An Act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

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

Status

First reading (House), as of Oct. 25, 2016
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment provides for the appointment of an Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency whose mandate is to receive and consider complaints about the Agency.

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.

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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 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Élisabeth Brière Liberal Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, if we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. I would add that this position has been repeated many times in the House, and not just when Bill C-98 was introduced.

On that note, I would also like to thank the senator who introduced Bill S-205 in 2015. That bill set out a number of the recommendations that we are proposing today.

Beyond the CBSA, our government's desire to improve the transparency and accountability of all our security agencies is clear.

For example, in 2013, a member proposed the creation of a national security committee of parliamentarians, but unfortunately the House rejected that proposal. The following year, a member introduced a bill that would have amended the National Defence Act in order to improve the transparency and accountability of the Communications Security Establishment.

Obviously, parliamentarians and Canadians want our intelligence and security agencies to be as accountable and transparent as possible. When our government took office in 2015, we knew we had to take action. During the government consultations on national security, experts and members of the public told us that we risked losing the trust of the public if our security agencies did not become more transparent and accountable.

After all, these measures create an effective and efficient government.

They help us oversee the exercise of authority and deliver results for Canadians.

The bill established the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, which is the heart of Bill C-59 and represents a historic change for Canada.

The creation of this agency resulted in an integrated and comprehensive review of all national security and intelligence activities, including broader access to information across the government.

The government also created the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, a group tasked with reviewing Canada's national security and intelligence organizations.

As members know, this committee now has extraordinary access to classified information so that it can scrutinize security and intelligence activities.

The creation of this committee filled a significant gap and allowed us achieve two objectives: guaranteeing that our security agencies are working effectively, and protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

The government also adopted a national security transparency commitment across government to give Canadians better access to information. All of these measures will help build public confidence in our security agencies. The RCMP, CSIS and Correctional Service Canada are already subject to solid accountability measures.

We know that similar steps have to be taken for our border agency.

We need a transparent system to ensure that complaints regarding the conduct and quality of services of CBSA employees are handled appropriately.

This is what Bill C-3 aims to do.

This bill would build on all of the government reforms I mentioned earlier and would increase the accountability of our national security apparatus.

Canadians can rest assured that an independent review body would be handling complaints relating to the conduct of border officers.

Bill C-3 would expand and strengthen the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, the CRCC, which is the RCMP's review agency. This commission would become the public complaints and review commission. The new commission would be responsible for handling complaints and reviews for the Canada Border Services Agency and for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Anyone interacting with CBSA employees who wishes to file a complaint about the employee's conduct or quality of services would be able to go through this enhanced commission.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission could also conduct reviews of the Canada Border Services Agency of its own initiative or at the request of the Minister of Public Safety. However, matters of national security would be addressed by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency with help from the CRCC.

Departments and agencies within Canada's public safety community are very familiar with this new transparency and accountability model. I know that they understand that their ability to respect this model has a direct impact on public trust, their credibility and their day-to-day activities.

The government knows that with the creation of the independent mechanism proposed in Bill C-3, Canadians will be much more comfortable filing a complaint. We will thereby greatly improve the accountability of our public safety apparatus' oversight mechanism.

I encourage all members of the House to join me and support Bill C-3 at second reading.

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February 6th, 2020 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Emmanuella Lambropoulos Liberal Saint-Laurent, QC

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

I appreciate the opportunity to rise today and speak to Bill C-3, our proposed accountability legislation for the Canada Border Services Agency.

Specifically, this bill would establish an independent, arm's-length public complaints and review body for the CBSA. This is important and overdue.

This bill follows the efforts of Wilfred Moore, who proposed Bill S-222 and Bill S-205 to provide oversight for the actions of CBSA employees. This bill has been reintroduced in the House after its former iteration, Bill C-98, received all-party support during third reading in the last Parliament.

As we all know, the CBSA has repeatedly been singled out for the lack of independent oversight over some of its activities. Filling that accountability gap is the right thing to do in any democracy. It would also improve the public's trust and confidence in an agency that not only helps to keep the public safe but also deals with the public on a daily basis.

Many of our constituents travel for work or leisure. They expect and deserve a relatively uneventful experience when receiving border services.

Let me be clear: The CBSA does excellent work while operating in a complex and challenging environment. As I followed the debate with great interest, I was pleased to hear praise and recognition from members of this House for the agency and its dedicated employees.

More than 14,000 people work for the CBSA. Some employees have behind-the-scenes jobs, working on investigations of suspected criminals, national security cases and organized crime groups. Others have a more visible role, including the more than 6,500 uniformed CBSA officers. Many of these officers engage with the public at various ports of entry to Canada.

The CBSA manages 117 land border crossings, more than half of which operate on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week. The agency also operates at 13 international airports, and its officers perform operations at 27 rail sites. In addition to this, CBSA officers carry out marine operations at the ports of Halifax, Montreal and Vancouver, among others, and at numerous marinas and reporting stations.

The CBSA's work goes well beyond its presence at our ports of entry. For example, it processes and examines international mail at three processing centres. Its officers enforce laws and regulations that involve nearly every sector of Canadian society, including our agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors. It has a very broad and wide-ranging mandate.

In fulfilling that mandate, CBSA employees engage with large numbers of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals. In 2018-19 alone, they engaged with more than 96 million travellers. That is in addition to the over 19 million commercial shipments and more than 54 million courier shipments they processed last year. It is a world-class agency.

