An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Ralph Goodale  Liberal

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of June 20, 2019
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to, among other things, rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the Public Complaints and Review Commission. It also amends the Canada Border Services Agency Act to, among other things, grant to that Commission powers, duties and functions in relation to the Canada Border Services Agency, including the power to conduct a review of the activities of that Agency and to investigate complaints concerning the conduct of any of that Agency’s officers or employees. It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2020 / 12:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand today to speak to Bill C-3.

The bill before us was introduced in the dying days of the last Parliament as Bill C-98, and the Conservatives supported it at through all steps.

Bill C-3, while it is an important bill, undoubtedly will be seen as another Liberal failure with respect to consultation. We saw this time and again in the last Parliament. Promise after promise was broken or unfilled. I think we will see the exact same thing with Bill C-3.

I want to bring to the floor again, and I do not think we can say it enough, the voices of the Wet'suwet'en. I would never say that we are speaking on behalf of or for the Wet'suwet'en, but it is important we bring their voices to the floor.

I would remind the House and my colleagues that the House is not ours. It does not belong to us or the Prime Minister. The House belongs to the electors who voted in the 338 members of Parliament. Those are the voices that really matter here.

Today we are debating Bill C-3 when our country is seized with a crisis. What we have seen over the last three weeks is no leadership whatsoever from the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, we had a motion before the House, on which we will vote on Monday. Speaker after speaker, at least on the Conservative side, brought the voices of the Wet'suwet'en to the floor of the House. A lot of people have stood in the House, with their firsts in the air, saying they are standing with the Wet'suwet'en. The reality is that they are not standing for the real voices of the Wet'suwet'en.

Yesterday I heard from two chiefs from my riding. One was the former chief of the Haisla Nation. He thought I should ask the Prime Minister about aboriginal titles and rights and to whom he thought they belonged. They belong to the first nations communities.

The Wet'suwet'en and 21 nations voted in favour of the Coastal GasLink. They voted for bands, chiefs and councils to represent them. Those chiefs and leaders within their communities voted in favour of lifting their communities out of poverty. They chose economic prosperity, not economic despair.

Ellis Ross wanted me to ask the Prime Minister why so many leaders outside of first nations were standing against lifting their first nations up? They voted in favour of something that could bring so much hope to and opportunities for these communities. In northern B.C., these types of game-changing opportunities are few and far between.

Yesterday, the Liberals said that they would not support our motion, because we used the term “radical activists”. They believed that we were talking about our first nations, that they were radical activists.

The other chief asked me why it was okay to have the Rockefellers and the Tides Foundations limit opportunity for first nations. This is the truth. He said that if the Prime Minister was standing in front of him, he would give him a piece of his mind. I am paraphrasing, because it would be unparliamentary to say the exact words.

It is disappointing that the voices of the Wet'suwet'en, who voted in favour of lifting their communities out of economic despair and who chose hope, are being silenced. They are not being heard; they are being discounted. We are here today because of that.

While Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, is important, we should be continuing to bring the voices of the Wet'suwet'en to this floor, ensuring they are heard. That is what is important.

Therefore, I move:

That the House do now adjourn.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2020 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Eric Duncan Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-3, in the last Parliament being Bill C-98, which was introduced in its last days.

I will say at the outset that I will be supporting this legislation. I believe the majority, an overwhelming number of members in the House, will be doing that.

To start off my comments in the House today, as I have listened to the debate not only today but over the course of the last few weeks in this legislation, I think members of the opposition have rightfully questioned some of the processes for this.

Again, as I mentioned, this is something that I believe many communities have been asking for. I will get into the specifics of my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, but it was very frustrating to see the legislation tabled at the last minute, only a few weeks before the end of the last Parliament, but of course I am happy to see it now back in this Parliament.

We have heard some concerns from the customs and immigration national union about those who are on the front lines not being consulted, yet wanting to make sure that they are consulted in this process. Of course, it is an oversight body of their work. I think that, as a part of the consultation, it would be a natural body for the government to bring in and include when talking about a piece of legislation such as this.

From a technocratic perspective, over the last few weeks as this was being debated I have done some interventions and made comments related to making sure that this oversight body works. I mean that in the sense of being timely and responsive to the resolution of the complaints or challenges that come forward.

Very frankly we have seen this before with different government departments or oversight bodies. If individuals who file complaints are not getting their issues resolved in a timely manner, their confidence in the oversight body will not exist. They may not complain when valid complaints should come forward. We have to question the effectiveness of this.

I think that a lot of members who have raised that issue want to ensure that this legislation goes through. When it does, for lack of a better word, we will be the oversight of the oversight, to make sure that it achieves what we want to do.

I want to focus on my riding specifically of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry and the importance of this legislation. I will make the bold statement that this legislation may impact my riding the most of any riding in the country. I acknowledge that this involves oversight for both the RCMP and CBSA, but I will focus on the CBSA aspect.

As members may be aware, my riding is home to a port of entry in the city of Cornwall that travels through a first nations community: the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.

We have a bit of a unique geographic set-up with our port of entry. Cornwall Island for many years hosted the port of entry. In 2009, there was some back and forth with some challenges there, and the border was shut down for several months while a new location was worked out.

What happened was that the port of entry moved from Cornwall Island to the city of Cornwall. The challenge that it presents now is that first nations community members, people who are visiting Akwesasne or coming from Akwesasne to the city of Cornwall or the counties and out past there, have to go through a port of entry to enter into Canada.

This is the number one issue when I speak with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne in my riding, the grand chief and council members. We are working on myriad different issues together, and I have appreciated their co-operation as I have reached out. We are working on some issues with Canada Post, land claims and economic development, but the port of entry is the number one concern.

I had a conversation recently with Grand Chief Abram Benedict about this piece of legislation. The council provided a letter almost four years ago to the previous minister of public safety, Ralph Goodale, that spoke about the need for this type of legislation. In the letter is a statistic that says 70% of the daily traffic that goes through the port of entry in my riding, and that deals with CBSA officials on the front lines, are members of Akwesasne who are actually Canadian citizens and may be going to the city of Cornwall for groceries, gas, dinner or other services.

As my colleagues can imagine, it is a very frustrating situation for residents. I have echoed what the grand chief and council have said, that it is a physical barrier between Cornwall Island, the city of Cornwall and the rest of Canada. If one is accessing the 401 it is a physical barrier, but it is also a social, cultural and economic barrier in terms of ease of traffic.

I bring that back to talk about the importance of this bill because the members of Akwesasne and CBSA have thousands of interactions on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, over the course of the last 10 or 11 years, there have been some incidents and complaints, and there has not really been that oversight process to have those concerns addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

I will note the continued progress of the advocacy that the council has done on this. There was news in my riding at the beginning of the year that the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the CBSA have partnered for a better border experience. It was covered in the Cornwall Seaway News and the Cornwall Standard Freeholder in my riding. While that is a step in the right direction, in terms of that dialogue and process, this oversight agency is something that has been asked for by my community.

I should clarify it is not just the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the residents of Cornwall Island who are asking for this. Leaders in the city of Cornwall are asking as well.

People who are business owners want to see a proper, smooth flow for economic and social reasons. While this is a step in the right direction, I am going to be making sure in my riding and my community that, as complaints arise about experiences and exchanges that happen on the front lines of CBSA, those issues are addressed through this channel in a timely manner.

If resolutions come out of these recommendations to do better and to change processes at the port of entry, in Cornwall for example, those are done and followed through in a timely manner.

The relationship the CBSA workers have with the community in the Cornwall area is strong. I want to finish by thanking the CBSA workers on the front lines, not just in the city of Cornwall and the port of entry there, but across the country.

