Preclearance Act, 2016

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

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

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.

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 6th, 2018 / 3 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to help the Prime Minister out. Conservatives and Liberals voted for Bill C-23, which gave unprecedented powers to American border officers on Canadian soil. Luckily, the NDP was here raising exactly these concerns, because now what we are seeing in the Senate report is that with the legalization of marijuana, any person on Canadian soil, not crossing the border and subject to another country's laws, but here in Canada, could potentially be fined or imprisoned under that very legislation.

My question for the Prime Minister is simple. Is that the case, yes or no? When will he finally take that issue up with his American counterparts?

MarijuanaOral Questions

June 6th, 2018 / 3 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, a Senate report has just concluded that Canadians who use cannabis after it is legalized and try to cross the border to the United States could be denied entry, but worse, those who do not answer certain questions in pre-clearance could face up to two years in prison under Bill C-23, which calls it resisting or wilfully obstructing an American officer, even on Canadian soil.

Can the Prime Minister confirm whether or not Canadians who simply refuse to answer American officers in Canada about their cannabis use could face fines or imprisonment?

June 5th, 2018 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

I think I'm going to propose to adjourn. Maybe we should all take Nathan's suggestions under advisement. I'm going to use the time to go through Hansard and check out the Bill C-23 debate and check all of Blake's references for there not being enough time in committee to study the bill. I'm sure there will be lots of those. I do propose a motion that we adjourn right now.

June 5th, 2018 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Universal suffrage “including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception”. The very basis for why we put the right to vote within our Constitution, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I get what you're saying about the vector diagram, about all these methods of identification: the bank cards, to get on a plane, social assistance, students, CRA forms, and all that stuff. For me in a way what you're saying is right on target, but it's just wide of the mark because you talk about 4% of the people not getting involved in bank ID. To me, that's a substantial number of people who don't get to exercise their right to vote. That's what worries me.

As I say, I worry about fraud, and I worry about other things. I'm going to quote you for a second. Back when you were doing Bill C-23, you said—this was your argument in favour of the new rules—“It is prudent and responsible risk management to adopt anticipatory precautionary measures before bad things happen, not after bad things happen”.

I don't disagree with you, but where did that fraud go that was so prevalent before? Tell me how all you have talked about here covers all.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I have great respect for our police forces and our border services officers.

I am very happy to hear the member knows about the great work done by our men and women at the border. Absolutely, he is right that the bill and its companion, Bill C-23, do complicate their roles. They already have immense challenges at our border, particularly as we have seen in Quebec lately.

This is why, in many ways, we provided additional peace officer powers for CBSA agents in the last government. We armed agents at the border for the first time in our history. It is not that we do not like having the world's longest undefended border, and I think Canadians are very proud of that, but when we task CBSA agents to go after drugs, to go after illegal weapons brought in from the United States, which is where the problem is, and not the way the government has been suggesting lately, when we ask them to go after those organizations, we have to ensure they have the tools to do the job, the training to do the job, the numbers to do the job.

Bill C-21 and Bill C-23 are huge enhancements and not all of it can be done through computerization, particularly at the frequency.

Now we have a situation where border resources are stretched thin. There are additional requirements. There will be American ICE agents as part of Bill C-23 on our soil searching Canadians. We have an IRB process that the minister's own documents warn, due to the government's inaction, will go to 11-year wait times for IRB processing, which is remarkable. The social cost associated with that, mainly for the provinces, in four years alone, will be $2.9 billion.

I know my colleagues in Quebec, in the Conservative caucus and certainly in the NDP as well, have been looking at how they can ensure our CBSA agents have the tools they need to do the job and how they can ensure decisions related to the border, Bill C-21 and others, do not overstress the social costs on our provincial partners. That, too, will erode overall confidence in the system.

I am supportive of Bill C-21, but I want to see a much more serious approach taken with respect to travel across our borders.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my time on the public safety committee with my colleague, or kind of with him, because the government has parliamentary secretaries who sit there and observe, but unfortunately, they are not as involved as really they should be. That member has considerable experience in public safety issues, and that would be appreciated in the discourse.