These numbers are a testament to the CBSA's diligent, hard-working employees. In almost all cases, the services they provide to the public are beyond reproach, but, as with any organization of its size and scope, incidents do arise from time to time. The CBSA has procedures in place to handle complaints about the public's experiences in dealing with the agency. Currently, these complaints about service or employee conduct are handled internally. If there is dissatisfaction with the results of an internal CBSA investigation, there is no mechanism for the public to request an independent review of a complaint.

That is where Bill C-3 comes in. It proposes to establish a strong and independent review mechanism for the CBSA called the public complaints and review commission, or the PCRC. We would not be starting from scratch with the PCRC, because it would incorporate and build on the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. The new PCRC would handle complaints from the public about its interactions with and the services provided by both the CBSA and the RCMP.

Here is a brief overview of how the proposed PCRC would work. The PCRC would notify the CBSA of any complaint it receives from the public. The CBSA would likewise inform the PCRC of any complaint it receives directly from the public. In most cases the CBSA would conduct an initial investigation of the complaint.

Of course, it is possible that someone making a complaint would not be satisfied with the way the initial complaint investigation was handled by the CBSA. Bill C-3 accounts for this. It would allow those filing complaints to submit a request to the PCRC for a complaint review. This request would need to be submitted within 60 days of receiving notice from the CBSA of the outcome of the complaint.

This bill would also give the PCRC the power to conduct its own investigation of a complaint. It could choose to do so if it receives or is notified of a complaint received by the CBSA and believes a PCRC investigation would be in the public interest.

In these cases, the CBSA would not begin an investigation into the complaint. If an investigation had already been launched, it would be terminated. As its name suggests, the PCRC would also play an important review role for the CBSA. The PCRC would be able to review any of the CBSA's activities, with the exception of those involving national security matters. That is to avoid duplication of work with the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, as well as the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

All other areas of CBSA activity would be subject to the PCRC review. The PCRC would be free to make its own decisions about what to review. A request for review could also come from the Minister of Public Safety.

I am proud to stand with a government that is committed to ensuring all of its departments and agencies are held accountable. It has been clear for quite some time that an accountability gap exists when it comes to some of the core functions of the CBSA. Right now the CBSA investigates complaints about its own conduct and service. That system certainly cannot be expected to inspire trust and confidence among Canadians.

Bill C-3 would make things right by creating a public complaints and review commission. This would be a body that people could turn to if they have comments or complaints about their experiences with the CBSA, and crucially, it would be completely independent.

That is why I wholeheartedly endorse this important piece of legislation and look forward to seeing it move through the parliamentary process during this session. I encourage hon. members of the House to join me in supporting this bill.

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February 6th, 2020 / 4:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I would like to say it is wonderful to see you in that chair again. I am looking forward to following the great work that you have been doing in this Parliament and many others in the past.

I welcome the opportunity to add my voice to the debate of Bill C-3 at second reading. This bill would establish a public complaints and review commission by making amendments to the CBSA Act and the RCMP Act.

This is a tool for people to be heard. It would build on the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, which is the independent review and complaints body for the RCMP. This new commission would then consider public complaints about both CBSA and RCMP employee conduct on service issues, except those related to national security. The review of national security activities is conducted by the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.

For nearly 16 years, the CBSA has been an integral part of how we protect Canadians and maintain a peaceful and safe society. The over 14,000 women and men of the CBSA provide trusted, fair and equal treatment to the public they serve every day.

Most, if not all, of us here in the House interact with CBSA employees multiple times a year, if not every week. That might occur at one of the 117 land border crossings CBSA manages, at one of the 13 international airports at which it operates, at one of Canada's numerous marinas or major ports, or at one of 27 rail sites across the country.

In fiscal year 2018-19 alone, CBSA employees interacted with over 96 million travellers, conducted over four million traveller examinations, processed over 21 million commercial shipments and 46 million courier shipments. Their jobs include interdicting illegal goods, protecting food safety, enforcing trade remedies and removing or detaining those who may pose a threat or are otherwise inadmissible. I know I speak on behalf of all of us in the House when I commend their professionalism and dedication.

If I ever had a complaint to lodge against any government agency, I would like to be assured that the complaint was investigated and assessed independently. That is what citizens of our peer countries have come to expect, and it is what Canadians should expect as well.

Bill C-3 would fill a gap in our security review landscape. The CBSA is the only organization in the public safety portfolio without its own review body. The review mechanism we are proposing has long been sought after.

Allow me to take a look at the support for creating such a body. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has said, “we have joined the call for independent monitoring and oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency in relation to migrants and other foreign nationals in detention.” That is on top of similar calls to action from civil liberties associations and refugee lawyers, to name just a few. That is on top of numerous calls to enhance CBSA accountability and transparency.

In December 2015, the Hon. Senator Moore introduced Bill S-205 in the other place, proposing the creation of an inspector general to consider such complaints. In that same year, the report by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled “Vigilance, Accountability and Security at Canada's Borders”, made a similar recommendation. The committee recommended that the “Government of Canada establish an independent, civilian review and complaints body for all Canada Border Services Agency activities.”

We took that one step further. With respect to national security activities, we have brought into force a separate National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. That agency has the authority to review national security and intelligence-related functions across government, including the CBSA. To be clear, Bill C-3 would allow for independent review of non-national security activities only.

The new public complaints and review commission would not only be required to investigate complaints it receives, but would also be able to conduct its own investigations, self-initiate complaints and produce an annual public report on its findings. These are all welcome and long-sought-after changes.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine any major contentions with this bill. It fills the critical gap in providing an independent review for complaints relating to CBSA employee conduct and service. It ensures all immigration detainees have access to an independent complaints mechanism. It provides ongoing capacity for conducting reviews that can lead to organizational enhancements. It clarifies the framework governing CBSA's response to serious incidents. It enhances accountability and transparency, and promotes public confidence. It brings us in line with our Five Eyes allies in other developed countries and their processes.

