constitution, and our human rights laws. If we do not have pre-clearance, those same travellers will go to the United States and have none of the protections they have in Canada. I would much rather be doing it on Canadian soil, protected by Canadian laws and our Constitution, than be going to the United States and not having those same protections.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, how many members have come home from a long business trip, arrived at the airport, and seen a tremendous lineup at customs? In my old job, I did this all the time. I used to work for a multinational. I would be travelling home from Europe or the United States, arrive at Trudeau airport, exhausted after being away for days and just wanting to get home to my family, and be faced with a lineup that went on from here to the end of the room. There would be hours of waiting at the airport. Of course, this was in my pre-NEXUS days. Now, with NEXUS, I can walk through the kiosk and get of the airport in no time. However, without NEXUS, in the old days that was problematic. It was hard. There was a long wait. There is nothing that makes me happier than avoiding that very long wait when I enter the United States.

There are over 12 million people who travel back and forth between the United States and Canada every year. More than 500,000 Canadians spend more than one month in Florida. In fact, from my riding, the Côte Saint-Luc Men's Club actually shifts a number of its activities to Deerfield Beach, in Florida, during the entire winter season. I can go to Florida on a constant basis and get local programming from our senior men's club if I want. That shows how many Canadians of all ages are affected by pre-clearance.

Pre-clearance is a wonderful thing. I am happy that an agreement was reached with the United States in March 2015 to provide for better pre-clearance for travellers and goods. Our government has worked hard to expand pre-clearance to now include the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto and the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City, and, importantly, the VIA Rail terminal in Montreal, if I ever choose to take the train to New York City. Of course, it is slower today to take the train than it was when my grandfather was doing it in the 1930s and 1940s, but still the idea is there.

I am happy that pre-clearance is being expanded. We are now able to have Canadians and Americans who are in Canada, or foreigners in Canada, pre-cleared. They can fly to all of the different U.S. destinations that we can fly to today in Canada, from Pearson or from Trudeau or from Vancouver, or from other pre-clearance-approved airports that do not have facilities in the United States for customs. That means that we can go to many smaller destinations, over 50, from Pearson airport, instead of 27. This is a very big thing, and very important.

The whole idea of opposing the bill is something that I have trouble understanding. Why is that? I can understand that there are concerns over some of the expanded powers that are given to U.S. border officers. I think they are minimal, fully understandable, and yet I can understand their concerns. However, what on earth is the alternative?

Canada and the U.S. have worked together to identify irritants on both sides to allow for better pre-clearance. In the event that we are not constantly working together and identifying U.S. concerns with respect to Canadian pre-clearance, then we are eventually going to put ourselves in a situation where it is not going to stay the same as today; it could be restricted. To me, there is absolutely no reason why we would not sit down with our U.S. partners, as I understand the previous government did, and come up with what they see or what we see as improvement enhancements in pre-clearance. That is what is happening.

I personally look at it and see very little in terms of the irritants that are being talked about. Number one, in terms of the frisk search, we already do the frisk search, and we can still do it. With respect to the strip search, they can still ask a Canadian to do it. The only difference is that if no Canadian is available in a reasonable period of time, then the American officer can do it.

How often is that ever going to happen? I believe I heard the minister say that in the more than six decades of pre-clearance, we have never had one incident where Canada and the U.S. have had an argument about pre-clearance at a Canadian airport. To me, this is a minor issue, and something that certainly can be resolved at committee, if nothing else. It does not require further debate at second reading.

The idea that we should not allow someone to be questioned if they withdraw at the border is another added feature to the bill that I have heard complaints about. There is an issue. If we are sending people to the border and they see that if they are viewed with suspicion they can just withdraw, it certainly seems to me to encourage the idea that we could have people trying to probe the border to do nefarious things. I have no issue with the idea that somebody cannot simply withdraw and walk away without being photographed and asked why they are walking away. I do not see what this terrible issue is.

I have heard a lot of concerns that have been conveyed because of who the President of the United States is today, and concerns related to the identity of the current president. Our history with the United States has gone on for centuries. The United States is a western democratic country, our closest ally. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that the procedures in the United States are western, democratic, and civilized. Whether one likes or does not like the incumbent in the White House should not be how we judge our trade relationship with the United States, our pre-clearance agreements, or any of our other agreements with our closest trading partner and best ally. That, to me, is surprising.

One of the things I think is worthy of note is that we export $400 billion a year to the United States and more than $50 billion in services. There is more than $2.5 billion in trade that crosses the border every day.

Exports to the U.S. account for 20% of our GDP. More than 2.5 million jobs in Canada and nine million jobs in the United States are tied to trade between Canada and the United States. We have 6,100 Canadians who have tourism-related jobs, and American visitors account for two thirds of the visitors who spend the night in Canada.

We have to facilitate trade through agreements like CETA, through agreements like the one we are working on with Ukraine, like the expansion we just did with Israel. We have to do trade missions, and we have to do other things to allow people and goods to cross the border more easily.

Border delays are one of the biggest impediments that we have to growth. We need to encourage the enhancement of easier trade. It is frustrating to see a Canadian business say that it does not want to expand and do business in the United States because it is worried it will not be able to get its goods there easily and quickly. The same is true in reverse. We want American companies to come to Canada, to create jobs in Canada, to send their goods to Canada, so we have cheaper markets and lower prices for Canadian consumers. We do not want people to be deterred because they do not think they can get here, because it will take them four hours at the border to travel to their Canadian office, or they do not know if their goods will get here on time.

A pre-clearance arrangement like this one goes towards a larger philosophical principle that I agree with, that we need to enhance trade, enhance the ability to cross the border with our closest allies. It also goes to an idea that the faster we get people across the border, the better.

I have heard a lot about the concerns that members opposite have with pre-clearance. What is the alternative? What if we do not have pre-clearance like we have in other countries in the world outside the United States? When we go to those countries, our citizens are speaking to border officials based on the laws of that country, according to the rules of that country, and under the terms of that country. It is only with pre-clearance that Canadian law, Canadian human rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, all apply to travel to the United States. Given that the alternative is worse, given that it is an excellent concept, I strongly support this law, and I urge members to get it to committee.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, during the speech by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, he spoke about Bill C-23 eventually expanding into the movement of goods to and from the United States and Canada.

I wonder if he would explain what benefit there is of pre-clearance on our products that we ship between countries.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think philosophically, and I am sure he would agree with me, the faster that we get people and goods across the border between Canada and the United States, which is our biggest trading partner, which we rely on for 2.5 million jobs, which we rely on for $450 billion of exports per year, the better. The more that pre-clearance can apply to different goods, as it does to people, the better.

I look forward to working with him and the minister on that.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite my colleague's enthusiasm for this bill, I still have a question to ask him.

I know that he is also very enthusiastic about justice issues. I feel that he did not clearly explain how the government will ensure, when there is pre-clearance in Canada, that Canadian laws will be respected, in particular the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. I know that she, too, is passionate about justice issues.

It is understood that there has been a program in place in many Canadian airports for sixty years now. The minister said in his speech that Canada has never had to complain about the United States not complying with our laws. That is why I am quite certain that they will continue to respect our laws. Canada and the U.S. have an agreement calling on both countries to discuss the matter in the event of non-compliance with Canadian law.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, my friend talked about long lineups, and I guess some of our friends on the left are consistent in their support for long lineups. However, I want to ask about American institutions.

The member made the point quite well that American institutions were designed to check against the power of an authoritarian executive. What we see is a strong system of institutions, a strong judiciary, and so forth. When we talk about the relationship with the United States, I think we can have confidence regardless of the administration. We can have confidence in the strength of those institutions, and we should move forward with co-operation. Whether it is enhancing and addressing loopholes in the safe third country agreement, it is pre-clearance, whether it is trades or others, we should move forward with confidence in those institutions. I think the member made that point very well, but perhaps he would like to expand on it.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the United States created a system of checks and balances with its Bill of Rights in the 1780s, the United States has been an example, a pillar to the world. While it has not been perfect in terms of human rights, and we can look at slavery, segregation, and many things the United States has done that today are a shame to the country, in general, its system has worked better than almost any system in the world. It is an example to nations about how there can be an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary that all have checks and balances. I agree with my hon. colleague that the United States is far more than whoever is the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we should be offering Canadian and American citizens is the idea of Canadian pre-clearance at major U.S. centres. I certainly agree that this gives reciprocal rights to Canadian officers to do this work potentially in the United States, and I would encourage our government to move in that direction.

Second ReadingPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 1:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-23. This is an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States. The legislation completes negotiations and cross-border collaboration started by the previous Conservative government. We are very proud of our record on the matter.

With this legislation, national security would be enhanced on both sides of the border. Passengers would enjoy greater convenience when travelling to the United States, and Canadian goods and services would have easier access to the American marketplace. This is good for Canada.

I am confident the rights of Canadians would also be protected under this legislation. In fact, I would argue that they may actually be better protected because it would allow individuals entering the United States through borders to do so with those pre-clearance mechanisms that have already been identified.

Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, would continue to apply in pre-clearance areas. Therefore, United States border agents would not gain the power of arrest under this legislation. This is an important point to bear in mind. Any criminal charges that are filed for someone inside a pre-clearance area would be under the Criminal Code of Canada and would be brought by Canadian law enforcement agents. Any security procedures that cannot be conducted in the public area of the pre-clearance zone, such as strip searches, would be performed by Canadian law enforcement in accordance with Canadian law.

That said, let us explore the context of the legislation. Every day, more than $2 billion of goods and services cross the U.S.-Canada border, and across the Canadian economy, one in five jobs is directly linked to international exports. The United States is Canada's largest export market, and Canada is the biggest purchaser of American goods. We make excellent trade partners, and it is important for us to put agreements in place that will continue to protect this. Ensuring the free flow of goods and services across this border is vital to the economic interests of both countries. With the uncertainty around American trade policy at this moment in time, and concerns about American protectionism on economic and security files, legislation like this would protect the Canadian economy and the millions of Canadian jobs that rely on trade with the United States each and every day.

Ironically, the United States Congress, a place not known for its efficiency, has already passed the enabling legislation to authorize pre-clearance facilities on their side of the border. Now they await Canada to take leadership on this issue. When the United States Congress and Senate can pass an important piece of legislation like this faster than Canada, it makes one wonder about the priority of the Liberal government and whether or not it is about promoting trade with our borders.

The use of pre-clearance is not new to Canada. Let us be very clear about that. Canada first allowed American border agents to pre-clear passengers starting with a pilot project in 1952. A formal pre-clearance arrangement for airline passengers was then signed in 1974, with further implementing legislation in the 1999 Preclearance Act. Since that time, pilot projects were pre-clearing ferry passengers and cruise ship passengers. Also, truck cargo has been implemented at high-volume border crossings. If anyone has flown to the United States from airports like Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Pearson airport, Vancouver, or Winnipeg, they already know there is this pre-clearance option available.

Twelve million passengers at these eight airports went through U.S. pre-clearance in the year 2016, so we can tell that this is of great advantage to Canadian passengers and the flow of goods and services. Without these pre-clearance operations, Canadians would not be able to take advantage of nearly half of the direct flights that presently exist between Canadian and United States destinations. Instead, they would need to fly to a major hub in the U.S., go through customs screening there, and then move onward, which of course is very cumbersome for the traveller.

I am confident when I say that most members of the House have heard concerns from their constituents with regard to this piece of legislation. Nevertheless, these concerns are rooted in an incorrect belief that American border agents would be operating under American law on Canadian soil. The concern is that Canada would be giving up its sovereignty on our very own territory. However, this is actually a false assumption and I wish to clear the record today.

The legislation says, “For greater certainty Canadian law applies and may be administered and enforced in preclearance areas and preclearance perimeters.”

There is no surrender of sovereignty because the Criminal Code of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are in fact the final law in these pre-clearance areas.

Furthermore, American border agents are not peace officers, which means they do not have the power to arrest those who are inside these pre-clearance zones. Again, I will quote directly from the piece of legislation I am referring to:

A preclearance officer is not permitted to exercise any powers of questioning or interrogation, examination, search, seizure, forfeiture, detention or arrest that are conferred under the laws of the United 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.

The legislation could not be any more clear in this matter. American agents must act in accordance with our Canadian law.

To summarize this legislation, American agents are allowed to stop people or items from passing the pre-clearance area if they are headed to the United States. These American agents are also allowed to evaluate passengers according to Canadian laws regarding terrorism and threats to public safety.

However, if an American agent detains someone, the agent must immediately turn the individual over to Canadian police or border agents, who would then be the ones to interrogate, arrest, and then charge the individual according to Canadian law.

I am going to stop there.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be completely clear, Canadian criminal law is the only law that applies in these pre-clearance zones that we are discussing. The only power that American agents have that comes from the United States is the ability to deny entry to the United States or to fine someone for attempting to bring a banned item into the U.S. Travellers have the right to leave the pre-clearance area at any time should they choose to do so, unless, of course, the border agent believes they have committed a crime under Canadian law. In that case, the agent can detain them until they are turned over to Canadian authorities. Once again, I stress that it is Canadian authorities who will investigate if the law has been broken, and that will be according to Canadian law.

Any piece of legislation can always be improved through rigorous scrutiny at the committee stage. I know there are probably still some minute concerns with regard to this piece of legislation. However, I believe that these details should be explored by the committee and are not fatal to this legislation passing at the second reading stage. This is why I am comfortable in supporting this piece of legislation at this time.

Nevertheless, I am concerned with the lack of priority that the Liberals have placed on this legislation. The previous Conservative government negotiated with the United States for several years, and a final agreement was signed in March of 2015. It took the Liberals more than a year to come out with the enabling legislation for the agreement that we are discussing today. Since the introduction of this bill in June of last year, it has sat on the books waiting to be brought forward. That is a long time.

As I mentioned previously, the United States Congress and Senate, following a particularly divisive election, I might add, managed to pass the American version of this legislation before Christmas. That was two months before the Liberals even brought this bill to the floor for us to begin discussing it. That seems like an unnecessary delay.

For Quebec's international airport and Toronto's city airport, as well as the Montréal Central station, and the Rocky Mountaineer train between Vancouver and Seattle, passage of this legislation would enable pre-clearance, thus making transit through these facilities more convenient and accessible to passengers. Given the importance of Canadian exports to the United States, one is left to wonder why this has not been given greater priority by the Liberal government.

In conclusion, I am pleased to support this piece of legislation today, and I encourage all members of the House to speak in support of and to vote in favour of this legislation.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 3:10 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what my colleague had to say. I agree with her when she says that some bills can be improved in committee following second reading. It remains to be seen how many amendments the government will be open to.

However, the thing I am wondering about the most is why the government is moving so fast, when we learned this morning that only 18 members have had the opportunity to speak to this bill. If we count those who speak today, approximately 30 members will have had the chance to speak to this bill, which is not even 10% of members. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

Does she not believe that the government is undermining democracy in the House by moving a time allocation motion so quickly?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question has less to do with the piece of legislation in front of us and far more to do with the procedures of the House.

The Liberals have been known for moving what is called time allocation in this place, which forces us into a premature decision. It forces the debate to move at a pace that is unnecessary, disallows members in the House having their opinions made known in speaking on these important pieces of legislation that come before the House. That was in fact done in this place today, and has been done many times in the past. It taints democracy. It prevents us from being able to bring our views to the table and speaking on behalf of our constituents, which is what this place is meant for.

With regard to this piece of legislation and the moving of time allocation, I do not believe it was in the best interests of the House or the Canadian public.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on the one hand the member says that the government is not moving quickly enough, and on the other hand she says that we should allow more time for debate on the issue.

We can look at time allocation as a tool for government to get legislation through the House. The Conservatives seem to want to support this legislation. The member asked why the government did not bring in the bill earlier. The government does have a very finite amount of time to get substantial pieces of legislation through the House.

Recognizing the importance of this legislation, and recognizing previously debated legislation before the House is also of importance, would the member not agree that the Conservative Party, while it was in government, used time allocation on many more occasions as an effective tool to get legislation through the House? Would the member not agree, as the NDP did on legislation, that there is value to having time allocation? As the member would know, the NDP does not support this legislation, which means we could be spending weeks in ongoing debate. Does the member believe that is in the best interests of Canadians?

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the hon. member's question, I have to highlight that the Liberals have had this bill on the table since June. They have waited nearly a year to bring this piece of legislation to the floor and finally allow debate on it. Now the member opposite actually wants to use this dithering as justification for moving time allocation, which is actually closing the debate in this place. That is an unfair allegation by the member across the floor.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for Lethbridge was not a member of this place in the 41st Parliament, but I can assure her that the predecessor government under Stephen Harper used time allocation consistently and more brutally, but that does not mean I accept that it is good when I see it coming from our Liberal friends. I really do believe it is time to see time allocation go the way of the dodo in this place, unless there is a really clear need.

As the hon. member mentioned, this legislation has been on the docket since June. There is no reason for time allocation at this point before, as the member rightly points out, we have an opportunity to fully debate it. Given that background, I wonder if she would like to agree with me that this bill needs a much more thorough study before it goes to committee.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to talking about legislation versus process in this House, so far I have just spoken with regard to the legislation, and the questions I have been asked have had to do with process in this place. That tells me that perhaps we are a little out of touch with the average Canadian, because I think the average Canadian is far more interested in the legislation that we are discussing and the laws that we are putting in place that are actually going to serve everyday Canadians well. That is the discussion that should be taking place in this House. That is the discussion I want to have today. As far as the process is concerned, that is a discussion we need to have elsewhere.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

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

The bill would modify the legislative framework governing pre-clearance operations, the process that allows people travelling from Canada to the U.S. to go through American customs and immigration procedures while still on Canadian soil. This currently exists at eight Canadian airports, and as anyone who has taken advantage of it is aware, it makes travel to the United States much faster and more convenient.

With Bill C-23 in place, it will be possible to expand pre-clearance to new locations and modes of transportation, to implement cargo pre-clearance, and to establish for the first time Canadian pre-clearance operations in the United States. This entails substantial advantages for Canadian travellers and for the Canadian economy.

Certain members have raised concerns about the bill and the new legislative framework it would create. Obviously, that is fine. Each of us has the responsibility as members of Parliament to scrutinize legislation and bring any potential issues to the House's attention. However, we also have the responsibility to avoid exaggerated statements and keep our analysis tethered to the facts. Unfortunately, certain critics of Bill C-23, in particular the NDP candidate for Ottawa—Vanier, have been making, I assume unintentionally, blatantly incorrect assertions about the bill. It is important to set the record straight.

To begin, the candidate has written that Bill C-23 would allow American border security officers to arrest Canadians on Canadian soil. This is completely wrong. Under this legislation, U.S. officers would have no powers of arrest whatsoever. She has also written that Bill C-23 would allow U.S. pre-clearance officers to detain, question, seize property, frisk, strip search, and arrest Canadian citizens on Canadian soil. Once again, the claim about powers of arrest is simply fictional.

As for the first four items in that list, U.S. officers have already had those authorities for decades. In fact, during the debate, NDP members have been calling for the current framework to remain in place. While the current framework empowers U.S. officers to detain, question, seize property, and frisk Canadian citizens on Canadian soil, it seems worth asking whether the NDP candidate in Ottawa—Vanier considers her own party's position in favour of the current pre-clearance arrangement to be an affront to Canadian sovereignty.

With respect to searches, the current framework allows U.S. pre-clearance officers to detain a traveller for the purpose of a search, and requires them to request a Canadian officer to conduct the search. This remains the case in Bill C-23. The only change is that in the exceptional circumstance that a Canadian officer is unavailable, the U.S. officer would be allowed to conduct the search himself or herself. If the NDP considers this a bridge too far, it is free to make that argument, but I think most Canadians would rightly see this as the minor adjustment that it is.

On the subject of travellers who enter a pre-clearance area and then change their mind and decide to withdraw, the NDP's candidate has written that there is no escape. She claims U.S. officers would have all the power they need to hold anyone they want. The reality is that travellers would be free to withdraw from pre-clearance, just as they are now. Bill C-23 merely adds that withdrawing travellers may have to say who they are and why they are leaving in order to guard against people probing the pre-clearance area for security weaknesses. Moreover, it is already the case under existing law. Anyone detained by a U.S. pre-clearance officer must be transferred to Canadian authorities as soon as possible.

She has also written that Bill C-23 would protect U.S. pre-clearance officers who abuse their powers from all prosecution. Once more, this is just plain false. The new pre-clearance agreement with the United States, the one that would be implemented by the bill, would establish a fully reciprocal framework for shared criminal jurisdiction. The U.S. would have primary jurisdiction over most acts committed by its officers in the course of their duties, just as Canada would have primary jurisdiction over most criminal offences committed by our officers in the United States. The host country would retain primary jurisdiction for the most serious offences, as well as any offence committed by an officer while off duty.

With respect to civil action, Bill C-23 maintains the existing rules. As is currently the case, a traveller who feels he or she has been mistreated could not sue an individual officer, but could sue the U.S. government. The same would apply in reverse for Canadian operations on American soil.

In all circumstances, American pre-clearance officers operating in Canada would be required to comply with Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The more we expand pre-clearance, the more Canadian travellers could undergo U.S. border procedures while protected by Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution. The alternative is for Canadian travellers to be searched and questioned in the United States with none of these safeguards.

Finally, the NDP candidate in Ottawa—Vanier has written that Bill C-23“threatens the right of permanent residents of Canada to be able to return home from abroad”. Once again, this is incorrect. There is absolutely nothing in the bill that would prevent permanent residents from returning to Canada.

Her assertion seems to be a reference to the unlikely confluence of multiple hypotheticals that could result in a person with major admissibility issues having to return to Canada the usual way rather than through pre-clearance. In the event that Canada established pre-clearance operations in the U.S. and in the event that a permanent resident of Canada develops a major admissibility issue, such as committing a serious crime, and in the event that a person is nevertheless allowed into the United States, such a person may have to re-enter Canada through an ordinary port of entry rather than benefiting from pre-clearance, simply because pre-clearance officers may not be equipped to deal with that particular situation. Now the NDP is free to argue that this quadruple hypothetical, whereby a person with a record of serious criminality would be inconvenienced, is a good reason to deny millions of Canadians the advantages of expanded pre-clearance, but I strongly disagree.

That is the heart of the issue here. Do the concerns raised by the NDP justify saying no thanks to the huge upside of pre-clearance expansion? It seems quite clear to me that they do not.

The changes that would be made by Bill C-23 to the legislative framework governing pre-clearance are moderate and reasonable. They would pave the way for substantial benefits, benefits such as reducing congestion to 12 million passengers per year, benefits such as in 2015 when Canada exported over $400 billion in goods and services, some $50 billion in services, to the United States, benefits of 600,000 jobs, benefits of tourism activities. We are talking about reducing hassles and delays for Canadian travellers, making it more convenient for tourists and business travellers to come to Canada, and making it quicker and easier for Canadian businesses to ship goods to and from the United States. Bill C-23 would be good for travellers, good for business, and a major step forward for the Canadian economy.

I invite all hon. members to engage in thoughtful, informed discussion of this legislation both today and hopefully at committee. I certainly intend to support the bill.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, we agree with the general position on the bill, although it was interesting that the member chose to spend a substantial amount of time refuting a specific NDP candidate's comments in a by-election as opposed to focusing on debate among members here. Of course, I would have thought he would have been more worried about the Conservative candidate in that by-election, but perhaps there are other places to make those points.

With respect to the issue itself, the bill deals with pre-clearance of individuals. It does not speak to the issue of pre-clearance of goods. He spoke about this, so I wonder if he could talk about the importance of moving on that front and share what the government's timetable might be for moving forward on pre-clearance of goods as well.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, in terms of goods, about $400 billion per year in goods and services are transported to the United States. Therefore, instead of having congestion at the border, we need to ensure the flow of our goods, services, and people from here to the United States is quick and easy, and that we can grow both our economies.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Brigitte Sansoucy NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone in the House agrees that the free flow of goods and people across our border with the United States is important. That is why debate on this bill is so important.

Since this debate is happening under a time allocation motion, time is very precious. My colleague should be ashamed of himself for wasting our precious time electioneering.

I was elected to represent the people of Saint-Hyacinth—Bagot, who are very concerned about this bill. On February 19, people came out to join me for coffee and talk about Bill C-23. They have concerns about their rights and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This is not hypothetical stuff. There have been very real cases of discrimination against transgender people and religious and ethnic discrimination. We must therefore ensure that this bill contains the proper guarantees to make sure people's rights are respected.

All my colleague did in his speech was talk about a by-election. He offered no guarantees regarding rights. What are his thoughts on that?

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Marwan Tabbara Liberal Kitchener South—Hespeler, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason I chose to present that in my speech is this. As we all know, as we were all candidates once, we need to ensure that our words and what we voice to the public are true. However, what the candidate in Ottawa—Vanier mentioned was untrue. I was trying to present that so we set the record straight. We know what is true about Bill C-23.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about the economic benefits that so many people have mentioned, such as with the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, and the economic benefits that Bill C-23 will have with the pre-clearance of a lot of goods, services, and individuals to get across the border that much quicker.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House to speak in opposition to Bill C-23, a bill that we in the NDP have been clear that we oppose for a number of very key issues.

Before I begin, I want to reflect on the fact that my colleague from the Liberal Party spent an inordinate amount of time talking about what our friend, who is running for the NDP in the Vanier byelection, said. Emilie Taman is a legal expert who has worked in the area of human rights, whose passion is human rights. She has reflected the true analysis of the bill. The assertions made by my colleague to dispute her comments are false.

I would expect better from a member of the government. Instead of defending his party's positions, he is choosing to attack somebody running in a by-election. That seems beneath the role of somebody who is in government, in the context of serious legislation like this, and really speaks to the fact that the Liberals are playing cynical politics with legislation that we know will have an impact on people's human rights, on their privacy, legislation that certainly does away with potential safeguards that need to be in place.

We support allowing for greater fluidity of movement across the border, but this bill is not about that.

Just in the House today, we were talking about the latest executive order put forward by President Donald Trump and its implications on Canadians and obviously all those affected. Our leader, Tom Mulcair, rose in the House to talk about the latest incident of a Canadian, Manpreet Kooner, a resident of Montreal, born and raised in Canada, who was turned away at the border after six hours of investigation. She is a Canadian citizen.

This is the impact of Trump's America. This is what is happening at our borders right now. This is a major issue of concern for us. I do not know why the Prime Minister did not reflect that concern and denounce, as he should, the position of President Donald Trump. However, this is the reality of today. This is what is happening at our borders today.

Bill C-23 would only exacerbate the kind of disrespect of people's human rights and privacy rights. Instead of protecting Canadians, the Liberal government is trying to change the channel, deflecting to by-elections and not listening to the major concerns many have raised with respect to the legislation.

Why are we as New Democrats opposed to the bill?

First, it would allow for increased powers for U.S. officers on Canadian soil, provisions regarding carrying firearms, strip searches, detention, and interrogation.

A second reason is the lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgender people during strip searches.

Another reason is the invasion of privacy on Canadian soil, the search of travellers' electronic devices and access to the digital universe, as it is known.

Another reason we are opposed is because of the additional difficulties for Canadian refugees and permanent residents going through pre-clearance on U.S. soil.

Finally is the ambiguity surrounding compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its extraterritorial application.

These are critical reasons. We are talking about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a document of which the Prime Minister has indicated on numerous occasions he is very proud. This legislation allows searches and actions by U.S. border agents that could very well go against what is protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. People are beginning to see through the rhetoric put forward by the government because the actions do not match what is being said.

A number of well-respected individuals who know a great deal about the issue at hand have also shared their concerns and opposition to Bill C-23.

Peter Edelmann, a lawyer and member of the national immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, said that he was concerned about the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He asked how we could be assured that the U.S. CBP pre-clearance officers would be subjected to the charter as the bill did not specify their stature as agents of the state.

Howard Greenberg, an immigration lawyer who has chaired the immigration committee of the Canadian Bar Association and the International Bar Association, was speaking to the power of U.S. officers to detain and question travellers on their reasons for wanting to withdraw from the pre-clearance area. He indicated that at some point it may change from a situation where travellers were simply responding to a question to a situation where they were failing to respond to a direction of an officer. The ambiguity is somewhat dangerous for the traveller.

With respect to the fact that there was a lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgender Canadians during potential strip searches, Brielle Beardy-Linklater, a transgendered human rights activist who I have the honour of knowing, indicated that travelling as a transgender person was already complicated. Any additional measures that could bring humiliation might simply stop members of the community from going on vacations or a business trip

Craig Forcese, professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, indicated:

Put simply, in Hape, the Supreme Court concluded that the Charter typically does not follow the flag – that is, that it does not generally attach to the extraterritorial conduct of Canadian government actors. The Court did, however, raise caveats to that conclusion. Consent of the foreign state to the application of the law is an obvious exception. But so too is what the Court called “some other basis under international law”...The difficulty in deciding what those other bases are stems from the Supreme Court’s rather unpersuasive approach to prescriptive and enforcement jurisdiction in international law.

