Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent. Our debate has not been very fruitful since this morning. I want to remind the House of certain facts about Bill C-21. Bill C-21 authorizes the Canada Border Services Agency to collect and receive biographical information on travellers leaving Canada. The act will authorize officers to require goods being exported from Canada to be reported, despite any exemptions, and will give them the power to examine those goods.
The Prime Minister first announced an agreement with the United States to implement a system for sharing basic biographical information in March 2016, after his first official visit to the U.S.
Currently, under the beyond the border action plan, the two countries collect and share biographical information on third-country nationals and lawful permanent residents at land ports of entry. Data on entry to one country serve as a record of exit from the other.
On November 21, on the matter that concerns us today, the Senate committee heard from Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, about the bill's general intention and the amendment adopted by the House of Commons. Mr. Therrien had this to say about the bill: “I am generally satisfied that this border management issue is based on important public policy objectives and the personal information in question is not particularly sensitive.”
As for the amendment, Mr. Therrien pointed out that, for greater legal certainty, section 93.1 should be amended to state that the data collected under sections 92 and 93 should be retained by the agency for a maximum of 15 years.
However, we should not forget that the former Conservative government negotiated the beyond the border action plan, which includes a provision on sharing entry and exit data with the United States. At the time, given the political concerns about privacy, we decided not to give effect to this legislative measure just before the election. However, this provision deals with longstanding Conservative priorities for border security and compliance with benefit programs.
Our border services need to have the tools to keep Canadians safe. Frankly, our law enforcement services all need the tools to do their jobs, but the current Prime Minister's government is needlessly compromising Canadians' safety. As long as this Prime Minister continues carrying out his reckless ideas, Canadians will have good reason to be concerned. Allow me to give some examples.
Under the current Prime Minister, we are seeing a problem at the border. This is something we raise often, but the government claims the opposite. However, I can confirm that right now, the time to conduct a security screening on the illegal migrants crossing into Canada has gone from the standard eight hours to just two hours. In addition, there is no government directive for border officers regarding the new ways to manage the influx of visitors coming to Canada with marijuana. Once again, the government says that we need to stop debating, that we should help the government move forward instead of standing in the way. The thing is, there is a reason we are standing in the way. We have valid questions.
Problems often arise after the debate and implementation of bills that the government rams down our throats, like Bil C-45 on marijuana. We then point out that we told the government so. The government refused to accept some of the amendments proposed by the Senate and now there are problems. Right now, border services officers are having to deal with those problems, as are police officers, who are having trouble detecting whether drivers have used drugs.
Let us come back to the matter of illegal migrants. Every time we ask a question about this issue, the Liberals say that we are racist or xenophobic. This has absolutely nothing to do with the race of the people who are coming to Canada. I believe that anyone who illegally crosses our border is an illegal migrant, regardless of his or her origin or colour. This has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia. That needs to stop. It is a dangerous game. The government is accusing us of playing a dangerous game when it is the one doing so by saying things that make no sense.
The problem is that the Prime Minister created a situation with his infamous tweet, even though the members opposite say that is not true. It is fairly easy to see that people are coming to Canada in response to what the Prime Minister said.
The government set up a camp to welcome migrants in Lacolle. Yes, it is important to welcome people, even if they are in Canada illegally. We are responsible people after all. We can agree on that.
However, the Liberals grossly mismanaged the situation. They set up a camp and expanded it. They set up infrastructure to receive 500 people a day. It is a nice facility with all the equipment and everything needed to do things properly.
However, this year, the camp expanded tremendously. There was room to take in 3,000 people. The Saint-Bernard hotel was even part of the security perimeter. The Government of Canada sent a cheque to the hotel owner, who must have left on vacation for a year since the rooms that were rented are empty and no one is staying there.
There is a steady flow of migrants every day and we are spending tens of millions of dollars in Lacolle. The Parliamentary Budget Officer pegged the cost at $1.1 billion. In the meantime, the government is not fixing the problem, it is not taking a position and telling these people to stop coming here illegally.
We are not asking questions just for the fun of being obstructionist. On the contrary, we want to resolve this issue. I have been here for three years. Whether in committee or in the House, our questions always serve to advance matters, not obstruct them.
The member for Kingston and the Islands accused us of throwing a wrench into the works, but they are the ones who are doing a bad job and messing everything up. They have botched everything including Bill C-45.
I would like to see a bit more maturity in the House, and I would like people to make sense when they are talking to MPs on this side of the House.
We also need to talk about the UN global compact for migration. Once again, members over here have been clear, we have taken the time to do things properly, we have assessed the situation and reviewed this much-touted compact. My party's immigration critic was on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Nothing made sense. The fact that the Prime Minister told the world Canada is good and is going to help them solve their problems is just a lot of hype, just for show.
Once again, we were practically accused of being bad, racist, right-wing or even extreme right-wing people for being against this. In the end, 34 countries—countries that matter—refused to sign the compact.
This morning, a former UN lawyer and current Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada lawyer published a very clear letter in Le Devoir setting out very specific facts that show that this is far-fetched. That is the word that the author uses at the end of the piece. We must not sign the global compact because it does not hold water. It is nonsense.
This is just like the government. From the start, for three years, all this government has cared about is improving its image and doing whatever it wants, like tweeting that it is sending $50 million to South Africa and that it is all good because the suckers in Canada will foot the bill.
Do we ask this kind of question just to block the system or for the fun of it? No. We are responsible people. We are seeing what is happening and we are asking questions appropriate to the circumstances.
Many of the 38,000 people who crossed the border illegally will experience hardship. That is obvious. There are families, particularly Haitian families, who were in the United States and got a scare. They were told to come to Canada, but now they are being told that they do not have the right to claim asylum here. The tweet sent in 2017 was just a joke, just for show. However, people are bringing their children with them and they will have to go back, not to the United States but to Haiti. Do the Liberals see how complicated this situation is and how much hardship this will inflict on people over the years?
All that to say that we supported Bill C-21. However, it is not a futile exercise to continue to debate it, to ask questions and to make improvements when circumstances change. The government needs to stop laughing at the opposition. As I already mentioned, the opposition has not raised many issues over the past three years that did not turn out to be true and important.