Our government is committed to creating robust accountability and transparency mechanisms that ensure the public is confident in our public safety institutions. That is important for Canadians, including for the trade and travel communities within Canada. It is also important for the CBSA. The proposed new public complaints and review commission would be accessible to all individuals who interact with CBSA employees. This would impact thousands of people daily and tens of millions annually.

Bill C-3 is thorough, comprehensive legislation that neatly responds to the calls to action of many over the years. I encourage all members to join me in supporting this bill and moving it through Parliament in this sitting session.

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February 6th, 2020 / 3:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Majid Jowhari Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mississauga—Erin Mills.

As it is my first time rising in the 43rd Parliament, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the constituents of Richmond Hill, who bestowed on me the honour of representing them in the House. I thank my campaign manager, my riding association executive and the over 100 volunteers and friends who worked so hard to help me get re-elected.

I would especially like to acknowledge and thank my wife Homeira; my daughter Nickta and my son Meilaud, who have supported me in my political life over the past five years.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to rise at second reading of Bill C-3. The bill proposes to create an independent review and complaint mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency, the CBSA. I would like to highlight five significant components of the bill.

First, it would provide for civilian oversight.

Second, it would strengthen the accountability and transparency of the CBSA.

Third, it would ensure consistent, fair and equal treatment to all when receiving services.

Fourth, it would complement and align with other measures being taken by our government to create independent review functions for national security agencies.

Fifth, it would close a significant gap with the other Five Eyes international border agencies.

Such mechanisms help to promote public confidence by strengthening accountability. They ensure that complaints regarding employee conduct and service are dealt with transparently. CSIS, the RCMP and the Correctional Service of Canada are already subject to that kind of accountability.

Among the organizations that make up Canada's public safety portfolio, only the CBSA does not currently have a review body to handle public complaints. Bill C-3 would fill that glaring gap and build on recent accountability and transparency reforms introduced by the Government of Canada.

One of those reforms is the newly created National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. This new body addresses a long-standing need for parliamentarians to review the government's national security and intelligence activities and operations, including those involving the CBSA. Its members have unprecedented access to classified information.

As the Prime Minister has said, it “will help us ensure that our national security agencies continue to keep Canadians safe in a way that also safeguards our values, rights, and freedoms.”

The government has also brought into force a new expert review body, thanks to the passage of Bill C-59, called the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.

This new agency will greatly enhance how Canada's national security agencies are held to account. It will establish a single, independent agency authorized to conduct reviews on national security and intelligence activities carried out by departments and agencies across the Government of Canada, including the CBSA.

The legislation before us today would go one step further by establishing an independent review and complaints function for the CBSA's other activities. Those activities play a critical role in our country's security and economic prosperity. They facilitate the efficient flow of people and goods across our border to support our economy, while protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

In keeping with its sweeping mandate, the scale of the CBSA's operations and the number of people and goods it deals with are enormous. CBSA employees deliver a wide range of services at more than 1,000 locations, including 117 land border crossings, 13 international airports and 39 international offices.

The agency's employees are diligent and hard-working. In 2018-19, they interacted with more than 96 million travellers and processed more than 19 million commercial shipments and 54 million courier shipments.

The vast majority of the CBSA's interactions and transactions go off without a hitch. However, when dealing with more than a quarter of a million people each day, and nearly 100 million each year, the occasional complaint is inevitable. Each year the CBSA recourse directorate receives approximately 2,500 complaints concerning employee conduct and services.

Last summer, as I was knocking on doors in my riding of Richmond Hill, I talked to many residents, Canadian citizens and permanent residents alike, who regularly crossed the borders to and from the U.S. They shared their challenges with wait times, extensive and intrusive repeated questioning and the feeling of inferiority that it left them with. Repeatedly, they raised their concern about their inability to get answers about the way they were treated and their frustration with the lack of an independent body to raise their concerns.

However, as I noted earlier, there is currently no independent review body that people can turn to when they are unsatisfied with the level of service or the conduct of an officer at the border. That accountability gap has generated considerable public interest and been regularly raised by parliamentarians.

On that note, I would like to recognize and thank the now-retired Wilfred Moore for his advocacy on this issue with the introduction of Bill S-205 in the other place.

There have also been numerous calls by stakeholders and NGOs to improve CBSA accountability and transparency. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that it considered “such a gap as being incompatible with democratic values and with a need for public trust in such an important agency.”

According to the late Professor Ron Atkey of York University, the lack of CBSA oversight presented “a problem in the makeup of the current security intelligence review mechanism”. He added that the creation of the committee of parliamentarians should not be considered as a substitute for independent expert review bodies, which he suggested should be extended to cover CBSA.

That is exactly what Bill C-3 would do. It proposes to establish an independent review mechanism for the CBSA by expanding and strengthening the existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, or CRCC. The CRCC is currently the review agency for the RCMP.

To reflect its proposed new responsibilities under Bill C-3, it will be renamed the public complaints and review commission, or PCRC. The proposed new PCRC will be responsible for handling reviews and complaints for both the CBSA and the RCMP. The PCRC will be accessible to anyone who interacts with CBSA employees and has complaints about the conduct of CBSA officers and the quality of services.

The PCRC will also have the ability to conduct reviews of the CBSA on its own initiative or at the request of the Minister of Public Safety. Those reviews could focus on any activity conducted by the CBSA, with the exception of national security matters.