As I said, the Charter of Rights, which grew out of the Diefenbaker Canadian Bill of Rights, is something all Canadians can be proud of. It is why the safe third country agreement, like any type of traffic across the border, including the exit of Canadians under Bill C-21, must respect charter rights.

Bill C-23 would allow American ICE officials to search Canadians, including body searches of Canadians, on Canadian soil. As I said, Bill C-21 and Bill C-23, read together, are the most profound two bills on our border our Parliament has seen.

The safe third country agreement handled asylum claims. I talked about how John Manley and his colleague, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, thought it was appropriate to have a rules-based system that was consistent, in their words, with the charter, with the Geneva Conventions, and with international obligations with respect to refugees, and that is what we should all support.

What we should be worried about is that this bill is being introduced under the premise of human trafficking, yet the Liberals are cutting the national program to combat human trafficking. This bill is also being premised upon improving the use of the border, while at the same time, the government is not even speaking on one page with respect to the safe third country agreement. We need a rules-based system to make sure that Canadians maintain confidence in our world-class system.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is basically underscoring my point. My questions relate to when the minister was in opposition. He opposed this very type of legislation. He opposed the common entry and exit system that is at the underpinnings of Bill C-21, if people want to delve into what is in the legislation. That minister, who spoke promoting the bill, opposed it for several reasons in 2011. He said it would give up our sovereign control of our immigration and refugee system. I am suggesting it did not. He said it did at the time.

He also said if Canada is to make an agreement acceding to this request by the Americans to share entry and exit information, we should extract gains for our national interest in the process. We have not secured any gains.

This is a Customs Act decision related to the travel of our citizens and our residents between our country and the United States, the country Canadians, including people in British Columbia and my province of Ontario, travel to the most. We should be very clear that if we are going to streamline that with the Americans, we receive in return respect and things that would help our national interests. We are not receiving that in return for Bill C-21.

NAFTA is at risk. The steelworkers I met with this week who normally support the NDP would probably be shocked that it is the Conservatives who are standing up for them in the House. Our aluminum exports are at risk. When the minister asked that Canada get gains for giving the type of power that Bill C-21 would give, I would like to see what Canada has secured in return, because it looks like the Canada-U.S. relationship is eroding.

We are imposing more exit requirements on Canadians travelling back and forth across the Canada-U.S. border at a time when that government is ignoring the basic laws that require people to report for a CBSA border check.

All of these issues are deeply related, including Bill C-23, which is a companion piece of legislation to Bill C-21. I have spoken to both bills at length.

The changes to pre-clearance should also concern Canadians, because information will be shared when they leave and go. The minister alluded to the fact that benefits are tied to these. It is clear the government is going to go after Canadians for tax purposes, for eligibility for a series of benefits, and sharing that information with the United States.

People may want to delve into what section 94 of the act provides, but changes to section 94 would give border officials upon exit the ability to ask any question of a Canadian going down to the United States for a holiday or a business meeting.

I have already told how the Liberal government has failed to get assurance as part of these discussions on entry and exit, that the American immigration and custom enforcement, the ICE office, the U.S. equivalent to the CBSA here in Canada, will remove the marijuana question from its screening questions.

This bills means that CBSA will be able to ask any question possible of a Canadian leaving our country and that information on Canadians will be shared with the United States, yet we are legalizing marijuana and the government has not even received assurance from the Americans that their border agents, their ICE agents, will not ask Canadians questions about marijuana use, whether medicinal or legal, eventually. Why should that concern people? It could lead to a ban on travel to the United States and could impact someone's employment.

Bill C-21 and Bill C-23 are together the border package presented by the Liberal government. There is nothing to actually solidify and secure our immigration and refugee system and our asylum claim process.

I have said countless times the best way to make sure we keep a high level of Canadian confidence in our system from the people that are in the queue now, from the people that are looking to come to Canada through our refugee system or through our immigration system, is that it run by a rules-based, fair process. That is fair. Canada is a rules-based country.

While we are looking at that, the minister is passing the bill but is not able to get any new assurances with respect to the safe third country agreement. I would note that the minister, referring back to the comments I said he made in 2011, was also a member of the Chrétien government in 2002, which negotiated the safe third country agreement with the Americans.