Alex Neve, secretary general, Amnesty International Canada, a renowned organization when it comes to human rights, was speaking to biometric screening at the border. He indicated:

....we certainly have signalled the very real potential that there are serious human rights violations that can ensue if, for instance, those new technologies aren't used responsibly. That's number one. Number two, they do not have effective safeguards in place, so it often comes down to questions of safeguards and review and oversight, and we know, for the large part, that Canada's national security framework is lacking on that front.

We also heard from members of the Muslim community, a community that has been targeted repeatedly over the last number of years, certainly the targeting of which we have seen grow as a result of the politics of hate and racism that the policies of Donald Trump have been encouraging. We must take very seriously the concerns put forward by the Muslim community, particularly as it pertains to the potential for racial profiling and targeting of Muslim Canadians and Muslim travellers.

Safiah Chowdhury, a representative of the Islamic Society of North America, indicated:

Many of us have been arbitrarily questioned for no reason whatsoever, but simply because we are Muslim. We always build in extra time to go to the airport because of the extra screening we expect to go through. Right now when I travel through, say, Pearson, if I am questioned in a way I don't like or I think infringes upon my rights or I think is trying to put me in a position that makes me answer questions that typecast me in a certain way, I have the opportunity to leave and go back to my home. However, under these provisions that are being presented, there will not be that opportunity.

Ms. Chowdhury goes on to explain the concerns that many have raised in the Muslim community.

We do not stand here and take this issue lightly. We feel strongly that the human rights and rights to privacy of Canadians must be protected. We feel strongly that Bill C-23 does not do that. We are very concerned. We do not support the government's insistence on making this about other issues, while disregarding the major gaps that are at play here.

In the age in which we live, where Canadians are being turned back at the border, where they are being disrespected and, frankly, mistreated, this is not the time to pass a bill that would further endanger those travelling and that would certainly put them in a situation where they would be increasingly more vulnerable.

This is why I am proud that we are opposed to Bill C-23. We certainly would like to see the government change course.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my best wishes to the hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski on her announcement we are all expecting this week.

My question is as follows. We have all heard of some very unfortunate and scary incidents happening at border crossings. Pre-clearance means that people do not need to go to a border crossing but can actually go through pre-clearance. I would like to ask the hon. member if she has heard of any incidents that have occurred in pre-clearance, because I have not heard of any. If not, would it not be better for more people to go through pre-clearance as opposed to going to the border?

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my speech, we certainly know from a number of human rights advocates, representatives of the Muslim community in Canada, and transgender activists that what is in Bill C-23 leaves a tremendous gap and puts at risk respect for human rights, the Charter of Rights, and Canadians' privacy rights as they pertain to procedures conducted by U.S. border officials.

We are living in an unprecedented time. I was blown away by the fact that a Montreal resident, a Canadian citizen, born and raised in Canada, Ms. Manpreet Kooner, was turned away at the border after six hours of being investigated. This is not the time to conduct ourselves as though nothing has changed. Clearly, the government has not caught on to that. This is the time to ensure that what we are doing is protecting Canadians' human rights, protecting their right to privacy, and standing up for the charter.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree that the House is not the place to be waging a by-election campaign, as she referred to at the beginning of her remarks.

I have a question, though, for the member with respect to the issue of U.S. border guards. Of course, Canadians who choose to travel to the U.S. are well aware of the questions that may exist, but a person who makes a choice to travel to the United States is making that choice and will either be screened in the United States or through pre-clearance in Canada. A person involved in pre-clearance does have the opportunity to leave eventually. This legislation would provide for limited detainment of that person for a period of time.

It is important for the NDP to acknowledge as well that although there are legitimate concerns, and I have expressed some of those concerns myself, about actions taken by the Trump administration, at the end of the day, the United States is a country with rule of law and strong institutions where people can bring those issues up through the American system. Those who choose to go to the United States are, in some sense, putting their faith in that system.

Does the member not acknowledge that, therefore, there is some degree of perspective needed, perhaps, and that again, pre-clearance is a better option compared to some of the alternatives?

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to agree on his initial point that the House is not the place to discuss by-elections, but I will say that it is perhaps an indication that the Liberals are considering the NDP candidate a threat in that election. We have certainly taken note.

Back to the topic at hand, what is clear, as has been pointed out, is that we are living in an unprecedented time. We are very concerned about what is happening day in and day out at the border. New Democrats are certainly in support of more fluid movement, but given what has been happening, and given the potential for Canadians' human rights and the right to privacy to not be protected, it is simply not something we can support. We are concerned that the government seems to be deflecting from this point or changing the channel. We believe that this is far too serious a point to ignore, and that is why we stand in opposition to Bill C-23.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue our second reading debate on Bill C-23, the legislation that would give us the opportunity to provide faster, charter-protected travel for Canadians. These crucial updates to the pre-clearance framework would enhance security, improve cross-border flow, and produce substantial economic and travel benefits for Canadians.

We have already benefited from over six decades of successful pre-clearance. It has been beneficial for businesses, for the economy, and for the ordinary traveller. We are now in a position to implement an agreement with the United States that would make these advantages available to more Canadians in more parts of the country.

We have heard supportive voices for the expansion of this bill from business, from chambers of commerce, from the tourism industry, from municipalities, from other levels of government, and from ordinary Canadians. Most recently, before we adjourned last week to spend time in our ridings, we heard from many members of this House that Bill C-23 would bring economic benefits and ease travel restrictions while protecting Canadian rights. It is on this note that we think we are on the right track to continue the legislative process.

However, we have also heard concerns from some members. Many of these concerns have already been addressed, both during debate in the chamber and through the technical briefing provided to journalists last week by Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency, and live-streamed by the media. This was on top of technical briefings provided to parliamentarians last year. However, to ensure that there is clarity on some of these issues, I would like to focus my remarks today on two specific topics: travellers' rights and reciprocity between Canada and the United States.

First, on rights, we all know that both Canada and the U.S. set and enforce their own rules with respect to who or what enters their countries. However, for Canadians undergoing U.S. customs and immigration procedures while still in Canada, Bill C-23 would ensure that Canadian legal and charter standards would apply to that process. This is a distinct advantage over entering the United States at a border through a regular port of entry inside U.S. territory, where Canadian charter standards do not apply to the conduct of U.S. officers.

Let us take the example of withdrawal. If travellers wanted to withdraw from a pre-clearance site in Canada and not continue on to the U.S., they would be able to do so under Bill C-23, just as they can under the current pre-clearance agreement. The only adjustment here is that American officials could ask travellers to identify themselves and give their reasons for withdrawing. This is to avoid illicit probing of pre-clearance sites. The alternative would be to go to the United States and submit to examination by the U.S. authorities on U.S. soil. At that point, it would not be possible to withdraw from the process at all, because the person would already be in the United States.

I have heard some members argue that travellers are already protected under the current pre-clearance arrangement, and so no change is needed. The problem is that we have pre-clearance right now at only eight airports in Canada. If people are travelling from anywhere else, the protection of undergoing U.S. border procedures in Canada and therefore having the right to withdraw is not available to these people. With Bill C-23, we could begin expanding pre-clearance so that more Canadian travellers could enjoy the benefits and protections.

Another point that needs to be clarified regarding travellers' rights is that U.S. pre-clearance officers would not have the authority to enforce U.S. criminal law or make arrests in Canada. If U.S. pre-clearance officers have reasonable grounds to believe that a traveller has committed an offence under Canadian law, they can detain that traveller without making an arrest, but only in order to transfer the person to Canadian authorities right away. This is not new. Rather, it is part of the existing pre-clearance framework that has been in place since 1999.

In other words, contrary to what has been speculated, there is no compromise here on rights and values. On the contrary, Bill C-23 would expand the protective umbrella of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that it can apply to Canadians flying out of airports such as Billy Bishop and the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City. They are not currently covered. It would also be applicable for the first time to Canadians travelling using other modes of transportation, beginning with train routes in Montreal and British Columbia.

Canadians expect us to make sure that their rights and values, and the protections afforded by the charter, our Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act, are front and centre in all legislation we consider in this House. By making charter protections more widely available, Bill C-23 is a step forward for the rights of Canadian travellers.

The second issue I would like to address concerns the question of reciprocity. It must be stressed that the updated and expanded approach to pre-clearance being discussed here would be absolutely and fully reciprocal. There would be no authorities conferred on the border officers of one country that would not be conferred on those of the other.

Each country, as well, would retain primary jurisdiction over most criminal offences that might be committed by an officer in the course of his or her duties, while the host country would retain primary jurisdiction for the most serious crimes. As such, fears that this bill constitutes the ceding of our sovereignty are misplaced. Rather, Bill C-23 would implement a mutually beneficial agreement that would impose the same obligations and confer the same authorities on both parties.

The bill would improve safety and security for both countries. It would make travel and trade more efficient and expeditious. Also, as is clearly laid out in article II of the agreement with the United States, it would ensure that each county's laws and constitutions would apply to all pre-clearance operations. This means that U.S. officers operating in Canada would have to abide by the charter, as would Canadian border officers in the United States.

I cannot reiterate enough that more than 400,000 people flow across the border every day. There is close to $2.5 billion in two-way trade that moves between our two countries each and every day. It is therefore mutually beneficial for both countries to build on the success of existing pre-clearance operations while simultaneously protecting, even enhancing, the rights of Canadian travellers. This is the backbone of the bill before us today.

I encourage all members to support Bill C-23.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a preamble to my question, I would like to reference something on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website regarding search procedures for transgendered people. It states that, if the person being searched has undergone sex reassignment surgery, the individual's current sex will determine whether the search is conducted by a male or female customs and border services officer. This suggests that, if the individual has not undergone surgery, this right will not be recognized.

I could give many examples, but since we do not have a lot of time, this is simply one example that tells me that not all rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been taken into account in the new agreement that the Liberals want to bring in.

Can my esteemed colleague assure me that all measures in this new agreement will guarantee the same rights that are protected by our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, as MPs, we see a lot of bills come before us, and not all bills are comprehensive or totally perfect. It is our job as MPs to debate the issues and to bring them forward to committee. It is at committee where this bill will be very well debated and looked at thoroughly. Any questions or concerns people have can be raised at committee. They can bring in witnesses and the right people.

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March 6th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will make a quick response to the comment that was just made about the work of committees. A lot of experts came before committee with respect to Bill S-201 and Bill C-22 and made recommendations that were unanimously adopted by that committee, only to have the government completely ignore and refute those recommendations.

In asking us to put faith in the committee process and in the government respecting that process, I am sorry to say that my patience with that line of argument is wearing very thin at the moment.

My question to the member is about the part of the bill that gives authorization to U.S. customs officials to carry firearms on Canadian soil. I have yet to hear a convincing argument from the Liberal benches as to why this is necessary. Why, when we have a perfectly capable police force in Canada, would we cede this kind of sovereignty to U.S. agents on Canadian soil?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, things are not always perfect in a democracy, so therefore whether the committee process will work or will not work, it is important to note that we can vote bills down in the House or eliminate them.

With regard to U.S. border guards carrying arms, whatever the Canadians can do, the U.S. border guards can do at the pre-clearance point. Reciprocity is contained within the bill. If there are any clauses that make no sense to committee members, they should have the chance to review and refuse or eliminate those clauses.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is a good news bill. We are talking about pre-clearance for many Canadians travelling to the U.S.

My question is about recognizing the economic value, and I will use the Lester Pearson airport as an excellent example. Virtually half of U.S. airports do not have U.S. customs officers, and this prevents aircraft from flying into those jurisdictions. That is why, over the years, pre-clearance has been seen as a positive thing that both Canada and the U.S. benefit from.

I am wondering if my colleague could comment on the benefits that Canadians get as a result of pre-clearance.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill C-23, which would provide the necessary authority under Canadian law to implement the land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance agreement, thereby expanding U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada, and, for the first time, enabling pre-clearance of cargo, and Canadian pre-clearance operations in the U.S.

Pre-clearance makes travel faster and easier for tourists and business travellers alike, and makes it faster and easier for Canadian companies to do business with Americans. It also allows Canadian travellers to undergo U.S. border procedures while under the protection of Canadian law, and, most importantly, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposed expansion of pre-clearance enabled by Bill C-23 has been greeted with enthusiasm by chambers of commerce across the country, by the tourism industry, the trucking industry, and by government partners, among others. The mayor of Quebec City, for example, has called it a great victory.

Pre-clearance operations for passengers have been a success story for more than 60 years, but they currently exist in only eight Canadian airports, and they do not exist for cargo at all. It is time to build on that success. Expansion to new locations and modes of travel require an agreement with the United States. That agreement has been reached, and the U.S. has passed the legislation needed for implementation in their country with unanimous support in both houses of Congress. That is no small feat. However, if we do not pass Bill C-23, the agreement will come to naught, and the benefits of pre-clearance will remain limited to those Canadians who already enjoy them.

Nevertheless, throughout this debate, the NDP members have been advocating in favour of the existing pre-clearance framework. According to the member for Vancouver East, the current pre-clearance system is working well. Similarly, the member for Beloeil—Chambly has said that the current pre-clearance system works well. The member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke has said that pre-clearance works just fine. To quote the member for Windsor—Tecumseh, “I understand about pre-clearance. It is working. It exists today.”

Yes, it does, and I agree that the current framework, which has been in place since 1999, has served Canada well. The NDP support for it is interesting, because in 1999 when this framework was proposed and debated, that party had a very different take. At the time, the then member for Winnipeg—Transcona said that he had concerns about the bill having to do with privacy protection, with the power of U.S. authorities to detain people, and concerns that this would be a further application of U.S. law on Canadian soil.

The then member for Winnipeg Centre said that he had serious reservations about the bill. He said it was too intrusive and a breach of Canadian sovereignty. He was worried that foreign officers would have the right to hold people and to stop people from leaving. He argued that by passing the bill, the House was granting foreign powers on our soil which the NDP did not think was necessary. He went on to declare that the NDP remained firmly opposed to the creation of Canadian offences for resisting or misleading a foreign pre-clearance officer. He accused MPs in favour of the bill of being ready to trample on Canadian sovereignty. He said, and this is my favourite part, that the bill opened up such a can of worms that it should be sent back to the other place for them to try again, and to take into consideration such basic things as national pride.

Clearly, a couple of decades later, the NDP realizes that its concerns back then were overblown. However, here we are again. A new pre-clearance framework is being proposed, and, once more, the NDP is sounding the alarm about perceived threats to Canadian sovereignty and perceived powers granted to foreign officers. It would not surprise me one bit if 20 years from now New Democrats leap to the defence of Bill C-23 while insisting that any further changes would mark the demise of the sovereignty of Canada.

My point is, let us be reasonable. In most respects, Bill C-23 is very similar to the current framework. Regarding authorities to detain, question, search travellers, and seize goods, Bill C-23 is either identical to the existing law or very nearly so. The same is true regarding penalties for obstructing or lying to an officer. The right to withdraw from a pre-clearance area is maintained; a traveller just has to say who they are and why they are leaving. The totality of U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada would be subject to Canadian law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The motion put forward by the member for Beloeil—Chambly asks us to reject Bill C-23 because of what he referred to as the climate of uncertainty at the U.S. border. However, it is precisely, with legislation like this, that we are best able to reduce uncertainty for Canadian travellers. The bill provides a clear legal framework governing the actions of U.S. officers on Canadian soil, and requires U.S. officers in Canada to adhere to Canadian legal and constitutional standards.

Today, for instance, a Canadian taking the train from Montreal to New York has to disembark after crossing the border and submit to U.S. customs and immigration processes without any Canadian legal protection. With Bill C-23 in place, that traveller could be processed at the train station in Montreal, with Canadian constitutional safeguards in force and with Canadian authorities on site. In other words, not only would the legislation bring about substantial economic benefits, not only would it make trips to the United States quicker and more convenient for Canadian travellers, it would also enhance constitutional and legal protection for those very travellers.

With that in mind, I encourage all hon. members to give the bill their full support.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that political parties and the NDP sometimes change their position. It sometimes takes decades. That stands in stark contrast to the Liberal Party, which changes its direction from one election to when it turns into government.

That aside, I would be curious to hear about the hon. member's views on a particular section of the bill which gives the powers of U.S. agents on Canadian soil the right to carry firearms. I do not see why this is necessary on Canadian soil. Is it the fact that the Liberal government has so little faith in our own police forces that it is willing to cede our sovereignty in this area? I have yet to hear a plausible explanation as to why this particular provision in the bill is necessary. I would be eternally grateful to the member if he could shed some light on that.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, given that party's propensity to change its mind, I am not sure if his gratitude will actually be eternal if he offers it to me.

I think a lot has been made about the firearms component of the bill. Let us be clear. U.S. officers are given no greater power than what Canadian officers already have, so U.S. officers will not be armed in Canadian airports.

However, Canadian officers are already armed at land and sea points of entry. It only stands to reason that U.S. officers will have the same authority and the same powers that Canadian officers do in those situations. Frankly, I do not see why that is a problem that needs any more explanation. They need to be treated the same as Canadian officers doing the same job in the same area. I think that is reasonable.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague on the trade committee on this file, and I am curious. Looking forward, we do not have cargo included in this piece of legislation. I understand the minister has said to the media that the government will include cargo somewhere in the future.

Can the hon. member give us an idea what that may look like, and roughly the time schedule before we see that before committee?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question, and I also appreciate working with him on the trade committee.

I am not privy to any firm schedule, but I share his enthusiasm for seeing cargo treated in a manner that would make sure that businesses on both sides of the border are able to tap into both markets. It would ensure that small and medium enterprises are able to create the jobs and create the growth that they do for our economy.

I look forward to working with the hon. member to make sure that we can get that framework in place. I share his enthusiasm that sooner is probably better.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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London West Ontario

Liberal

Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Science

Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague and I will agree that a secure, well-functioning border is essential for Canada's economic prosperity. There is no question.

I have to wonder why the opposition is so worried about this pre-clearance. I wonder if the hon. member could tell us what would happen if we did not have the pre-clearance. How would Canadian travellers deal with going across the border?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kyle Peterson Liberal Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say that the pre-clearance system in the eight airports that have it now is functioning quite well. Business travellers and people who travel on vacation think it is working well. However, it needs to be expanded. It is not fair for only those eight airports to have that benefit, and it should be expanded across the country. I know a lot of people who make decisions on where they travel and what airports they fly from based on whether or not they can get pre-clearance into the U.S., especially in my home riding of Newmarket—Aurora, which is close to two airports, one being Pearson International Airport, and the other being Billy Bishop airport. Right now, people who want to fly to the United States from Billy Bishop airport are not entitled to use pre-clearance. I think it would be of benefit to travellers in my neck of the woods to have that choice as a consumer when they decide on their flight options.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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La Prairie Québec

Liberal

Jean-Claude Poissant LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-23 to expand pre-clearance activities. Pre-clearance is a system that has been around for more than 60 years. It allows travellers in Canadian airports to go through U.S. customs and immigration procedures in Canada. This prevents travellers from having to spend a lot of time waiting in line to go through customs when they arrive in the United States, allows for direct flights to U.S. airports that would otherwise only accept domestic flights, and allows Canadians to follow U.S. border procedures, while remaining protected by Canada's laws and Constitution. This arrangement, which is already in place in eight of our airports, has been very successful for Canadian citizens, Canadian businesses, and especially Canada's tourism industry.

In listening to the debate on this bill, I noticed that hon. members generally seem to agree that pre-clearance is a good thing. I am thrilled to hear that. However, I also heard members of the NDP and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands say that, although they are in favour of pre-clearance, they would like to keep it under the current legislative framework and they do not understand why new legislative measures are necessary.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to explain. I will give a detailed explanation, but here is the short answer: if we stick with the existing legislation, we will be limited to the existing pre-clearance locations. However, if we want more Canadians in more parts of the country to enjoy the benefits of pre-clearance, including easier travel to the U.S. and increased trade with the U.S., we must pass this bill.

Pre-clearance activities require action by two countries, in this case Canada and the United States. Any expansion of pre-clearance requires the consent of both parties. Such an agreement has just been reached and is known as the agreement on land, rail, marine and air transport pre-clearance. An implementation act must be passed by both countries in order for the agreement to be implemented.

We can choose to either pass Bill C-23 so that we can establish pre-clearance in new Canadian locations and for different means of transportation, the pre-clearance of shipments, and Canadian pre-clearance in the United States, or not pass the bill and not reach any of these objectives.

Given the considerable positive impact of expanded pre-clearance, this bill would have to have a major downside for anyone to justify denying Canadians the economic opportunities and the benefits to travellers of expanded pre-clearance.

Reacting to provisions that set out powers granted to American pre-clearance officers, the NDP and the Green Party would have us believe that this bill is downright apocalyptic. However, on reading the provisions of the bill, it is clear that they are modest and reasonable and very similar to the existing legislative framework. For example, under the current law, U.S. pre-clearance officers can frisk travellers. Under Bill C-23, U.S. pre-clearance officers can frisk travellers.

Under the current law, a U.S. pre-clearance officer can detain a traveller if there are reasonable grounds to believe that he or she has committed an offence, and the traveller must be transferred as soon as possible to Canadian custody. Under the current law, a U.S. pre-clearance officer can detain a traveller for the purpose of a strip search and must request a Canadian officer to conduct the search. Under Bill C-23, a U.S. pre-clearance officer can detain a traveller for the purpose of a strip search and must request a Canadian officer to conduct the search. The only difference here is that U.S. officers could conduct the search themselves in the very unlikely event that Canadian officers are unavailable.

In the existing law and in Bill C-23, the provisions governing use of force by American officers are virtually identical. The provisions laying out the penalties for lying to or obstructing pre-clearance officers are exactly identical. In addition, neither the existing law nor Bill C-23 confers any powers of arrest whatsoever on U.S. officers in Canada.

Under the existing legislation and Bill C-23, travellers can leave the pre-clearance area. The only difference now is that travellers who do leave the pre-clearance area may have to show some identification and say why they are leaving. The intention here is simply to address the problem of people who enter pre-clearance areas looking for weaknesses in border security before leaving undetected.

As far as firearms are concerned, U.S. pre-clearance officers would only be authorized to carry the same firearms as Canadian border services officers in the same environment. In other words, since Canada Border Services Agency officers do not carry firearms in Canada's airports, the same would be true for their U.S. counterparts.

This provision and the entire pre-clearance agreement with the United States are reciprocal. That means that, when Canadian pre-clearance officers start to conduct activities in the United States, they will have the authority to carry the same firearms as American officers in the same circumstances. Contrary to what some are saying, this is not about ceding our sovereignty. This is about a mutually beneficial agreement that confers the same powers and obligations to both parties.

Most importantly, U.S. pre-clearance officers operating on Canadian soil would have to conduct themselves in accordance with Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

To put that in practical terms, a traveller flying today from Quebec City to New York has to submit to U.S. border procedures after landing in the U.S., with no Canadian legal protections. With Bill C-23 in place, that traveller could be processed by U.S. officials while still in Canada.

If people are concerned about how they might be treated by American border officers, would they not rather undergo questioning and searches under the umbrella of Canadian Charter protections, rather than fending for themselves in a U.S. airport?

I appreciate that it is the role of the opposition to put legislation through the wringer, and I certainly do not begrudge the opposition members their right to raise concerns and vote against the bill if they so choose. However, we are talking about a measure that would bring tremendous benefits to Canadian travellers and businesses. The worst criticism that the New Democrats can muster is that a person who wants to leave a pre-clearance area may have to say why.

To me that seems an odd hill to die on. For my part, I will be supporting this legislation and looking forward to the advantages of expanded pre-clearance. I encourage all hon. members to do the same.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member from La Prairie for that impressive speech to do with folks being up in arms about the pressing issue of travellers being frisked at the border. People sometimes get confused when they try to go too fast, which is, incidentally, exactly what the Liberal government is doing today by putting closure on this bill.

Does the member agree that many people on this side of the House support the bill? The fact is that it will speed the flow at the border. Nevertheless, members should have been given more time to express their support for a bill that will make crossing the border easier. Those are the pressing matters before the House.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to round out what my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable said and add that while many people may want to support this bill, a number of other people want to raise some serious concerns and clear reservations. We learned this morning that only 18 out of 338 parliamentarians had the opportunity to speak to this issue before we resumed debate today.

Add to that those who will have had the chance to speak today and deliver speeches to convey the concerns of their constituents, and we will not even reach 10%. Only 10% of parliamentarians in this House will have the opportunity to speak to such an important issue.

When I hear the argument that this is not about leaving Canadians to deal with American customs officers on American soil, but rather about bringing those practices here to Canada, I think the difference is very subtle and deserves to be examined more closely.

Does the member not agree that it is beyond the authority of the House to put this bill under time allocation when no Canadian lives are in danger, it does in fact overstep the powers of this House and constitutes a clear denial of democracy for all Canadians?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I too want to denounce the fact that we are under time allocation to debate this very important bill. We are talking about security and upholding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We recently saw all sorts of activity at the border that verges on racial discrimination. People are being detained and turned away at the border because of their ethnic origin or religion.

Is this not in fact an important debate that deserves more reflection to ensure that we are not in fact legislating this manner of overstepping and borderline racist and xenophobic behaviour? We know that things are not going so well with the Trump administration, which just signed another order barring entry of nationals from predominantly Muslim countries.

Where does the government stand on this issue?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Jean-Claude Poissant Liberal La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I do not want to mix up the two files. There is the issue of people arriving from the United States. However, today, we are debating Bill C-23, which seeks to make improvements and to increase the number of pre-clearance stations. I have confidence in the committee that will be studying Bill C-23 and making recommendations.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-23, the pre-clearance act. This act is another example of quality negotiations completed by the previous Conservative government and left for the current government to carry over the finish line. I am glad it is managing to do so, despite needing closure.

I have had the privilege on several occasions to speak about the importance of strengthening ties with our allies and I have spoken in favour of new trade agreements many times since I was elected. It is no surprise that I am generally in favour of legislation that finalizes a cross-border initiative with our greatest friend and ally, the U.S. Pre-clearance and cross-border initiatives with the U.S. are important and help to enhance security, strengthen the integrity of the border, and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of legitimate goods and people.

I am going to speak to two specific aspects of Bill C-23 today. The first is the manner in which it would open up potential for greater business ties between Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, and the U.S. and the second is to respond to some criticisms from some members of the House regarding security provisions of the act and the powers of Homeland Security officials on Canadian soil.

Trade and travel between the U.S. and Canada are obviously key to the economic success of both nations. More than $2 billion travels daily across the border and we should always be taking steps to ensure that this relationship is strengthened and made more efficient and secure. Our relationship with the U.S. is a constantly changing dynamic and we must work together to make sure that our agreements and existing laws reflect the evolving challenges of global security, technological innovation, and 21st century trade.

Specifically, Bill C-23 pertains to legislation for the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air pre-clearance that was negotiated by the previous government. The bill is significant to our security and prosperity as it safeguards legitimate travel and trade while leveraging the work done by CBSA officers and customs and border protection officers to maintain our national security at the border.

As my colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka has done, I would like to first discuss pre-clearance as a concept, what it is and how it has worked for Canadians over the past several decades. It is important to dispel the idea that this bill establishes wholly new concepts in Canadian commerce and security. It does not. Pre-clearance is not new to Canada. Pre-clearance operations were first implemented in Canada in 1952, when American pre-clearance officers began screening travellers for U.S.-bound planes at Toronto's international airport. This screening was informal, but it set the stage for the first air transport pre-clearance agreement reached between Canada and the U.S. in 1974.

What are the objectives of pre-clearance? Pre-clearance is designed to push the border away from the homeland. That means that travellers are screened in their country of origin before boarding a flight or train, rather than after the fact when they arrive at their destination. This distinction is important because it means that security and customs officials can identify and stop potential security threats before they enter a new country.

Of course, for Canadian travellers to the U.S., pre-clearance screening has the immensely added benefit of being able to avoid going through customs on arrival in the U.S. If travelling from a pre-clearance-equipped airport, Canadian travellers can arrive at a domestic U.S. terminal, collect their bags, and depart as if they were regular travellers. This avoidance of customs and immigration at destination is important for two reasons. First, it saves time and Canadian travellers can avoid long customs lines. Second and more importantly, for trade, business, and leisure travel, pre-cleared Canadian travellers can travel directly to U.S. destinations that do not have customs facilities.

A great example of the benefits of pre-cleared air travel is demonstrated by travellers to Washington D.C. Members of the House who have travelled to our southern neighbour's capital will know that there are two airports that serve Washington D.C.: Reagan National, which is about 15 minutes from downtown, and Dulles International airport, which is about 45 minutes away in Virginia. Reagan National does not have customs facilities. Therefore, the only Canadian-origin flights that can fly into this highly convenient airport are those from airports with pre-clearance facilities. Flights from Toronto's downtown Billy Bishop airport cannot fly into Reagan National, because Billy Bishop is not equipped with pre-clearance facilities.