With the passage of Bill C-59, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency will be responsible for complaints and reviews relating to national security, including those involving the RCMP and CBSA. The PCRC will work in a complementary manner with the proposed new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. Provisions in Bill C-3 will facilitate information sharing and co-operation between the two bodies. If the PCRC were to receive those types of complaints, it would refer the complainants to the appropriate body.

By providing an independent arms-length mechanism for people to be heard, Bill C-3 would make them more comfortable to come forward with a complaint. That, in turn, would help ensure that Canadians would remain confident in the system of accountability for the agencies that work so hard to keep them safe.

That is why I urge hon. members of the House to join me in supporting this important legislation at second reading.

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January 29th, 2020 / 5:35 p.m.
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Oakville North—Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Pam Damoff LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-3, which seeks to establish a new, independent public complaints and review body for the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA. This represents another step forward in the government's commitment to ensuring that all of its agencies and departments are accountable to Canadians.

As a member of the public safety committee during the last Parliament, I am quite proud to have participated in legislation that made remarkable change and took the number of measures we took to ensure greater accountability of our security agencies and departments.

Two years ago, our Bill C-22 received royal assent, establishing the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. That addressed a long-standing need for parliamentarians to review the Government of Canada's activities and operations in regard to national security and intelligence. It has been in operation for some time now and is a strong addition to our system of national security review and accountability. As members will know, the committee has the power to review activities across government, including the CBSA.

To complement that, our committee studied our national security framework, as well as Bill C-59, which allowed for the creation of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, or NSIRA. NSIRA is also authorized to conduct reviews of any national security or intelligence activity carried out by federal departments and agencies, including the CBSA. All of this is on top of existing review and oversight mechanisms in the public safety portfolio.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP investigates complaints from the public about the conduct of members in the RCMP, for example, and does so in an open, independent and objective manner. The Office of the Correctional Investigator conducts independent, thorough and timely investigations about issues related to Correctional Service Canada.

Bill C-3 would fill a gap in the review of the activities of our public safety agencies. The existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, which is responsible for complaints against members of the RCMP, would see its name change to the public complaints and review commission and its mandate expanded to include the CBSA. It would be able to consider complaints against CBSA employee conduct or service, from foreign nationals, permanent residents and Canadian citizens, regardless of whether they are within or outside of Canada. Reviews of national security activities would be carried out by NSIRA.

Here is how it would work in practice. If an individual has a complaint unrelated to national security, she or he would be able to direct it either to the commission or to the CBSA. Both bodies would notify the other of any complaint made. The CBSA would be required to investigate any complaint, except those disposed of informally. The commission would be able to conduct its own investigation of the complaint in situations where the chairperson is of the opinion that doing so would be in the public interest. If an individual is not satisfied with the CBSA's response, the commission would be able to follow up as it sees fit.

The new PCRC would also be able to produce findings on the CBSA's policies, procedures and guidelines. It would also be able to review CBSA's activities, including making findings on CBSA's compliance with the law and the reasonableness and necessity of the exercise of its powers. Indeed, the commission's findings on each review would be published in a mandatory annual public report.

Bill C-3 not only fills a gap in our review system. It answers calls from the public and Parliament for independent review of CBSA. Most significantly, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, in its 2015 report, encouraged the creation of an oversight body. I would like to acknowledge Bill S-205 from our last Parliament, introduced in the other place not long after the government took office, which proposed a CBSA review body as well.

Certainly we have heard from academics, experts and other stakeholders of the need to create a body with the authority to review CBSA. During testimony at the public safety committee on December 5, 2017, Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International, said, “how crucial it is for the government to move rapidly to institute full, independent review of CBSA.” This was reflective of much of the testimony we heard, and I am pleased the government is acting on this advice. I would also like to acknowledge my colleague from Toronto—Danforth for her efforts and advocacy for the establishment of a CBSA review body.

The CBSA has a long and rich history of providing border services in an exemplary fashion. It does so through the collective contribution of over 14,000 dedicated professional women and men, women like Tamara Lopez from my community, who is a role model for young women looking for a career in the CBSA.

The CBSA already has robust internal and external mechanisms in place to address many of its activities. For example, certain immigration-related decisions are subject to review by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, and its customs role can be appealed all the way up to the Federal Court.

That said, when it comes to the public, the CBSA should not be the only body receiving and following up on complaints about its own activities. Indeed, some Canadians might not be inclined to say a word if they do not have the confidence that their complaint will be treated independently, objectively and thoroughly. Bill C-3 would inspire that confidence.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all of its agencies and departments are accountable to Canadians. Bill C-3 would move the yardstick forward on that commitment. It would bring Canada more closely in line with the accountability bodies of border agencies in other countries, including those of our Five Eyes allies.

The accountability and transparency of our national security framework has improved greatly since we were elected in 2015. This bill would continue these efforts by providing border services that keep Canadians safe and by improving public trust and confidence. Bill C-3 would ensure that the public continues to expect consistent, fair and equal treatment by CBSA employees. That is why I am proud to stand behind Bill C-3 today.

In the last Parliament, the House of Commons unanimously passed Bill C-98, which was a bill to bring oversight to CBSA. Although that bill died in the Senate, it is my hope that all parties will again come together to pass this bill.

I listened to the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner speak earlier in this debate. He spoke at length about firearms and his petition opposing our promise to make Canadians safer by enhancing gun control. I would remind him that almost 80% of Canadians support a ban on military-style assault rifles according to an independent Angus Reid survey.