They have a very challenging job to do, very often in trying circumstances. We debate issues of a national portfolio here in Ottawa. For example, we talk about guns smuggled in from the United States, and about drugs and human trafficking. There are so many issues that our CBSA officials have to deal with to protect our country on a daily basis.

My message, as I wrap up my comments here today, is to thank those front-line workers. This oversight would be a win-win for them in terms of some of the protections they would have as well. I want to thank Grand Chief Abram Benedict for reaching out and chatting with me recently about this legislation. I want to thank him for putting this on the radar and sharing the local experience of what we have in my riding and our port of entry and how this legislation can go about.

I am looking forward to this. I think, by the sounds of the debate over the course of the last few weeks, this will go through. I am looking forward to it going to committee. After my conversations with the grand chief, I am hoping that he may be a witness. He can make sure that members of the committee who review the legislation understand the support for it from my riding, but also understand some of the challenges we specifically have.

We will find ways to make sure that the intention is always there, through legislation, to do better and to make sure this is actually working, that the complaints process responses are timely, that there are resolutions and that there are outcomes.

We will make sure that this is not just a forum to say we have complaint resolution without resolving some of the challenges we face. We certainly think it is in the best interests of all Canadians, including the people in the city of Cornwall and the first nations community of Akwesasne. For the flow of the relationship, when we talk about reconciliation, this is a very tangible item that could help move us another step forward.

I am pleased to speak to this today, and look forward to the questions and comments from my colleagues.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 21st, 2020 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Michael Barrett Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the government bill, Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act. The bill would rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to the public complaints and review commission. It would also amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act to:

grant to that Commission powers, duties and functions in relation to the Canada Border Services Agency, including the power to conduct a review of the activities of that Agency and to investigate complaints concerning the conduct of any of that Agency’s officers or employees.

The bill is a copy of Bill C-98, which died on the Order Paper at the end of the 42nd Parliament. During the study of Bill C-98, the committee heard from just seven witnesses, including the minister and five officials who reported to him. I hope this time, in our minority Parliament, the parliamentary committee will have the ability to study the bill as thoroughly as it deserves and hear testimony from more witnesses, contrary to the study of Bill C-98, when the Liberals failed to consult customs and immigration in the creation of it.

One would think that when creating legislation regarding the security of Canadians, all stakeholders would be consulted and such legislation would be presented in a substantive and timely way. We now have the chance to ensure that all stakeholders are heard at committee and members are given the time needed to undertake this.

That being said, the bill seems straightforward in its objective that Canada's law enforcement agencies ought to have an oversight body. This is especially helpful at the border, where a civilian review commission would improve oversight and help CBSA be an even more effective agency in its duties and functions.

There is a Liberal crusade against law-abiding firearms owners, highlighted by Bill C-71, passed in the previous Parliament, and the apparent upcoming blanket firearms bans are likely to come before both the RCMP and CBSA oversight bodies. This is problematic because of the extra and quite unnecessary amount of work it would create for both agencies.

The Liberal government likes to paint law-abiding firearms owners with one brush, that they are dangerous and cannot be trusted with the responsibility of firearms ownership or are outdated, backward and likely criminals. On this side of the House, we know that to be false.

We know that law-abiding firearms owners are among the most vetted citizens in the country. It is illegal to possess, store or transport a firearm without first possessing a licence, the PAL or the RPAL, through a program that is run by the RCMP. It includes extremely stringent requirements, including background and reference checks and classroom instruction and testing.

People who are deemed fit to be given the restricted firearms licence must then register all of these restricted firearms with the government and receive authorization to transport them to and from the range. These responsible law-abiding firearms owners are run through police databases regularly, if not daily. The Liberals' portrayal of them is wrong and insulting.

The government is also trying to spin the firearms legislation as the right move, that it would enhance safety for Canadians. However, the legislation does nothing to address the safety of Canadians and seeks to punish law-abiding Canadians instead of criminals.

Given the spirit of Bill C-3, with its oversight bodies that are meant to reduce harm and combat overreach, would it not make sense for all of the government's safety and security legislation to be in the same spirit and have the same goal?

The Liberals are seeking to ban certain firearms and are moving to reclassify some rifles as prohibited, which means over 10,000 legally purchased and owned rifles would be reclassified for no reason in particular. They have not advanced a logical argument for the banning of these firearms, and I cannot think of one either. These firearms function in a similar method to a technology first introduced in 1885, so it cannot be that they are unsafe when used properly. Also, they adhere to the same regulations regarding capacity as other non-restricted firearms.

How does the government's plan to classify legally bought and owned rifles as prohibited combat gang violence? It does not, not one bit. In fact, it has the potential to criminalize the owners of these rifles if they do not comply with the new ownership requirements of the prohibited firearm.

Retroactively applying this law means that a person could be jailed for up to 10 years for something that was perfectly legal when it was done. Let us imagine this. A government that is giving pardons for actions that were crimes when committed but are now legal is criminalizing something that was perfectly legal when it was done. This totally rejects the premise of Bill C-3, because the changes to firearms laws certainly overreach and mistreat law-abiding Canadians.

The attacks on law-abiding firearms owners by the government neglects to combat crime. It punishes lawful firearms owners in other ways as well, especially those who live in rural areas like the residents of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

Because of the Liberal government's disdain for firearms owners and rural Canadians writ large, it is working to revoke authorization to transport firearms except from store to home and between home and target range. Gun shows, gunsmiths, border crossings and airports would require special permission each and every time. If people want to pick up their firearms from the gunsmith on their way to a shooting match, they would need an ATT. If they are dropping off their firearm at the gunsmith after a day at the range, they would need an ATT. If they want to take a firearm from the store where they bought it to the gunsmith, they would need an authorization to transport, or an ATT. Besides disregarding the realities of travel in rural areas, this would create a constant need for bureaucratic paperwork and would increase costs to Canadian taxpayers, with absolutely no benefit or increase to public safety and security.

When it comes to the safety and security of Canadians, the government's short-sighted legislative record on firearms decreases the safety and security of law-abiding firearms owners through its creation of a backdoor firearms registry. It would force firearm retailers to keep detailed transaction records of every firearm buyer and purchase spanning a period of 20 years. When people walk into their favourite retailer and purchase a rifle and ammunition, the retailer would be forced to record their personal information and register it with the registrar. This is not just in stores that specialize in retail firearms. This is also in big box stores, even for simply purchasing ammunition. These lists would become highly prized targets for hackers and thieves, and citizens on the registries would be put at great risk of being robbed, or worse.

Since we are talking about the role of oversight bodies and Canada's law enforcement agencies, I will note that the government's attack on law-abiding firearms owners would create an environment where there is a greater risk of overreach. It would give law enforcement greater leeway to arbitrarily prohibit firearms by removing the government's ability to easily un-prohibit firearms, fuelling concern of more bans and more overreach. We are seeing this now, as the minister has indicated his intention to subvert democracy and undertake a blanket ban on certain firearms. If that does not spell overreach from the highest levels, I do not know what does.

Canadians expect effective oversight of federal law enforcement agencies. The bill looks as if it would be effective in doing so, but the Liberals made a promise to do this in 2015 and they let the bill die on the Order Paper in the last Parliament. It is disappointing that they failed to consult the union representing Canada's border officers and that they have a culture of lazy legislation when it comes to the safety and security of Canadians.

Canadians expect the House to give thorough review to all legislation put before it. They expect that the legislators here will speak to witnesses and the relevant stakeholders. Even though that was not permitted to happen under majority rule in the previous Parliament, in this Parliament we hope to undertake a full study.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2020 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to answer my colleague's question. I hold her in high regard and have a lot of affection for her. We crossed swords from time to time when I was the finance critic and she was the parliamentary secretary to the finance minister. We had a lot of fun together. I also want to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

We agree on the principle of the bill. We believe that this is the right approach. That is why, when we studied Bill C-98 during the 42nd Parliament, we made rigorous and legitimate efforts that led to the passage of the bill. Of course, we raised some very relevant questions, which we will raise again. I am convinced that we will have the opportunity to examine this issue more thoroughly in committee.