We disincentivize internationally focused businesses from pursuing growth if we do not facilitate easier access to newer and larger markets. Our job, among other things, is to make things easier for Canadians. Bill C-23 would have a substantial impact for travellers and businesses that make use of facilities covered by this bill, including those based in Quebec City, those who use Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, Montreal Central station, and Rocky Mountaineer, so that we have a fairly clear tourism and trade benefit through enhanced pre-clearance facilities, which would improve and expedite the flow of legitimate trade and travel while continuing to ensure border security and integrity.

If there was no pre-clearance, Canadians and returning U.S. tourists would not be able to take advantage of nearly half the direct flights between Canadian and U.S. destinations. They instead would need to fly to an intermediary city in the U.S. and go through customs. This would increase the cost of those trips, increase the amount of time the trips take, and ultimately make travel more difficult and therefore less likely to take place.

There is also a security benefit to pre-screening passengers. The United States and Canada have a long-standing tradition of working together to ensure that the border remains open to legitimate trade and travel and closed to terrorists, criminals, and illegal or unauthorized goods, which brings me to my second point today. Some members of the House and some media have reported concerns that this bill would enable U.S. customs and border protection officers to detain Canadians on Canadian soil. I have a few responses.

First, the legislation is clear that customs and border protection officials are not peace officers, and that the powers of arrest lie only in Canadian hands. Travellers would not lose their rights or be detained indefinitely in a Canadian airport. This legislation does not enable that behaviour. However, CBP officials may hold individuals for questioning at the discretion of the inspecting country officer. In treating the customs checkpoint as if it was an actual physical border checkpoint, the inspecting country should have the ability to determine the security risks posed by an individual in question. This evaluation is critical. Once a flight takes off, there is no other checkpoint for the inspecting country to stop a potential threat.

It is also important to remember that the bill is only at second reading. In committee, we can hear grave concerns from individuals, groups, and stakeholders about the legislation itself, and the recommended changes. The Minister of Public Safety is obligated to explain to members of this House and Canadians how the legislation would work, how it would protect our borders, enhance our security, and how it would not violate our rights. Sending the bill to committee will enhance our understanding of the broader effect of the legislation and clarify any concerns.

There is always work to be done on legislation before it becomes law. We must ask the minister and his officials important questions about balancing liberty, security, and trade. We have to hear from stakeholders, civil liberty groups, and customs and immigration officials, the important groups that deal with the issues raised in the legislation.

It is easy to support measures which on the surface, streamline our border and make it simpler to travel to and from the U.S. However, there are practical concerns that we have to highlight, and I would like to do so with my remaining time.

First, the government has not received adequate assurances from U.S. officials yet on Canada's evolving marijuana policy. We want to make sure it is not an issue for Canadians travelling to the United States. The government has to address this issue.

Second, there would be an assumed increase in airport fees, as airports offset the costs of including pre-clearance facilities and infrastructure. We need to ensure that they have received adequate testimony from the relevant individuals so that we can be certain of the financial implications of this legislation.

Third, airlines and air carriers are important stakeholders with respect to border security and public safety, and this legislation would impact their operations. Given that airlines are a critical stakeholder affected by this bill, we have to ensure that they are substantially consulted as this legislation proceeds through the House.

Last, and this is what we have heard much about today, we must ensure that the concerns expressed by some senior members of the Canadian Bar Association's immigration section about checks on investigative powers given to U.S. border officials on Canadian soil are heard.

Bill C-23 is an important piece of legislation that can streamline our border operations to enhance trade and prosperity while balancing national security concerns. I support sending this bill to committee to further study the balancing effects of Bill C-23 on liberty, security, and prosperity.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments with respect to the former government. It is important to recognize that these pre-clearances have been going on for decades. We have had different administrations, whether they be under Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper, or our current Prime Minister, that have taken the relationship between Canada and the U.S. seriously. What is important to Canadians is how we can better foster that relationship, and one of the ways is through pre-clearance.

I like to think that good, sound policy goes through different governments at different points in time. The member across the way made reference to this in his comments. We have talked a lot about the idea of Canadian passengers in particular being able to travel to the United States more easily. I would like the member to reflect on the importance of expanding from those original eight airports. For example, we are looking at the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto. Toronto, as a community, would benefit immensely by this, as would other communities, as would Quebec and B.C., with the new pre-clearance that would be taking place on rail. I would ask the member to expand on his thoughts on the benefits to those communities.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of benefits to this bill.

I used to be in the tourism industry. I was a very proud hotelier and convention centre manager. I grew up and have worked throughout B.C., and I can say that Rocky Mountaineer is an excellent example of a private sector company which took over a failing government railway, expanded it, and created many thousands of jobs throughout B.C. This program would only help it.

It is going to be wonderful to be able to fly from the Billy Bishop airport in downtown Toronto to Reagan airport in Washington. This is an excellent opportunity. Also, it is a wonderful opportunity, along with Bill C-23, to revisit allowing jet planes to fly out of the Billy Bishop airport and sell some of those wonderful C-Series Bombardier jets.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will add to my colleague's comments. This bill is obviously important to us, but it does not warrant having the government impose time allocation. This evening we will be voting on the bill, but we will do so gagged.

Will my colleague admit that other members of our party would also have liked the opportunity to speak and to remind us of the good decisions made on this file by the previous government?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am for the bill, but I am against time allocation. There have been a lot of grave concerns brought forward by our colleagues in the NDP, and these issues have to be addressed. They are very serious issues. We are not served by bringing in closure on debate. I wish the government had chosen a different path. As I mentioned, I am supporting the bill, but I do not support invoking closure on the issue. There are too many important things to debate on the bill, and that debate should be heard by Canadians.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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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 appreciate the words that were shared by the hon. member, and I have a couple of questions.

Could the member elaborate on the benefits to tourists and people who will be visiting this great country for Canada's 150th anniversary? We do expect to have many visitors. I wonder if the member thinks there would be a more thorough debate at committee, as there is the ability to bring in witnesses, and to study the legislation at committee.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I support the bill, but there are questions that have to be answered. We want to get the bill to committee, but I see no value in invoking closure on this debate before the elected representatives for the Canadian people have had a chance to stand here and ask the government their questions.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in debate today at second reading of Bill C-23, the preclearance act, 2016. One of our government's top priorities is to ensure that the border is run smoothly, efficiently, and securely.

Pre-clearance was high on the agenda last March in Washington, at which time we reached an agreement in principle with the United States to expand pre-clearance to new Canadian sites and modes of travel. During the trip to Washington earlier this month our two countries made a firm commitment to establish pre-clearance operations for cargo.

On the American side, the legislative measures necessary for these expansions were included in the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016, which was enacted this past December with unanimous support in both houses of Congress. The necessary Canadian legislation is the bill before us today.

Pre-clearance is a vital border management program that enhances border security, improves the cross-border flow of legitimate goods and travellers, and allows for border infrastructure to be used more efficiently. Quite simply, it involves determining whether individuals and goods may enter another country while those individuals and goods are still physically located in the country of origin.

As members of the House know, pre-clearance is not a new concept. In fact, with this agreement, we are building on a long-standing, productive collaboration between Canada and the United States. This is a highly successful, cost-effective program that produces economic benefits on both sides of the border.

Air passengers have enjoyed these benefits for more than a half century, and currently do so at eight major airports across Canada. As well, some pre-inspection sites serve rail and cruise ship lines on the west coast. In the airline industry alone, every year some 12 million passengers are pre-screened before boarding planes in Canada, avoiding lengthy customs lines in the U.S. and improving air security. It also allows airlines and travellers to gain direct access from Canada to airports in the U.S. that do not have local customs facilities.

We know that pre-clearance already provides tangible economic benefits to our national and local economies while enhancing security and border integrity. It only makes sense to find ways to make these benefits available to a greater number of Canadians. That is exactly what Bill C-23 would do.

This legislation would replace the current Preclearance Act, 1999, which only applies to air transportation. In doing so, it would preserve the benefits of the existing regime for air travellers and the airline industry while opening up opportunities for pre-clearance in other modes of travel, as well as pre-clearance of cargo. In general, travellers familiar with existing pre-clearance operations would not notice a difference, beyond the fact that pre-clearance would be available in more locations. Let us look in broad strokes at the key elements of the bill.

First, it puts in place the legislative authorities required to allow the United States to conduct pre-clearance operations in Canada in all modes of travel. That includes: one, defining where and when pre-clearance can occur; two, who has access to the pre-clearance area; three, the authorities of the U.S. pre-clearance officers working in Canada, in other words, what they can and cannot do; and four, how Canadian police and Canadian border services officers can assist U.S. pre-clearance officers.

Much of this is very similar to the existing pre-clearance act. In addition, Bill C-23 explicitly requires U.S. pre-clearance officers to exercise their powers and duties in a manner consistent with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act. These safeguards are not in place when Canadians are processed by U.S. customs and border protection in the United States. In other words, Bill C-23 would allow more Canadian travellers to undergo American border procedures while under the protective umbrella of Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution.

The second part of the bill provides the authorities and provisions required to enable Canadian pre-clearance operations in the United States. With the appropriate agreements in place, this would mean that for the first time travellers and goods could be pre-cleared before arriving in Canada, something that has long been sought by industry and government on both sides of the border.

This part of the bill authorizes the Canadian border services officers and other Canadian public officers to administer in the United States all of the acts that are regularly applied at ports of entry in Canada such as the Customs Act. It also clarifies how the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act applies in the pre-clearance context.

Eventual Canadian pre-clearance sites in the United States would be determined based on factors such as economic benefits and competitiveness, traffic flows, existing border infrastructure, and other considerations.

With this legislation in place, Canada and the U.S. would be able to move forward with the implementation of pre-clearance operations at new locations and in new modes of transportation, as well as with the pre-clearance of cargo.

The expansion would begin with four new sites agreed to in Washington last year: Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Montreal Central Station, and Rocky Mountaineer in B.C. This marks the first ever expansion of pre-clearance in Canada to travel by rail. Our hope is that it is only the beginning of further expansion to new locations and modes of transport on both sides of the border.

I look forward to a full discussion of the bill with members on all sides of the House. I hope hon. members will support this legislation that would benefit the Canadian economy and further strengthen the economic and interpersonal ties between Canadians and Americans that underpin so much of our mutual security and prosperity.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my colleague highlights a very important fact. We have two airports, one in Quebec and one in Ontario, that would be getting pre-clearance and the economic benefits and the convenience of Canadians and permanent residents being able to use pre-clearance is of critical importance.

I like to use the comparison of the Toronto Pearson International Airport, where because of pre-clearance, they are able to fly to something like 20 destinations in the U.S. today that do not have U.S. customs located there. If they did not have the pre-clearance, they would not be able to fly into those destinations.

When we look at the bill and the agenda of the government, would the member not agree that there is immense economic and social value to see pre-clearance expanded here in Canada, not only by plane, but also by train?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, it has been great to be a part of the debate here today. I had to get up and ask a question because Billy Bishop airport has been mentioned a couple of times. It is going to have pre-clearance now which is a great thing, but at the same time the Liberals, about two minutes after the election without any science-based data or all of this data they were going to have before making a decision, shut down the ability of Billy Bishop airport to extend its runway to make this worthwhile, to fly farther, and make use of pre-clearance. Will you reconsider that untimely shutting down of the expansion of the Billy Bishop airport to allow it to really make use of this pre-clearance?

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to address my question for the member concerning part 3 of Bill C-23. I have asked this question at various times today, and it seems the Liberals' answers are slowly progressing. My question is about the authorization to allow U.S. agents on Canadian soil to carry firearms, and the latest line of reasoning from the Liberals is that they would only be permitted to carry firearms if their Canadian counterparts were carrying firearms. That still begs the question as to why it is necessary to arm the U.S. officers on Canadian soil in the first place. Does the member have a lack of confidence in our own forces to do the job properly, our own forces who have taken an oath of allegiance to the crown, to Canadian institutions, and to the Constitution? Does the member feel comfortable with arming U.S. agents on Canadian soil when our own forces are perfectly capable of doing the same job?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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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 know the hon. member has been an advocate for small businesses, so I would like to ask him if he feels that this legislation would actually support the pre-clearance of goods and services that will be going to the U.S. and that in fact it would help our small businesses become more export oriented.

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March 6th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue our second reading debate about Bill C-23, legislation that gives us the opportunity to provide faster, charter-protected travel for Canadians. These crucial updates to the pre-clearance framework would enhance security, improve cross-border flow, and produce substantial economic and travel benefits for Canadians.

We have already benefited from over six decades of successful pre-clearance. It has been a boon for business, for the economy, and for ordinary travellers. We are now in a position to implement an agreement with the United States that would make these advantages available to more Canadians in more parts of the country.

We have heard the support of voices of key partners for the expansion that this bill would allow, from business, from chambers of commerce, from the tourism industry, from municipalities, and from governments and ordinary Canadians alike.

Most recently, before we adjourned last week to spend time in our ridings, we heard from many members of this House that Bill C-23 would bring economic and travel benefits while protecting Canadian rights and that it is on the right track to continue through the legislative process.

We also heard concerns from some members. Many of these concerns have already been addressed, both during the debate in this chamber and through the technical briefing provided to journalists last week by Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency, and live-streamed by the media. This was on top of the technical briefings provided to parliamentarians last year.

However, to ensure the clarity on some of these issues, I would like to focus my remarks today on two specific topics: travellers' rights and the reciprocity between Canada and the United States.

First, with respect to rights, everyone knows that both Canada and the U.S. set and enforce their own rules with respect to who or what enters their country. For Canadians, undergoing U.S. customs and immigration procedures while still in Canada ensures that Canadian legal and charter standards apply to that process. That is a distinct advantage over entering the United States through a regular port of entry inside U.S. territory where Canadian charter standards do not apply to the conduct of U.S. officers.

Let us take the example of withdrawal.

If travellers want to withdraw from a pre-clearance site in Canada and not continue to the U.S., they would be able to do so under Bill C-23, just as they can under the current pre-clearance arrangement. The only adjustment would be that American officials could ask the travellers to identify themselves and give their reason for withdrawing in order to avoid illicit probing of pre-clearance sites.

The alternative is to go to the U.S. and submit to examination by U.S. authorities on U.S. soil. At that point, a traveller cannot withdraw from the process at all because they are already in the United States.

I have heard some members argue that travellers are already protected in this way under the current pre-clearance arrangement and so no change is needed. The problem there is that we only have pre-clearance right now at eight airports in Canada.

If people are travelling from anywhere else, the protection of undergoing U.S. border procedures in Canada, and therefore having the right to withdraw, is not available to them. With Bill C-23, we can begin expanding pre-clearance so that more Canadian travellers can enjoy its benefits and protections.

Here is another point about travellers' rights that is important to clarify. U.S. pre-clearance officers would not have the authority to enforce the U.S. criminal laws or make arrests in Canada.

If a U.S. pre-clearance officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a traveller has committed an offence under Canadian law, they can detain that traveller without making an arrest, but only in order to transfer the person to Canadian authorities right away. This is not new; rather, it is part of the existing pre-clearance framework that has been in place since 1999.

In other words, there is no compromise here on rights and values.

On the contrary, Bill C-23 would expand the protective umbrella of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so it could apply to Canadians flying out of airports such as Billy Bishop in Toronto or Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, which are not currently covered. It would also be applicable for the first time to Canadians travelling by other modes of transportation, beginning with train routes in Montreal and B.C.

Canadians expect us to ensure their rights and values and the protections afforded by the charter, our bill of rights, and the Human Rights Act are front and centre in all legislation we consider in the House. By making charter protections more widely available, Bill C-23 is a step forward for the rights of Canadian travellers.

Next I would like to address some of the questions we have heard about reciprocity.

It must be stressed that the updated and expanded approach to pre-clearance we are discussing is absolutely and fully reciprocal. There are no authorities conferred on the border officers of one country that would not be conferred on those of the other. Each country retains primary jurisdiction over most criminal offences that might be committed by its officers in the course of their duties, while the host country retains primary jurisdiction for the most serious crimes. As such, fears that the bill constitutes the ceding of our sovereignty are misplaced. Rather, Bill C-23 implements a mutually beneficial agreement that imposes the same obligations and confers the same authorities on both parties.

The bill would improve safety and security for both countries. It would make travel and trade more efficient and expeditious. As is clearly laid out in article II of the agreement with the United States, it would ensure that each county's laws and constitutions would apply to all pre-clearance operations. That means U.S. officers operating in Canada will have to abide by the charter as will Canadian border officers in the United States.

It cannot be stated enough that more than 400,000 people flow across our border every day. Close to $2.5 billion in two-way trade moves between our countries each and every day. It is mutually beneficial for both countries to build on the success of existing pre-clearance operations, while simultaneously protecting, even enhancing, the rights of Canadian travellers. That is the backbone of the bill before us today.

The legislation would ensure that more Canadians would have access to the protections provided by pre-clearance, while making cross-border travel and trade easier, more profitable, and more secure.

I encourage all members to support Bill C-23.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader is keenly interested in tourism and supporting tourism in our country. Tourism alone, including 12.5 million overnight travellers from the U.S., accounted directly for $35.5 billion of Canada's GDP and over 600,000 jobs. It is this pre-clearance that encourages tourism, that makes it easier, and makes those travelling have a pleasant experience. This is absolutely vital to improving tourism and making the travel experience easier and more enjoyable.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech on Bill C-23.

I have had an opportunity to speak several times now about the time allocation motions moved by the Liberal government. This is the twelfth time allocation motion, and yet, the discussions on this bill were going very well. A number of my colleagues had an opportunity to discuss this, because this is a bill that we, too, on this side of the House, are very familiar with.

Does my colleague think that rushing the passage of Bill C-23 was the right thing to do?

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Filomena Tassi Liberal Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I consider the debate that has gone on in the House to be very thorough and has provided an opportunity for many members to engage in this wholesome debate. We do have an agenda where we want to ensure that legislation is carefully considered, and this legislation has been carefully considered.

We have a lot of work to do. Our government wants to provide change. That is what the government was elected to do. In order to do that, we need to ensure we have the time to bring forward all legislation and provide the changes we promised in the election.

My response is, yes, we have had very wholesome debate, over three days of debate, and it has been very worthwhile. We are ready now to move on with the vote on the legislation.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak to Bill C-23 and to argue in support of the reasoned amendment by my colleague, the member for Beloeil—Chambly. His amendment instructs the House to decline to give second reading to the bill because of several important reasons, which I will be happy to explore later in my speech.

I also want to note that it is very unfortunate we are conducting this debate today under a time allocation passed by the Liberal government earlier today.

The tone of this debate on the legislation has heated up considerably over the past few days during which it has been debated. In particular, there have been some misleading and grossly exaggerated statements from Liberal members of Parliament. There has been a general mischaracterization of the NDP's concerns, combined with over-the-top and fiercely partisan attacks, which have at times sunk this debate to a new low.

I hope to raise the tone of this debate with reasoned arguments against letting Bill C-23 pass at second reading.

Let me make one point perfectly clear. The New Democrats are in favour of measures that will facilitate fluid movement across the U.S. border, but not at the expense of human rights, respect for privacy of Canadians, and Canada's sovereignty.

I support pre-clearance as it currently operates. In fact, I have used the service several times in my life at the Vancouver International Airport when travelling to the United States, and it certainly works well as it currently exists.

I understand that pre-clearance is an important part of the Canada-U.S. relationship and to the free flow of trade and travellers between our two countries, but the provisions contained in Bill C-23 are too problematic for me to give my support.

Bill C-23 neglects to take into account the climate of uncertainty at the border following the discriminatory policies and executive orders of the Trump administration. Canada and the United States signed the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance on March 16, 2015, under the previous Harper government.

Bill C-23 was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on June 17, 2016. There was little fanfare at the time, as Parliament was more consumed by Bill C-14's progress through the Senate, and we were certainly all looking forward to the upcoming visit of then President Obama and his address to the House of Commons, which I think we can all agree was a tremendous speech.

The times have changed dramatically since that time, and they provide an even starker contrast to the reasons why this bill is so problematic. The Liberals are moving ahead with the agreement signed under Obama's presidency as if everything was simply business as usual. However, we must take into account the change in U.S. leadership.

The legislation was problematic before the inauguration of President Trump, but recent discriminatory orders and invasions of privacy now leave no doubt about the potential dangers and abuses that will result from the agreement. This is a president who excels at making statements with no empirical evidence to back them up. The most recent example is his shocking allegation that former President Obama ordered wiretaps on his phone during the election.

This man has little understanding of what a warrant is, of the checks and balances of the United States system, the constitution, and he has undermined the judiciary of the United States on repeated occurrences.

The U.S. customs and border protection agency is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. It is an extremely powerful arm of the executive branch of government, but it is now headed by someone who I do not think is fit for that office.

Agencies take their cue from the people at the top. This is a fact. Bill C-23 is proposing to give more power to foreign agents that are lead by an administration that routinely uses fear, lies, and personal attacks on its political opponents to advance its agenda. I cannot, in good conscience, support such a bill.

The third point I wish to address are the increased powers that Bill C-23 would provide for U.S. officers on Canadian soil, provisions regarding carrying of firearms, the power to conduct strip searches, detention, and interrogation.

In particular, I feel strongly that it is unacceptable to see officers of a foreign country who are in a position of authority bear and ultimately use firearms in the performance of their duties on Canadian soil. As is provided for in the summary of the bill, part 3 of the enactment makes related amendments to the Criminal Code to provide the United States pre-clearance officers with an exemption from criminal liability under the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act with respect to carriage of firearms and other regulated items. Bill C-23 would violate our precious Canadian sovereignty by increasing the powers of American pre-clearance officers on Canadian soil with respect to carrying firearms and by not properly defining a criminal liability framework.

There are those within the Liberal and Conservative ranks who dismiss this concern or see it as simply irrelevant. In fact, repeated speakers from the Liberal Party have used rather poor reasoning, in that U.S. agents would only be granted firearms if their Canadian counterparts were similarly armed in the same area. This sidesteps the issue and avoids the question as to why this measure is necessary.

I fully realize that with the combined Liberal and Conservative support for the bill, it is most definitely going to pass second reading. The troubling thing for me is that not one Liberal or Conservative MP has bothered to raise any concerns about this erosion of Canadian sovereignty.

The Liberals like to call themselves the party of the charter, but not one of them has addressed Canadians' concerns about being interrogated, detained, or turned back at the border based on race, religion, travel history, or birth place, as a result of policies that may contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Liberals have also failed to speak up about the lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgendered persons during strip searches, in spite of the government's support for Bill C-16.

The Conservatives like to wrap themselves in the flag, and they talk a good game when it comes to protecting our border and our sovereignty, but not one of them has stood to address the fact that we would be giving more powers to agents of a foreign government on Canadian soil.

The final point I want to make is that Canada Border Services agents and the RCMP are filled with great men and women, who do their job in a most capable way every day. They are required to take the oath of allegiance before they can assume their duties as uniformed officers. Allegiance is given to the crown and other institutions that the sovereign represents within the federal and provincial spheres, including the state, its constitution, and traditions. On the other hand, U.S. customs and border patrol agents give their oath of allegiance to the United States Constitution and promise to faithfully discharge their duties in the office that they are about to enter, which is fully an institution of the United States government. This is the crux of the problem. United States officials operating on Canadian soil owe their allegiance to a foreign government, and yet we are prepared to give them powerful new measures, such as carrying firearms on our sovereign soil.

I think that borders matter and that they certainly need to be treated with respect. Also, sovereignty matters and precedents matter. Therefore, I think this is a slippery slope. If we pass Bill C-23, if we allow agents of a foreign government to operate on our soil in this matter, what more demands will be presented at a future instance from the United States government?

All I ask hon. members to do is pause and think about the wishes of their constituents. Did their constituents send them to this place to pass legislation to give agents of a foreign government the power to carry firearms on Canadian soil? This is a real sticking point for me, and I know from the correspondence that I and many of my colleagues have received that this is a major concern. We will certainly be raising it at every opportunity that we can.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of my speech, I said that New Democrats support pre-clearance. We know that eight Canadian airports currently have pre-clearance operations, and, as I stated in my speech, I have used them. Having the ability to be pre-cleared on Canadian soil is a good thing, but this bill goes beyond that. If we were simply expanding the service to include other airports without all of the powers that the United States is demanding, we would look at that in a favourable light.

The member across the way has failed to address the concerns I presented in my speech, and indeed no member of Parliament on the Liberal side has addressed my concerns about U.S. agents carrying firearms. I would love to hear a plausible explanation as to why that is necessary. I am still waiting after an entire day's debate.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent speech.

He said that a number of improvements still need to be made, because several concerns are still being raised. The problem we have with the Liberal government is that we are having a hard time trusting it when it comes to committee work.

We saw some concrete examples just recently. For instance, the government completely ignored the results of all the hard work done by the committee that was examining electoral reform. It also ignored the work of another committee that was studying a bill on health.

How could we possibly trust this government, especially after it imposed a time allocation motion on this bill today? It is limiting debate as well as the work we can do in the House of Commons to improve the bill and better understand it.

After so many examples to the contrary, can we really trust the government when it says that the bill will be improved upon in committee?

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Drummond raises an excellent point. Let us go through the examples.

We can look at the clear recommendation that was made by the committee on electoral reform. We can look at the clear recommendation that was made by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Bill C-201. We can look at the clear recommendations that were made by the public safety committee with respect to Bill C-22. In each one of those instances, the committee did its due diligence, listened to the experts, and presented its recommendations to the House, only to have the government completely ignore the evidence and recommendations and proceed along a predetermined path.

Therefore, my friend raises a valid concern. In every instance, the Liberals tell us to trust in the committee process. I have trust in it, but I have no trust in the government following the recommendations and hard work that those committees do on behalf of the House.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the member if he is clear on the notion that U.S. customs officers in airport terminals will not be carrying weapons. They must comply with the same rules as the host nation, and customs agents in Canada do not carry weapons. I want to make sure that he understands that. I would like to hear if he does.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

No, I simply did not. What I was pointing to was part 3 of the bill, which gives U.S. customs officials the power to carry firearms if Canadian officials carry firearms. My question with regard to this specific provision was why it is necessary. Why are the Liberals ceding our sovereignty to U.S. agents? Why are they writing it into the bill?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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London West Ontario

Liberal

Kate Young LiberalParliamentary Secretary for Science

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in debate today about Bill C-23, the preclearance act, 2016. This legislation has a number of significant implications for Canada. It is important to our economy and security, just as it is for our most important bilateral relationship with the United States.

As members well know, Canada and the United States share a proud history of working together, particularly when it comes to the management of our shared border. Our government is committed to building on this relationship in many ways, including through the pursuit of border measures that facilitate the free flow of people and goods and keep us safe.

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 U.S. on a wide range of issues that ensure we keep our borders effective and functional. This includes putting in place the best frameworks and policies that allow for the smooth flow of people and goods while securing our borders from shared threats.

It should therefore come as no surprise that we have been especially enthusiastic to make further bilateral progress on the pre-clearance initiative. As members know, pre-clearance has long been a part of our strong border relationship, and it will be key to our future relationship. With Bill C-23, we have an opportunity to usher in even greater security and economic benefits when it comes to Canada-U.S. cross-border travel.

Let me highlight the key elements of the bill and why it is so important that members join me in supporting its passage. Once passed, the bill will essentially open the door for us to move ahead with ratification and implementation of the land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance agreement, which was signed by Canada and the United States in 2015. That door, once opened, offers tremendous economic and security benefits for both nations. It does this in two key areas. One is by setting out the legislative authorities governing pre-clearance operations conducted by the United States and Canada, including possible future expansion to additional sites and modes of travel. Two is by providing the authorities and enacting the provisions necessary for Canada to eventually conduct pre-clearance in the United States, as the U.S. has long done in Canada. Indeed, the United States has conducted pre-clearance at Canadian airports for many decades. From its early days at Toronto Pearson International Airport, to its current presence in eight major Canadian airports and five pre-inspection sites in B.C. for rail and marine, pre-clearance has been a boon for business and leisure travel for both nations.

The first part of the bill would allow for potential expansion of U.S. pre-clearance to other forms of transport in Canada, defining important aspects, such as where and when these new sites can operate, who would 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 would work with these U.S. officers. As has been clearly stated, all pre-clearance operations in Canada must be conducted in accordance with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 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.

The second part of the bill is where we see the reciprocal element come into play. Along with enforcement authorities that would be provided under U.S. law, 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. CBSA officers and other Canadian public officers, as appropriate, would have the authority to administer, at designated sites in the United States, the Canadian laws that they regularly use at ports of entry in Canada, including the Customs Act.

The bill also clarifies how the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act applies in the pre-clearance context.

As we have heard, this legislation will pave the way to expanding the benefits of pre-clearance to any site and any mode of transport in either country, pursuant to future agreements.

Already Canada and the United States have announced the intention to begin that expansion with Quebec City's Jean Lesage International Airport, Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, Montreal's Central Station, and the Rocky Mountaineer in B.C. These sites were the object of agreements in principle reached during the state visit to Washington last March.

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 will allow us to build on more than 60 years of pre-clearance co-operation, further enhancing our two countries' mutual security and facilitating the cross-border movement of travellers and goods in all modes of travel. This is vital to Canada's prosperity.