I know he and his party supported oversight of the CBSA in the last Parliament. I hope he and all members will join me in supporting oversight in this Parliament under Bill C-3 and assure the bill's passage this session.

June 17th, 2019 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

In the spirit of brevity and efficiency, I think I will forgo the opportunity to put a 10-minute statement on the record and just speak informally for a couple of minutes about Bill C-98. Evan Travers and Jacques Talbot from Public Safety Canada are with me and can help to go into the intricacies of the legislation and then respond to any questions you may have. They may also be able to assist if any issues arise when you're hearing from other witnesses, in terms of further information about the meaning or the purpose of the legislation.

Colleagues will know that Bill C-98 is intended to fill the last major gap in the architecture that exists for overseeing, reviewing and monitoring the activities of some of our major public safety and national security agencies. This is a gap that has existed for the better part of 18 years.

The problem arose in the aftermath of 9/11, when there was a significant readjustment around the world in how security agencies would operate. In the Canadian context at that time, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency was divided, with the customs part joining the public safety department and ultimately evolving into CBSA, the Canada Border Services Agency. That left CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency, on its own.

In the reconfiguration of responsibilities following 9/11, many interest groups, stakeholders and public policy observers noted that CBSA, as it emerged, did not have a specific review body assigned to it to perform the watchdog function that SIRC was providing with respect to CSIS or the commissioner's office was providing with respect to the Communications Security Establishment.

The Senate came forward with a proposal, if members will remember, to fix that problem. Senator Willie Moore introduced Bill S-205, which was an inspector general kind of model for filling the gap with respect to oversight of CBSA. While Senator Moore was coming forward with his proposal, we were moving on the House side with NSICOP, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, by virtue of Bill C-22, and the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency which is the subject of Bill C-59.

We tried to accommodate Senator Moore's concept in the new context of NSICOP and NSIRA, but it was just too complicated to sort that out that we decided it would not be possible to salvage Senator Moore's proposal and convert it into a workable model. What we arrived at instead is Bill C-98.

Under NSICOP and NSIRA, the national security functions of CBSA are already covered. What's left is the non-security part of the activities of CBSA. When, for example, a person comes to the border, has an awkward or difficult or unpleasant experience, whom do they go to with a complaint? They can complain to CBSA itself, and CBSA investigates all of that and replies, but the expert opinion is that in addition to what CBSA may do as a matter of internal good policy, there needs to be an independent review mechanism for the non-security dimensions of CBSA's work. The security side is covered by NSICOP, which is the committee of parliamentarians, and NSIRA, the new security agency under Bill C-59, but the other functions of CBSA are not covered, so how do you create a review body to cover that?

We examined two alternatives. One was to create a brand new stand-alone creature with those responsibilities; otherwise, was there an agency already within the Government of Canada, a review body, that had the capacity to perform that function? We settled on CRCC, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, which performs that exact function for the RCMP.

What is proposed in the legislation is a revamping of the CRCC to expand its jurisdiction to cover the RCMP and CBSA and to increase its capacity and its resources to be able to do that job. The legislation would make sure that there is a chair and a vice-chair of the new agency, which would be called the public complaints and review commission. It would deal with both the RCMP and the CBSA, but it would have a chair and a vice-chair. They would assume responsibilities, one for the RCMP and one for CBSA, to make sure that both agencies were getting top-flight attention—that we weren't robbing Peter to pay Paul and that everybody would be receiving the appropriate attention in the new structure. Our analysis showed that we could move faster and more expeditiously and more efficiently if we reconfigured CRCC instead of building a new agency from the ground up.

That is the legislation you have before you. The commission will be able to receive public complaints. It will be able to initiate investigations if it deems that course to be appropriate. The minister would be able to ask the agency to investigate or examine something if the minister felt an inquiry was necessary. Bill C-98 is the legislative framework that will put that all together.

That's the purpose of the bill, and I am very grateful for the willingness of the committee at this stage in our parliamentary life to look at this question in a very efficient manner. Thank you.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2019 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

Green

Paul Manly Green Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to get up and speak to this important issue. I would like to start by recognizing the voters in Nanaimo—Ladysmith and thank them for seeing fit to elect me; and my team, my volunteers and my family, for supporting me through this process. This is my first time to have an opportunity to speak in Parliament. This is an interesting bill to get up and speak to.

My sister is a police officer. She has served some 23 or 24 years with the Ontario Provincial Police. She knows that when police are caught doing things they should not be doing it reflects poorly on all police officers. We need to respect the work that our men and women in uniform do: members of our armed forces, members of our police forces and members of the Canada Border Services Agency. It is very important to have oversight of these bodies, so that when there are legitimate complaints from citizens, they do not taint an organization.

I have just been reading a news article about a woman who was strip-searched coming into Canada and treated very poorly. There are many cases like this. When we cross the border, we enter a legal no man's land where we have no rights and we must do what we are told. When we are asked to hand over our cellphone and computer and give over the passwords, we are giving away some of our most personal information and letting people dig into our lives. When people are disrespected in this process, they need a proper way to complain about how they have been treated.

Bill C-98 would create an independent review and complaints mechanism for CBSA. This is very important. The objective is to promote public confidence in the system and for the employees. Those employees deserve to have confidence in their work and what they do. They deserve confidence and they deserve the respect of the public. The existing Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP would assume responsibility for review and complaints for the CBSA as well. It would be renamed as the public complaints and review commission, and be divided into RCMP units and a CBSA unit with similar powers, duties and functions and some modifications.