We definitely agree on the principle of the bill.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2020 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on this stormy Friday in Quebec. Obviously, as usual, everything is going smoothly here in the House with no sign of a storm.

We are here on this Friday afternoon to talk about Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Essentially, this bill would create a committee that would oversee the operation of these two organizations. It is also the logical next step to a bill that was introduced and passed in the previous Parliament, Bill C-98.

As members probably already heard from some of the previous speakers, the official opposition is in favour of this bill. I wanted to say that right off the top. However, we have some concerns that we will raise during the debate at first and second reading and in committee.

First, I would like to take this wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to those who work for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency. Every day, they work to protect, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, our security both within Canada and at our border crossings.

We do not think about this often enough, but we are extraordinarily privileged to live in such a safe country. That is due to millions of Canadians, of course, but above all to the people whose job it is to protect us all. That includes the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It also includes the officers who protect border crossings across Canada, both those working on the ground, right at the border, and those working in our airports and ports. We must not forget that we share the longest land border in the world with the United States, and we can be very proud of it because we know it is well guarded by these officers. We owe them so much.

As I was saying, this bill flows from another piece of legislation from the last Parliament. Members will recall that in 2015, the current government got itself elected by saying it would table a bill addressing the concerns this document is about.

Today, we can see that the people on the government side seem surprised that things are not moving along as fast as they hoped. I would remind them that, despite getting elected on that promise back in 2015, they did not table Bill C-98 until the very end of their first term. If they really thought it was so important, so integral, so essential, so vital to their commitment, they could have tabled that bill much sooner.

I will not mention certain promises that were not kept during the Liberals' first term, such as the “modest deficits” and the return to a balanced budget in 2019. However, this also proves that this government, which got itself elected on the strength of certain promises, did not accomplish what it said it would.

Since we are talking about border services, I want to share a sad episode in Canada's history, perhaps the saddest episode in the history of our border services. Unfortunately, this episode was not provoked by our workers, our employers, our public servants, our RCMP officers or our border services officers, but by the Prime Minister of Canada himself. He is the one who is fully responsible for the refugee crisis we have had and continue to have in Canada. We are sad to say that it has been nearly three years since the Prime Minister himself unwittingly created a crisis.

It was the evening of January 28, 2017. I remember because I got a Twitter alert on my smartphone indicating that the Prime Minister had just tweeted something.

The Prime Minister, who was all too happy to tweet something to outdo the Americans, but especially to give himself some brass and prestige on the world stage, wrote a tweet that essentially said, you are all welcome here in Canada. The Prime Minister's tweet came on the heels of the U.S. government's announcement that it was closing its doors to all refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

That tweet set off a border crisis the likes of which we have never seen in this country. Over 40,000 people entered Canada illegally at Roxham Road, showing complete contempt and disregard for the honour and hard work of other people from around the world who followed the rules and dreamed of coming here to enrich Canada with their presence. Unfortunately, those 40,000 people got the Prime Minister's green light to come into Canada through the back door, which is illegal.

I am choosing my words carefully because I know that there is a war of words going on. Some people call it “irregular”, not “illegal”. If it is indeed irregular, why is there a huge sign at the entrance to Roxham Road saying that it is illegal to cross the border except at an official crossing?

Once something illegal has been done, how can it then be considered “irregular”?

This is a big deal. This is why those guys, the Liberals, are talking about irregularity instead of illegality. My colleagues and I have been asking the government for the last three years why there is a huge sign at the entrance of Roxham Road that says it is an illegal entrance. People cannot go there. It is illegal.

If the Liberals cannot accept what their own government is writing on signs they should resign, but they will not.

That is the problem with this government. It likes to crow about its lofty principles, wears its heart on its sleeve and brings everyone to tears talking about how Canada is the most beautiful, most wonderful country on the planet, a country that will welcome every last living creature with open arms.

The actual fact of the matter is that Canada has laws and rules that must be obeyed, not because one leans left or right but because everyone needs to follow the rules and the rules apply to everyone.

When we were in power, we took in 25,000 refugees. Unlike the current government, we did not make a big show of it when people arrived at the airport. We did not convene the media, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the minister of this, that and the other thing and an opposition member to please everyone and get some air time.

We focus on being a serious, rigorous and humanitarian country that cares about individuals more than those TV appearances the Liberals like to use to show that they are the best and the nicest. Our serious Conservative approach allowed 25,000 refugees from around the world to come enrich our country.

Refugees and immigrants contribute to our country's wealth. I know what I am talking about. This is a bit of a conflict of interest for me because my parents came here in 1958 as immigrants. It is important to disclose any conflicts of interest, and I just did. I cannot thank Canada enough for welcoming my parents in 1958.

Some 40,000 people have crossed illegally into Canada at Roxham Road. I remind members that this sparked a battle with the Government of Quebec, which had to wait three years to get reimbursed for all this.

What is worse, these illegal crossings were an insult to the thousands of people from around the world who follow the rules and contact various embassies, consulates and border services. As members of Parliament, we know how this works, since we see all kinds of cases at our riding offices. These people were not fortunate enough to see the Prime Minister's tweet, take Roxham Road and automatically gain access to Canada.

On April 3, 2018, the National Post reported that the first secretary at the Canadian embassy in Mexico warned the government that the Prime Minister's tweet was causing all kinds of problems.

In conclusion, I want to sincerely thank all of the RCMP officers as well as all the Canadians, from both the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, who keep us safe.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2020 / 1:25 p.m.
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Liberal

Patricia Lattanzio Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to add my voice to the debate of Bill C-3 at second reading. This important piece of legislation would amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to establish a new public complaints and review commission for both organizations. This would give the CBSA its own independent review body for the first time.

Transparency and accountability are extremely important in any context. That certainly includes the public safety and national security sphere. Canadians need to have trust and confidence in the people and agencies that work so hard to protect them. Right now, among the family of organizations that make up the public safety portfolio, only the CBSA lacks a full-fledged independent review body dedicated to it.

The RCMP has had such a body since 1988, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. The CRCC reviews complaints from the public about conduct of RCMP members and conducts reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP's handling of their complaints. This process ensures public complaints are examined fairly and impartially.

Canada also has an office of the correctional investigator, which provides independent oversight of Correctional Service Canada. The correctional investigator essentially serves as an ombudsman for federal offenders. The main responsibility of the office is to investigate and try to resolve offender complaints. The office is also responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on CSC policies and procedures related to those complaints, the goal being to ensure areas of concern are identified and appropriately addressed.

The CBSA really stands out in this context.

Before I go any further, it is important to point out that a fair number of CBSA's activities are already subject to independent oversight through existing bodies. Customs-related matters, for example, are handled by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal. With the passage of Bill C-59, the CBSA's national security-related activities are now being overseen by Canada's new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. This agency is an independent, external body that can report on any national security or intelligence-related activity carried out by federal departments and agencies. It has the legal mandate and expertise to review national security activities and serves an important accountability function in our democracy.

However, a major piece is missing in the architecture of public safety and national security oversight and accountability. There is currently no mechanism for public complaints about the CBSA to be heard and considered. That is a significant oversight, given the scope of the agency's mandate and the sheer volume of its interactions with the public.

CBSA employees deal with thousands of people each day and tens of millions each year. They do so at approximately 1,200 service points across Canada and at 39 international airports and locations. In the last fiscal year alone, border officers interacted with 96 million travellers, both Canadians and foreign nationals, and that is just one aspect of its business. It is a massive, complex and impressive operation. We can all be proud of having such a professional, world-class border services agency.