I encourage all members to give this legislation their support.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member from London north centre. She lives in the same part of the world as I do, and we know how important it is to have clearance at the border. Our industries rely on that. We have many pieces of equipment that go back and forth across that border on a regular basis, so pre-clearance is essential.

Our Conservative government obviously took a major role in that and committed to putting in the Gordie Howe bridge, which will certainly enhance industry in my riding and also industry in the city of London, which this member represents.

I have a serious concern. I wonder if there has been any discussion about what the Americans will do about it when and if we legalize marijuana. We know that the border crossing gets thick. Frequently, when we have members who drive trucks with shipments, and they admit to being users of marijuana, they get shut down at the border.

I am wondering if there have been discussions with the American government about that particular issue, because it will thicken the border.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kate Young Liberal London West, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is great to be able to talk about this with my colleague who lives very close. Actually, I am the member for London West. London North Centre is adjacent to my riding, but I wanted to clarify that in case anyone was watching and thought I had jumped over a riding.

I think the member has a good point. It is something the committee could ask, and certainly that is one of the questions we should be concerned about. Of course, we have a lot of questions that are still to be answered about the legislation dealing with marijuana. I look forward to those questions being raised at the committee level.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the debate today, government members have tended to pooh-pooh the concerns of the Green Party and the NDP about the changes in pre-clearance. I just want to add a voice in posing my question to the hon. member, not from a political party but from the former chair of the Canadian Bar Association, citizenship and immigration section. Michael Greene notes the following:

Under the new proposed bill, [a prospective visitor to the U.S.] wouldn't be able to walk out. They can be held and forced to answer questions, first to identify themselves, which is not so offensive, but secondly, to explain the reasons for leaving, and to explain their reasons for wanting to withdraw. And that's the part we think could be really offensive and goes too far.

Mr. Greene also notes the change in administration since this was originally negotiated. In the Trump administration we have a more volatile and potentially more discriminatory approach to travellers to the U.S.

I ask my hon. colleague if she is at all troubled by the change from working with the Obama administration, when this was negotiated, and now working with Mr. Trump.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kate Young Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as is currently the case, travellers will be entitled to withdraw from pre-clearance at any time. Under Bill C-23, withdrawing travellers may be required to identify themselves and give their reasons for withdrawing. This is simply to avoid the illicit probing of pre-clearance sites by people trying to discover weaknesses in border security before leaving the area undetected. That is part of the bill.

We have this agreement, and it is time for Canada to move forward. I hope the committee will, again, discuss this at the committee level.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could expand on the idea that we are going beyond the eight airports that currently have pre-clearance. In particular, could she focus some of her thoughts on the rail lines in Quebec and in the province of British Columbia, where we will have pre-clearance for two companies?

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this debate today. I have been looking at this issue very closely for some time now. Obviously, when we review a bill our constituents ask us questions about that bill and what it entails. These discussions with constituents keep our democracy strong.

I am pleased to continue our debate at second reading of Bill C-23, a legislative measure that allows for quicker, charter-protected travel. These essential updates to the pre-clearance framework will improve security and cross-border traffic, and will bring with it great economic and travel benefits.

We already have more than six decades of successful pre-clearance under our belts. It has been a boon to business, the economy, and regular travellers. We are now well placed to implement an agreement reached with the United States that will help provide these benefits to an increased number of Canadians in more regions of the country than ever before.

There has been a positive response from leading stakeholders, including businesses, chambers of commerce, the tourism industry, municipalities, governments, and ordinary Canadians, about the growth this bill can generate. More recently, before we adjourned the week before last to spend time in our ridings, we heard from a number of MPs who said that Bill C-23 will generate benefits for the economy and for travel while protecting Canadians' rights. It is on the right path in terms of the legislative process. We also heard from some members who expressed concerns.

We have already addressed most of those concerns in debate here and during last week's media technical briefing by Public Safety Canada and Canada Border Services Agency, which was broadcast live. That was in addition to technical briefings for parliamentarians last year. However, to ensure clarity with respect to some of those issues, I would like to focus my remarks today on two specific subjects: travellers' rights and Canada-U.S. reciprocity.

First of all, let us talk about rights. Everyone knows that Canada and the United States establish and enforce their own rules about who or what enters their own country. However, for Canadians, undergoing U.S. customs procedures while they are still on Canadian soil ensures that the Canadian legal and charter standards apply to that process. This is a distinct advantage over entering the U.S. through a regular point of entry where Canadian charter standards do not apply to the conduct of American officials.

Let us consider withdrawal, for example. If travellers changed their minds and wanted to withdraw from a pre-clearance area in Canada and not go to the United States, they would be able to do so under Bill C-23, as they can under the current pre-clearance arrangement. The only change would be that the U.S. officials could ask the travellers to identify themselves and give their reasons for withdrawing in order to prevent the illicit probing of pre-clearance areas.

The other option would be for travellers to go to the United States and be cleared by U.S. officials on American soil.

At that point, travellers can no longer withdraw from the process because they are in the United States. Travellers who change their mind or want to withdraw once in the United States are stuck on American soil in a U.S. airport.

Some members have stated that, because travellers already have that protection under the existing pre-clearance arrangement, no change is needed. The problem is that we currently have pre-clearance at only eight Canadian airports.

Travellers coming from elsewhere have no protection with respect to U.S. border procedures in Canada, so they do not have the right to withdraw. Bill C-23 will enable us to expand pre-clearance so that more Canadian travellers can enjoy its benefits and protection.

It is important to clarify another point about travellers' rights. U.S. pre-clearance officers will not have the power to enforce American criminal law or arrest people in Canada. If a U.S. pre-clearance officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a traveller has committed a crime under Canadian law, let me emphasize that I am talking about Canadian law, the officer can detain the traveller without arresting him or her, but only for the purpose of immediately transferring that person into the custody of Canadian authorities. This is not a new procedure. It is part of the pre-clearance regime that has been in place since 1999.

In other words, rights and values are not being compromised here. On the contrary, Bill C-23 extends protection guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Canadians whose flights depart airports such as Billy Bishop and Jean Lesage in Quebec City. That protection will also apply for the first time to Canadians who employ other modes of transportation, beginning with train stations in Montreal and British Columbia.

Canadians expect us to ensure that their rights and values, the protections found in the charter, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act, remain a priority in all legislation that we examine in this House. By further guaranteeing the protections set out in the charter, Bill C-23 is a step forward for the rights of Canadian travellers.

I would like to address some of the questions we have heard regarding reciprocity. I think it is important to emphasize that the updated and broad-based approach to pre-clearance that we are discussing is absolutely fully reciprocal. No power or privilege is conferred upon the border officers of one country and not the other. Accordingly, each country preserves the primary jurisdiction regarding most criminal offences that could be committed by its officers in the performance of their duties, while the host country retains the primary jurisdiction regarding most serious crimes. Accordingly, any fears that this bill jeopardizes our sovereignty are unfounded.

On the contrary, Bill C-23 implements a mutually beneficial agreement that imposes the same obligations and confers the same authorities on both parties. It helps improve security for both countries and makes travel and trade more efficient and expeditious. Also, as is clearly laid out in article II of the agreement with the United States, it would ensure that each country's rights and constitutions would apply to all pre-clearance operations. This means that U.S. officers operating in Canada would have to abide by the charter, just as Canadian border officers in the United States would have to respect the laws of that land.

We cannot emphasize enough that more than 400,000 people cross the border every day. Nearly $2.5 billion in two-way trade moves between our countries every day. It is mutually beneficial for both countries to build on the success of existing pre-clearance operations while simultaneously protecting, even enhancing, the rights of Canadian travellers. That is the backbone of the bill before us today.

This legislative measure will ensure that more Canadians have access to the protections provided by pre-clearance, while making cross-border travel and trade easier, more profitable, and more secure.

I encourage all hon. members to support Bill C-23.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's comments. I must say that, if it were merely a matter of increasing the number of pre-clearance stations in Canada, a consensus would be reached fairly quickly.

This week, a woman was questioned for six hours. She is a Canadian citizen who wanted to go to the United States. Six hours is a long time, especially since the individual in question did nothing wrong. For those who decide that they have had enough of being questioned, that they no longer want to go to the United States, and that they would prefer to return home, Bill C-23 does not indicate what constitutes a reasonable period of time before a person can withdraw. It is often said that the devil is in the details, and this is a good example of that.

According to my colleague, how long does a normal interrogation last, if the interrogation of a Canadian citizen who simply wants to visit the United States can be considered normal?

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.

It all depends on what is said. The member is presenting a theoretical example. If an individual wanted to withdraw and it was not a complex case, I imagine that it would be fairly easy to do so. There are standards set out in Canada's jurisprudence. These standards will be applicable under Bill C-23. If Bill C-23 had been in effect, perhaps authorities would not have been able to question this woman for six hours.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate my hon. colleague's speech. I hold him in high regard from the time that we served together on the electoral reform committee.

The member made reference to the fact that concerns over sovereignty are unfounded. I would like to argue that point, because if we take the concept of sovereignty as an actor, such as a state, having the exclusive jurisdiction over the use of force within a prescribed border, if we take that as a basic definition of sovereignty, what this bill is proposing to do through part 3 is to allow U.S. agents, foreign agents, the power to carry firearms. Yes, I know they will not be carrying them at airports, but they will still be able to carry them where CBSA officers can carry them.

Would the member not agree that giving a foreign entity the power to use force on Canadian soil in some way violates our sovereignty according to the definition of the concept? I would like to hear the member's thoughts on that.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member mentioned in his very thoughtful speech, which I listened to intently, he uses pre-clearance when he travels by air. I would imagine that at pre-clearance, if there was an incident and there was some kind of struggle, obviously the pre-clearance officer at the airport where the member uses pre-clearance would no doubt be engaged in some kind of altercation. That would probably also be considered a use of force, even though it does not involve a firearm.

The fact remains that if there is a problem, under this law the American officer on Canadian soil would be required to bring a Canadian officer into the picture as soon as possible. I think that is a reasonable provision in this legislation.

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March 6th, 2017 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today but disappointed in many respects, because Bill C-23 is being expedited through the House. It is unfortunate. Many times Liberal members criticized the Conservatives for using time allocation as an archaic way of processing legislation through the House, and today it seems to have become the regular way of doing business. It was an exception to the rule no less than 15 years ago, but now time allocation has become the standard operation of Conservative and Liberal governments. That is unfortunate because errors in bills continue to happen because they do not have a full examination.

The Liberals are starting to see that come true by what is taking place. Not only is there the arming of U.S. border patrol agents but also the basic disregard of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is quite alarming that the so-called party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has disavowed standing up for Canadians. We saw that today in the House of Commons with the weak-kneed approach of Liberal members to what is taking place on the border where Canadians are being denied entry into the United States for racial and ethnic reasons. The website states why they cannot enter into the United States but racial and ethnic profiling is not one of the reasons. The Liberal government has had plenty of opportunities to speak strongly to the United States, but it has not done that. That is a charter right. It is quite clear that the way the United States processes individuals entering the country violates our strong relationship with that country.

Before I move from that topic, it is important to note that the Liberal government is compliant with the U.S. behaving in such a manner. We have signed agreements with the U.S. on several issues relating to border security, relating to processing at the border, relating to immigration and other things, and that country has decided to dump those agreements, go it alone, without a peep from our government. It is shameful.

Back in 2002-03 I was at the Canadian embassy when then ambassador Raymond Chrétien identified that there were going to be five to seven nations, such as Pakistan, that were going to be put on a separate list for going into the United States. I said that we should object to this because a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and that once an individual has been vetted through our process, that person should be treated as such. To this day we have yet to have a prime minister, whether it was Prime Minister Chrétien or Prime Minister Martin, stand up against this. We knew Prime Minister Harper was not going to do that. However, this body here has had plenty of opportunities to do so.

Putting closure on this debate brings up a number of sensitive issues that need to be vetted.

I grew up near the border. I live and work there. I am raising my family there. I have been crossing the border all of my life. One of my first negative experiences with crossing the border was at the age of 18 when my best friend Jeet Pillay and I were going over to watch a baseball game. He was asked by U.S. officials what country he was from. He said that he was from Canada. I am as white as a bag of milk on a beach but he happens to be brown skinned. These border officials said, “No, no, no. We want to know what country you are from. Where were you born?” He said that he was born at Hôtel-Dieu Grace hospital, which is only three blocks away from where we were crossing on the Canadian side. The officials pulled us in and detained us for about three hours just because of Jeet's skin colour. We missed most of the game.

I have become very used to what is taking place at the border and also what happens under the leadership of presidents and others. The Department of Homeland Security, which has become the over-arching thing, is a relatively new phenomenon. We forget about this. It has become one of the biggest bureaucracies, if not the biggest, in the world, but it is only a recent creation by the United States government.

We have problems with customs and border protection and also having their agents on Canadian soil and making decisions about our citizens. We also have problems with its agents on Canadian soil being able to make decisions about Canadian citizens, decisions that could affect their livelihood, decisions that could prevent them for social reasons from entering the United States. Decisions that could embarrass them publicly and shame them are being made by U.S. officials on our soil.

On top of that, they could now be armed on our soil. People say, “That is not too bad, they would have to go under these rules, terms, and conditions; they are really good fellows and there is no problem there, it is fine”, but what have we done in this act? We have not done any oversight as in making sure that we are actually going to screen and have accountability there. It is very weak. Who are we talking to?

We are talking about a problem that they have in the United States, that the customs and border protection system right now has a corruption issue. The Americans have a serious corruption issue that has been growing in the United States. Those recent problems that they have faced involved everything including drug trafficking, bribery, human smuggling, false statements, and breaking of personal privacy. These are real things that are actually happening. These are real men and women who have done those wrong things in the hire of the U.S. government for many different reasons that I do not know, but they are real cases. I am going to talk about a couple of those cases because it is important that we know the type of people who could be on our soil doing our yeoman's work that should be done by Canadians, and without the proper checks and balances. The Liberals know because they are getting squeamish about this. There is no doubt about it. When they allow another country to come in with arms and put their beachhead down here, then they ultimately have to be overseeing this properly, which the Liberals have not done.

Hence, there is the rush to put this through. At a time when the U.S. is basically tearing up agreements that we have had and denying people entry into the United States for reasons that the Americans describe as normal cause and at a time when we have more people from the United States coming to Canada as refugees, the Liberals want to rush this out the door. It does not make any sense, aside from political pressure and political damage, as opposed to doing the right thing and going through this every single step and every single way to make sure every voice is heard. In watching the debates today, it might be one of the reasons Liberals often do not take their full allotted time. That is the reason to shorten their time in the House.

I want to talk about a few of the cases because they are important. Manuel Eduardo Pena, customs and border protection officer, was convicted by a federal grand jury in Brownsville. Special agents witnessed Pena take the firearm from the store and deliver it to another person in exchange for money. He was sentenced to five years' probation. Adam Bender, from my neck of the woods, worked on the Windsor-Detroit border crossing at the tunnel, minutes from my home. He admitted that he used his position to allow illegal immigrants to enter through his lane at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. For human smuggling, he got 24 months in prison. John Ajello is another customs and border protection officer. He got a misdemeanour of supplementing federal salary. He was accepting payments during an operation related to information sharing that he should not have done. He was making money during an investigation. Luis Alarid got seven years in prison for trafficking and bribery, conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of marijuana into the United States, and receiving more than $200,000 in bribe money. They were all convicted. Noe Aleman Jr.'s crime was encouraging and inducing illegal immigrants to stay in the country. He was a veteran of six to 10 years. A lot of them, well over half, are veterans of the service. It goes to show us that the danger is not just with the new people who are hired, but it actually can be corruption through the system that the Americans have.

There are many good officers out there. I deal with this. I travel. I have season's tickets to sporting events in the United States. I go through all the time. There are wonderful people there, but there is also this shadow of conspiracy, conviction, and unauthorized behaviour that now we are actually empowering at a time when there is investigation.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have listened and cannot help but think of this fear factor that the New Democrats have. They come up with some ideas that are so much outside the ballpark in their opposition to this particular piece of legislation. On the one hand, we have the Conservatives, and we appreciate the support that is being given by the Conservative Party. The NDP's opposition to the bill just does not make sense. It seems that there is this fear thing that it has. The member is making reference to the Americans coming over with arms and it is almost as if we go to an airport where there is pre-clearance, there are going to be American customs officers with guns in their hands. Canadians should be fearful.

I have news for the New Democratic Party. Canadian border control officers at our airports do not have guns and, therefore, American customs officers cannot have guns. The fear factor is unbelievable that is coming from the New Democratic Party.

Canadians should understand and appreciate this is good legislation; legislation that is going to have more economic activity. If people have gone through pre-clearance, they will appreciate that this is positive legislation.

My question for the member is, why the fear? Why is the NDP promoting things that just are not true on this legislation?

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March 6th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate the member likes to wind himself up and let himself go like that. At any rate, I think it is important to note that we were not talking about just at airports. We were talking quite clearly about some of the crime and corruption that is taking place and the fact that we are actually increasing the flexibility, the rights, and the provisions at this time. There is clearly a distinct difference between what the Liberals want to do here with unaccountability, with no thorough process and due diligence later on, versus that of right now of making sure we clearly understand what we would be dealing with. Having done this and grown up on the border, being in Washington all the time, working with customs and also working with American senators and Congress as well, they are very aware of the fragility of what is taking place. Ironically, they are also some of the strongest advocates who are also concerned about this empowerment.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member was speaking about his experience at the borders and being with a friend from an ethnic minority. I just today saw an article from Global News about a Montreal woman named Manpreet Kooner, born and raised in Montreal, being refused access at the border. She was with her Caucasian girlfriends who were not stopped. They were going to go to a spa on the U.S. side of the border and were turned away. It was clearly racialized. It was clearly profiling. It was clearly an attitude from U.S. customs officials and border guards.

In this pre-clearance process, which we generally support, it is very convenient to be able pre-clear before we go through the border. What I do not understand and no government member has explained it to me, maybe the hon. member from the NDP can explain it, is why we have this change in Bill C-23. We have pre-clearance now, in the Ottawa airport, before going to the U.S. It is a good idea to expand it to other places. Why do we need to give permission to U.S. border guards, in the current climate of racial profiling, to behave in this way? I think that is one of the key things the Trump White House is telegraphing to border guards: they can discriminate and it will be okay. Why give them active powers?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

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

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the point. There is no valid reason that can be provided. These are simply best practices that are operating now and that are working very well. In fact, what we should be doing is expanding those opportunities in the current guide and model that is actually working. What we are talking about right now, and that is the reason I mentioned some of those cases, is that those are officers who are coming to work on our border and some of them could have issues like that. We will not be able to have those types of checks and balances. When they have the question of this going on right now, there is no question that there should be that accountability.

Again, there is no reason to arm them at this particular point in time. It is a seceding of jurisdiction. It is a seceding of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There are many cases as I have worked the border file over a number of different years of problems related to that. Most recently, we even had an American police officer discharge his firearm on himself while he was smuggling it into Canada. That is a recent one that took place over the last five years. There are other ones, as well, but none of the things that we have mentioned here will solve those problems if we do not have these accountability measures.

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

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Bill C-23, which would provide the necessary authority under Canadian law to implement the land, rail, marine, and air transport preclearance agreement, thereby expanding U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada and, for the first time, enabling pre-clearance of cargo and Canadian pre-clearance operations in the United States.

Pre-clearance makes travel faster and easier for tourists and business travellers alike, and makes it faster and easier for Canadian companies to do business with Americans. It also allows Canadian travellers to undergo U.S. border procedures while under the protection of Canadian law and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The proposed expansion of pre-clearance enabled by Bill C-23 has been greeted with enthusiasm by chambers of commerce across the country, by the tourism industry, which is in fact extremely important in Laurentides—Labelle, by the trucking industry, and by government partners, among others. For example, the mayor of Quebec City has called it a great victory for his city.

Pre-clearance operations for passengers have been a success story for more than 60 years, but they currently exist in only eight Canadian airports, and they do not exist for cargo at all. It is time to build on that success.

The proposed expansion to new locations and modes of travel requires an agreement with the United States. That agreement has been reached, and the United States has passed the legislation needed for implementation in their country with unanimous support in both houses of Congress. However, if we do not pass Bill C-23, the agreement will come to naught, and the benefits of pre-clearance will remain limited to those Canadians who already enjoy them.

Nevertheless, throughout this debate, the NDP members have been advocating in favour of the existing legislative framework. According to the member for Vancouver East, the current pre-clearance system is working well. The member for Beloeil—Chambly has said that the current pre-clearance system works just fine. The member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke said that pre-clearance is working very well already. In addition, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh said that she understood that pre-clearance is a process that exists today and it works.

Yes, it does, and I agree that the current legal framework, which has been in place since 1999, has served Canada well, but the NDP support for it is interesting because, in 1999, when this legal framework was proposed, the NDP had a very different take.

At the time, the member for Winnipeg—Transcona, Bill Blaikie, said that the bill raised questions about privacy protection. Mr. Blaikie stated reservations concerning the power of U.S. authorities to detain people, in particular, and he was afraid that U.S. law would be applied on Canadian soil. This sounds somewhat familiar.

The then member for Winnipeg Centre, Pat Martin, said he had serious reservations about the bill. He said it was too “intrusive” and “a breach of Canadian sovereignty”. He was worried that foreign officers would have the right to hold people and stop people from leaving. He argued that by passing the bill, the House was granting foreigners powers on our soil, which the NDP did not think was necessary. He went on to declare that the NDP remained firmly opposed to the creation of Canadian offences for resisting or misleading a foreign pre-clearance officer. He accused proponents of the bill, a group that now seems to include the NDP caucus, of being ready to trample on Canadian sovereignty. The best part is that he said that the bill opened up such a can of worms that it should be sent back to the other place for them to try again and take into consideration such basic things as national pride.

Clearly, a couple of decades later, the NDP realizes that its concerns back then were overblown, not to say unfounded, but here we are again. A new legal pre-clearance framework is again being proposed and the NDP is again sounding the alarm about perceived threats to Canadian sovereignty and perceived powers granted to foreign officers. It will not surprise me if 20 years from now New Democrats leap to the defence of Bill C-23 while insisting that any changes to it would mark the demise of the sovereignty of Canada.

Let us be reasonable. In many respects, Bill C-23 is very similar to the current framework. As concerns authorities to detain, question, search travellers, and seize goods, Bill C-23 is either identical to the existing law or very nearly so.

The same is true regarding penalties for obstructing or lying to an officer, and the right to withdraw from a pre-clearance area is maintained. A traveller just has to say who they are and why they are leaving.

The totality of U.S. pre-clearance operations in Canada would be subject to Canadian law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act. That is an improvement over the present situation, where travellers arrive in the United States and clear customs without any of those protections.

The motion put forward by the member for Beloeil—Chambly asks us to reject Bill C-23 because of what he referred to as the climate of uncertainty at the U.S. border, but it is precisely with legislation like this that we are best able to reduce uncertainty for Canadian travellers.

The bill provides a clear legal framework governing the actions of U.S. officers on Canadian soil and requires U.S. officers in Canada to adhere to Canadian legal and constitutional standards.

Today, for instance, a Canadian taking the train from Montreal to New York has to disembark after crossing the border and submit to U.S. customs and immigration processes without any Canadian legal protection. With Bill C-23 in place, that traveller could be processed at the train station in Montreal with Canadian constitutional safeguards in force and with Canadian authorities on site.

In other words, not only would the legislation bring about substantial economic benefits and make trips to the United States quicker and more convenient for Canadian travellers, it would also enhance constitutional and legal protection for those very travellers.

That helps regions like mine. In my riding, we have the Mont Tremblant International Airport at La Macaza, where flights coming from outside Canada land. At present, it is very difficult to get customs services at that airport, even though it is a port of entry, since it is very costly to bring customs officers from Mirabel.

In the long term, it would help us if U.S. airports already had Canadian customs officers, since they would be able to go to any airport in Canada. That would save a lot of time and improve the economy in the Laurentians. It would solve a problem that has existed for a very long time: the fact that La Macaza is unable to accommodate enough flights from outside Canada, since the costs associated with customs services are too high.

I therefore think this bill is very important for the Laurentians region. I hope it will pass and we will see a number of U.S. airports offering Canadian services. I think that will benefit our entire economy. I know of a number of situations where it will save a lot of time.

When I was younger, I often travelled to the United States. I attended secondary school there, and I took the train or drove to get there. If I had had the option of clearing customs before getting on the train, I would have saved a lot of time. The train left Toronto at 7:00 a.m. and arrived in Buffalo at 2:00 p.m., when the trip by car took less than two hours. That enormous waste of time was caused by customs procedures.

Often, when the train gets to the border as it leaves the country, whichever direction it is going, customs officers check exports, and that takes an hour and a half. Then, when the train gets to the other side of the border, customs officers check imports, and that takes another hour and a half. That means that, altogether, passengers spend three hours at the border, something that simply would not happen if that checking were done at the outset.

Bill C-23 is an improvement over the existing situation. It gives Canadian officers on American soil the same rights as American officers on Canadian soil. It will also improve the economy in all of Canada’s tourist regions.

I am very eager to see this bill come into force.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

He just said that Bill C-23 changes almost nothing in terms of the current situation, but what about the fact that the current law does not allow a U.S. customs officer to conduct a strip search without a Canadian officer of the same gender present? This has been changed, which is rather troubling, considering the eagerness of U.S. personnel. Earlier my colleague from Windsor said he was very familiar with borders. In fact, people from Detroit and Windsor spend much of their lives going through customs.

The fact that a stip search could be conducted from now on by a U.S. officer without a Canadian officer of the same gender present is a huge change.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard this many times today.

Clearly, this right is something new. The difference is that if there is an unreasonable delay, the search may proceed. I do not think this is unreasonable. If someone travels to the U.S. without pre-clearance, and they arrive without Canadian protections, the same thing will happen. Accordingly, it is much more efficient to go ahead with the system proposed in Bill C-23. That does not really bother me.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague because many of the things that are new in this bill really are troubling.

For example, in the past, people in the pre-clearance area on Canadian soil had the right to say that they did not like the interrogation, that they were uncomfortable, and that they were going to go home and not travel to the U.S. Now people no longer have the right to halt the interrogation. Canadians can be detained and forced to answer U.S. officers' questions.

What does my colleague think of that? Is he okay with it? Does he think Canadians should be okay with it?

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the question. To me, this is not a major departure from what is currently happening. If someone currently travelling to the United States gets off the plane and changes their mind, what are they going to do? Get back on the plane and leave? That does not work. Clearing customs in Canada is more efficient. Rights are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but nothing really changes. When someone arrives in the United states, they will be subject to the same restrictions as they are right now.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my colleague talks a great deal about the province of Quebec, his home province. Quebec will benefit in two ways directly. One is through the new airport and rail line where pre-clearance service will be offered, which was not there before. There are many benefits through pre-clearance. We have heard the debate for many hours in regard to how Canadians and the U.S. benefit by pre-clearance.

Could my colleague expand on why it is so important that we not only settle for the eight airports we currently have, but also look at other airports because then more Canadians will actually benefit by it?

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the fact that there is only a handful of airports that have this and it only goes in one direction does not really benefit us nearly as much as it possibly could. If we have pre-clearance in the U.S. to come to Canada, that is a huge advantage for Canada, a huge advantage for regions like mine in the Laurentians where we have an international airport without international flights because it is too difficult to offer customs. It is very important we have this system expanded a little everywhere for rail, for goods, for people, and flights. This is a terrific expansion of this service. I am very much looking forward to it being implemented.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House to speak to the legislation before us, Bill C-23, an act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States.

As members know, the Prime Minister pledged to Canadians that our government would work hard to renew the relationship we had with the United States and that we would provide greater security and opportunity for Canadians. The legislation before us is part of the action we are taking to fulfill that pledge.

Last week, I spoke with grade 10 civic students in Guelph at Bishop Macdonell High School. This topic came up with the students talking about the benefits of doing clearances in Canada versus on foreign soil, so it is great to be part of this discussion this afternoon. We have strong evidence from long-standing operations at eight Canadian airports that pre-clearance is an effective and efficient way to move millions of people from Canada into the United States every year, some 12 million people, in fact. It offers many benefits, both directly and indirectly, to both nations.

For example, it allows travellers from Canada to fly directly to a larger number of U.S. cities, including to smaller American airports, with no customs presence. It makes for faster connections. Pre-cleared passengers do not have to go through customs inspection upon arrival in the United States, which means shorter connection times and early arrival at final destinations. It adds predictability to travel plans, with passengers knowing they are already screened and can just collect their luggage and leave the airport on the other side. It enhances security by better managing risks and threats.

While pre-clearance formally exists only at airports at the moment, we also know that pre-inspection of rail and marine passenger exists and works with great success at several locations in British Columbia. For the past 20 years, U.S. customs and border protection has safely and successfully used passenger pre-inspection to streamline travel and security for travellers in that province.