Why do we need this bill? Why do we need this oversight body? The CBSA is the only federal law-enforcement agency without an oversight body. It holds significant powers, including to detain, search, use firearms, arrest non-citizens without a warrant and conduct deportations.

We had a case in which the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands had to defend an indigenous man who was handcuffed, detained and taken away from his home during Christmas because he had an issue with his citizenship. He had been a resident of Penelakut Island and he was an indigenous person who has rights across the border. Indigenous communities and first nations in some cases do not recognize the border because the border is a false line that runs through their territories. For this person to be treated in this way, being bound, detained and forced from his home in this ruthless way, was highly problematic. It is important to have a complaints commission and somebody to review these kinds of cases and look at the conduct of the officers who were involved.

It is reported that the CBSA investigated over 1,200 allegations of staff misconduct between January 2016 and mid-2018. The allegations included sexual assault, criminal association and harassment. At least 14 people have died in custody since 2000. Those are incredible statistics, and a good reason why we need some oversight over this agency.

The public complaints commission would respond to a review conducted as a result of PMB S-205 in the 42nd Parliament, and the 2015 Senate report, “Vigilance, Accountability and Security at Canada's Borders”.

In the fall of 2016, the Minister of Public Safety announced the government's intention to address gaps in the CBSA's framework for external accountability, a feature already present in countries like the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and France.

I know we are getting late in this Parliament and we are early in the stages of this bill, but I think it is very important that we work on getting this through so that we can pass it before the House rises so there would be proper oversight of the Canada Border Services Agency. Then people would have a process to go through where they would have confidence, and other members of the CBSA would know there is a way for people who are bad apples in the system to have proper oversight over the kinds of actions they have taken, and the citizens of this country and the people travelling here can be confident that they will be treated with respect and dignity at our borders.

Private Members' Business—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

October 31st, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on May 12, 2017, by the hon. member for Winnipeg North concerning the possible requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to four private members' bills, two from the House of Commons and two from the Senate.

The Commons bills are Bill C-315, an act to amend the Parks Canada Agency Act, conservation of national historic sites account, standing in the name of the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and Bill C-343, an act to establish the office of the federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts and to amend certain acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix. Both bills are currently in the order of precedence at second reading.

The two Senate bills are Bill S-205, an act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act, Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth, and Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety, standing in the name of the hon. member for Guelph. Both of these bills are currently awaiting first reading.

Members will recall that on May 9, 2017, I made a statement in which I invited arguments in relation to these four bills. I would like to thank the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member for Guelph, and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington for their detailed interventions.

Of the four bills, Bill C-315, in proposing to establish a separate account as part of the accounts of Canada from which disbursements could be made, raises most clearly a question about the possible need for a royal recommendation. The other three bills, C-343, S-205, and S-229, are different. While they present schemes that could lead to new spending, all contain coming-into-force provisions designed to make such spending conditional on separate parliamentary appropriations. I will address Bill C-315 first, and then the other three.

Bill C-315 establishes a distinct account for the conservation of national historic sites, called the conservation of national historic sites account. The funds for this account are to be raised exclusively through private donations and from the interest generated from them. I should note that this fund seems to be separate from the pre-existing new parks and historic sites account, which serves a similar purpose and is also based, at least in part, on donations.

Bill C-315 also provides that the funds may be spent for specific purposes in relation to national historic sites. The parliamentary secretary contended that the creation of such a new account, and the authority to spend its funds on national historic sites, would be a new and distinct purpose that is not specifically authorized by any statute, thus clearly requiring a royal recommendation.

In making his case, the parliamentary secretary drew a parallel to the employment insurance fund. While nominally its own account, all amounts received and dispersed from the EI fund are deposited in and drawn from the consolidated revenue fund. Because these monies are part of the consolidated revenue fund, a royal recommendation is necessary to authorize any expenditure from it.

Although the situation with Bill C-315 is not entirely analogous to the EI fund, I believe that a similar principle still applies. Even if the monies are accounted for separately and raised exclusively through donations and interest generated from those donations, once collected, they become public funds deposited into the consolidated revenue fund. Any payments from this fund would also be drawn from the CRF. As the bill authorizes this spending for a specified purpose, it must be accompanied by a royal recommendation. Therefore, I find that the objections raised by the parliamentary secretary are well founded.

However, as is consistent with our practice with respect to Commons bills, Bill C-315 can continue through the legislative process as long as there is a possibility that a royal recommendation could be obtained before the final vote on the bill. Alternatively, the bill could perhaps be amended in such a way as to obviate the need for a royal recommendation. Absent one or other of these options being exercised, the question at third reading of the bill will not be put.

Let me now turn to the issues raised in the three other bills, namely S-205, S-229, and C-343. The parliamentary secretary argued that the bills in question were proposing new and distinct expenditures and that the accompanying coming-into-force provisions did not alter this fact. In support of this argument, he cited a Speaker’s ruling from November 9, 1978 about clauses in bills that seek to elude the requirement for a royal recommendation. Accordingly, it was his contention that the question could not be put at third reading on Bill C-343. Moreover, with respect to Bills S-205 and S-229, which originated in the Senate, both should be removed from the Order Paper since any bills appropriating public funds must originate in the House of Commons.

The member for Guelph argued, on June 20, 2017, that Bill S-229 is in order and should be allowed to proceed. First, he contended that no procedural authority exists to remove Bill S-229 from the Order Paper. To do so, the Chair would be relying exclusively on constitutional principles set out in sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, which, in his view, is contrary to the principle that the Chair does not rule on matters of constitutionality. He also contended that even if a royal recommendation were needed, the Chair should allow the bill to continue until the end of the debate at third reading, as is done for private members' bills first introduced in the House.