In the vast majority of cases, the CBSA's interactions with the public happen without incident. Our employees work with the utmost professionalism in delivering border services to those entering the country. However, on rare occasions, and for whatever reason, things go less than smoothly. That is not unusual. People are human and we cannot expect everything they do will be perfect all the time. However, that does not mean there should not be a fair and appropriate way for people to air their grievances. If people are unhappy with the way they were treated at the border, or the level of service they received, they need to know that someone will hear their complaint in an independent manner. Needless to say, that is currently not the case.

The way things currently work is that if a member of the public makes a complaint about the CBSA, it is handled internally. In other words, the CBSA investigates itself. In recent years, a number of parliamentarians, commentators and observers have raised concerns about this problematic accountability gap. To rectify the situation, they have called for an independent review body specific to the CBSA. Bill C-3 would answer that call.

Under Bill C-3, the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP would be given new powers and remain the public complaints and review commission, or PCRC. The newly established PCRC would consider complaints related to conduct or service issues involving either CBSA or RCMP employees. Those who believe they have had a negative interaction with a CBSA employee would have the option of turning to the PCRC for remedy and would have one year to do so.

The same would continue to be the case with respect to the RCMP. This would apply to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals. That includes people detained in CBSA's immigration holding centres, who would be able to submit complaints related to their conditions of detention or treatment while in detention.

The complaints function is just one part of the proposed new PCRC. The commission would also have an important review function. It would conduct reviews related to non-national security activities involving CBSA and the RCMP, since national security, as I noted earlier, is now in the purview of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. The findings and recommendations of the PCRC would be non-binding. However, the CBSA would be required to provide a response to those findings and recommendations for all the complaints. I believe that combining these functions into one agency is the best way forward.

The existing CRCC already performs these functions for the RCMP, and the proposals in the bill would build on the success and expertise it has developed. Combining efforts may also generate efficiencies of scale and allow for resources to be allocated to priority areas. On that note, I certainly recognize that additional resources would be required for the PCRC, given its proposed new responsibilities and what that would mean in terms of workload.

That is why I am pleased that budget 2019 included nearly $25 million over five years, starting this fiscal year, and an additional $6.83 million per year ongoing to expand the mandate of the CRCC. That funding commitment has also been positively received by stakeholders. With Bill C-3, the government is taking a major step toward enhancing CBSA independent review and accountability in a big way.

I was encouraged to see an apparent consensus of support for this bill in our debate so far. As we know, just eight months ago, the previous form of this bill, Bill C-98, received all-party support during third reading in the House during the last Parliament. In reintroducing this bill, we have taken into consideration points that were previously raised by the opposition parties, and we hope to rely on their continued support.

The changes proposed in Bill C-3 are appropriate and long overdue. They would give Canadians greater confidence in the border agencies that serve them and they would bring Canada in line with international norms in democratic countries. That includes the systems already in place with some of our closest allies, such the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

I am proud to be supporting this important piece of legislation. I will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading and I urge all of my hon. colleagues to do the same when the time comes.

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February 7th, 2020 / 1:15 p.m.
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Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Conservatives for sharing this time with me so that I can speak to this important bill. As other members have pointed out, this has been a long time coming, and it is something civil society organizations and citizens have been asking for.

CBSA officers are on the front lines at our borders and do important and valuable work. CBSA officers interact with 95 million travellers every year. It is important that the work they do is recognized and that the people who step up to do that job are respected and recognized for the work they do. My sister was a police officer in the OPP for 24 years. My uncle served in the RCMP. I spent time with them on ride-alongs and saw the work they do. I have talked with their colleagues and documented some of the work they do. Just like the folks who are here to serve and protect us as part of our parliamentary security, these are people who step up to serve and protect our communities, and it is important to respect the work they do.

However, there can be complaints that come forward to the media. The last time we were debating this topic as Bill C-98, there was a complaint brought forward to the media by a woman who had been mishandled by the CBSA. She had been strip-searched, felt the whole process was arbitrary, and did not have the confidence to complain to the CBSA about what had happened to her. In 2016 to 2018, there were 1,200 cases of alleged misconduct by CBSA employees. These are the things that can taint an organization that employs many people. There were 228 cases of neglect of duty, 183 cases of discreditable conduct on duty, 59 cases of harassment, 38 cases of criminal association, 25 cases of abuse of authority, seven cases of assault, five cases of intimidation, five cases of uttering threats, five cases of sexual assault and four cases of smuggling. There have been accusations of racism and other things happening at the border.

Most people do not realize that when they cross the border, they are in a legal no man's land and have very few rights. The CBSA has extensive powers to take blood and saliva samples, to access data on computers and ask for passwords, to conduct strip searches, to detain people and to arrest non-citizens. We have had 14 deaths since 2000 in CBSA detention centres, and there has been no independent review of these deaths or any potential criminal implications for any wrongdoing. It is very important to bring the CBSA into the same process that all of our other security forces have with respect to oversight bodies, so having a public complaints and review commission is really important.

There are a couple of things in this bill we would like to see adapted and changed.

The RCMP Act, under the ineligibility paragraph at subsection 45.29(2), excludes current and former members from serving on the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. Under the act, “member” has a specific definition, and means an employee of the RCMP. Presumably, this should be amended so the current and former agents of the CBSA should also be excluded from sitting on the public complaints and review commission. It is incumbent that it be independent, because somebody who has served with the CBSA may have colleagues who are being called forward with respect to a complaint. Therefore, it needs to be completely at arm's length if we do not want this continued relationship.

When one is in these security organizations as a police officer, it is like a brotherhood or sisterhood. These people think the best of their officers, and they want to believe the best of them.

This was the case for my sister when she was in the OPP. She was at the Ipperwash Inquiry, looking into the wrongdoing of fellow officers. At first, she had trouble believing they could be involved in the wrongful death of Dudley George. In that inquiry, some of the worst behaviour of certain members of the OPP came out. It is important that it is an independent body that looks at these behaviours and reviews it properly.

Another thing we would like to see changed is some notification for people who are to be deported. There is a case of a gentleman named Richard Germaine, who is an indigenous man. He was born in California, lived his whole life in Penelakut Island, which is in the Cowichan—Malahat—Langford riding. He is married. He is a community leader.

Right before Christmas, without any warning or knowledge that his citizenship papers were in any sort of disarray so he could take some steps toward it, CBSA officials showed up at his home, they put him leg irons and took him away in front of his wife, who is a residential school survivor. This traumatized her, their children and their grandchildren. They took him in a van to a detention centre in Vancouver where he was ordered to be deported as quickly as possible. He had no idea what was happening to him.

Fortunately, he was working with an ethnobotanist at the University of Victoria. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands helped, working with the minister, to ensure Germaine was taken out of detention.

I realize that some people might cut and run with a notification, but in this case, it clearly shows that just showing up right before Christmas, putting somebody in leg irons and dragging the person away is not appropriate. That is another aspect we would like to see amended.

We share concerns about how this will be funded to ensure the public review complaints commission has adequate funds to do its work.

However, we think this is an important legislation to pass. CBSA should have the same kind of oversight that other police agencies and security agencies have in the country.

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February 7th, 2020 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-3, which is an uncontroversial starting place for this Parliament, given the fact that there is quite broad support.

Clearly, an independent review body for the Canada Border Services Agency is a significant and welcome proposal. This is not only because it strengthens accountability and trust among Canadians, but also because it improves Canadians' overall experience with our world-class border services.

In travel and trade, Canadians have come to expect exceptional service at the border. For the overwhelming number of people who cross our borders each day, that is what they receive: exceptional service. With 96 million interactions with travellers each year, there will inevitably be a few mistakes made. We have all heard that it is relatively small, in terms of the number of complaints, but still significant enough that it merits an independent review body.