In addition to the concrete direct benefits, there are a number of positive impacts that flow directly and indirectly from pre-clearance operations. For example, reduced border costs and fewer delays for commercial operations can lead to increased trade and increased foreign investment. The reduced wait times for passengers can lead to increased tourism and business travel.

The economic and security benefits of these pre-clearance and pre-inspection operations have led to calls from stakeholders and governments on both sides of the border for expansion to all modes of travel and to more locations. With the proposed legislation, we are taking an important step toward making that happen. Bill C-23 will enable us to continue moving ahead with expanded operations and modes of transportation that were agreed to in principle by the Minister of Public Safety and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in March 2016.

In brief, the bill has two key elements.

First, it will put in place the necessary legislative authorities to allow the United States to conduct pre-clearance operations in Canada. Today, pre-clearance is authorized only at Canadian airports under the Preclearance Act of 2001. The new authorities will allow for expansion subject to site-specific agreements to marine, rail, and land modes, as well as to pre-clearance of cargo.

Second, it will provide authorities for Canada to conduct pre-clearance in the United States in all modes of travel. The bill sets out where and when pre-clearance can occur, who has access to the pre-clearance area, the authorities of U.S. pre-clearance officers working in Canada and vice versa, and how police and border services officers can assist and work with pre-clearance officers. It also includes provisions affirming that pre-clearance operations in both countries must be conducted in accordance with Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Our government is firmly committed to moving ahead with pre-clearance measures and building on our strong partnership with the United States. Indeed, this legislation is good news for Canadians and Americans. It would strengthen Canada's economic competitiveness by accelerating legitimate trade and travel, while keeping our borders secure.

In fact, after Canada and the United States signed an agreement in principle for new pre-clearance operations in March 2016, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association said, “Customs preclearance is one of the innovative programs that demonstrates there need not be a zero-sum choice between security and an efficient travel experience”.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Canadian businesses and associations like the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. With specific reference to rail travel, its vice president of public policy and industry affairs, Rob Taylor, has pointed out that pre-clearance makes sense from a security standpoint because border officials can intercept people before they cross the border. It makes sense for travellers, because if they get cleared before they get on the train, it is so much easier than having to stop that trip half way through.

This is exactly what pre-clearance offers. It is a way to encourage legitimate trade and travel, while keeping our borders secure. It is an idea that is gaining ground around the world, with more and more countries looking to introduce or expand pre-clearance at their airports.

This brings me back to the importance of Bill C-23.

The benefits of expanded pre-clearance have been touted by everyone from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives to local tourism operators, as well as mayors and airport authorities. Pre-clearance improves the competitiveness of Canadian business and the experience of Canadian travellers. Now is the time to expand these operations in Canada and to examine how and where the Canada Border Services Agency could implement pre-clearance facilities in the United States.

Our government is committed to working with our allies, particularly the United States, to increase travel and to enhance North American competitiveness, as well as our collective security. I urge all members to support Bill C-23 and ensure its swift passage.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

March 6th, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as we get closer to an actual vote on this important legislation, it bears repeating just how important pre-clearance is to Canada's economy. Both Canada and the U.S. benefit from it.

I often talk about and use the example of Folklorama. It is one of the best multicultural events in the world. Many Americans fly into Winnipeg to participate in Folklorama. That is not unique. We get many tourists coming from the U.S. They use pre-clearance. Millions of Canadians use pre-clearance to go to the U.S. The convenience of pre-clearance has proven to be beneficial, both to Canada and the U.S.

Would my colleague agree that the more the government can move toward making it easier for Canadians and Americans to cross our shared border the better it is?

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we need more travel between Canada and the United States and we need less barriers to that travel, provided our security is intact.

One of the great things about the bill is that all the clearance happens on Canadian soil, which means that people who are going through the process of pre-clearance fall under the regulations and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within Canada. If they have a problem, it is better to have it in Canada than on foreign soil. The easier it is for Canadians to welcome Americans and for Americans to visit our country, the better it will be for tourism.

More important, as the Chamber of Commerce has said for many years, thinning out the borders so goods can travel between the borders is also as important, in fact more important in terms of dollars per GDP. Having that border opened up, securely, is very important to both countries.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the hon. member's attention to part three of the bill, which provides related amendments to the Criminal Code and to the Firearms Act. It basically provides the United States pre-clearance officers with an exemption from criminal liability under both those acts with respect to the carriage of firearms. It seems to me that in our current pre-clearance system, if a United States agent on Canadian soil needs assistance that necessitates the use of a firearm, why does that person not simply use the services of the RCMP, or if a CBSA officer is similarly armed, the services of that officer?

This is the crux of the matter on our sovereignty. Why are we allowing U.S. agents to carry a weapon, which is an extreme use of force, on Canadian soil? Why do we not have faith in Canadian police authorities and CBSA officers to do that job for us? They have been authorized by this Parliament and by the government to do that force on behalf of the Canadian people. It is a jurisdictional issue, and I would like to hear the member's response on that.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his continued questions on this topic.

I think we have answered this in the past, but to continue our answer, the border patrols on both sides of the border would be equal in terms of carrying arms. If we do not have arms, as in our airports, they do not have arms. If at some point we have arms at the land crossings, then there would be arms. However, in both cases, the laws of Canada would apply when we are on Canadian soil.

There is no threat to Canadians by using the types of force that Canadian border officials would be using, which is very much identical to what the American border officials would be using as well.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:30 p.m.
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Fredericton New Brunswick

Liberal

Matt DeCourcey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise toward the end of this evening's debate to talk about this important piece of legislation. Bill C-23 will implement the agreement reached with the United States to expand pre-clearance operations to new locations and modes of travel, and it opens the door to cargo pre-clearance as well as Canadian pre-clearance operations in the U.S.

I am pleased that throughout the course of today, and over the last week or so, we have seen lively debate about Bill C-23. However, I do think it is important that as we study and discuss this proposed legislation, we ensure that we are working from a sound understanding of the bill, and a full appreciation of the significant benefits that we stand to gain from expanding our pre-clearance operations with the United States.

After the many hours of debate that have taken place for this bill, we certainly know by now what pre-clearance is, and we know that it works. We have heard how it has been a part of the Canada-U.S. border management success story. Many of us have been pre-cleared ourselves before boarding flights to the United States. As has been noted, we have been operating pre-clearance successfully in the air mode since the 1950s.

In terms of volume, we know that Canadian pre-clearance facilities process 12 million passengers headed to the United States annually. We know that the eight airports that have pre-clearance operations are far more competitive than they would be without them. With pre-clearance, Canadian airports have special direct access to non-international U.S. airports. For example, Canada is the only country serving Reagan airport with direct air services. Without pre-clearance, Toronto Pearson airport, for example, could only serve 27 U.S. cities instead of the 50 that it serves now. Pearson is the fourth-largest point of entry into the United States worldwide.

It is not only in air travel where we have seen the benefits. As members have heard, some pre-inspection sites serve rail and cruise ship businesses on the west coast. The cruise ship industry brings $435 million in economic benefits to British Columbia's coastal region, including 4,600 local jobs. Pre-inspection, which is a kind of partial pre-clearance, is important to that success. The legislation before us will enable full pre-clearance operations for those sites, with considerable advantages for the tourism industry on the west coast. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is a clear demand for more pre-clearance facilities and that both the current and previous administrations in Canada and the U.S. have been working diligently together to put the legal frameworks in place to make that happen. With the legislation before us, we will be able to further expand on these unquestionable economic benefits by paving the way for additional sites in all modes of travel and in both countries, as well as the pre-clearance of cargo.

We have heard the concerns raised about the protection of Canadians' rights, and we are certainly all sensitive to that. That is why I am proud to highlight that the protection of Canadians' rights and the requirement for compliance with Canadian law and the charter are central elements of this bill.

Pre-clearance operations in Canada must be conducted within Canadian law. It is explicitly set out in part 1 of the bill, which sets out the powers, duties, and functions of U.S. officers under the act. It 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 includes powers of questioning, examination, search, seizure, and detention, powers that already exist in the current pre-clearance arrangement. Similarly, Canadian officers conducting pre-clearance in the U.S. would also be bound by the charter. That is specified in article II of the agreement with the U.S. being implemented by this bill, Bill C-23.

By undergoing U.S. customs and border procedures while still on Canadian soil, Canadian travellers will be protected by our laws and the Canadian Constitution.

I know that certain members of the opposition have argued that because this is already the case in eight Canadian airports, Bill C-23 is unnecessary. However, pre-clearance is not in place at all Canadian airports or at train stations and marine ports. Bill C-23 would pave the way for travellers in those locations to have legal and constitutional Canadian protections that are unavailable to them now.

For those who remain unconvinced of the benefits of this, I would ask that they consider the alternative. Without pre-clearance, travellers are required to submit to immigration and customs processing once they arrive on American soil. That processing is done entirely on American soil and therefore on American terms.

Another concern that has been raised is the issue of withdrawal from pre-clearance areas. It must be noted that should travellers change their minds about entering the United States and wish to leave the pre-clearance area, withdrawal will be allowed under the new act. Officers will have limited latitude to question withdrawing travellers as to their identities and reasons for withdrawing. Without this, people of ill intent can approach, enter, examine, and then leave these controlled areas, potentially weakening our border security.

To conclude, I simply wish to reiterate that pre-clearance is a crucial border management tool for Canada, both economically and from a security perspective. It also has the added benefit of allowing Canadian travellers to undergo American border procedures while protected by Canadian law and the Canadian Constitution, including our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By adopting this important piece of legislation, which is necessary to implement the Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance Agreement with the United States, the advantages of pre-clearance would become available to many more Canadian travellers and businesses.

I urge all hon. members to keep these significant benefits front of mind as we further examine and study this bill, and I look forward to more constructive debate in the House.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the parliamentary secretary's speech with great attention, and I could not help but feel that maybe there was a slight incoherence lurking in the argument. I am hoping to give him the opportunity to address that.

We hear, on the one hand, that the great virtue of Bill C-23 is that Canadians will not have to submit to American processes, American law, and American officers on American soil. However, when we talk about the safe third country agreement and the travel ban, Liberals say that they are quite comfortable with the American processes, that there is no problem at all with those processes, that Canadians have nothing to fear, and that they are treated normally at the border and get good treatment. Which is it? Do Canadians have something to fear from being subjected to American border security processes, or do they not? If they do, maybe the member would reconsider his position with respect to suspending the safe third country agreement.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that my hon. friend was listening that intently, because I was entirely coherent in explaining that Bill C-23 would provide all Canadians undergoing pre-clearance with U.S. border officials the security of having that pre-clearance done under Canadian law, the Canadian Constitution, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Canadian Bill of Rights all at play.

This is an important piece of legislation that would allow for the timely exchange of people and goods, something that for many years has been central to our strong trade relationship with the United States. This is another step in ensuring that the important relationship we have with the United States continues to grow and prosper for the benefit of Canadians.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

If he ended up at customs and an overeager and cranky U.S. customs officer proceeded to conduct a strip search, and only a female officer was available on the Canadian side, would he be comfortable with that? Bill C-23 generally looks a lot like the existing system, but there are some very serious exceptions like this one.

Does my colleague have a problem with that? I know that there are many people who would have a very serious problem with that.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the great honour of living very close to the United States. Ever since I was born I have been crossing the border with my family, my friends, or alone and this situation has never presented itself. I would say to Canadians watching us this evening that under the current conditions, whenever a U.S. officer has problems with a Canadian traveller, the latter is transferred to Canadian officers as soon as possible.

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, with respect to pre-clearance, we recognize that it is reciprocal between the United States and Canada. We will see many Americans who will also be pre-cleared coming into Canada.

From a tourism perspective, whenever we can enable tourism in our country, the better it is for Canada as a whole and for our middle class. In fact, all Canadians benefit the more we get American tourists coming to Canada.

Can the hon. member provide some thoughts on that?

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March 6th, 2017 / 6:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Matt DeCourcey Liberal Fredericton, NB

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we want to see American tourists coming to Canada. My colleague sitting right in front of me will emphasize along with me that we want to see those tourists coming to Atlantic Canada to enjoy all there is to offer in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We are open to having tourists from right across the United States come to visit our lovely country. I would ask them all to take an opportunity to visit us on the east coast, specifically as we celebrate Canada's 150.

However, for the next 150 years, we want a border that allows the flow of people to come and visit and enjoy all we have to offer.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in the House to Bill C-23, an act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States. I also want to thank the member for Beloeil—Chambly for moving the recent amendment that is before us today related to Bill C-23.

I will outline the reasons I support the recent amendment against the background of where we are today. To do that, I must first point out that the conditions present when the bill was drafted and tabled simply are not the same conditions we are seeing today, and frankly, they are unlikely to revert back anytime soon. What are those changing conditions? Let me state the obvious for the government members, as they have chosen, in my view, to stick their heads in the sand and turn a blind eye to what is happening right under their noses.

As the NDP critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have been compelled on many occasions since the election of President Trump to speak out against the discriminatory immigration and humanitarian policies being enacted by our neighbours south of our border. Unfortunately, despite a welcoming plea to immigrants and refugees by the Prime Minister, the government has failed to match its words with action. Instead, the Prime Minister has chosen to turn a blind eye to the politics of fear and division the Trump administration is fanning against the immigrant and refugee community, most particularly the Muslim community. The government continues to remain silent. Worse, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has gone so far as to suggest that nothing has changed. Anyone can see that plenty has changed since Trump was elected.

Hundreds of refugees have been forced to risk life and limb to cross illegally into Canada. In fact, the number has more than doubled, and in some cases even tripled, since Trump was elected. Since Trump was elected, there has been constant consternation about the situation, not just here in Canada but in the international community as well. One might ask why these refugees would risk their lives and limbs. They are doing it because they are desperate, because for them, the U.S. is no longer a safe haven.

Border communities are struggling to cope. Yesterday the Province of Manitoba announced that it will put resources into housing and resettlement for these asylum seekers. The Province of Manitoba has actually called for a federal, coordinated response, yet the federal government is missing in action.

Canadians are faced with racial profiling at the U.S. border, and the Prime Minister is busy, frankly, sucking up to Trump and will not even bring those cases to the President's attention. Instead, incidents of hate have reared their ugly heads, and we are seeing them in communities across this country.

The Prime Minister will not stand up and call out Trump's politics of fear and division. New executive orders are on their way, and so far, media reports suggest that these new executive orders will be strikingly similar to Trump's failed discriminatory orders. Perhaps the worst is yet to come.

It is with this information in mind that we must be examining Bill C-23, and not based on the situation when the agreement was signed under the Obama presidency. It is imperative that this legislation be examined under this drastic shift in conditions.

Let me say at the outset that while New Democrats will always be in favour of making it easier to access and cross the border, it must be noted that we feel strongly that this must never be done at the expense of Canadians' rights, privacy, and human rights. This is especially the case when those rights are compromised on Canadian soil. Many of my constituents are very concerned about Bill C-23 and are wondering what the implications are in practical terms, especially in the current troubling climate of uncertainty that has been created by the Trump administration.

Let me be clear. Bill C-23 would not address the concerns Canadians have regarding being interrogated, detained, and turned back at the border based on their race, religion, travel history, or birthplace as a result of policies that may contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In fact, Bill C-23 would increase the powers of U.S. officers on Canadian soil. Let me start with the issue of firearms. If Bill C-23 passes, it would mean that U.S. customs and border protection officers would be authorized to carry firearms in pre-clearance areas in land, rail, and marine stations. In fact, this bill could violate Canadian sovereignty by increasing the powers of American pre-clearance officers on Canadian soil with respect to the carrying of firearms and by not properly defining the criminal liability framework.

What we know is that the way U.S. customs and border protection carries out its national security mandate is very different from that of the Canada Border Services Agency. Many studies have shown that officers are trigger-happy, frankly, and use lethal force much too often. This should be a major concern for Canadians.

However, the authority that would be granted to U.S. customs officers would not stop there. The adoption of Bill C-23 would also mean that strip searches could be conducted by American pre-clearance officers. While U.S. customs officers would have to ensure that a CBSA officer of the same sex as the traveller was present during a strip search, if one was not available or declined to conduct a strip search, a U.S. customs officer would be authorized to do the search. This would be especially problematic during peak hours and the holiday season or when the CBSA was understaffed.

For those from the transgender community, Bill C-23 lacks provisions to protect their rights and freedoms, as the wording of Bill C-23 uses the term “sex” instead of “gender”. What does this mean? It means that those whose biological characteristics do not match their gender identity would be denied access to a pre-clearance officer of the same gender if they were strip-searched.

I will quote from the U.S. customs and border protection website regarding the procedure for searching transgender individuals. It states, “If the individual being searched has undergone the total transformation, the current gender of that person will dictate whether or not a male or female U.S. Customs and Border Protection...Officer performs the search”.

This language is discriminatory, because it ignores the reality of many transgender persons who do not want to, have not, or cannot undergo sex reassignment surgery.

What is more, Bill C-23 would also mean that people could be detained and questioned by U.S. pre-clearance officers on Canadian soil. Under the proposed legislation, travellers would no longer be able to exercise their right to withdraw from questioning. They could be detained and be obliged to answer any questions asked of them by U.S. officers. The act says that a traveller must not be “unreasonably” delayed. However, Bill C-23 does not clearly define what constitutes to “unreasonably delay” a traveller's withdrawal following a request to leave the pre-clearance area.

The implications of Bill C-23 does not stop there. We have seen that searches of electronic devices and requests to access the digital universe of travellers to the U.S. have been on the rise since the inauguration of Trump. In fact, a recent statement by the Trump administration suggests that an order requiring all travellers to disclose the contents of their electronic devices could be adopted. Bill C-23 would do nothing to ensure that Canadians' right to privacy would be protected during searches of electronic devices. While the government will argue that is up to people if they want to provide their devices to U.S. customs officers, the fact is that many travellers would be intimidated by them and would find it difficult to refuse such a request.

In addition, Bill C-23 would also mean that CBSA officers at a U.S. airport could prevent some Canadian permanent residents from boarding their flights if the officer somehow suspected that travellers had breached their permanent residency requirements. The bill also means, for refugees, that they could not make a claim for refugee status in the Canadian pre-clearance perimeter in the U.S.

To top it all off, Canadian officers would not be bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when they were in positions of authority outside Canadian borders. This would mean that Canada Border Services Agency officers posted to pre-clearance areas in the U.S. could screen Canadian travellers under U.S. law, which is far more permissive in terms of the invasion of privacy.

Since Bill C-23 was first tabled, we have already seen significant developments outside our control with the change to the Trump administration. It is unquestionable that the Trump administration has attempted to quickly enact sweeping, significant, disturbing shifts in American immigration and border policy.

It is also unquestionable that these policies have already had a direct impact on Canadians, and incidents of racial profiling are already taking place. We have heard numerous stories reported in the media of Canadians being interrogated at the Canada-U.S. border. They have been asked intrusive questions about their faith and ethnic background, interrogated for hours, and ultimately refused entry to the U.S. and left humiliated.

Some of these Canadians, while Muslim, have had no connection to the countries included in the ban the Trump administration tried to impose. This was despite assurances by the Canadian government that they would not be impacted by Trump's attempt to bring forward discriminatory travel bans. Despite some of these discriminatory executive orders being suspended by the U.S. court system, we know that Canadians are being impacted already.

Media reports so far suggest that new executive orders from Trump will be strikingly similar to those he tried to bring forward that were struck down by the courts. While I hope that there will be a change in direction with the pending new executive orders from Trump, I am not holding my breath. I fear that the troubling direction the Trump administration has signalled will continue.

With this level of uncertainty, it is my view that it would be irresponsible of the government to move forward with this bill. My colleague, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, moved a recent amendment to Bill C-23. This is a call for the House to decline to give second reading to Bill C-23. The reasons are quite simple. Let me outline them specifically for the House:

(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 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.

Let me be clear, if Bill C-23 passes, the Canadian government will no longer be just complicit in the discriminatory treatment of Canadians at the border. If Bill C-23 passes, U.S. customs and border protection officers would be authorized to carry out these acts of discrimination on Canadian soil. It is unacceptable across the border, but it would become reprehensible if our government allowed this to happen within our own country. I urge all members of this House to reject Bill C-23 and support the reasoned amendment.

I would like to finish my time by sharing the concerns of one of my constituents who took the time to write to me regarding his concerns around Bill C-23.

He said:

I am one of your constituents...and a born-and-raised Vancouverite...I am writing today on an issue that is very important to me. For a number of years, I lived in the United States of America, legally. I had an H1B visa that was renewed for my job...I have travelled across the Canada-US border innumerable times in my life. I have also faced mistreatment from border guards on both sides. A lawyer in New York helped me with my immigration case throughout so I did everything by the book; everything above board – and yet I was still treated like a criminal on many occasions. Thankfully, I always had the right to rescind my application for entry and I also stood firm knowing the Canadian government would protect my rights, my safety and – frankly – my body from any infringements on my rights as a free, upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Bill C-23, as I understand it, would strip that safety net away from Canadians such as myself. It would leave us vulnerable to frightening searches and allow border guards to overstep the boundaries of ethics and accountability.

I understand strong border protection is of utmost importance but, as the bill is written now, I have to urge you to vote against it in parliament.

This one email is a sample of many emails I have received in my office. My phone has been ringing off the hook. People have grave concerns with Bill C-23.

Any time we debate legislation that has an impact on how Canadians leave and re-enter our country, it is vital that we take the utmost care in the examining of the details of the legislation, its broader implications, possible unintended consequences, and anticipated changes to the status quo outside of our control. We owe that to Canadians. It is our job to do exactly that.

Without adequate legislative assurances that Canadian rights will be respected in Canada, I simply cannot support the bill. I would urge all members to think about what that means for their constituents. We can hold off and see what will happen with respect to the Trump administration on the new order. We can ensure the government takes action right now to raise the concerns that many Canadians have already said need to be brought to the attention of the Trump administration.

Our government has refused to undertake that work to date. Now we are dealing with allowing increased authority to U.S. officials. It is simply wrong. When will we stand up and fight for Canadian rights and protect those rights? Bill C-23 must not pass. The recent amendment that has been tabled should be adopted. If we adopt that, it will give us time to examine the situation and then to ensure we bring forward measures that are appropriate for all Canadians and, most important, that protect Canadian rights on the border.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Michel Picard Liberal Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, when proposing amendments to a bill, it is important not to come from a place of assumptions and misinformation about profiling.

As a former customs officer, I know that their work is about enforcing Canadian laws. Bill C-23 introduces measures that are in accordance with Canadian laws and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

On what grounds are they suggesting that there are certain rights the Border Services Agency does not already have? What rights and powers are they talking about that do not fall under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the member is a former customs officer. He says that there are false accusations of racial profiling. Let me bring this to the attention of the member.

At least two cases have been brought to my attention where Canadians at the U.S. border were interrogated for hours on end. One individual, a Muslim woman, was asked why she attended mosques so often. She was asked about her opinion of Trump, as though that somehow matters. Then she was turned away after this interrogation. She as humiliated. She was not even from one of the seven countries that were identified under the travel ban. She is from Morocco. In my view, that is an example of racial profiling.

There was another case that just recently took place with a young student who was travelling to the U.S. with his fellow students and coach to participate in a sporting event. He was singled out and questioned, again, for hours on end. He was interrogated about his parents, by the way. His parents were not even travelling with him. The officers asked for cellphone and the password for it.

Yes, it is true that he could say no, but he was intimidated. He was worried. He gave it to them because he thought that if he did not give officers his cellphone and his password, they would say no. He really wanted to participate in the sporting event with his teammates. Again, in my view, is racial profiling.

These incidents are happening right now in our country.

We raised this issue with the minister and the Prime Minister. We asked them to bring these Canadian concerns to the attention of President Trump. The government refused to do so.

With Bill C-23, I anticipate things will only get worse and not better.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, in my former life in the aviation trade, I worked a lot with the Canadian government, as well as our U.S. counterparts, in pre-clearance and transit without visa issues, and about making Canada competitive on the world stage.

My wife and I, in our travels across the border, have also been subjected to questions that some might seem are racist or whatnot. However, our border agents, whether it is our U.S. counterparts or our Canadian customs and immigration officials, are tasked to ensure that our countries and borders remain safe and sound, and that those persons and goods coming into our countries are here for the right reasons, not for nefarious reasons.

Does my hon. colleague agree that border agents and Canada customs and immigration officials should do everything to ensure that those who come into our country are here for good reasons, that they do have policies and procedures they must go through?

I also would echo her statements that racial profiling is not something we want to do, but profiling procedures are needed. Those questions are just part of the everyday investigation techniques that have to take place to figure out if the person or persons and goods coming into the country are here for the right reasons.

Is the hon. colleague saying that we should be lessening or loosening those rules and regulations?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the member this. Does he think it is somehow relevant for an individual to be asked at a border crossing what his or her opinion of President Trump is? Does he think that asking a person how often he or she attends mosques is somehow relevant? Is it not my right to attend a mosque or a church as often as I want? Is it anybody's business except mine? How is that relevant at a border crossing?

In one of the cases I cited, the reason why the individual was rejected and refused entry into the United States was that individual did not have valid Canadian documentation, which was not true because the individual had a valid passport in good standing until 2020 I believe.

This is what is happening. How else should we explain the situation? I am at a loss as to how a person explains the situation and justifies it. I am not saying that border officials should not do their job, but given the situation taking place right now with the Trump administration and its direction, the message, and the signal it is sending out, they are taking things down a different path and a different perspective, and that is wrong.

Bill C-23 will increase the authority given to U.S. officials at the border. I do not think we should be doing that at this juncture. We have a lot of concerns with respect to this.

People talk about trade, and I get it. It is important, but we must not jeopardize our protections, our human rights, and our Canadian values in that regard.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her eloquent and hard-hitting but sensitive speech.

French historian Henri Guillemin said that the most adroit politicians are experts at exploiting circumstances. Unfortunately, this Liberal government is wilfully ignoring changing circumstances in the form of a Trump administration that engages in racial profiling and discrimination at the border and violates Canadians' rights. That is clear from its decisions and its actions.

My colleague talked about the Muslim family from Brossard that was turned back at the border and Yassine Aber, a young man at university in Sherbrooke who was interrogated for five hours, when all he wanted to do was participate in a sporting event.

With Bill C-23, the Liberals are kowtowing to the Trump administration. They are rolling over and giving American customs officers all the power they want with no regard for the rights of the people we are supposed to be protecting. That is the government's responsibility.

Does my colleague think the Liberal government is handing our privacy and our rights to the Trump administration on a silver platter?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in my view, the government is failing to stand up for Canadian values and rights. It is failing to protect those rights. The government is kowtowing to President Trump and his administration. The impacts they have caused are significant. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has gone as far as to say that nothing has changed. Everyone who I have talked to can see that things have changed, and quite drastically.

Just yesterday, the Prime Minister was on the phone with the President. Why did he not bring these Canadian concerns and issues to the attention of the President? It is really a mystery to me why he will not stand up for Canadians.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to what I believe is a very positive piece of legislation, contrary to the last 30 minutes of listening to the New Democrats trying to position themselves on this. Canadians should feel comfortable in knowing that the NDP knows nothing about what it is talking about. Quite frankly, it is difficult to understand the position that the NDP is taking on Bill C-23. It makes no sense.

Allow me to expand on that. The member started off by talking about refugees and challenged the government's approach on refugees. No government in the last number of decades has been more proactively engaged in trying to assist refugees coming to Canada than this government and this Prime Minister. The numbers will clearly show that. I do not know why the member would want to start off the debate by talking about refugees, because our government has done so exceptionally well on that particular front.

What really set me back was that the member tried to give those who might be listening or following the debate a false impression. If we listen to the member, we should think of where we have pre-clearance today. It is at different airports, including the city of Winnipeg. After listening to the member, if one were wondering, one might think that these U.S. customs agents are going to have guns on their sides. If one were listening, it was a fear thing, that someone is going to walk into these airports and have U.S. citizens, known as customs officers and immigration officers, with guns on their bodies. That is not true. I do not know if the NDP realizes that. In the speech I heard from the member, it is just not true.

The reality is, with the legislation, they can have the same sorts of tools or equipment that Canada border control officers would have at the airport. I have a news flash for the NDP: Canada border control officers do not have guns at the airport facilities.

The member made reference to racial profiling. None of us supports racial profiling and all the nastiness that goes along with it. She talked about difficult questions that are going to be asked of Canadians and permanent residents going through these pre-clearance centres. She made it sound as if Canadians are going to go through a difficult time. Does the member and the NDP not realize what the concept of pre-clearance really is? The purpose of pre-clearance is to prevent individuals from having to go through clearance in the United States. I would much prefer to have pre-clearance here in Canada than to fly into the United States and then have to go through clearance.

The Liberal Party is the party that came up with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was Pierre Elliott Trudeau who introduced the Charter of Rights. The legislation we are debating today would in fact guarantee the Charter of Rights for every citizen and every resident at our airports.