The member then turned to more substantive arguments about the bill, claiming that the coming-into-force clause ensured that it did not appropriate any part of the public revenue, as such appropriations would have to be granted through subsequent legislation. He further contended that it was not a “money bill”, but, and I quote, “merely contemplates the minister entering into an agreement but does not directly involve any expenditure”.

The hon. member for Perth—Wellington, on September 19, 2017, made a similar argument in relation to Bill C-344. In his view, it was clear that no money could be spent for the purposes set out in the bill unless and until such funds were appropriated by Parliament in a separate measure. He argued that the bill merely established the machinery under which some future expenditure might be made and that for this reason it did not require a royal recommendation.

As Speaker, I am mindful of my responsibility to provide members with the widest amount of latitude possible in bringing forward measures for consideration as long as these conform to our rules and practices. Their proposals may take the form of either motions or bills. The Chair would only intervene to prevent consideration of such items when they are clearly defective in some procedural way. One of the most important tests when it comes to bills that authorize spending is that they must first be introduced in the House of Commons and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation prior to final adoption. The key question in relation to these three bills is whether they authorize any spending. That is to say, would their adoption result in public funds being appropriated for new and distinct purposes?

The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out measures in each bill that he felt required a royal recommendation. Bill C-343 provides for the appointment of a federal ombudsman for victims of crime, with remuneration and associated expenses for the appointee, and the hiring and remuneration of the necessary staff.

As the member for Perth—Wellington mentioned in passing, this office already exists as a program within the Department of Justice and the ombudsman is appointed as a special advisor to the Minister of Justice pursuant to the Public Service Employment Act. What Bill C-343 proposes, I would argue, is different, insofar as it seeks to establish the ombudsman as a separate and independent office outside of the department. In such circumstances, a royal recommendation would be needed to properly implement the creation of this office and authorize spending to this end.

Bill S-205 proposes the appointment of a new inspector general of the Canada Border Services Agency, the appointee's remuneration, and associated employment benefits. These provisions, if implemented, would require new and distinct spending not currently covered by existing appropriations.

Bill S-229 seeks to authorize the designated minister to make regulations allowing for, among other things, the establishment of a funding program to enable notification centres and damage-prevention organizations to exercise the functions assigned to them under this act, potentially involving new expenditures not currently authorized. Excepting that certain clauses of each bill seem to involve potential spending for which a royal recommendation would ordinarily be required, the critical question is the impact of the coming-into-force clause.

The hon. member for Guelph and the hon. member for Perth—Wellington cited certain authorities and precedents to justify why a royal recommendation is not required. Beauchesne’s Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, at page 186, citation 613 reads:

A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted by Parliament, is not a money bill, and no royal recommendation is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.

The same publication, at page 185, citation 611, addresses the issue of Senate bills containing a clause that states that no money will spent as long as the necessary parliamentary appropriation is not secured. Specifically, it states:

A bill from the Senate, certain clauses of which would necessitate some public expenditure, is in order if it is provided by a clause of the said bill that no such expenditure shall be made unless previously sanctioned by Parliament.

All three bills explicitly provide that they cannot be brought into force until funds are appropriated by a subsequent act of Parliament, which would have to be initiated in the House of Commons and be accompanied by a royal recommendation. The adoption of these bills, then, does not authorize the appropriation of any funds from the consolidated revenue fund. They would establish a framework in law to establish the new offices proposed by Bill C-343 and Bill S-205, or to develop the system proposed by Bill S-229.

However, the crown is in no way obligated to spend money for these purposes. If, in the future, Parliament granted the necessary funds for these purposes, it would be doing so in the full knowledge that it would allow these measures to come into force. Such a granting of funds would have to be done pursuant to our normal financial procedures. This being so, the financial prerogatives of the crown and the privileges of the House of Commons are entirely respected.

It must also be recognized that the House has not had to deal with bills providing for conditional spending in recent years and certainly not since the significant changes to our practices surrounding private members' business made in 1994.

After careful consideration, I am of the view that a royal recommendation is not required, and that these three bills may continue along the usual legislative process. With that said, I believe it might be useful for the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to consider the matter of private members' bills that contain what I would call, for lack of a better term, non-appropriation clauses. The House would likely welcome any views that the committee would have to offer on this subject.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

September 19th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order in respect of the Chair's statement on May 9, 2017, concerning Bill C-343, an act to establish the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Criminal Acts and to amend certain acts, standing in the name of the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

Like you, I have spent all summer reflecting on the Speaker's comments at that point, and I am now prepared to offer comments on his provisions at that time.

The Chair drew the attention of the House to the presence of a provision in Bill C-343, namely clause 26 of the bill:

26(1) Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

(2) No order may be made under subsection (1) unless the appropriation of moneys for the purposes of this Act has been recommended by the Governor General and the moneys have been appropriated by Parliament.

At the heart of the Chair's concern is section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867, formerly the British North America Act, 1867, which requires the Governor General's recommendation for appropriations.

That constitutional provision is given procedural effect, and thus, jurisdiction for the Speaker through Standing Order 79(1), which was quoted in the June 20, 2017, intervention by the hon. member for Guelph.

Indeed, as the English constitutional scholar Sir Ivor Jennings once wrote:

In approaching the subject of financial control exercised by the House of Commons, we reach the borders of the realm where law, parliamentary privilege, and parliamentary custom are almost inextricably intertwined.

Over the course of 150 years, a number of procedural precedents concerning the crown's financial prerogatives have been accumulated. This is one area where we can more easily look back over the array of accumulated jurisprudence, because that piece of constitutional law, and the associated procedural rules, have not substantively changed since Confederation.