The other thing I would like to say is that lots of activity at our border is a testament to what we have achieved in Canada. It marks a healthy country and a healthy economy.

When it happens that there are complaints, we need to ensure that our system is as accountable as it can be for Canadians. Internationally, when we are compared to our closest allies, Canada is alone in not having a dedicated review body for complaints regarding our border agency. In fact, the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand all have these independent review bodies. Domestically, the CBSA is the only organization within the public safety portfolio that does not have an independent review body.

While most CBSA activities, such as customs and immigration decisions, are already subject to independent review, that is not the case when dealing with public complaints related to CBSA employee conduct and service. When thinking of large service organizations, and I have worked for a few, it is quite common to have these independent review mechanisms. People can provide feedback; it is really crucial for constant improvement in public service, and I would say it is considered a best practice.

That is why Bill C-3 is the next logical step. We have made major inroads in ensuring the accountability and review of our public safety agencies, including CSIS, RCMP and the Correctional Service of Canada. Under these proposals, if we are once again able to secure all-party support, as Bill C-98 did just eight months ago, we will welcome the newly minted public complaints and review commission, PCRC. This would be an important new tool for Canadians, building on the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

The PCRC would have the strong mandate of reviewing public complaints about both CBSA and RCMP employee conduct or service issues, with the exception, of course, of national security issues. What does that mean? That means Canadians can continue to expect fair, consistent and equal treatment at our border. This builds public trust, which I know we all believe in. It would mean more opportunities for the CBSA to enhance its services, developing service standards that broadly cover our border services agency.

I know that everyone in this House would agree that these proposed new measures are critical for an organization that deals with an incredible volume of travellers and trade around the clock. I would like to remind members that complaints could come from a wide variety of issues, not just the conduct of officers. For example, let us say I have had an excessive wait time, long lineups or security checks that are improperly conducted. I could then, with this initiative, register a complaint. The PCRC would be there to ensure the complaint was heard, processed and examined in a thorough and timely way.

I would also like to remind the House that it would not just be a mechanism for receiving complaints; it would also review non-national security activities carried out by the CBSA and RCMP, providing Canadians with public reports on those activities. For example, it would help us find answers to key questions like whether the CBSA's policies and procedures are adequate, appropriate and sufficient; whether the CBSA is compliant with the law and with ministerial directions; and whether the CBSA is using its authorities in a reasonable and necessary way.

When the proposed new PCRC reports its findings on these matters, the CBSA must respond. This is a critical tool to have in place. Independent review processes are well known and create the objective third party mechanism to encourage the reporting of any misconduct and any other feedback. I think that is important.

Particularly, as I mentioned before, as we move toward the border of the future, Canada's airports, for example, are faced with growing numbers of air travellers as business and leisure continue to globalize with volumes rising across all lines of business. Security and international considerations are becoming more complex. Technologies like blockchain are developing and changing rapidly, with a wide impact on border services.

The border of the future will allow for faster processing of goods and travellers, better intelligence and more seamless travel for everyone. Whatever the future brings, the CBSA understands the need to think and act broadly and to be responsive to the needs of Canadians and the world. It also understands that when problems arise in this changing environment, it cannot be expected to review them all internally. An arm's-length, independent review body must be put in place. That would allow the CBSA to focus on consistent and fair service for Canadians as it meets the challenges of the future and it would give the public confidence that they have recourse when problems do arise, however few they may be.

Bill C-3 would bring Canada more closely in line with other countries' accountability bodies for their border agencies, including those of our Five Eyes allies. This is all about providing border services that keep Canadians safe and improve public trust and confidence. This bill would ensure that the public can continue to expect consistent, fair and equal treatment by CBSA employees.

I encourage all members of the House to join me in moving this important bill forward.

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February 7th, 2020 / 12:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

I apologize, Madam Speaker. It was a rookie mistake.

I look forward to working with ministers and my colleagues across the aisle on this unique and dynamic portfolio.

When I look around this room at other members, I see passion for people and passion for causes. Whether or not we share the same views, we are all here because we have a part in a greater purpose. That greater purpose is to serve the people of Canada and their well-being, and to steward well the land we live on. I value the role of different political parties as important parts of a greater ecosystem to prune, refine and balance our mandates as lawmakers.

I hope we will always look to the people we serve as the heartbeat of our work and do so with the integrity, common sense and unity that Canadians expect of us and deserve. So many times at the door my constituents expressed their longing to see the parties working together for the greater good. They say more would get done.

I trust the 43rd Parliament we are serving in will provide ample opportunities for us to hit the reset button on Canadian politics and build a culture of honour that allows public discourse to unfold in a safe manner that allows transparency and constructive discussions to thrive.

On that note I would like to thank the Liberal government for bringing forward Bill C-3 for consideration. I support the bill because issues pertaining to the protection of Canadians in our communities is of great importance.

From what I have learned, Bill C-98 was introduced in the 42nd Parliament and reintroduced in our current session with slight modifications as Bill C-3. Bill C-3 proposes to repurpose and rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to the public complaints and review commission.

I would like to thank the RCMP and CBSA members for their service of hard work to protect Canadians.

Public servants across our nation must be held to a standard to uphold the integrity of people who are visiting or passing through our country, while ensuring our laws and international laws are upheld. Therefore, an oversight agency, as used by police services across our nation, including the RCMP, is agreeable and long overdue.

Budget 2019 proposes to invest $24.42 million over five years starting in 2019-20, and $6.83 million per year ongoing, to expand the mandate of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. It is good to know that a budget has already been allocated.

Where I would like more certainty is on the efficacy of how the government will implement Bill C-3 in practice.

Oversight is a good thing. People need assurance that there is someone who will be able to look into actions that are not consistent with the law. The implementation of the bill should not be another expansion of bureaucracy. The public complaints and review commission should have investigative powers and the ability to review situations, provide feedback and determine the course of action and its scope and scale with anyone who violates our laws.

Bill C-3 would provide a mechanism for complaints about inappropriate actions by border officers. Police agencies have had civilian oversight and review for decades. It is common practice around the world to provide mechanisms for overseeing law enforcement.

However, to my knowledge, the bill is not clear on how officers who violate the law, code or principle will be held accountable. It is only clear that the public complaints and review committee can examine evidence, call witnesses and write a report.

Without clarity on how the officers will be heId to account, we run the risk of creating bureaucracy that appears to provide a mechanism of assurance for Canadians but that, in practice, will not resolve the issues addressed.

While I support this important legislation, I look forward to seeing how the House and the committee will examine the bill with proper scrutiny to provide certainty that it will be a bill that will be very practical and steer us toward just actions and resolutions, rather than giving the appearance of protection to Canadians.

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February 7th, 2020 / 12:35 p.m.
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Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Liberal

Anita Vandenbeld LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful today to have the opportunity to debate Bill C-3, which would create an independent oversight body, the public review and complaints commission, to review CBSA officers' conduct and conditions and handle specific complaints. This body would be a welcome addition to the strong accountability and oversight bodies already in place.

As I have seen, the bill has broad support in the House. I welcome the previous speaker's support and also that of the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner. He said:

Public servants across the country must be held to the standards expected of Canadians, which is to uphold the integrity of people who are visiting or passing through our country, while ensuring our laws and international laws are upheld.

He went on to add, “This bill will align well with the values of many Canadians” and the values of his party's team.

I also welcome the comments from the member for Rivière-du-Nord, who expressed his gratitude for the bill being introduced. Likewise, the member for St. John's East provided supportive words, noting that his party would certainly be supporting the bill at second reading.

This multipartisan support is very encouraging, and I thank all members for helping to ensure the bill is as strong as it can be moving forward.