It is interesting that John Manley, with Tom Ridge as the U.S. Homeland Security secretary at the time, negotiated the safe third country agreement with respect to asylum claims and seeking asylum, meaning that if people are fleeing persecution, they claim asylum in the first country they go to, and that would be recognized. If it were Canada, it would be Canada. If it were the United States, it would be the United States. By circumventing proper border checks, someone who has been called an irregular asylum claimant is also breaking the law by crossing the border.

The system provided for that, and what was said by the Liberal minister at the time, who was a colleague of the Minister of Public Safety? He said the safe third country agreement, which my friend in the NDP wants to toss out or set aside or temporarily suspend, was the Liberal government's response to UN rules with respect to refugees and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, John Manley referred to those two documents in the House of Commons on May 7, 2002, when he said, referring to the Convention on Refugees and the Charter of Rights, “Both of these have driven us to the conclusion...that it would be necessary to negotiate a safe third country agreement.”

The last major border agreement with the United States was by John Manley. The current Minister of Public Safety was in cabinet with him. The next set of border arrangements with the United States is through the current minister, through Bill C-21 and Bill C-23, which gives American customs agents the ability to search Canadians on Canadian soil, but the Liberals will not even touch the loophole in the safe third country agreement.

Therefore, Canadians should be concerned. I raise this matter because there has been a lack of attention to the border, to a rules-based system with respect to asylum claims and immigration. There has been a risk that our border will become thick for commercial transit. That is a real risk for just-in-time manufacturing, particularly for the auto industry. That risk touches my riding, Windsor, and Oakville. If the border thickens and goods and people are slowed, we will lose jobs and investment in Canada.

In 2011, when the Conservatives looked at the Beyond the Border initiative with this entry-exit piece to it, this minister said that the then Prime Minister had better get something for Canada out of it, but the minister is now urging the House to support it, and our relationship with the United States is atrophying. In fact, even NAFTA is at risk under this government. I would like the minister to say what will be gained in Canada's national interest from Bill C-21 and its companion bill, Bill C-23.

The minister also mentioned human trafficking, an issue that concerns both sides of the House, and tried to suggest that we have to support Bill C-21 if we want to combat human trafficking. It is a compelling argument, because he knows members on this side are concerned. Our former colleague from Manitoba, Joy Smith, has dedicated most of her life to fighting human trafficking, and my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London has hosted some events in relation to this issue. We are concerned about this. I find it telling that the minister raises human trafficking as a reason to get behind Bill C-21 but did not defend the national plan to combat human trafficking, which the government let expire in the last budget.

A $20-million plan was started by the Harper government to actually combat human trafficking, not just have it held up as a reason to vote for entry-exit information sharing.

The minister had the gall to raise human trafficking in this House as a reason we should get behind this bill, yet his cabinet and the Prime Minister let the only national program we have to combat human trafficking expire and not be renewed, even though the problem is worse.

It reminds me of the fact that the Prime Minister seems to think that Stephen Harper is still the leader of the Conservative Party. He goes so far as to even cancel programs that combat human trafficking because they originated with the Conservatives. When someone is brought into Canada, across maybe the U.S. border, against the person's will, to be involved in the sex trade or abused in other circumstances, that was the only major program that was cut, largely because it was a Harper initiative. That is sad. The minister now suggests that we should get behind Bill C-21 because of its potential to combat human trafficking. It is unbelievable.

If members look at the minister's viewpoint with respect to entry and exit going back to when he was in opposition, as I said, there is zero consistency. In fact, going back to the safe third country agreement, the Liberals said that they negotiated it to maintain our international obligations with respect to asylum in conjunction with the charter. Now they are allowing it to be eroded and public confidence in it to be eroded by it being circumvented. Suggestions that we apply the spirit and the principle of it to the entire border is mocked, even though the underlying principles with respect to declaring asylum in the first country following persecution was at the basis of the agreement.

We have a quandary. As members can tell, I have been doing my best to show a bit of the hypocrisy of the minister on this specific issue.