If one were to listen to the New Democrats, one would think that the government would be abandoning the rights of Canadians and permanent residents if the bill were to pass. I do not know where they are getting their information. Can they not recognize the true value of it?

Let me talk about the Toronto international airport. It is one of those airports that generates hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity for the city of Toronto every year. If we did not have pre-clearance at that international airport, there would be only roughly 25 or 26 destinations where we could fly from Toronto to U.S. airports. However, because of pre-clearance, it gets closer to 50 destinations. That is a very strong positive. Many of those American cities where Canadians are choosing to fly do not have the full customs and immigration facilities. Therefore, if we did not have that pre-clearance at the Toronto international airport, they would not be able to fly into those communities.

If we fly from airports in Canada, Winnipeg, Halifax, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, to the United States, we have a sense of what pre-clearance is. I do not know if any New Democrats have actually participated in a pre-clearance at any of those airports, but I suspect if they checked with most Canadians, they would find it is a positive thing.

Some legislation that has passed over the years, I would classify as almost no-brainers. That is not to marginalize the issues, but if New Democrats have some legitimate concerns in regard to it, they can address those concerns at committee stage and raise them in second reading. However, I do not believe that they understand the difference between pre-clearance and arriving in the U.S. where they would have to go through the process.

It is important that we understand that. We need to understand that at the end of the day, Canada does a great deal of trade, economic commerce, and a great deal of tourism into the United States, and vice versa. Pre-clearance is not something new; it has been happening for decades. Even as governments have changed, governments have consistently looked at ways that they can enhance pre-clearance. We do that because we understand the special relationship between Canada and the U.S. The more that the Government of Canada and the Government of the U.S. work together on dealing with issues such as pre-clearance, whether it is people or cargo, the more both Canada and the U.S. benefit immensely by it.

It is estimated that there is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600,000 direct jobs that come out of tourism. When we think of tourism, approximately two-thirds of it, from what I understand, comes from the United States. When I look at it, I see one of Winnipeg's golden gems, one of the things we truly appreciate as a tourist attraction, something called Folklorama. It is a celebration of culture and heritage of a wide variety of different ethnic groups. Typically, we have 50 pavilions that participate. I want to use this as an example of the importance of tourism.

The Minister of Small Business and Tourism, our government House leader, talked about what is important to small businesses and made reference to tourism. I believe that if members across the way, in particular New Democrats, recognize the importance of that industry, they should be supporting this legislation, not voting against the legislation. If I were to highlight tourism, I would go back to the Folklorama celebration.

Our Prime Minister often talks about one of Canada's greatest strengths, which is in fact diversity. It is our diversity that we recognize as Canada's greatest strength. We are in the time of Canada's 150th birthday. It is an appropriate time to have this kind of legislation on our 150th birthday. We should be encouraging more people to come to Canada, and those who are in Canada should be encouraged to check out many more of the Canadian sights that we have. I know this will be a very special year.

Getting back to Folklorama, it is a special celebration, which I have been attending for well over 20 years. What we can expect if we go to Winnipeg during the summertime, as many Americans do, is to participate in one of Canada's best multicultural events, and I would argue it is the best multicultural event. It goes on for two solid weeks.

Roughly 50 pavilions will participate, and each pavilion will have a full evening of activities for one solid week. There will be 26 in the first week and roughly 26 in the second week. What can people expect when they walk in the door? They can expect to see some great entertainment, things like shows, which will include cultural dances, singing, arts, and heritage set-ups by different communities. I highly recommend that people participate if they want a sense of what Canada is like in terms of our multicultural society.

Why do I use that as an example? It is because roughly 15 million to 18 million tourists will come to Canada and stay overnight. Imagine the number of hotel rooms that will be utilized by those individuals, most of whom will come from the U.S.

The economic benefits of pre-clearance speaks volumes with respect to the potential for growth in the future. The more we move in that direction, the better it will be for both Canada and the U.S. Canadians often fly to U.S. destinations and stay for a few nights. The convenience of being pre-cleared at a Canadian airport far outweighs clearing immigration or customs in an American city.

The member across the way and her party have referenced things like tough questions being asked and racial profiling. If we stop and think about it, I would rather be asked those tough questions and so forth on Canadian soil. Pre-clearance does that, in part. There is the opportunity for having things like Canada's Charter of Rights apply with respect to Canadian travellers. Other concerns have also been raised. However, when we look at the bigger picture, the millions of dollars in cargo that crosses our border every day, the thousands of individuals, we can agree, I am sure, that this legislation is a step in the right direction.

People should not be surprised. Since we have been in government, we have taken a proactive approach when it comes to trade and commerce. We encourage and support our middle class and those who aspire to be a part of it, and we do that in different ways. Trade matters for Canada. Canada is a trading nation. One of the reasons that we have the lifestyle we have today in Canada is because of trade.

I will go back to when our Prime Minister met with the president. Both acknowledged the benefits of our border and the importance of the trade that goes both ways. There is, generally speaking, goodwill for both nations to co-operate on facilitating that trade. Whether it is the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Trade, or their respective parliamentary secretaries, in fact the Liberal caucus as a whole, we are all proactive on that front. My home city of Winnipeg and every region of this country benefit immensely from trade.

The best buses in the world are made in Winnipeg. Some of the best tractors in the world are made in Winnipeg. If we want to talk about the aerospace industry, we need look no further than Winnipeg. I could go on about the pork industry, and so many other industries as well.

All of those industries are very much dependent on trade relations between Canada and the U.S., and more and more with other countries as well. This is one of the reasons we are not focusing on just one country. We realize the benefits. We have CETA with Europe, which is a very important economy. We can talk about the special relationship between Canada and Ukraine, which is another trade agreement. In recent weeks, we were able to push both of these agreements through the House of Commons.

I can talk about the canola oil issue. It is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but it was a controversial issue in China. As a government, we were able to deal with that, which was great news for our prairie farmers.

A great deal of things are making a positive difference. As the Prime Minister and the U.S. President have acknowledged, it is important that we look at that shared border, and if there are ways we can enhance it with issues like pre-clearance, then we should be doing it. In fact, as we are debating this bill today, the U.S. has already completed legislation of a similar nature, which is going through its process. I really do believe that there is the potential.

We have another community that is going to be seeing an expansion of the services. I am thinking of the Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City, and for some rail passengers heading into the United States, the Montreal Central Station and the Rocky Mountaineer railway in British Columbia. All would realize very tangible benefits.

The best example I could give, which I have already provided to members, is the Toronto Pearson International Airport. However, the same principle applies wherever we have seen pre-clearance being given, and it does make a difference.

We can talk to the Mayor of Winnipeg or any politician who follows the issue of the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. If they recognize the importance of trade, and of people going back and forth, then they will recognize how important it is that we have pre-clearance.

As I indicated earlier, pre-clearance has been around for decades, but we as a government have recognized that we can do better on this file. We have this legislation before us today because it would enhance Canada's opportunities going forward. It would ensure that Canadians and permanent residents, those who call Canada home, would have better access to the U.S. For small businesses and so forth, the opportunity to have items pre-cleared is becoming more and more of a reality. However, there is so much more that we can still do on the file. The Prime Minister himself will tell us that we can always do better, and we will strive to do better.

I would highly recommend that my New Democratic colleagues across the way revisit their decision on this bill. Every criticism they have levelled at the pre-clearance issue, this piece of legislation, would apply equally or more if we did not have pre-clearance for Canadians and permanent residents landing in U.S. airports. Their arguments do not seem to support the fact that they are voting against the legislation.

I will leave it at that, believing that at the end of the day Canadians would benefit immensely by the passage of Bill C-23. I highly recommend that all members of this House support it.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

“Shame”, I am hearing from my own colleagues down the way. I will take that abuse.

Mr. Speaker, I indeed was in part of air service development. This bill follows up on the incredible work that former Prime Minister Harper and our team did in our previous government. I just want to state it on the record, as our hon. colleague in his earlier comments in his speech mentioned, that our colleagues from the NDP are railing against this as somehow the work that Mr. Trump is doing and the directives from his new administration. In my previous comment I mentioned an experience that my wife and I had in the course of going through an airport when people are asked certain questions. There was some profiling that was done and that was under the Obama administration and not the Trump administration.

Perhaps our hon. colleague could talk a bit more about the folk fest in Winnipeg.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is hard for me to say no to talking more about Folklorama, other than to emphasize that it is one of the greatest events in North America. It is at the end of July, beginning of August. I invite members to participate in it. Many Americans will fly into Winnipeg, many of them I suspect through pre-clearance, in order to participate.

I would emphasize that we recognize that pre-clearance is not new, which governments of all political stripes have done in the past and I suspect will continue into the future. We look at ways in which we can enhance it. By enhancing it, the biggest beneficiary, I would suggest, is Canada, Canadians, and permanent residents. We all benefit because it impacts on our trade and it impacts on people departing Winnipeg and coming back.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is nice that we have some levity, but this is a serious matter before us.

When I was the head of law and enforcement at the NAFTA environment commission, we grew very concerned because concerns about the movement of contaminated fuel and hazardous waste across borders were being put aside because of the push to enable trade and because of the concern that people perhaps with a brown face or a different ethnic background became the big scare. There has been a lot of talk on the other side of the House that we need to address Islamophobia, yet we heard at committee on this very bill from Safiah Chowdhury, representative of the Islamic Society of North America, extreme concern about the implications of this bill.

By the way, I heard nothing from the member talking about any of the provisions actually in this bill. One of the provisions in this bill that was of direct concern to a lot of Canadians is the fact that people could be detained for so-called reasonable grounds, which under current law they cannot be. I wonder what the member has to say about the concerns of members of our Islamic community, members of or were born in the seven countries that are banned by the United States, or a man who simply tried to go across the States with his family and was cross-examined about his view on marijuana. Is the member not concerned that Canadians could be detained when they are trying to cross the border and not simply choose not to go?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 10:55 a.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, what I am concerned about is the New Democrats seem to argue with something that is beyond me. There is no merit in what the New Democrats are saying with respect to this legislation. At the end of the day, we are talking about pre-clearance. We are not talking about when people arrive, where many of those things that the member was referring to might apply. If they are in Canada, the Charter of Rights and the Bill of Rights all apply here when they go.

Is there a detainment? That is just wrong. American customs agents cannot detain. It is only the Canadian border control and Canadians who are allowed to do any arresting or holding individuals in custody. The Americans are there to process in a pre-clearance way. Yes, they can ask questions but they can ask questions when people arrive at the other airport also. I do not really believe that the New Democrats' arguments are relevant to this bill in terms of where they point out the flaws because the flaws that they have pointed out thus far are not with respect to pre-clearance.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting to note that the member was insinuating that New Democrats somehow did not understand what is contained in Bill C-23.

I wonder whether the member missed the parts where the bill actually increases the powers for U.S. border guards on Canadian soil in provision of carrying firearms, strip-searching, detention, and interrogation.

I wonder if the member missed the lack of provisions protecting the rights and freedoms of transgender persons during strip searches, and I wonder if the member missed the provision in Bill C-23 that provides for the invasion of privacy on Canadian soil with regard to the search of travellers' electronic devices and access to the digital universe.

Last, I would like the member to answer this question. Peter Edelman, who is the lawyer and member of the national immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association, said he is concerned about the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He asked how we can be assured that the U.S. CDP's pre-clearance officers will be subjected to the charter. The bill does not specify their status as agents of the state.

I would love to hear from the member in response to the issues I just brought to his attention. Perhaps he has not read the bill.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:20 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have gone through the bill's briefing notes and am familiar with the bill itself. I have been through it not on one occasion but one two occasions, where I have had some form of a debriefing of sorts or have had the opportunity to read through it.

That is one of the reasons I posed the comments that I did earlier after the member had spoken. When we listen to New Democrats speak to Bill C-23, we would be given the opinion that the sky is falling and that the infringement of rights will be overwhelming on Canadian citizens and permanent residents whenever they go to a pre-clearance venue. Nothing could be further from the truth.

At the end of the day, we are talking about a pre-clearance. Individuals who are going into the United States can go through the pre-clearance, which then precludes them from having to go through a clearance once they land on American soil. When we are on Canadian soil, the Canadian Charter of Rights applies.

New Democrats seem to be in fear of these bogus phantoms, which I do not believe they have been successful at being able to justify. I do not understand why they are voting against the bill going to committee stage. The information is there. It is within the bill. Canadians and permanent residents do not have anything to fear in regard to their rights. Their rights are in fact being protected.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noted that the Parliamentary Secretary to the House Leader stressed the importance of the relationship that we have, the co-operation we have, with the United States, and I would totally agree with that. Constituents in my riding who are vacationing in the U.S. have reported back to me that the NDP's defamatory and disrespectful comments about the President of the United States have hit the media and are angering the U.S.

Would the member opposite agree that the NDP's attitude is most unhelpful with one of our most important trading partners?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we recognize that almost $2.5 billion of transactions occur between Canada and the U.S. every day. Millions of Canadians go back and forth between the U.S. and Canada every year. It is important that we recognize that as a special relationship. We have that relationship with no other country, and the U.S. has that relationship with no other country. Canada benefits by it. The U.S. benefits by it. This legislation would further advance that special relationship.

The NDP's approach to the U.S. would have one conclude that it has a strong anti-U.S. element within its caucus. Just listening to the number of questions or presentations, whether on this legislation, other legislation, or question period, one would draw the conclusion that we should be concerned in terms of that anti-American feeling that those members may have given the importance of the U.S. to Canada.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to split my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock today.

I rise to speak in support of Bill C-23, for several reasons. I will start with an overview of what the bill would do. I have had a lot of questions in my constituency about the bill.

Bill C-23 seeks to carry out some of the items that were part of the beyond the border plan, which former Prime Minister Harper and former President Obama put together. The agreement was put together to ensure that the long-term, positive relationship Canada and the United States have shared was strengthened over time through certain measures on the integrity of our borders and the management of the flow of traffic.

As my colleagues on the government side have said, it is important to note the volume of trade that occurs across this border on a daily basis. More than $2.5 billion worth of trade in goods, services, vehicles, etc., cross the border on a daily basis. That is why it is very important for us to maintain positive relations with the United States within a framework that respects the sovereignty of both nations and the rule of law in both nations and that also ends up being a positive experience for all involved.

It is important to go back to the beyond the border agreement when looking at the context of the bill. I would encourage anyone who has heard some of the myths about the bill to look at that agreement. Those listening today might look at this as a reaction to Trump or as a result of the Trump presidency, which I will get to later.

The original beyond the border agreement was actually negotiated under the Obama administration. It addressed things like addressing threats early, such as threats against border security, and facilitating trade. It addressed cross-border law enforcement, critical infrastructure, and cybersecurity.

Something worth noting is that there is a formal development and a statement of principle on privacy. Former Prime Minister Harper, as well as former President Obama, actually signed, in 2011, a joint statement on privacy principles. It is worth looking through it, because I know there has been some concern about privacy with regard to the bill. I feel that the principles included in that statement would be upheld by this, including things like maintaining all reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of information and the continued right to have access and to request the correction of errors, etc. I encourage people to read this particular piece of information, because it provides good context as to why this particular bill is quite sound.

I want to address some of the issues that have been brought to the attention of my office by some of my constituents. I will refer to some of the statements the public safety minister made in his introductory speech on the bill.

One misconception about the bill that has been put forward is that Canadian citizens would be subject to strip searches in a manner that they were not before. The current law allows a U.S. pre-clearance officer to conduct a strip search if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a traveller is hiding something or carrying something dangerous. My colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka said that should there be a wish to explore what “reasonable grounds” means, we certainly could look at it in committee. For that reason, I support the bill going to the committee stage.

The concept of a strip search certainly is not something anyone is excited about having happen, but it is worth pointing out that current law obligates U.S. officers to request that a Canadian counterpart conduct the search. This would remain the same. The only difference under Bill C-23 is that the U.S. officer could conduct the search if no Canadian officer were available, which would be extremely rare, and any such search would be subject to the same legal and constitutional protections that would apply to a search done by a Canadian officer.

In this very rare moment in the House of Commons, I agree with some of the comments put forward by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, in that part of the benefit of the U.S. pre-clearance system is that these searches and these processes would be done on Canadian soil. Therefore, Canadian law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply to Canadians. To me, this is a win-win.

I am a frequent visitor to the United States of America. My father is an American citizen. I enjoy having pre-clearance. I think this is a piece of legislation that is going to both protect my rights as a citizen of Canada and respect the sovereignty of the United States and its laws. It is going to ensure that the flow of trade, travellers, and goods continues in a positive way.

The Minister of Public Safety said that historical experience over the past 60 years indicates that any conflict in relation to these rules governing searches has “happened exactly zero times”. I think that is important to know. That is a good piece of information.

I am concerned, and certainly there are a lot of people who are concerned right now about some of the changes that have happened under the American administration. I watched a very good interview with officials from the United Nations last night about how, with regard to the safe third country agreement, there have been calls for it to be rescinded. However, the American legal system has not changed overnight. The American asylum system has not changed overnight.

The United States of America is probably one of the most vibrant democracies in the world, with one of the most thriving economies in the world. We are very fortunate to share a border with this country. That does not mean we should not be vigilant in terms of ensuring that Canada's sovereignty is respected, but I really do not see anything in the form or substance of the bill that oversteps that.

Going again through some of the myths about the bill, I know there has been a lot of talk about Canadian citizens being able to be detained by U.S. border officers. The public safety minister stated:

U.S. officers would not have the power to arrest or charge travellers in Canada. Rather, as is currently the case under existing law, a U.S. pre-clearance officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that a traveller has committed an offence must turn the traveller over to Canadian authorities as quickly as possible. With no exceptions, only Canadian authorities would determine whether charges would be laid.

It is very important to note that Canadian law applies in this situation, and at no point in time could the United States all of a sudden supersede our sovereignty and our law in this situation. This is ensuring that our processes are well aligned. Again, I want to emphasize too that there is a choice made by someone who is entering a pre-clearance area or trying to gain entry into the United States. Should there be reasons not to allow people into the United States that they are aware of, that is something they have to be cognizant of when they are choosing to enter another country.

People have written my office to say that under this bill, if they walk into the pre-clearance area, they can no longer choose to leave it. Again, that is a myth. I will have to take the public safety minister's word on this, but I did review the bill. I read the bill the same way he did. He said, “travellers wishing to withdraw from a pre-clearance area...would be entitled to do so, but they would be required to identify themselves and give their reasons for withdrawing”.

The reason given for this change is to ensure that people are not entering the pre-clearance area to case it. I actually agree with this provision. It seems very reasonable. As stated, as the law is written, there would be no ability to simply detain someone ad hoc. People would be able to withdraw, but they would have to give their reasons for doing so.

Arming of officers has also come up. This was the example the minister gave:

...U.S. officers in Canada would only be entitled to carry the same weapons as Canadian border services officers do in the same environment.... because Canadian officers do not generally carry firearms inside airport terminals, U.S. officers would not be authorized to carry firearms there either.

The bill would actually expand the pre-clearance process to a variety of other ports and entry points. This is a great thing. The U.S. pre-clearance system in Canada facilitates the flow of goods and services. Certainly as a traveller with family in the United States, this is something I support.

Again, looking at the broader macroeconomic picture of trade and a continued relationship with one of our major trading partners, this is a fantastic continuation of relationships that have continued over political flavours of administrations. In the United States we have seen that change, but also in Canada.

This is a law that shows the endurance of Canadian–American relations in a positive way.

With that, I support this bill.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

John Oliver Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for dealing with some of the questions and myths that are circulating. I want to come back to one she mentioned. In my riding of Oakville, the issue of voluntarily withdrawing from the pre-clearance area and the belief that people could be detained and held and put through various searches have come up.

As I believe the member across has said, people would be able to withdraw from the pre-clearance area. The pre-clearance officer would be prohibited from imposing unreasonable delays. However, if the officers suspected that the person was probing to look for weaknesses at the border, they would be able to ask for ID and a reason for the withdrawal. I wonder if the member could elaborate on that point a bit and touch again on some of the myths that are circulating that are not true and that are weakening a very good bill.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite raises a good point, especially when it comes to this bill and some of the rhetoric, especially around the change of the administration in the United States. In order for Canada and the United States to continue to have a mutually positive trading relationship, we have to focus on facts and not ramp up the rhetoric, when there really is no need to do so. Frankly, it lessens our ability to critically review serious issues when they do arise.

I have read this bill backward and forward, and I listened to the public safety minister's speech. I have spent a lot of time with my colleague from Parry Sound—Muskoka, who is our critic on this file. I followed, when I was in government, the development of the beyond the border agreement. To me, it is very clear that Canadian law supersedes any sort of issue.

I would encourage people who are contacting their MPs on this bill to review some of the speeches of the public safety minister, my colleague from Perry Sound—Muskoka, and some of my other colleagues and actually look at the form and substance of the bill itself. In no way would this give any rights to American border agents that would supersede or remove due process or the rights of Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, certainly the flow of goods and services between Calgary and ports of entry in the United States is significant. Calgary has always had a strong trading relationship, certainly in the energy sector, the forestry sector, and the agriculture sector. I know that there is quite a bit of traffic. If we think of something as simple as air travel, Calgary International Airport has just expanded, and that really highlights the fact that there has been a significant increase in traffic, both from the United States to Canada and vice versa. Therefore, just in that one little microcosm, this is going to be very important.

I have also been heartened to see more travellers from the United States coming to Calgary of late, specifically with regard to the announcement on the KXL pipeline. In the House of Commons, I would like to congratulate the new American president, President Trump, for making a very good decision on Keystone XL. This is going to be a very positive decision for North American energy security and job creation on both sides of the border.

In closing, if I may, it is important for Canadians, as well as Americans, to look at our relationship as something that is beautiful and pragmatic. It should be managed with respect in terms of looking at the facts contained in the bill rather than with hyperbole.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, the United States is based on the idea that people should be able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness or the enjoyment of their property. I would argue that in Canada it is very similar, if not the exact same.

Our country aligns significantly with our cousin to the south. One of the things that we need in this country is a very thin border with the United States. I can remember crossing back and forth over the American border with no documentation whatsoever. I was a young child back then, so I may not have even had any documentation. I think all my parents needed at that point was a driver's license, and they were across the border. They could come back weeks later, and it was fine.

Now we need to get passports to go to the United States. For me, that has been a significant barrier to going to the United States. I went to the University of the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford, British Columbia. It is right across the border from Sumas, United States. I boarded in a house within sight of the border. We often crossed the border there.

Since the introduction of passports several years ago, the border lineups have increased dramatically. We see the effects of a thickening border across the country.

This bill works to reduce the thickness of the border. It works to streamline people crossing the border. It also makes it so that people are not running into problems in other countries on their holidays. I have not travelled abroad very often, but on my honeymoon I went to the Middle East and around the Mediterranean. For me, that was always a bit of a worry. We did not get screened and run through the whole border security until we got to the other country. Then, what would happen if we did not have the right documentation or something was out of order? We would have just been shipped back home, and the whole flight and the entire holiday would have been for naught.

The pre-screening, as it has been, and is now being expanded, allows people to have their paperwork checked right here in Canada. If there is in fact something wrong, they can turn around and go home to either get the right documentation or cancel their trip, whatever the case may be. However, they will not be stuck in another country, in limbo, stuck living in airport for an extended period of time.

My riding in northern Alberta, which I like to call the promised land, is a riding that attracts a lot of tourism. One of the things that draws people in is the northern lights. In northern Alberta, the northern lights are spectacular. I would encourage everyone to come and experience the northern lights. During the summer, people will probably not see the northern lights because there is nearly 24 hours of daylight.

The tourism industry is critical to northern Alberta, as it is to all of Canada. I would say that this new bill is going to improve travel to northern Alberta, particularly at a time when the Canadian dollar is worth less than the American dollar. Americans get a discount coming here. For people who are going to go on a holiday and have to choose between Canada and the United States, the Canadian holiday is at a discount. This would really encourage tourism in northern Alberta.

Northern Alberta has some great fishing that brings in a lot of folks from the United States, as well as hunting. I know the guiding and outfitting operations in northern Alberta are extensive. I would encourage anyone who is interested in that to come and check it out. A thinning of the border will make it easier for people travelling to northern Alberta.

In northern Alberta, we have developed some of the most amazing technology and expertise when it comes to oil development. Even in these times of low oil prices, we have been able to transport our technology and expertise around the world.

I have several cousins living in the United States who travel across the border on a regular basis. They have a big oil field company that is now operating all over the world. The ability for them to have the pre-clearance, the NEXUS card, the green card to travel back and forth between Canada and the United States means their quality of life is as good as it has ever been. They are contributing to Canadian society by being able to work around the world, particularly in the United States. They have big operations down in Colorado and up in Alaska. It is allowing them to take knowledge, expertise, and technology that they developed in northern Alberta, and to bring it to other places that can benefit from these innovations, from their expertise, whether that be in Colorado, or up north in Alaska.

It is a good day when the member for Winnipeg North and I can agree on something. It is a rare opportunity. I appreciate us coming together on something like this, and to see them doing the hard work for which we laid the foundation. It is much appreciated. I was not here in the last Parliament, so I cannot take any credit for it, but I am part of the party that did do that hard work. I know my colleague from Foothills was here, and he can probably attest to the great work that was done previously.

The new locations are going to be welcome here in Canada. Coming from northern Alberta, I use the airport in Edmonton, where we have a pre-clearance facility, which I have used. The border security agents who work there are an intimidating bunch, but they typically make our travels through there quick and efficient. I would expect them to be an intimidating bunch. They are there to protect the border. That is their job. I appreciate the fact that we have Canadian border security agents doing that on behalf of all Canadians every day to ensure that Canadians remain safe. That is an important part. They need to be thanked for their hard work today as well.

Nations are decided by fairly arbitrary lines on the landscape, but it does give us a level of security that we need to protect. It also allows us to have jurisdiction that allows us to create the quality of life we have right here in northern Alberta.

With that, I would like to thank the Liberals for doing such great work on the bill. I did have an opportunity to read through it. I have not seen anything that jumped right out at me. I request the NDP to stop saying the sky is falling, and support the bill as well.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague entirely that tourism is an important part of Canada's economy. My family and I grew up in the tourism industry on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.

However, the change in Bill C-23 is worth a critical examination. We need to be very clear that the pre-clearance that has happened to date has not created concern, but this bill adds additional powers to U.S. security officials on Canadian soil. I have not yet heard a single rationale from anyone who supports Bill C-23 as it now stands, unamended. The member will know how much I like the word “amendment”.

The bill, unamended, is not one I can support without what might be described as tweaks or amendments to ensure that anyone attempting to enter the U.S. from Canada in a pre-clearance facility has the absolute right to leave and say, “I'm going back. I'm getting out of this place. I don't want to answer anymore of your questions. Thank you very much.”

That is not clear in Bill C-23, and that is my concern. Why the change? We have had pre-clearance working just fine without Bill C-23. We can expand it to more airports, to train stations, or whatever. Why on earth do we need to give U.S. agents on Canadian soil more powers?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will confirm that somewhere on the Internet it does say that amendment is the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands's favourite word in this place.

I was reading through the bill earlier and pre-clearance withdrawal seems clearly laid out. However, I will defer to my colleague on some of these things because she is a lawyer and I am not and lawyers typically trip over words that I find quite benign. From my perspective, it seems logically laid out. If at any time an individual wants to leave the area he or she just has to state the reasons and then leave. That to me seems very logical.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:50 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as the member pointed out, pre-clearance has been taking place for almost six decades and that is a positive thing. Airports in Winnipeg, Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary already have pre-clearance and the economic benefits are overwhelming. A person flying out of Toronto airport, for example, without pre-clearance can fly into 20-some U.S. airports. As a result of pre-clearance, a person can fly into 50 U.S. airports.

Could my colleague across the way reinforce the importance of pre-clearance and the benefits for Canada and the U.S. by expanding it?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Mr. Speaker, I did address this extensively in my speech today. It is what I like to call thinning of the border. Pre-clearance makes it easier to cross back and forth across the border and when it is easier, people do it more often and there are benefits from that.

I will outline my most memorable experience with pre-clearance and it happened when I was on my honeymoon. It was not between our country and the United States but between Greece and Israel. I was on a Greek cruise ship which made port in Israel. Officials came by in the morning asking to see our passports. There was a pre-clearance place on the cruise ship so the border security guards went through our passports right on the ship, while we were cruising. When we arrived at port we had already been pre-cleared and could just walk off the ship right on to our tour bus. That made the entire visiting experience that much better. That also drives tourism. If we had gone through the regular channel, all passengers on the ship would have been required to line up at border security point and it could have taken several hours to get through.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.

Mr. Speaker, today I am greatly honoured and proud to speak to this august House regarding Bill C-23. The bill will reflect our combined efforts to maintain and develop the success of our Canadian borders. We understand that security and efficiency goes hand in hand in expediting the legitimate transactions across the border regarding trade and travel.

As the proud member of Parliament representing the riding of Brampton Centre, where many businesses are flourishing day by day, I can see the importance of the preclearance act that would allow travellers and cargo to move quickly and safely across the Canada-U.S. border. When this law comes into force, there will be tremendous job opportunities available to Canadians.