One thing that all members of the House agree on is the quality of the work that our border service officers do at the CBSA. The CBSA processes millions of travellers and shipments every year at multiple points across Canada and abroad.

Let us just look at some of the numbers. I know they have been mentioned in the chamber already in this debate, but it warrants repeating: 97 million travellers, 27 million cars, 34 million air passengers, 21 million commercial releases. Every day at 13 international airports, 117 land border crossings, 27 rail sites and beyond, CBSA officers provide consistent and fair treatment to travellers and traders.

This is particularly important because, as we know, travelling can be very stressful. For those who are more vulnerable, for asylum seekers, for those who do not speak either of our official languages, for those with disabilities, for those on the autism spectrum and for travellers who are travelling for the first time, it can be intimidating and even frightening to cross a border point.

As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said, the CBSA officers' professionalism when dealing with people crossing our borders is of the utmost importance. He has said that they are the most public of public servants, and they truly are the face of Canada.

For visitors, newcomers or Canadians returning home, our border officers are their first encounter. However, much more than that, they are responsible for upholding the integrity of Canada's borders. That means their work is integral to Canada's well-being. We are at a junction where border management and enforcement are truly front and centre for the government and for Canadians.

Nearly one year ago, the government introduced a federal budget, proposing investments of $1.25 billion for the CBSA. That funding includes support to modernize some of our land ports of entry and border operations, with the goals of ensuring efficiency and enhancing security. Members will recall that budget 2019 provided funds to close this important gap.

The idea has been to expand the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, or the CRCC, to act as an independent review body for the RCMP and the CBSA. That is why the government introduced Bill C-98 last year, which received all-party support at third reading. It is why we are now introducing Bill C-3, with more time for debate and discussion. This bill aligns well with our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Under the proposals, the PCRC would handle reviews and complaints for both CBSA and the RCMP. Whether the complaints are about the quality of services or the conduct of officers, the PCRC would have the ability to review, on its own initiative or at the request of the minister, any non-national security activity of the CBSA. The PCRC would be available and accessible to anyone who interacts with the CBSA or RCMP employees and who seeks recourse. That includes Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals, including immigrant detainees. The commission would investigate and offer its conclusions as to whether procedures at the border are appropriate or not.

These proposals would bring the CBSA in line with the rest of our security agencies, including CSIS and the RCMP, which are currently subject to independent review.

These accountability functions for border agencies are common in our peer countries and this bill would help us join that group. All of us would like to ensure that the public can continue to expect the world-class treatment the CBSA provides.

The CBSA has worked to ensure it has the resources and infrastructure in place to support this new review board. It already holds its employees to a high standard of conduct, and I am confident it will continue to uphold that standard.

As I have mentioned, this is coming at a time of renewed focus at our border. The agency is operating in a complex and dynamic environment. It must be responsive to evolving threats, adaptive to global economic trends and innovative in its use of technology to manage increasing cross-border volumes. Let us remember that some of those threats and trends are some of the greatest challenges facing parliamentarians and Canadians today.

The opioid crisis continues to pose a serious threat to the safety of Canadians, for example, and the CBSA plays a key role in detecting opioids at the border through new tools and methods. We have also seen rising rates of gun and gang violence in recent years. Again, the CBSA is front and centre here, remaining vigilant in combatting the illegal smuggling of firearms. It is keeping pace with rising volumes in the supply chain, including the growing prevalence of e-commerce. It is central to our economy and to our country's overall prosperity and competitiveness. It is undertaking all of this hugely important work in an environment where its clients demand a high level of accountability and transparency.

The professional men and women at our borders would be well-served by an independent review function for the CBSA. Canadians deserve it as well. That is why I encourage all members to join me in supporting Bill C-3 today.

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February 7th, 2020 / 10:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lévis—Lotbinière, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.

I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

The Conservative Party of Canada will always protect the integrity of our borders and ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency has the people and equipment it needs.

A public complaints commission will improve general oversight and help the Canada Border Services Agency do its job even more effectively.

I have a few questions for this government. First of all, why did it wait so long to fulfill a 2015 election promise and amend the act? This Liberal government definitely has a habit of putting commitments off until later. If it was so important in 2015, it should be urgent now that it is 2020.

This bill is a copy of Bill C-98, which died on the Order Paper at the end of the 42nd Parliament. During its study of Bill C-98, the committee heard from just seven witnesses, including the minister and five officials who reported to him. I hope that this time, the parliamentary committee will have the freedom it needs to study this bill as thoroughly as it deserves and to hear testimony from more witnesses. We are going to make sure that all stakeholders are heard during this parliamentary committee study and that we get all time we need to do our job properly.

I want to take this opportunity to commend my friend and colleague, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, for his tireless dedication to the issue of public safety in Canada. I admire the way he gets things done and his attendance record in the House. Our whole caucus is very proud of him, and I tip my hat to him.

Our border services are also very important for protecting our economy and the safety of the foods we import. I would like some assurance from the Liberal government that our free trade agreements with our partners and other countries are fair and equitable.

Also, does the government complete all the necessary checks at the border to ensure that we are importing foods that meet environmental and safety standards equivalent to those enforced in Canada?

With regard to aluminum, will the government allow Chinese aluminum produced with coal-fired Chinese electricity to enter the country, rather than using aluminum produced here in Quebec with hydroelectricity? This is certainly not something we would expect from a government that claims to care about the environment. It is clear the government is not walking the talk.

I want to come back to the Liberal government's consultation process. Did the government ask the opinion of front-line RCMP and CBSA officers? If so, what were their concerns and how were they taken into account?

I also think there is a need to reassure Canadians about the independence of the commission. If the past is any indication, this government has a tendency to interfere with the work of independent commissions.

Recently, we saw the Prime Minister interfere in one of the Auditor General's files, and we have not yet gotten to the bottom of that situation. We, on this side of the House, still have questions about the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's report in that regard. We hope to have the co-operation of all members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to launch a transparent study on that.

That said, I have no doubt that the debate on Bill C-3 is necessary and has merit.

However, I do think that it is more urgent to tackle the increasing number of illegal firearms in Canada, the gang shootings, the overdoses, mental health issues, legal backlogs, incidents of repeat offenders attacking Canadians, and human trafficking in this country. Why is this bill the government's top priority coming into this 43rd Parliament when there are all kinds of other pressing issues that should be handled first?

The Liberal government seems to want to address issues on which there is some form of agreement to avoid important societal debates. There is so much work to do to keep our country prosperous and safe. The government has been moving at a snail's pace since it came to power. It is playing the part of the grasshopper and doing whatever it wants, instead of taking care of the urgent issues.

Here is one important issue that should be a priority in the agenda of this spineless government, as I have already mentioned in the House in a members' statement. Canada is a country rich in natural resources, such as crude oil and natural gas in the west and Newfoundland and Labrador; hydroelectricity in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia; nuclear energy in Ontario and New Brunswick; and last, but not least, the shale oil and gas, coal, solar energy, wind energy and biomass energy used in various provinces and territories. Our country is so fortunate to have all of these resources. So many countries would love to have Canada's resources to help lift them out of poverty.

This prompts us to ask other important questions. How are all these energy resources transported within Canada, to serve all the provinces and territories, and how are they exported out of Canada, to the U.S. and other countries? Do we have adequate infrastructure? Are these methods of transportation safe and reliable enough to ensure an uninterrupted supply or, as was the case in the recent propane crisis in Quebec, are we relying on a single transporter? What about the environmental and economic impacts? Do we have energy security? Many questions deserve answers. That is why I would like to see the creation of a national commission on energy security. In my view, Canada's energy sector stakeholders should work together as part of a large-scale national consultation sponsored by the federal government. We must have the courage to get our heads out of the sand and talk about the energy sector. Unfortunately, this is a wedge issue in Canada right now, when it should be something that brings us all together from coast to coast to coast.