Going back to the start of my comments, we actually initiated this under the Conservative government. This is one time that we will not hear the minister referring to the Harper government. The Liberals blame the Harper government for anything. If it rains in Canada, it is because of the Harper government. However, now they are basically implementing a Harper government initiative. The Liberals are not calling it “beyond the border”. They are calling it Bill C-21, and they will not mention Harper. They make it sound like it is their own idea, and they are doing it to support human trafficking and by the way, they are cutting the program on human trafficking.

Here is my quandary: I support the bill, but I do not support them because Canadians cannot trust them. We just need to look to the record.

I invite Canadians following this debate to do some of the basic research that I do. On the Open Parliament website, if we printed out the listing for the Liberals' deputy House leader, it would fill 18 volumes of nuggets he has given us over the years showing his inconsistencies. As I said, we are trying to get to the heart of this and show the minister that we appreciate he is picking up the Harper mantle on the border when it comes to the beyond the border initiative. We appreciate that he is starting to understand why trade is important.

I am not sure if the minister was around in the 1988 election when the Liberals ran against U.S. free trade. I am glad they are coming around to the importance of trade and good relations with the United States, but I would sincerely hope that the next time the minister speaks to Bill C-21 he would thank Stephen Harper for this legislation.

PrivacyOral Questions

December 5th, 2017 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, our worst fears about Bill C-23 have been realized. A Canadian citizen has been subjected to profiling at the Ottawa airport. She faced intense questioning and had her smart phone searched without reasonable grounds by American border guards. Bill C-23 has not even passed yet, and already Canadians are being discriminated against on Canadian soil.

With President Trump's disregard for rights and privacy, how can the Liberals go ahead with giving more powers to American agents on Canadian soil?

October 3rd, 2017 / 9:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Regina—Wascana, SK

There are several safeguards, including, number one, the nature of the information. It is very basic data, and it's data that people already share. If you're crossing into the United States, you show your passport. What this will add is the provision that this information will then automatically come back to the CBSA too. You've already told the Americans, so CBSA will have the data that would say this individual left Canada at this time at this border crossing. That's safeguard number one, the nature of the information.

Safeguard number two is the relationship we've developed with the Privacy Commissioner. In all of these measures, whether it's for this or Bill C-23 or Bill C-59, we have an ongoing dialogue with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. He comments on areas where we could improve, where he sees problems, where he would like to see things changed, and all of that advice is taken very seriously in crafting both the law and the regulations.

There are privacy impact assessments that are required to be done. The ones that have been done so far on this initiative are already on the website. Once the legislation is passed and we actually have the legal framework, we will produce a new privacy impact assessment that will be made public to satisfy the requirements of the Privacy Commissioner. There will also be written agreements between the relevant Canadian departments and between Canada and the U.S., which will detail the way the information will be managed and safeguarded, what the privacy protection clauses need to be, and the mechanisms for addressing any potential problems. That will all be laid out in agreements governing—

October 3rd, 2017 / 9:20 a.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Okay. Thank you.

With regard to my next question, we had this same issue with Bill C-23. Of course, we recognize that regulation is part of legislation and that not everything can be done by legislative means. However, once again, the feeling is that there is a pretty large scope to the regulatory piece in here. It says that: (2) The Governor in Council may make regulations for the purposes of subsection (1), including regulations(a) prescribing the sources from which the information may be collected;(b) respecting the circumstances in which the information may be collected; and(c) respecting the time within which and the manner in which the information may be collected.

Why would that be left so large? That can significantly change the scope of how this information is being collected at the border.

September 27th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Executive Member, Privacy and Access Law Section, Canadian Bar Association

David Fraser

Sorry. Are you referring to Bill C-21 or Bill C-23, the preclearance act?

September 27th, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.
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David Fraser Executive Member, Privacy and Access Law Section, Canadian Bar Association

Mr. Chair and honourable members, we appreciate your invitation and are very pleased to be here today on behalf of the privacy and access law section, immigration law section, and commodity tax, customs, and trade sections of the Canadian Bar Association, as well as the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and the ethics subcommittee of the policy committee of the CBA board, to present views on the privacy of Canadians at airports, borders, and travelling in the United States.