The bill would implement the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearances between the Government of Canada and the government of the United States.

I wish to remind the House that our American friends passed legislation in December 2016, the promoting travel, commerce, and national security act 2016.

As we know, change is a process, but positive change is an initiative. It is my belief that one cannot do the same things and expect to achieve different results. We must be committed to the continuous reviewing of old and existing system, and seek ways to improve. It is our duty to respond to changing conditions in order to compete with the global economic powers.

Our Prime Minister wants Canada to take advantage of opportunities to grow our businesses by strengthening the long-standing friendship and proven successful trading relationship between Canada and the United States.

This government has recognized that in order for our economy to grow and our societies to develop, we must provide the economic and social atmosphere to encourage businesses to thrive.

It is a known fact that in 2015 Canada exported over $400 billion worth of goods and $50 billion in services to the USA. In the tourism industry, 12.5 million overnight travellers accounted for $35.5 billion worth of Canada's GDP and over 600,000 jobs. Every day, 400,000 travellers cross the Canadian-USA border, along with nearly $2.5 billion worth of trade. Yes, it happens on a daily basis. This governments wants those numbers to increase, so we must look at new and different ways to improve.

Canada and the USA have a history of successful pre-clearance operations that goes back more than 60 years. Every year, 12 million passengers benefit from pre-clearance at eight Canadian airports.

The proposed Bill C-23 will expand pre-clearance privileges to new, busy, and evolving airports, such as Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City, Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, Montreal Central Station, and Rocky Mountaineer in British Columbia. This act would further lay out the foundation for future expansion of sites in Canada.

If pre-clearance did not exist, Toronto Pearson International Airport, for example, could not offer direct flights to almost half of its destinations in the USA because those airports do not have customs and immigration services. With pre-clearance services at Pearson airport, travellers will have direct flights to 50 USA destinations, but otherwise it would be limited to a mere 27 if the pre-clearance services are not available.

Numerous benefits will come from the pre-clearance process, such as reduced delays. A recent polling by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found that 36% of members are sceptical of doing business and would think twice about dealing with U.S.A. clients because of the hassle of getting goods across the border. This is unacceptable. We can do better.

Bill C-23 will be excellent for the small business and tourism industries. It will be good for reducing security risks to Canadians from external threats. Bill C-23 will be beneficial for all Canadian travellers for whom time is of the essence, as they will no longer be wasting time unnecessarily at the border. It will help ensure that citizens of both Canada and the United States will continue to benefit from an open and secure border. It will remove barriers that impede trade opportunities.

Canadian law will continue to be applied within dedicated pre-clearance areas and all pre-clearance operations conducted by U.S.A. officers in Canada would require compliance with Canadian laws, such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, and human rights laws.

I know Brampton, the fastest growing city in Canada, will cherish this concept. In my riding of Brampton Centre, thousands of businesses dealing in transportation will be excited to know that this government is looking after their interests. I am sure all Canadian travellers and Canadian business companies will embrace the concept of the pre-clearance process.

As we all know, job creation is the primary stimulus to our economy, and it is our goal to put people to work. Hence I urge every hon. member to support the bill.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the debate on Bill C-23, I have not had a chance to reflect on an experience I always find troubling. I do not know how many members have ever taken the train from Montreal to New York, but I love doing it. As the train gets to the U.S. border, the U.S. security guards come on board, and it is very clear racial profiling is going on. They pull people off, and we do not see them again. I find that troubling. That is the way it is if we go to another country, we deal with its security, and the way it handles things, but not on Canadian soil.

This is a big difference. When we have pre-clearance on Canadian soil, we want to ensure that no one is subjected to unwarranted harassment, questioning, strip searches, or detention for further questioning. I am very concerned that Bill C-23 does not protect those who are vulnerable. I am quite certain that an older couple that looks prosperous would have no trouble going through pre-clearance. However, I worry about the marginalized, people of colour, the LGBTQ community members, people with political views, and young people who appear to be going to a demonstration.

Is the Liberal government open to amendments on Bill C-23?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know we have to go through clearance either before the border crossing or after we arrive in another country. However, if a pre-clearance is done before we cross the border and the authorities check everything they are required to, that will save time and will benefit every individual going through the system.

I also want to emphasize further that any officers who would do the pre-clearances here would follow the laws of our country. They will not be allowed to go beyond the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, and our human rights laws.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, when Bill C-23 passes, it will provide tremendous job opportunities to everyone in Canada. Not only that, but it will be excellent for all small businesses and tourism. It will be better for those whose time is of great essence. If they want to get rid of having to get in the queue, they can simply use their time for other purposes.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, many individuals travel abroad. When some of them arrive, they are told they will not be allowed to stay, which means they have to return to Canada. With pre-clearance, before those individuals get on the plane, they are authorized to land and not have to go through immigration and customs at the other end.

Would my colleague reinforce how that is positive thing? Pre-clearance is really about that; getting pre-approved prior to travelling. It does not mean anything more than that.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pre-clearance will benefit those who travel outside of Canada. Pearson airport only has a facility to land. Certain airports in the U.S.A. have customs and immigration services. However, if those services are not available in airports where people will land, they can go through pre-clearance before leaving and can land at U.S. airports as domestic passengers, which will be beneficial to them.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address this topic.

Going back to an earlier comment by my colleague across the way, I regularly take the train to New York, but I do not take it from Canada because there is up to two hours of delay at the border with the Toronto to New York service. I drew this comment from the TripAdvisor website that says, “expect a 2 hour delay each way.... You cannot get off the train and you can't use any electronic devices while the customs inspection is taking place. On the way back, we went through it twice: once on the American side and again on the Canadian side.”

This is in an era when people are travelling from London to Paris in two hours. High-speed rail is certainly something that is being considered. Can members imagine a Toronto to New York high-speed train, which one could expect to be about four hours with that kind of equipment, but with a delay of two hours while the customs inspection goes on at the border? This is not a 21st-century attitude.

This year, we marked the 170th anniversary of the Oregon Treaty, which is the agreement between the United States and Great Britain that established the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and what would soon be known as Canada. Somewhat later, in 1903, an international tribunal resolved a long-standing dispute in the north on where to draw the border between Canada and Alaska. These two agreements have not only helped to define our physical borders, but they have also helped to write the story of our historic friendship and alliance between our two nations.

In a world where national borders have at times led to conflict and political strife, Canada and the United States have built a relationship that is co-operative, economically prosperous, and one of the most safe and secure in the world. This relationship has been built and strengthened by ordinary Canadians and ordinary Americans, as well as by political leaders in both countries of all political stripes.

I would put into contrast an old black-and-white movie from the 1940s called Night Train To Trieste. It went all through Europe on the Orient Express, and the train did not stop. Here we are with two-hour delays at the border between, I would argue, the two friendliest neighbouring countries perhaps in the world; whereas in a place where people were at war in living memory, they were flying across the borders nonstop.

Our shared goals of providing peace, security, and opportunity for our citizens have helped shape who we are and given us a robust foundation on which to build a strong and prosperous future. Among the key issues regularly discussed between our two countries are border travel and security measures, as we continually look for safe ways to make travel and trade easier and more efficient.

Finding ways to reduce delays at our border with the United States and encourage trade and travel are critical. It is because of the integration of the North American economy and the volume of trade that the border handles daily, which is more than $2 billion a day, as has been mentioned, that effective management is essential to the health of both of our country's economies. It is in everyone's best interest to safely keep business flowing and our borders open to the legitimate movement of goods and people. This is the goal of initiatives like pre-clearance and why it is essential that we move ahead with this legislation. Once the bill is passed, it will provide the legal framework to govern potential expanded pre-clearance in both Canada and the United States in all modes of transportation: land, rail, marine, and air.

It is worth noting again that pre-clearance operations already process 11 million U.S.-bound passengers every year, with some 400 U.S. customs and border protection officers working at eight Canadian airports. These existing operations reduce wait times and airport congestion, and allow for greater predictability in departure and arrival times. They facilitate the interception of threats at the point of departure, and as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce put it, “greatly improve the competitiveness of North American trade”.

In a world of closely interconnected economies and rapidly changing threats, nations are recognizing that pre-clearance is an effective way to encourage trade and travel while managing threats before they cross borders. The economic spin-offs have been well detailed and well proven through these many decades of pre-clearance operations at Canadian airports. In fact, pre-clearance is a way of both thinning the border for legitimate trade and travel while enhancing security by facilitating the interception of potential threats before they arrive at the border itself.

Expanded pre-clearance is part of a long and successful tradition of Canada and the United States not only doing business together but doing border security together as well.

Canada and America already co-operate on measures like the Canada-U.S. integrated border enforcement teams, IBETs, multi-agency law enforcement teams that target cross-border criminal activity; the shiprider program in which specially trained and designated RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard officers jointly crew marine vessels and operate on both sides of the international boundary line; and, of course, trusted traveller programs like NEXUS, the free and secure trade program, or FAST, and others that help to keep the border secure while encouraging legitimate border traffic.

All of these measures become more critical in an ever-changing, ever-connected global community. These are the benefits that we can realize with pre-clearance.

At the state visit last March in Washington, D.C., Canada and the United States announced an agreement in principle to begin expanding pre-clearance to four new sites: two airports, Jean Lesage in Quebec City, and Billy Bishop in Toronto; and two rail sites, Montréal Central station, and Rocky Mountaineer in Vancouver. Legislation to implement that agreement in the U.S. was adopted by Congress and signed into law in December with bipartisan support, and the bill before us today will implement the agreement in Canada.

Importantly, Bill C-23 establishes a framework that could one day govern pre-clearance at ports of entry beyond those that were the subject of last spring's agreement in principle. It could also cover other modes of transport as well as pre-clearance of cargo, and it could see Canadian border officers conducting pre-clearance operations in the U.S. for the first time.

All of this is good for travellers, good for businesses, and good for security on both sides of the border. I urge all members to support Bill C-23 and ensure its swift passage. That will enable me to take the train from Toronto to New York without stopping at the Niagara frontier.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very alarming to sit on this side today and hear the lack of understanding about Bill C-23.

I live in a border community. People in my community have family members on the other side. People in my community, on a daily basis, have to commute for work. I understand about pre-clearance. It is working. It exists today. We have pre-clearance. We have a pre-clearance arrangement.

Bill C-23 is about adding additional powers to our U.S. counterparts on Canadian soil. Canadian immigration lawyers are warning us that without amending aspects of this bill, it will be excessive powers.

Do you agree that there will need to be amendments to this bill to ensure that Canadians have rights on Canadian soil when being questioned by U.S. counterparts in customs?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, would you care to weigh in on the subject?

I want to assure my colleagues on the other side of the House that the government is fully aware of the concerns of all Canadians and North Americans about security issues. We would not allow legislation to go forward that would add to any threats or any concerns about people travelling between the two countries.

I am confident that the legislation that is before us contemplates all the potential problems and will be an effective measure to expedite and improve the travel of people and goods between the United States and Canada.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think I have found another train advocate in this place, the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. I am very pleased to see that.

I agree that pre-clearance before boarding in Montreal or Toronto or Penn Station would be absolutely fantastic. I am not opposed to pre-clearance.

I am opposed to Bill C-23 as it currently stands, because I have yet to hear a single explanation from the government benches as to why we should agree to give U.S. border security guards additional powers that they do not currently have when we go through pre-clearance, for instance, here in Ottawa. I recently went to Washington, D.C. and did my pre-clearance in Ottawa. It all makes good sense. However, why would we give U.S. agents new powers when operating on Canadian soil?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, in reviewing the current legislation, obviously it will always involve changes in different approaches to how those security clearances take place. In the interests of both Canadian and American officials, we want to have a harmonized bill that satisfies the needs of both countries. Therefore, I am confident that what we have before us does that in a fair and effective way.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the point the members on the other side seem to be missing is that pre-clearance works just fine without these new powers for the American officials to use in Canada. These would include carrying firearms, detention, and conducting strip searches.

Why on earth do we need to add new powers in order to keep pre-clearance operating? There seems to be no justification for that, other than it must have been the price the U.S. demanded for the expanded agreement.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Bob Bratina Liberal Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, whatever legislation existed in the past, we are in a brave new world. We have different situations. I would suggest members get a newspaper or watch the news. The world is a different world than the one I grew up in and the one when the Sleeping Car to Trieste took place in 1948. We need to review, improve and enhance the approaches that have been taken. I believe the bill before us will do that in a way that Canadians would accept.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I did have a really good speech and I was going to praise my colleagues across the floor about working with our party and bringing Bill C-23 to reality. I listened attentively yesterday and today at some of the arguments from the NDP. There is a lot of fear and I do not understand why.

Bill C-23 is an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States. We have been doing that on and off since about 1952 and our first free trade agreement came into force in 1989. Our countries have been working very well over the last number of years to protect the world's longest undefended border of 8,900 kilometres and that has resulted in a bilateral trade investment relationship that is one of the best in the world.

Bill C-23 would modernize the way our customs officials in Canada and the United States work together. We need to modernize it. As my friend across the way said earlier, times are changing. I remember when I went to the United States and I gave my driver's licence and drove across with no problem. Americans used to drive here across the border with a driver's licence, but times are changing. It is more difficult. There is lots of fearmongering coming from my far left here.

A friend came to Canada on his motorcycle from the United States and he had a mishap in northern British Columbia. We had to send him back by ambulance and airplane to Vancouver to get back to the United States, but he had a really hard time getting back to his own country because he came across with a driver's licence and to fly back he needed more documentation. People always run into difficulties, but there are always two sides to every story.

I get alarmed when people stand here and say they have a constituent who told them they were held up for two hours. Tell us both sides of the story. We have not heard from the officials what took place. Our minister has said that if people have problems to contact him and they will investigate and find out why there were undue delays.

As a police officer for 35 years, if I were doing a roadblock for impaired drivers and a vehicle came up a couple of hundred yards away from me and turned around, I would not be doing my job if I did not send someone to check that vehicle out. Good police officers, good border guards are trained to be suspicious, are trained to pick up key factors, whether it is the flittering of eyes, whether it is the movement of the body, or whatever, we train our people to watch for this. If we do not give them the authority to ask questions, then we are not doing due diligence for the safety of the people in this country.

It is only common sense. Members stand in the House and say someone should not be stopped or be detained, but if they walk up to security pre-clearance and quickly turn around and go away, I am going to be suspicious and so should the security guard. If he is Canadian or American, he is protecting the rights of Canadians and Americans travelling back and forth across one of the greatest free borders in the world. We should be proud of what we do between our cousins in the south and ourselves. We have police officers who have been doing this for 50 or 60 years, working on both sides of the border, working together to make things safe, working together to use each other's intelligence.

Let us not hamper them. Let us give them the authority to do their job properly, to make Canada a safer place, and to make it easier for us to transition from Canada to the United States.

The bill makes a lot of common sense. We are going to do it on our turf. The Americans are going to check us out on our turf. We will be protected by Canadian laws on our turf. That only makes common sense. It is a practical, common sense bill that began with Prime Minister Harper and carried through to the current Prime Minister. Canadians need this. We need pre-clearance to get ourselves across the border as quickly and as safely as we can, but we have to ensure our officers have the tools to do their job effectively.

Years ago I used to travel back and forth by aircraft to the United States. It used to take an hour to an hour and a half to get through customs. There is something called CANPASS. It has been in existence since about 1989. CANPASS is pre-clearance. I can go to the United States by air and get through customs in about five minutes. That is what pre-security screening does for people.

Notice of time allocation motionPreclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 24th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
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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, an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the second reading stage of Bill C-23, an act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, to the people of Canada and the many travellers, I am proud to speak to this legislation that will allow Canada to move forward with ratifying the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance between the Government of Canada and the government of the United States of America.

As members of the House know, our government has made it a priority to build a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States. Canada and the United States share the longest, most open, and most successful international border in history.

Bill C-23, the pre-clearance act, reflects our united efforts to maintain and develop the success of this border, wherein security and efficiency go hand in hand in expediting legitimate and vital cross-border trade and travel. Both our nations believe in the importance of encouraging economic growth and building effective trade relationships with our allies. Both our nations believe in the benefits of close collaboration with each other, and with our allies to guard against shared threats to our security. It is from this foundation that Canada and the United States have built the robust economic partnership we enjoy today.

In my time today, I will look at how pre-clearance is working at present, as well as the tremendous economic opportunities it will offer in the future. I will also address the amendment the NDP has moved with reasons for opposing this bill. The NDP amendment asks us to reject the bill because of what it refers to as the climate of uncertainty at the U.S. border, as well as the impacts on new American policies with respect to immigration, and concern about privacy rights. I disagree with those reasons, and I will express why a little later.

Travel for vacation with family or friends, or travel for business is a prime or popular experience for many Canadians and Canadian businesses. Pearson airport, in my home city of Mississauga, recorded more than 12 million travellers, both ways, between Canada and the United States in 2016. More than 400,000 flow back and forth between Canada and the United States every single day. Close to $2.5 billion in two-way trade from multiple sectors move cross-border between us every single day.

Clearly, our robust partnership is not just nice to have, it is vital for our continued security and economic growth. To this end, we must have an effective border that is at once closed to security threats and open to legitimate trade and travel. The legislation before us is a great example of how we are working to manage our borders better.

For travellers going from Canada to the United States, pre-clearance has existed in one form or another for more than 60 years. It is currently available at eight Canadian airports. Pre-clearance allows travellers to complete American customs and immigration procedures in Canada before leaving Canada. Once they land in the U.S., they forego customs lineups, reduce delays, and inefficiencies. Direct access is provided to many destinations that would otherwise require connecting flights, as some of these destinations do not have customs arrangements.

If pre-clearance did not exist, Toronto Pearson International Airport, for example, could not offer direct flights to almost half of its destinations in the United States, because those airports do not have customs and immigration facilities. The impact is substantial. With pre-clearance services at Pearson airport travellers have direct flights to 50 U.S. destinations, but would be limited to a mere 27 if these services were not available.

In addition to the substantial economic benefits, there are security benefits to be found, notably because goods and travellers are pre-cleared before they leave the country. Pre-clearance officers are able to refuse inadmissible goods and travellers before entering into the destination country, rather than turning them back after they arrive.

The NDP charges that there is some kind of threat to our sovereignty. I will mention two points. First, U.S. pre-clearance officers in Canada would continue to be bound by our laws and Constitution. Second, the agreement contains full reciprocity. The U.S. pre-clearance officers would only be allowed to carry the same arms as Canadian border officers in the same environment. The same is true for Canadian officers in the U.S., because CBSA officers do not carry firearms in airport terminals, neither would their American counterparts.

Let us also consider the effect on the trade of goods and services. Currently, goods include currency and monetary instruments for those in transit to another destination via the U.S.A. Business would be delayed or avoided because of inconvenience, or time constraints should these clearance facilities not be available at major centres at least.

Various chambers of commerce and newly proposed pre-clearance cities endorse this legislation, as does John Manley, CEO of Canadian Council of Chief Executives. They all concur that the agreement would enhance business, specifically tourism and travel industries. Bill C-23 would enable us to take full advantage of an agreement to expand pre-clearance services to Canadians, informal train and cruise ship sites on the west coast will be regularized, and the door will be open for other new Canadian venues and pre-clearance of cargo.

The expansion, real and projected, of these services is a win, not only for the people who wish to travel to the Untied States, it is also a win for our economy. The cross-border economy relies on an efficient, effective border crossing. Border delays are considered an impediment to both tourism and businesses. Pre-clearance encourages economic benefits to tourism and trade.

Our economy is attuned to cross-border accessibility. Over $400 million worth of cross-border goods and $50 billion in services were exported to the Untied States in 2015. Tourism activities in the same year included 12.5 million overnight travellers from the United States, which accounted directly for $35.5 billion of Canada's GDP. Our government committed, during our 2015 election, to remove any hassles for Canadian business people crossing the border with goods by promoting a steadier flow of goods and business travellers.

The NDP has asked, why should we not just continue with the existing legal framework for pre-clearance? The answer is simple. Without new legislation, there can be no expansion of pre-clearance. Defeating Bill C-23 would mean no facilities at the Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City, the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto, Montreal's Central Station for the Rocky Mountaineer, or west coast cruise ships and ferry terminals. There would be no pre-clearance of cargo, and no possibility of Canadian pre-clearance in the U.S. This would be bad for Canadian travellers and bad for the Canadian economy.

The streamlining of border procedures by Bill C-23 is preceded by the knowledge that Canada and the United States have a history of successful pre-clearance operations since 1952. U.S. pre-clearance sites in Canada, U.S. officers, and pre-clearance perimeters are subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

They precede in the pre-clearance tasks. Hence, that pre-clearance area is like an enclave in Canada with U.S. authorities, employing their U.S. authorized pre-clearance regulations, being governed by Canadian laws in the administration of those seeking pre-clearance, including people in transit. Canadian rights and freedoms are safely maintained in those pre-clearance areas and perimeters pre-assigned by the Governor in Council.

The act is well conceived as an instrument for pre-clearance operations, and optimally protects rights and maintains security. Pre-clearance enhances the economy by improving the flow of legitimate travel and trade, and at the same time safeguarding the integrity of our border, all under the protective arm of Canadian law and charter.

The call by the NDP to reject this bill, based on a situation in the United States and how it affects immigration and privacy rights, is not the correct course of action. It is precisely why enacting legislation like Bill C-23, with a clear legal framework governing the actions of U.S. officers, that we are able to reduce uncertainty for Canadian travellers, protect against ebbs and flows of American policy, and defend Canadians' rights as was pointed out by the Minister of Public Safety. The alternative is for Canadians to be processed by U.S. border guards on U.S. soil with none of these legal and constitutional protections.

Therefore, I urge the NDP to recognize the benefits of expanded pre-clearance. We need to pass this bill in order to realize those benefits, and the safeguards this bill contains to ensure that Canadians' rights are well protected.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments on this, but I simply do not understand his position, and he incorrectly portrays the NDP position. We are not opposed to expanding pre-clearance, we are simply asking the question, when pre-clearance has functioned all this time, without granting what I would call extreme powers to the officials in the United States, why do we need those extra powers? Why do we need to say that American agents can detain Canadians? Why do we need to say that they can carry firearms? This has been working perfectly well without these provisions.

When the member says that they operate under Canadian law, that is simply not true. They do not apply Canadian law. They have no training in Canadian law. They know virtually nothing about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Simply saying that is true does not make it so.

Why do we need these new expanded powers for American officials at the border, especially at a time when gay and lesbian Canadians and Muslim Canadians are having a difficult time getting into the United States?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, being from a part of our country that relies a great deal on tourism, travel, and trade, with British Columbia abutting Washington State, I talked about our history of 60 years of pre-clearance. This has been a great exercise for both nations to be able to have that travel and trade between our citizens.

We find those U.S. guards do fall under our legal system, our charter, our Bill of Rights, and our Human Rights Act. I am sure the member's experience has been one where the facilitation of being able to cross the border with ease, having that pre-clearance, has allowed for much travel and trade, and is something that we want to expand.

We find with this expansion and the reciprocity that we have with the United States, because they have already moved on their act, we want to allow that to happen so that—

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague across the way. It looks like there is going to be a little co-operation in the House on this, given the fact that this legislation goes back a number of years and has crossed many different administrations.

My concern going forward is not necessarily so much in the text of the legislation, although I will have some concerns addressed in my speech in a few minutes, but the apparent disjointedness when it comes to the policies of the U.S. administration versus the new Canadian administration when it comes to marijuana legalization, when it comes to refugees and dealing with cross-border issues, and the implications of Bill C-23 being passed at this time.

We have come to this point because of confidence building measures. We are adding more destinations, more terminals, and more facilities to the list, as the member aptly points out, but at a time when the Canadian policy seems to be completely disjointed from the U.S. policy.

Can he expect, going forward, that an implementation that is based on good faith between two countries will not cause some issues?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Madam Speaker, the member is quite right. Because of our longstanding relationship with the United States, the reciprocity that is within the act that they have passed, and what we are trying to do here, there is a clear understanding of our laws and American laws, and how pre-clearance has benefited both nations.

Canadians who go through pre-clearance are covered under our laws. U.S. law enforcement understand that at the border. This is the way we can now expand on our pre-clearance. This will bring substantial benefit to Canadians to be able to travel and trade in the United States.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Red Deer—Lacombe.

It is great to speak to Bill C-23, the preclearance act, 2016. It is nice to see that the Liberals are following through on a Conservative initiative, which was to expand pre-clearance. It really is a tribute to the very productive relationship prime minister Stephen Harper had with former president Barack Obama, when they signed the beyond the border agreement. We know Bill C-23 fulfills one of the requirements of that beyond the border agreement.

Already, Canadians have been able to benefit from pre-clearance and facilitate trade, tourism, and the movement of business people back and forth across our great border. We can add an additional number of airports and railway stations beyond the eight airports we currently have in Canada where pre-clearance already takes place.

Last year alone, 12 million Canadians went through pre-clearance when travelling to the United States. This is significant. Our airlines want this. More airports and train stations want to capitalize on this. We look forward to having a fulsome debate on the legislation in the House, but also having appropriate hearings at committee to ensure the bill addresses the needs of all stakeholder groups, that all the concerns regarding some of the extra powers being granted to U.S. border agents at pre-clearance stations are addressed, such as detention authority, and that other concerns around refugees and immigration are thoroughly sought out.

At this stage, the Conservatives will be supporting the bill to get it to committee. It will hear from experts and stakeholder groups, and, ultimately, to see whether amendments are required or whether the bill addresses the concerns being raised.

Currently, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax airports have already benefited for years from pre-clearance. That goes back to an agreement signed in 2001, the Agreement on Air Transport Preclearance Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States. The legislation was updated in 2012. Things continue to change and evolve, so now it is again time to expand, and it will happen in four different parts.

It is important to note that Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the island, Montreal Central Station, and the Rocky Mountaineer will be added to the legislation, all places that can utilize the pre-clearance program. We often talk to stakeholder groups at the airports and train companies to ensure any concerns they have as to costs, because they have to bear out those costs, will be more than compensated for by increasing ticket fares and ensuring they get the extra volume of business by having pre-clearance.

There are four parts to Bill C-23. Part one is United States pre-clearance officers conducting the pre-clearance of Canadian travellers here. Part two would allow Canadian officers in the U.S. to conduct pre-clearance. Part three, which I have heard concerns about from constituents in my riding, is that American border services officers will be given exemptions from criminal liability by an amendment to the Criminal Code. There are concerns around that and how they will use those powers in the pre-clearance areas that will be dedicated to the United States in Canada. Part four would make consequential amendments to the Customs Act and repeal the existing pre-clearance act.

Canadians should remember that we have a special relationship with the United States. Currently only six countries have this pre-clearance arrangement and 15 airports around the world have U.S. border guards conducting pre-clearance in those countries. Out of those 15 airports, eight of them are in Canada.

We do have a special relationship. By expanding this because of the relationship between Canada and the United States, and the negotiations between former prime minister Stephen Harper and former president Barack Obama under the beyond the border initiative, we are moving forward.

I know the Minister of Public Safety has alluded to the fact that this pre-clearance may be expanded to include cargo traffic and shipments of containers and other commodities, so we can move quicker in ensuring that our trade relationship with the United States continues to expand.

As we know, $2.4 billion of goods cross the border between Canada and the United States every day. Canada is the Americans' largest customer, buying over $338 billion worth of goods and services in 2015. That is an amazing number and we have to protect it

For my riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, Manitoba, the United States is a critical partner. It is critical from the standpoint of moving our goods and services, and of moving vehicles and transportation equipment. Winnipeg has a couple of bus companies that move their buses back and forth over the border all the time. New Flyer Industries actually builds parts of its buses in North Dakota, and parts in Winnipeg. The buses move back and forth over the border numerous times.

We have Versatile tractors and its tractors are in demand in the United States. Plus, we use a lot of minerals and natural resources, chemical products, and electronic equipment that go back and forth all the time.

We can also never forget about the food industry, the beverage industry, and the agriculture industry and how important that trade is to Manitoba and indeed all of Canada.

The pre-clearance of passengers is important to our tourism industry. Over 20,000 jobs in Manitoba are tied to the tourism industry. We are talking about a total of $1.6 billion worth of tourism in Manitoba every year, and 6% of that comes into the Interlake region. People come up for hunting, fishing, and enjoying our beautiful lakes, like Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. Those visitors come here because it is easy to come and it is affordable. Therefore, 6% of all tourism spending happens in Manitoba and 12% of the visitors come to the Interlake region where I live, and we are very proud of that. It is critical to our economy and to employment opportunities.

As I mentioned earlier, there are concerns about some portions of the bill, including the exemptions being provided to the United States border guards under the Criminal Code. There are some concerns over how Canadians who may enter into a pre-clearance area may have difficulty returning if they change their mind or get rejected by the U.S. border services. Are there proper provisions to deal with things like strip searching? Are there proper refugee protection claims, and for flagpoling, which happens at most border crossing, where permanent residents who need to leave the country to renew their permanent residency can often drive to the border and do what is called flagpoling, where they turn around, come back in, and reapply at the Canadian border office?