I strongly urge parliamentarians from all parties to initiate this discussion, which is crucial to the future of our country. This dialogue with every stakeholder in the energy sector will make it possible to develop a serious strategy for the future of Canada's energy sector by creating a national commission on energy security.

Our Canadian approach to energy will guide the economic destiny of future generations and how we position ourselves on the world stage. Let us take up our responsibilities as parliamentarians and legislators in the House, and ask the government to show leadership for the well-being of Canadians and for our economic prosperity.

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February 7th, 2020 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to add to the debate of Bill C-3 today.

An independent review and complaints mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency would fill an important gap for our national security agencies. This is not a new issue for parliamentarians. Members will recall that similar legislation was introduced and debated in the last session, as Bill C-98. That bill received unanimous consent just eight months ago, and since that time our government has had the benefit of considering comments made on previous legislation. With its introduction as a new bill, it is reflective of many of the comments and recommendations previously made.

CBSA oversight is not a new idea. In fact, Bill S-205, introduced by former Senator Moore in the other place a few years ago, proposed a CBSA review body. That was, in part, in response to a previous call by senators to create an oversight body through the 2015 report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Many parliamentarians, academics, experts and stakeholders have made similar calls over the years. That is largely because Canada is the only country among our closest allies not to have a dedicated review body for complaints regarding its border agency. Furthermore, the CBSA is the only organization within the public safety portfolio without such a body. Bill C-3 would change this environment.

Canadians need to be confident that their complaints are handled and addressed appropriately and independently. They deserve enhanced reporting on how border services operate, which the bill also proposes. To expand on that, under Bill C-3, the new body would be able to not only report on its finding but also make recommendations as it sees fit. Those reports would include the PCRC's findings and recommendations on everything from the CBSA's policies and procedures to its compliance with the law to the reasonableness of the use of its powers.

This is about accountability and transparency. To parse why this is so important, we must take a look at the rapidly-changing context of the CBSA.

On a daily basis, CBSA officers interact with thousands of Canadians and visitors to Canada at airports, land borders, crossing ports and other locations. To put that in numbers, that is 96 million interactions per year with travellers and $32 billion per year in duties and taxes, according to the 2017-18 statistics. That is 27.3 million cars, 34.5 million air passengers and 21.4 million commercial releases. All of that happens at 13 international airports, 117 land border crossings, 27 rail sites and beyond. This will only increase. That is why the government introduced a federal budget last year proposing investments of $1.25 billion for the CBSA to help modernize some of our ports of entry and our border operations. After all, we know that business at the border never stops and is growing year after year.

As hon. members know, ensuring that business continues while protecting Canadians requires CBSA officers to have the power to arrest, detain, search and seize, and the authority to use reasonable force when required. We know that Canada's over 14,000 CBSA officers are truly world class, providing consistent and fair treatment to travellers and traders.

However, as business grows along with demands for accountability, the CBSA cannot reasonably be expected to handle all the complaints on its own, nor should Canadians expect it would. Currently, complaints about conduct and the service provided by CBSA officers are handled internally. If an individual is dissatisfied with the results of an internal CBSA investigation, there is currently no mechanism for the public to request an independent review of these complaints. Bill C-3 would neatly remedy all of this. For example, such an individual would be able to ask the PCRC to review his or her complaint. At the conclusion of a PCRC investigation, the review body would be able to report on its findings and make recommendations as it sees fit. The president of the CBSA would be required to respond in writing to the PCRC's findings and recommendations.

The PCRC would also accept complaints about the conduct and service provided by CBSA employees from detainees held in CBSA facilities. These could include complaints related to treatment and conditions in detention.

On the rare occasion that there be a serious incident involving CBSA personnel, Bill C-3 would legislate a framework to not only handle and track such incidents, but also to publicly report on them. It would in fact create an obligation for the CBSA to notify local police and the PCRC of any serious incident involving the CBSA officers or employees. As I have noted, the legislation would also allow for the PCRC to review, on its own initiative or at least at the request of the minister, any non-national security activity of the CBSA.

National security activities would be reviewed by the new national security intelligence review committee, which is the National Security Intelligence Review Agency, or NSIRA. As colleagues know, the NSIRA is responsible for complaints and reviews relating to national security, including those relating to the RCMP and the CBSA. Members will see provisions in Bill C-3 that would facilitate information sharing and co-operation between the PCRC and NSIRA.

I would point out that the PCRC would not have the authority to review, uphold, amend or overturn enforcement, trade or national security decisions made with the CBSA, nor would it consider complaints that could be dealt with by other organizations, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages or the Office of the Privacy Commission. What it would do is provide a reasonable, long-sought-after framework to build accountability in our public safety agencies and trust among Canadians.

As I close, I would like to point out that this is the latest in a line of recent measures to enhance accountability in our national security apparatus. The former Bill C-22 led to the creation of the now operational National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which has a broad mandate to review national security and intelligence organizations.

The former Bill C-59 led to the creation of the NSIRA. NSIRA now has the authority to review any activity carried out by CSIS or the Communications Security Establishment and any national security or intelligence-related activity carried out by federal departments and agencies.

All of this amounts to unprecedented enhancements in our national security accountability, on top of the government's creation of a national security transparency commitment, which is all about integrating Canada's democratic values into our national security activities.

These measures build on the government's broad national security consultations in 2016, which sought to engage Canadians, stakeholders and subject matter experts on issues related to national security and the protection of rights and freedoms. In those consultations, four-fifths, or 81%, of online responses called for independent review mechanisms for departments and agencies that have national security responsibilities, including the CBSA.

This outline should provide some rationale for bipartisan support for Bill C-3 by parliamentarians, academics, experts and stakeholders alike and other Canadians. Our security and intelligence communities must keep pace with evolving threats to the safety and security of Canadians and with a rapidly changing border environment. They must do so in a way that safeguards our rights and freedoms, and the people's trust in how the government works. That is why I ask the House to join me in supporting Bill C-3 today.

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February 6th, 2020 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, this is the first time I have had an opportunity to speak during this 43rd Parliament, so I want to take a moment to thank my constituents from the beautiful riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

Members certainly would not be in this place without the hard work of many people, and I am very blessed to have had a tremendous team of volunteers that supported me during the summer and fall of 2019. I want to thank each and every one of them. I want to thank my constituents, the volunteers, the donors and riding associations because they worked with me hand in hand to make this a reality. It has truly been the honour of my life to represent the great folks of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe.

I rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-3, an act that would create a public review and complaints commission, which would provide Canadians with added accountability measures.

Before I proceed, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the work currently performed by front-line officers at our airports, who work tirelessly to protect us from the coronavirus. Though the risk to Canadians remains low, we do not often take the time to commend those who dedicate their time and effort to keeping us safe, day in and day out.

Looking at the months and weeks to follow, there will be long weekends and March breaks. Many of my constituents will visit another province or territory to see family, cross the border for weekend shopping or leave the continent altogether to go on a well-earned vacation. However, if they do decide to travel I, like other members in the House, want my constituents to have a hassle-free and stress-free experience.

I know that during the course of the debate on policies and legislation, there are often partisan disagreements and arguments. However, when it comes to this bill, I am pleased to say that so far we have seen non-partisan support which, to me, is very encouraging. I thank all members for helping to make this bill as strong as possible as we move forward.

Thus far, we have come to agreement on a few items. First is the tremendous quality of the work undertaken by our border officers and the CBSA. Second is the necessity of ensuring that any negative, or otherwise unprofessional, experiences can be independently heard and reviewed.