The CBA is a national association of 36,000 lawyers, law students, notaries, and academics. An important aspect of the CBA's mandate is seeking improvements in the law and the administration of justice. This is what brings us before you today.

My name is David Fraser. I'm an executive member of the privacy and access law section. I'll be representing the CBA sections that prepared our submissions to the committee on this issue, along with Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, who is here with me today. Cyndee is an executive member of the commodity tax, customs, and trade section.

Some information collection is necessary, and certainly expected, at the border; there is really no doubt about that. Our principal concern and the concern of the Canadian Bar Association is mainly about where the line is drawn and where the line is moving and how the fundamental principles in our charter may be left behind as this line is moved. We have commented in our document on both Bill C-21, related to Customs Act amendments, and Bill C-23, related to pre-clearance.

In Bill C-21, we're very concerned about open-ended discretion being given to the CBSA to examine people leaving Canada.

In Bill C-23, we're very concerned about what may be a general disregard of the charter and Canadian norms, when non-Canadian law enforcement officers are empowered to conduct invasive examinations in Canada. We're concerned about broad powers to interrogate those who choose to withdraw from entering the United States. We're concerned that U.S. officers can, for example, perform a strip search in Canada over the objection of a CBSA officer. We're concerned generally about a lack of accountability.

Obviously, electronic devices and the privacy of the contents are of great concern. As lawyers, we're seeing and hearing about searches of digital devices becoming much more commonplace. The CBSA is essentially using suitcase law, developed before the 1980s, to justify a massive intrusion into digital information.

The Customs Act provisions that are at issue were drafted before the 1980s, before laptops, before smart phones, and before thumb drives. In the meantime, the Supreme Court of Canada has said very strongly that all Canadians have an extremely acute privacy interest in the contents of computers, laptops, and smart phones. This has apparently fallen on deaf ears within the CBSA. People travel with a huge quantity of personal information, and the CBSA say that they can go through it legally on a whim. They say they don't, but the law, if applied as they say it is, would allow them to do it on a whim. We say this is likely unconstitutional and needs to be very closely examined by Parliament.

We also have concerns about information sharing, in that the devil is in the details: questions about information sharing between administrative agencies and law enforcement, between one law enforcement agency and another, between federal and provincial agencies, between private companies and governments, and vice versa. We think this needs to be scrutinized very closely, particularly as this information is moving around at a rapid pace. Then you overlay on top of this information sharing between governments, which of course is becoming even more common and something we need to be very concerned about.

My colleague Cyndee will introduce the balance of the issues that we've addressed.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2017 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. Since he knows a lot about how Parliament and the legislative process work, I would like to ask him a question. There have been a number of bills on important issues such as national security. Most recently, we examined Bill C-23 on preclearance at the border. Like Bill C-23, Bill C-21 contains provisions that give the minister a lot of discretionary power over regulatory changes that will be made after the bill is passed. Looking back, when Bill C-23 was being examined in committee, public officials were asked for a list of regulatory changes that would be made to implement the provisions of an agreement with the United States. However, they were unable to provide us with a comprehensive or even a definitive list.

Does my colleague agree that the legislative process requires accountability and transparency, and that this is an unacceptable way of doing things? We understand the need for regulations, but when they are used to circumvent the legislative process, that can cause problems.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to the matter of the information that will be shared.

A problem that we are seeing more and more of, and not just with this bill, is that the Liberal government has a tendency to legislate using regulations. For example, in the bill currently before us, the government gives the minister a certain amount of discretion through regulation. That allows the minister to change not only the type of information that is collected but also the manner in which that information is obtained, the parties from whom it is obtained, and the circumstances under which is it obtained. That is a serious problem.

In committee, we asked Public Safety officials about Bill C-23, which is essentially a companion to the bill in question. They said that they were unable to tell us what type of regulations would be changed because of this bill.

Is the member not worried that the government is making legislative changes, while leaving a big asterisk next to some parts saying that it will make more changes later, at the minister's discretion, through regulation? Is that what accountability and transparency are all about?