That may not be possible through pre-clearance facilities. It needs to be looked at by the committee, and we expect that to happen.

Ultimately, the rights of law-abiding Canadians and the safety of law-abiding Canadians have to be protected under Bill C-23. The one thing we want to see studied at committee is how Bill C-23 will come together with Liberal policies and what has recently happened, such as the legalization of marijuana, which the government is intent on doing.

Matthew Harvey received a lifetime ban from the United States because he admitted to a U.S. border guard that he had smoked pot. If he can get a lifetime ban for that, how much is that going to affect other Canadians who are now going to be facing similar questions, knowing the Liberal government wants to legalize marijuana in this country?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I am from Manitoba as well, which is a great place to travel to. There is a lot of back and forth travel between our countries.

Could the member comment on the advantages of having a quarantine area within our country under Canadian laws should there be any problem versus a quarantine area in the United States if there are problems and how its laws would apply in that case?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, the bill will be critical to trade down the road. It is important to the movement of people between our two great nations, Canada and the United States. Everything we can do to facilitate that is in our best interest.

There is rhetoric about re-opening NAFTA, about which all of us should be concerned. However, this legislation is a signal to the Americans, a signal to the U.S. administration in Washington, that we want to continue to do business, we want to continue those close relationships between Canada and the United States in the best interests of both our countries.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, quite accurately raised the nature of the concerns. I have not heard anyone say that the bill should be defeated, as was suggested by an earlier Liberal speaker. It is a question of getting the balance right and finding ways to protect Canadians, permanent residents in Canada, who find themselves at the border.

We have heard many stories, including some from colleagues in the House, who have been turned back at the U.S. border in ways that were unreasonable and demeaning. We also know that the current approach of the new administration is to talk about extreme vetting without being able to define it. I do not think we have had anyone suggest that we would actually put every U.S. border agent through a law course to understand the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I wonder if my hon. colleague would agree with me that the bill could be more easily strengthened by ensuring every Canadian or current resident has the absolute right to leave the pre-clearance area if they choose to do so.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, one of the questions the government will have to answer when we get the bill to committee is whether the rights of permanent residents, and all Canadians for that matter, will be protected in pre-clearance.

This is where the study will be need to really drill down on the legality on the charter rights of all Canadians, whether they are citizens, landed immigrants or permanent residents, so they can have full access to all charter rights.

This is where it comes down to the exemptions under the Criminal Code being offered to U.S. border agents. We really need to study that in more detail, but overall the bill meets the need of what Canada wants, which is more pre-clearance operations across the country so our airline companies, our railways, those who do business, those who tour around, have the opportunity to leave for more destinations. This is good for Canada and it is good for business with the United States.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I was really interested to hear that Rocky Mountaineer was one of the pre-clearance opportunities. That is important. Imagine getting on a fantastic touring train and then having to stop for clearance issues. This will make for a much more pleasant and seamless experience.

Does my colleague have anything to add about the importance of the tourist experience?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, MB

Madam Speaker, Rocky Mountaineer is a Canadian icon. It is a beautiful railway. To make it easier for Americans to come here and for Canadians to go on their spur into the United States from Canada and if we can facilitate that movement of people, will be very beneficially, not just to the company but to all tourism in the region.

A lot of people make that trip on the Rocky Mountaineer right out to Vancouver rather than going on the spur down into the United States. It is a better utilization of the entire company infrastructure, and that will benefit everyone who has any relationship with Rocky Mountaineer.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman mentioned all the opportunities for tourism in his great riding and he talked about hunting and fishing, but he did not mention the Crown Royal plant there. I thought that was what most people went to Gimli for, but perhaps I am giving away my secret travel plans.

All that aside, it is great to see colleagues in the House today having a bit of bipartisan co-operation on a matter as significant as this. This is an issue where most common-sense folks are looking to their parliamentarians, to their elected people, and to the government to do things to make their lives easier.

As members of Parliament we all travel a lot. Some of us travel a lot more than the everyday average Canadian does, but there are lots of Canadians who travel for purposes of work or for leisure on a daily basis. I have seen statistics somewhere that at any point in time there are half a million people in airplanes around the world. It just goes to show the sheer volume and magnitude of the importance of some of these kinds of agreements.

Of course, the arrangement between Canada and the U.S. is just astronomical. We share just under 9,000 kilometres of border with the United States. There are no other two countries in the world that share this kind of an arrangement or have this kind of opportunity. It has been mentioned by many in this House already the enormity and vastness of the trade and the like-mindedness of the cultures. Although we as Canadians like to separate ourselves and remain distinct, and we are, we have far more in common with our American cousins than we have differences, despite some of the differences that we do have.

It is important that we maintain that relationship. It is important because not only is the United States one of our closest friends and allies, it is obviously our closest neighbour and we have to continue to build that trustful relationship. The United States is our best trading and commerce partner. It is not any secret at all that north of 70% of all the goods and services that are exported from Canada go to the United States. We rely on the United States' consumer marketplace in order to keep our economy healthy and strong here at home. One of five or six jobs here in Canada actually depends on our ability to export goods and services, so this is absolutely critical and vital.

While this particular agreement does not deal specifically with cargo, this is the precursor. At a major airport, whether at the Calgary airport, here at the Ottawa airport, Toronto airport, or other major airports, when travelling to the United States, the only pre-clearance that I am aware of and have used is to pre-clear U.S. customs on Canadian soil. For Canadians watching right now and wondering what this debate is about, it is about clearing U.S. customs on Canadian soil and about Canadians clearing Canadian customs on U.S. soil at various points of departure and points of entry. That way, when we land in our respective countries, we are already there and we can just walk straight out the door of the airport or train terminal or whatever it happens to be and go about our business. That is why these agreements are so important.

The impetus for these things started long ago. Various administrations come and go in Canada and the United States. Sometimes there is a thickening of the border and sometimes there is a thinning of the border, but I can go back to the previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, and the agreement that he made with then president Barack Obama, in order to work on some of these initiatives in 2011. I would encourage members of Parliament who have not done so already to get a NEXUS card. I remember when Stockwell Day was here and he was the minister, he did a great job working with U.S. counterparts so that we had that trusted traveller program. That trusted traveller program is absolutely critical for anybody who travels on a regular basis. For people who do not have a NEXUS card, I can assure them that if they get one they will see the immense benefits. That is just one aspect, for those folks watching right now, where they do not need a passport per se. If they are going to the United States on a regular basis, they simply need to get that NEXUS card and for any land or air crossing they can just show their NEXUS card; it is as good as a passport for getting into the United States and getting back home to Canada. The process is sped up because they are trusted travellers going through security and through customs. It is absolutely fantastic. With these kinds of things, we have an opportunity to build upon the trust that we have between our two countries.

Now we come to Bill C-23. The current Liberal government has put this bill forward. The bill has obviously some good intentions in it. I have some concerns, but those are matters for debate. I applaud the government for moving ahead with this. It is important that we facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people back and forth across the borders.

Bill C-23 is about moving people, though, people and the stuff they have with them. This is not actually about moving massive goods and freight and cargo between the borders. This is pre-clearance of individuals and the items they have with them at that particular point in time. It is very important that folks understand what that is.

There are a couple of concerns I have with the legislation. One, as has been brought up by others, is that there seems to be, and I hope that the question that I have will be answered, a Criminal Code exemption for U.S. customs officers in Canada when it comes to basically immunity for any charges under the Criminal Code of Canada. I do not know why we would acquiesce to that request. I can only assume that request came from the U.S. administration. If it was a request that we actually had of the American administration as well, so that there would be reciprocity, so that Canada Border Services agents in the United States working at pre-clearance destinations there would have the same kinds of protection provisions, I suppose I would be okay with that. I need to know if that is actually the case or some American administrators and legislators would be making those decisions down there. I am hoping somebody on the government side can answer that question to make sure that we actually have that reciprocity.

The other concerns that I have go directly to the larger policy issues between the two administrations. We have seen a marked shift, I will call it a bromance for lack of some better terminology. The short-lived friendship between former president Barack Obama and our current Prime Minister of like-minded political ideologies is in contrast I think quite sharply now with the new administration and some of the things that we are seeing from U.S. President Donald Trump.

I am not here to debate the policies of Donald Trump, but suffice it to say that the policies of Donald Trump and the policies that are going to be put forward when it comes to immigration, when it comes to legalization of marijuana, when it comes to dealing with criminals, and so on, are going to be markedly different between the U.S. administration and the Canadian government. These are going to be issues that are going to cause friction. That friction, in most cases, manifests itself at the border. We need to make sure that we are looking after Canadian interests at that border.

I do have concerns when that fellow my colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman was talking about, Mr. Harvey, admitted or confided truthfully, and we should be truthful when we are talking to a border official, that he was a marijuana user and was put on a lifetime ban from travelling.

That seems to be a bit of a difficult conundrum. If Canada is going to pursue a policy where not only is it decriminalizing, with the legalization of marijuana, but it is going to fly completely in the face of what the U.S. administration policy is going to be there, notwithstanding several states in the United States have legalized marijuana. We are not talking about crossing into Colorado, we are talking about crossing into the United States in a pre-clearance zone in a Canadian airport.

Now imagine a Canadian citizen inside a Canadian airport inside a U.S. pre-clearance zone being basically detained by American administration authorities because he has admitted to a U.S. customs agent that he has legally, after supposedly the law is changed by the current Liberal government, which I am expecting will happen sometime in the near future, said to that U.S. customs official, “Yes, I use marijuana because it's legal in Canada now”. That is a problem because that is illegal or could be deemed illegal or a problem for that Canadian citizen in a Canadian airport in a U.S. pre-clearance area being detained for admitting to doing something that would potentially be completely legal in Canada. This is a problem. This is very much a potential problem. I think Canadians at home watching right now need to know that, whatever legal activities that we do here in Canada that might be different from the policies in the United States, Canadians, especially those still in Canada even though they might be in a U.S. pre-clearance area, should have the full protections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and be able to excuse themselves from that travel and not get themselves into any further predicaments.

When it comes to the issue with refugees, policies that the current federal government is going to have versus what the current administration in the United States has are markedly different. They are night and day different, from the messages that are being sent.

These kinds of issues will cause issues at the border. We are seeing already a migration of people coming across the Canadian border from the United States at non-disclosed or non-border crossing areas. That is in current violation of Canadian legislation. If we have these kinds of grievances and issues where we have differences in domestic policy that affect the thickening of our border, then we need to be sure that in Bill C-23 all the provisions that are there provide the protections that Canadians citizens are going to need.

I will close there. There are concerns about this piece of legislation. However, I do applaud the government for bringing it forward. I hope it will listen to folks at committee, go through the process, and amend the bill if it needs to be amended.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about the NEXUS card and how those who are travelling should get it. It certainly would make it a lot quicker to go between Canada and the United States. However, in my province of Saskatchewan there is absolutely no place that one can get a NEXUS card, not even at the two major airports in our province in Regina and Saskatoon. Therefore, this is an issue that we have had. In our province, we export a lot of people to warmer climates in the winter, yet we cannot get a NEXUS card in our own province without going to Edmonton, Winnipeg, or Ottawa.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague is right that it is an issue. I am from Alberta and I am lucky that at both the Edmonton and Calgary international airports we have those NEXUS offices. Bill C-23 does add a few more places for pre-clearance. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan seems to have been overlooked from that list. My colleague from Saskatchewan has some valid points. Saskatchewan has a booming and burgeoning economy. The premier there is doing a great job expanding the economy. Economic refugees are fleeing Alberta back to Saskatchewan. We hope that the export of Saskatchewanians to warmer climates is only temporary and that they will come back home soon and keep our economy in the west churning right along. It would be nice to see the current government take a look at the legislation and perhaps add something for the good folks of Saskatchewan, who deserve these benefits.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the member could provide some comment on just how beneficial this legislation is to all of Canada because it makes sense economically. Having a pre-clearance allows for tens of thousands of Canadians to travel without having to worry about going through customs or immigration services when they land at their destination. For example, the pre-clearances enable economic activity for many communities that would otherwise not have service flights going to the U.S. That is an opportunity to enhance Canada's economy. Also, it is a great opportunity for two-way traffic given that we have millions of Canadians and Americans who go both ways.

It is a reciprocal piece of legislation. Ultimately, both Canada and the U.S. would benefit from it. Could the member provide some comment with respect to the economic benefit of this legislation?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Madam Speaker, one of the benefits of having a Liberal federal government is that our dollar is usually worth less, which means we get more tourists coming to our country. Therefore, we will have an influx of American tourism and the tourism portion of our economy will do better.

The hon. member, my colleague, is right. Notwithstanding my chiding, the reality is that we have certainty and predictability so that when we are travelling as a tourist we will able to get to our destination. Obviously, this is a good thing. Certainty and predictability are also good when we are travelling for business, and when it comes to shipping goods and cargo, which is where I think the future is going with this because both administrations and both governments are currently looking at how the same kind of pre-clearance can also be implemented when it comes to the commerce and trade, and not just people and passengers. Although this bill applies specifically to people and passengers, a variant of this bill could come forward with pre-clearance for things like trade and commerce. That is where a tremendous amount of wealth and opportunity would come. Therefore, we hope for that confidence-building with respect to Bill C-23, which I am sure will be passed in this House. It is a government bill and there is a majority government. I do not think this bill will get held up anywhere. I will stress in my comments that there may be some good ideas and concerns that will come forward from people at committee, and I hope that amendments that are in the best interests of Canada would be looked at and adopted at committee.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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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

Madam Speaker, I am proud to add my voice in support of this important piece of legislation.

I would first like to take a moment to remind the House that Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world. This partnership is essential to the well-being of all citizens. Our close trading relationship supports millions of jobs in both Canada and the U.S., and we will continue to work with the new administration.

Bill C-23 is another example of this government's firm commitment to creating jobs and promoting economic growth for Canadians.

As an MP representing a southwestern Ontario riding with many manufacturing and high-tech small and medium-sized businesses, I can attest to the importance of pre-clearance to keep travellers and cargo moving quickly and safely across the Canada-U.S. border. More than that, jobs for hard-working middle-class Canadians in my constituency and across the country depend on it.

The Waterloo region is only one of some 2,000 municipalities across Canada that rely on low-risk trade and travel to and from the United States to keep our communities growing. To be clear, we are talking about both the movement of goods and people, both of which are critical to our economy. In 2015, Canada exported over $400 billion in goods and $50 billion in services to the U.S.

Tourism is Canada's largest service export, accounting for 2% of Canada's overall GDP and employing over 600,000 Canadians. The overwhelming majority of tourists in 2016, nearly 70%, came from our neighbour to the south. Arrivals by air from the U.S. are up 17% from 2015, which is one of the many reasons that quick and effective pre-clearance is essential. Any measures that create economic and security benefits for both countries is welcomed by all Canadians, especially small business owners, including tourism operators who rely on smart, secure borders that improve the efficient flow of people and goods.

Bill C-23 will make it possible to do just that. This bill will implement the agreement on land, rail, marine, and air transport pre-clearance between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America signed in March 2015, which provides for the pre-clearance in each country of travellers and goods bound for the other country.

This is about making it faster and more efficient to welcome guests to Canada and the U.S. Pre-approved passengers are cleared for entry into the United States by American border officials on Canadian soil before boarding a plane, allowing passengers to avoid long and sometimes frustrating customs lines. They can also fly directly to some airports, such as LaGuardia in New York or Reagan airport in Washington. There are even some pre-inspection sites that are already serving the rail and cruise ship businesses on Canada's west coast.

Pre-clearance is a vital border management program. It enhances border security and improves the cross-border flow of legitimate goods and travellers. It allows for border infrastructure to be used more efficiently, and it makes travelling a more pleasant experience for all. Ensuring pre-cleared, low-risk travellers and cargo move quickly and efficiently into and out of our country is crucial to sustaining and expanding jobs for middle-class Canadians.

I remind the House that our American friends already passed legislation last December, the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016, to implement the agreement south of the border. We are taking the next necessary step to complete the joint partnership with our southern neighbours with the passage of this legislation. This bill formally reconfirms Canada's commitment to the agreement and reaffirms the unique relationship between Canada and the United States.

Central to this relationship are people-to-people connections, and so I will talk about tourism. I am thrilled to report to the House that this past year was the best the tourism sector has experienced in over a decade, and the second best year on record, with almost 20 million international tourists visiting Canada.

International tourist arrivals grew by 11.1% in 2016, the largest annual growth Canada has seen in 30 years. We have another big year ahead of us in 2017 as we celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Our government values the tourism industry, which will benefit from this bill. We are well aware that trade and tourism are critical to our economy. An open border is necessary for the success of these two areas of activity. We also recognize that tourism makes a significant contribution to the Canadian economy.

In 2015, tourism generated over $90 billion in economic activity, directly supporting over 600,000 jobs spread from coast to coast to coast across all 338 federal ridings, and was responsible for more than $17 billion in export revenue.

I can assure the House that this government is committed to promoting increased tourism to Canada. That is evident in our support for Destination Canada, our federal crown marketing corporation that is working hard to show the world the incredible experiences and destinations that Canada has to offer. Formerly known as the Canadian Tourism Commission, Destination Canada has a strong track record of working with private sector partners and governments at all levels to maximize the impacts of marketing campaigns.

Budget 2016 provided $50 million over two years to Destination Canada to seize opportunities in important markets, such as the United States. Connecting America is Destination Canada's national marketing program aimed at raising awareness of Canada as the travel destination. Together with the Canadian tourism industry, Destination Canada is engaging American travellers by inviting and motivating them to see Canada. The marketing campaign targeted to U.S. cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami aims to creatively show American travellers how we are unique and different. Canada is warm and exciting with urban sophistication. Connecting America highlights the variety of unique world-class destinations and experiences that only Canada has to offer.

These efforts are already paying off. From January to December 2016, the number of international visitors who spent at least one night in Canada increased by 11% compared to the previous year. In the first nine months of 2016, tourism injected $74 million into the Canadian economy, which represents an increase of 4.3% compared to the same period in 2015.

As I noted earlier, 70% of international tourists came from the United States. Overnight trips by air travellers from the U.S. increased by 17%, and overnight trips by auto travellers increased 7% compared to 2015. This is fantastic.

These statistics underscore the importance of pre-clearance, which makes it easier for pre-approved American visitors to enter our country and to choose Canada as their top international destination. This is especially true when we realize that international travel between countries represents one of the fastest growing export sectors in the world. A billion international travellers spent $1 trillion annually outside their own borders. In 2015, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.6% to nearly 1.2 billion globally, and these tourists spent over $1.2 trillion U.S.

Also promising is the growing interest in indigenous tourism from international visitors, which can create jobs and generate economic growth for indigenous communities across the country. We are talking about authentic indigenous experiences, and we are working with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada so that we do this right.

To share Canada's natural beauty with the world, we are also investing in our system of national parks, conservation areas, and national historic sites. Together with nearby communities we are working to help grow local ecotourism industries and create jobs for middle-class Canadians. Lonely Planet, The New York Times, National Geographic, Condé Nast, and more have named Canada as the place to be in their top destinations for 2017. The focus on pre-clearance will make travelling trouble-free, and will make all those who visit our country from the United States feel even more welcome.

I would like to remind members and assure the tourism industry, as my colleague the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said, that U.S. border officers operating in pre-clearance sites in Canada must exercise their duties in accordance with Canadian law, in particular our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Human Rights Act.

Allow me now to turn to small and medium-sized businesses. Consider that nearly 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. land border every day, along with over $2 billion in goods and services even before we factor in rail, ships, and air and it becomes quite obvious why this agreement matters to Canadians. It matters particularly to SMEs, the key drivers of Canada's economic growth, which are so crucial to Canada's long-term prosperity. I would remind the House that SMEs are the backbone of the economy, employing 90% of the private sector workforce and accounting for almost 40% of the GDP. Border delays can be a significant obstacle to economic growth. Indeed, only 12% of SMEs are exporting. We can and will do better.

We can find Canadian SMEs' expertise in both the manufacturing and service sectors in every region of Canada. My riding of Waterloo is a case in point.

Waterloo's world-class ecosystem has companies manufacturing everything from lab equipment and supplies to stainless steel tubing and carpets. It has the many incredible companies housed at Communitech and the Accelerator Centre, and numerous high-tech firms specializing in everything from drones to digital imaging and semi-conductors. That is before we even talk about the city's three outstanding post-secondary institutions: Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University, and my alma mater, the University of Waterloo. As well, we have the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research.

Waterloo's close proximity to the Canada-U.S. border makes it just one of many cities and towns dotted along the 49th parallel where the vast majority of Canadians now live and work. All of the small and medium-sized businesses, including tourism operators, in those communities would be better off with a seamless border for pre-approved cargo and travellers.

Increased access to global markets can help innovative Canadian firms to grow and expand into new markets. Our government recognized this in budget 2016 by providing $4 million over two years to renew the Canadian technology accelerator initiative. The program supports Canadian information and communications technologies like life sciences and clean technology firms by providing mentorship, introductions to potential clients and partners, as well as desk space in business accelerators abroad. The program has nine locations, including seven in the United States, to enable firms to more easily export their services and products. I visited the CTA in Boston and have seen first-hand the amazing support the CTAs provide to our Canadian firms expanding in the U.S. markets. Small and medium-sized businesses are major contributors to our balance of trade. In 2013, they were responsible for $106 billion or 25% of the total value of exports. Exporting is vital to the health and verve of Canadian businesses and in particular SMEs. It is worth noting that even though only a small proportion of small firms export, of those that do, roughly 90% export to the United States.

Our government is working hard every day to make sure that businesses have the resources they need to grow and compete successfully in export markets. This includes the CanExport program. CanExport is providing $50 million to help Canadian SMEs take advantage of global opportunities. I should point out that a majority of the CanExport projects approved to date are smaller firms that are less than 15 years old, have less than 20 employees, and less than $2.5 million in annual revenue. CanExport has already approved over 600 projects. It is a central element to the international trade and investment strategy, which I have been working on with the Minister of International Trade.

To help promising small firms grow larger, budget 2016 launched the accelerated growth service to help them scale up and further their global competitiveness. Businesses can access coordinated services tailored to their needs from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, the National Research Council's industrial research assistance program, Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, and the regional development agencies. High-potential firms are given more time to focus on their businesses, while an assigned consultant provides strategic advice on how to navigate the government supports available to them and helps them design a business development plan, including for SMEs that want to scale up through exports. We have already engaged 100 firms in the pilot year of the AGS, and we expect to assist an additional 300 firms in the second year of the program.

Only two weeks ago, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the Canada-United States council for advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders with the U.S. President. One of many benefits of the council would be greater support for women exporters.

Bill C-23 is another instrument that would build on these initiatives and help exporters get their goods to market more efficiently and securely. Every hour saved in delays at the border increases productivity that benefits Canadian workers and business owners alike. The passage of this bill would be an incentive and would support more Canadian firms wishing to scale up to further their global competitiveness.

The Prime Minister wants our country to take advantage of opportunities to grow our businesses by strengthening the long-standing friendship and enormously successful trading relationship between Canada and the United States.

The implementation of Bill C-23 is the next step. Pre-clearance would reduce congestion at ports of entry and eliminate uncertain, unnecessary, and costly delays at the border. Congestion, excessive paperwork, and uncertainty cost small businesses and tourism operators valuable time and money. In a just-in-time delivery world, pre-clearance would be a time and money saver for small businesses, and it would be a solution. It would also provide privileged access to the U.S. market for Canadian companies, creating new opportunities for firms to expand and export.

Pre-clearance would also make air travel more efficient, enabling 12 million Canadian passengers to avoid lengthy customs lines in the U.S. each year. This would also increase the competitiveness of Canadian airports internationally.

Maybe most important in today's environment, pre-clearance would enable us to determine which people and cargo pose a risk to our shared security space. This would enable both countries to proactively address threats from outside the continent while continuing to ensure that legitimate trade and travel move freely at our borders. This would help to make sure that our society remains open to legitimate immigrants and refugees from around the globe. This is particularly important to me this year, as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There are so many persuasive arguments for supporting this legislation. It would be good for small businesses and the tourism industry. It would be equally good for security, reducing Canadians' risks from external threats. Ultimately, it would be good for Canadian travellers, whose time is precious and who would no longer be needlessly tied up at the border when they have better places to be.

I am confident that Bill C-23 would help ensure that citizens of both Canada and the United States would continue to benefit from an open but secure border that protects our shared economy, shared values, and shared way of life. That would be enormously good for Canadians overall.

Making sure that Canada remains open and that Canadian goods, services, people, and knowledge can reach U.S. markets securely and swiftly will enable us to provide jobs, prosperity, and opportunities for all Canadians.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives agree with Bill C-23. There is $2.5 billion worth of trade going back and forth across our borders every day, and we know that this would expedite the movement of persons back and forth across those borders.

The Conservative government opened some pilot projects to move in this direction. I wonder if the minister could expand on how this would impact cargo shipments and if the government is looking at more influence on the cargo side, above and beyond what we have already looked at in the pilot projects.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, this legislation is about people and goods. It is important that we support our small and medium-size enterprises. Part of my mandate as Minister of Small Business and Tourism is to ensure that small businesses can grow through innovation and trade. Having better access to the U.S. market is important, but we need our goods, services, and people to get through that border in a better way. There is no better way than to be pre-cleared on Canadian soil with Canadian laws. That is why it is important that we get this legislation through the House at second reading.

We can send the bill to committee so that the committee can do its important work. As we know, the committee has the ability to do a clause-by-clause, word-by-word analysis. It has the ability to bring in witnesses to ensure that the legislation is as strong as it can be. I know that the legislation we have introduced has the right goals in mind and will really benefit small and medium-size businesses.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, I was listening to the minister's speech and thinking of my years at the Chamber of Commerce. For many years, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce highlighted the decline in tourism during the 2000s. That decade was a terrible time for Canada, when we really fell in the world rankings for tourism. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce report in 2014, and the follow-up report in 2015, both said that we had to address the border and address the ease of doing business with Americans coming to Canada, yet we had no progress by the previous government.

Could the minister mention how this is going to help by having Canadian laws protecting Canadians quarantined in Canada versus being quarantined in the United States and by making it easier for Americans to come to see us on our 150th birthday?

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, this year we celebrate Canada's 150th year of Confederation. We also celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In my home town of Waterloo, we are celebrating the University of Waterloo's 60th anniversary and Conestoga College's 50th anniversary. There is so much to celebrate in our great country.

Budget 2016 invested $50 million in Destination Canada so that we could showcase all that Canada has to offer to the United States, as well as the world. We want people to visit Canada.

In regard to Bill C-23, this is about Canada and the United States and ensuring that the flow of people and goods across the border is better and more efficient. We know that with the measures we have introduced, this will be the case.

We know that every travel experience starts the minute one books a travel ticket, whatever means one might choose. Pre-clearance would allow people to start being pre-cleared at the same time they booked their travel so they could get across the border quickly and visit the best country in the world.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, the member who is the House leader for the current Liberal government mentioned the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-23 engages fundamental questions about Canadians' rights and privacy rights, and of course, my party has expressed concerns about this.

During the election and in the House last session, the Liberals stated that they had serious concerns about Bill C-51. I am wondering if she can tell Canadians, in this 150th year, and when invoking the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, when Canadians can expect to see legislation to amend significantly, if not repeal, Bill C-51 to better protect Canadians' rights.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, part of my role and responsibility as the government House leader is to ensure that we have meaningful debate in this place and that we advance legislation so we can serve in the best interests of Canadians.

In regard to the member's question on Bill C-51, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has responded to this question many times. We have consulted with Canadians, and we continue to do so. The conversation is always welcome. This government has undertaken unprecedented levels of consultation, because we know the work we are doing is to respond to the very real challenges Canadians are facing.

Today we are discussing Bill C-23. I know the member has concerns. I encourage the member to get this legislation through the House so it can go to committee and we can let the committee do its important work. It can study this legislation and bring in witnesses, and we can ensure that any concerns the member or the party opposite have are resolved.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to highlight one of the towns in my riding, and that is the town of Whitecourt, which recently won an award from trivago for being the best small town in Canada to visit during Canada's 150th anniversary. However, it was left out of the Canada 150 grant process for which it had applied. I am just wondering what the member has to say to the town of Whitecourt.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Madam Speaker, 2017 is a big year for Canada. This is a year Canadians will remember for generations to come. This government committed to celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation not only in the nation's capital, as the previous government wanted to do, but in every single community across this country in every single municipality.

I have no doubt that the member represents a great community. I myself can relate to the pride we feel when we represent our constituents. I am sure that we will all be celebrating together as we celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

Preclearance Act, 2016Government Orders

February 22nd, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, the minister made reference to tourism. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries around the world.

I wonder if the minister could once again reinforce how pre-clearance would be a win-win for both Canada and the U.S., because it would facilitate people going across the border in a positive and encouraging fashion.