We have heard from other members that the CBSA processes millions of travellers and shipments every year at multiple points across Canada and abroad. When looking at 2018 and 2019 statistics, this included 96 million travellers. That is an astonishing number. They also looked at 27.3 million cars, 34.5 million air passengers and 21.4 million commercial releases. Every day, at 13 international airports, 117 land border crossings, 27 rail sites and beyond, CBSA officers provide consistent and fair treatment to travellers and traders.

Our border officers are the first point of contact in Canada for visitors and for Canadians who are returning home. What is more, these officers are responsible for maintaining the integrity of Canada's borders. This means that their work is essential to our country's well-being. In this day and age, border security management is a key concern for the government and for Canadians.

Other public safety organizations in Canada, such as the RCMP and Correctional Service of Canada, are already subject to independent review. Globally, border agencies in a number of countries, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and France, are subject to external review. Addressing the accountability gaps through Bill C-3 would improve the CBSA and strengthen public confidence in the agency.

I should indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga—Streetsville.

The legislation would ensure that the public could continue to expect consistent, fair and equal treatment by CBSA employees, and that funding would include support to modernize some of our land, ports of entry and border operations with the goal of both ensuring efficiency and enhancing security.

Under Bill C-3, complaints would be handled by a new arm's-length public complaint and review commission. The PCRC would be able to receive and investigate complaints from the public regarding the conduct of CBSA officials as well as the service provided by the CBSA. Now, if any of my constituents have a particular unprofessional experience, they can be assured that an independent review can occur.

This bill is very similar to Bill C-98 from the last Parliament, and it received all-party support at third reading. Whereas concerns were expressed about the timing of introduction, we were proud to make introducing Bill C-3 one of the first pieces of legislation during this Parliament.

We also incorporated feedback that we received, such as ensuring that a chairperson-initiated review would have access to the same information that the CBSA review has.

On a question from the opposition in the last Parliament, the CBSA union has been contacted already and there will be, at some point, the ability to compel oral or written evidence on oath or solemn affirmation.

Under Bill C-3, the PCRC would publish an annual report covering each of its business lines, the CBSA and the RCMP and resources devoted to each.

This bill aligns with other commitments to improve accountability and transparency. The creation of the PCRC is long overdue. Independent review legislation was proposed in the previous two Parliaments, both in the other place and in this House. Amnesty International Canada's 2018 report card noted that the CBSA remained the most notable agency with law enforcement and detention powers in the country that was not subject to independent review and oversight.

The professional men and women at borders would be well served by an independent review function for the CBSA. My constituents and the constituents of the other 337 members of Parliament deserve it as well.

That is why I encourage all members to join me in supporting this bill, Bill C-3, at second reading today.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2020 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Richard Lehoux Conservative Beauce, QC

Madam Speaker, as this is my first speech, I would like to say hello to the people in my riding of Beauce. I thank them for the opportunity to bring their issues to Ottawa. I have always been proud of the fact that I am from Beauce and I accept with humility the unique opportunity to represent my constituents.

I would especially like to thank my wife, Ginette, my children, grandchildren and my entire family. Without them I would definitely not have been able to get through this campaign, which I found to be very long.

I would also like to acknowledge the members of my team, Derek, Marco and Alexandre. I thank them for minding the store while the House is sitting. I especially want to thank France, who supported me throughout the campaign and who continues to be the rock for my team. I also thank Myriame, Scott and the volunteers for their invaluable assistance during the election campaign. During the campaign I often said that it is faster to go alone, but we can go further together.

I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, which will create a review body that is at arm's length from the Canada Border Services Agency.

This bill was formerly known as Bill C-98, which the government tried to ram through the last Parliament, no doubt because it wanted to boast about keeping an election promise. Although we are not opposed to Bill C-3, there is still work to do, and it must be done properly.

Interestingly, in the last Parliament, the Liberals waited before following through on their 2015 promise. Right at the end of their term, they pressured all the parties to hurry up and pass Bill C-98.

The Liberals are back at it this time around with Bill C-3. I congratulate them on introducing it at the beginning of the new Parliament instead of doing like they did last time and sweeping it under the rug for their whole term only to make it a big emergency at the end.

Currently, complaints about the conduct of CBSA officers and their services are managed internally. If a member of the public is dissatisfied with the results of the CBSA's internal investigation, that person has no other way to ask for an independent review of the complaint.

I repeat, as with Bill C-98 in the past, our party does not oppose Bill C-3. Canadians expect oversight of our law enforcement agencies. A public complaints commission will improve general oversight and help the CBSA exercise its powers, duties and functions even more effectively.

Our mission is to ensure that the government always keeps Canadians safe. That said, as I mentioned a little earlier in my speech, that work must be done properly.

A few questions remain unanswered, and I hope the government will answer them for Canadians. What bothers me is that Jean-Pierre Fortin, the national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said he was not consulted about this legislation.

Why did the government not ask for input from people working on the front lines, the ones who will be monitored by a new oversight body that will also oversee the organization that represents them?

In my view, a good employer presents its vision, rather than imposing it. Perhaps the government needs to sit down with Mr. Fortin in order to do its job properly.

While I was preparing my speech, I was surprised to learn that only seven witnesses testified on the last Parliament's Bill C-98.

Other than the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the witnesses included the chairperson, general counsel and senior director of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the counsel for the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the acting director general of the law enforcement and border strategies directorate. Those five people report directly to the minister.

Let me repeat what I said before: Is it not imperative that the government present its proposals to people on the front lines instead of making people in its entourage testify? It is the government's duty to consult those affected by the changes, if only to ensure that it is on the right path and not just going by what people in the inner circle say.

I also have a concern about deadlines for processing complaints under Bill C-3. Currently, when we send in forms for our constituents, the delays drag on forever. Whether it is about immigration or employment insurance, people in our riding encounter never-ending wait times.

Once the new organization is in place, can the government guarantee that the complaints process will not drag on forever?

In 2017 and 2018, nearly 40,000 people crossed the border illegally as a result of a tweet from the Prime Minister. Although the government said that those numbers dropped by 15% in 2019, the high volume of arrivals caused major problems for border services officers on the ground and for the CBSA, which had to deploy an incredible amount of resources to Roxham Road and other crossings.

What is worse, Jean-Pierre Fortin, who, as I mentioned earlier, is the president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said that there was a resurgence in illegal border crossings at Roxham Road over the holidays. There were twice as many as usual. CBSA officers have asked for additional staff for this year.

The border management system is overloaded, and that is causing problems. CBSA officers are doing their best to do their job properly. I hope that the government learned from the mistakes it made during its previous term in office. Had it introduced its bill properly the last time instead of trying to do it in a rush, we would not be in this position right now. The bill would have gone through the legislative process, and we could have focused our efforts on other bills that are just as important and require just as much attention as Bill C-3.

I hope the government demonstrates that it can do its job properly if it wants the official opposition to co-operate.

I will end my speech on a more personal note. Since we are talking about a bill on the Canada Border Services Agency, I would like to acknowledge the border services officers at the Jackman crossing, which is located in Saint-Théophile in my riding. I thank all border crossing employees for protecting our borders.

I would also like to acknowledge the members of the RCMP who came to my riding last summer to perform the Musical Ride during Saint-Elzéar's summer festival. The event, which is performed by 32 riders in dress uniform and their horses, attracted a crowd of over 2,000 people, young and old, on the wonderful sunny day of June 23, 2019.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2020 / 6:05 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I suspect that the numbers from the budget are more than what the member has just mentioned. We will get another opportunity through another budget. I believe that the government has not only brought through legislation but has also brought through some additional resources.

The member correctly said that this is not new legislation, because it was brought in last year in Bill C-98 and actually passed through. I am wondering if the member would agree that as we go into the standing committee, the government would be open to amendments. That is a positive thing. We have seen in the past that when good amendments were proposed, they received the support of the House.