I draw your attention to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 6th edition, at citation 611, which provides that:

A bill from the Senate, certain clauses of which would necessitate some public expenditure, is in order if it is provided by a clause of the said bill that no such expenditure shall be made unless previously sanctioned by Parliament.

Reference is then made to the ruling of Mr. Speaker Cockburn, on April 5, 1870. Page 155 of the Journals records the following:

The last Clause in the first section, provides that nothing in this Act shall give authority to the Minister to cause expenditure, until previously sanctioned by Parliament; and this overrides the eighth section referred to by the Honourable Member. No contract could therefore be entered into under that section, which could bind the Government, and necessitate an expenditure of public moneys, unless it had been previously sanctioned by Parliament. He could not therefore sustain the objection of the Honourable Member for Chateauguay.

To be clear, the statutory language referenced was the proviso in section 1 of An Act to amend the Act relating to Lighthouses, Buoys and Beacons, which was quoted by the hon. member for Guelph.

By its own terms, subclause 26(2) of Bill C-343 would not give the Governor in Council, in this case, the authority to pass an order in council to bring the act into force unless and until such authority for expenditure, an appropriation, has been given by Parliament.

Turning back to Beauchesne's, let me quote citation 613:

A bill, which does not involve a direct expenditure but merely confers upon the government a power for the exercise of which public money will have to be voted by Parliament, is not a money bill, and no Royal Recommendation is necessary as a condition precedent to its introduction.

No reference is noted, but looking back to the fourth edition of Beauchesne's, the citation, there numbered as 277(2), refers to a ruling on February 23, 1912, at page 240 of the Journals.

In responding to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's point of order, the prime minister, Mr. Borden, as he then was, forcefully observed:

It does not appropriate any part of the public revenue, it does not appropriate one dollar of the public revenue for any such purpose. It merely does this: It provides that if parliament shall at any future time appropriate a certain sum of money for that particular purpose, then that money shall be expended by the Governor General in Council under the provisions of this Bill, according to the method now laid down in the Bill before the House. The provisions of this Bill are perfectly simple and plain and not to be misunderstood....

Therefore, it is apparent that before one dollar of public money can be expended under the provisions of this Bill, a resolution must be brought down in parliament, assented to by His Royal Highness the Governor-General, considered in Committee of the Whole, and be the foundation of a Bill which will alone justify any expenditure under this Act.

Therefore, to suggest, as the right hon. gentleman has done, that this is a Bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenues, seems to me to be entirely a misstatement of the case. The simple answer to it is, that without this Bill, if an appropriation were presented to this House, passed through Committee of the Whole and embodied in an Act of this parliament, the Governor General in Council would be left without any machinery whatever for the expenditure of that money. This Bill is solely designed to furnish machinery for the expenditure of a certain sum of money which may or may not be voted by parliament for that purpose. There is no question of the appropriation of one dollar of the public revenue of this country for this purpose until an appropriation Bill has been brought in founded upon a resolution which shall conform to section 54 of the British North America Act.

Mr. Speaker Sproule ruled in favour of Mr. Borden's argument. He stated:

My attention was drawn to the fact that when parliament could vote any money for that purpose, the resolution must pass through the usual course required for all money resolutions or Bills...That in my judgment seems to be ample guarantee for the House that it would have the full consideration that all money Bills have, and therefore I thought it unnecessary at the time that it should be introduced by a resolution. That was my opinion then, whether it was correct or not, and I still hold the same opinion.

One further passage from Beauchesne's sixth edition to offer, is citation 614, which reads:

A bill, designed to furnish machinery for the expenditure of a certain sum of public money, to be voted subsequently by Parliament, may be introduced in the House without the recommendation of the Crown.

That citation cross-references to Mr. Speaker Sproule's ruling on January 16, 1912, at page 118 of the Journals, based on an English precedent, which was described as “a motion for leave to bring in a Bill to enable the Government to acquire lands for public purposes, but not providing funds for the same. On objection being taken that the Bill "involved a charge upon the public," answer was made that the Bill only proposed to give the Government power to buy land, but for that power to be of any use an estimate must be voted in committee; that the Bill would not enable the Government to purchase any lands until the House, in Committee, had considered the Estimates and agreed to them; that the Bill did not authorize any public money although the expenditure was contemplated. The Speaker ruled that the object of the Bill was to take ground for certain purposes. It did not give them power to purchase the property.”

What Bill C-343 does is establish a machinery, though one might, more accurately, say that it merely confirms the existing machinery for the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, who currently works under the auspices of the Minister of Justice, whereby some future additional expenditure might, at a later date, be approved and undertaken to this end. The need for a later parliamentary appropriation to be separately enacted is clearly made out in subclause 26(2) of the bill.

Moreover, to safeguard the financial initiative of the crown, Bill C-343, if passed, will not become law until proclaimed by the Governor General in Council, and then only if the condition precedent of necessary appropriations being made is satisfied, which of course follows a recommendation by the same Governor General, acting on the advice of those same constitutional advisers.

As the Chair's statement noted, this condition precedent for a coming into force order is similar to provisions found in Bill S-205 and Bill S-229. Before the summer adjournment, the hon. member for Guelph tendered submissions on the latter bill.

Without commenting on the merits of those two bills, it does not appear, from a cursory search of Senate proceedings, that this coming into force clause is an entirely novel approach in that House, although it may be the first such provision to make its way to the House of Commons in recent years. To that end, it makes sense to explore how the other place has handled this issue.

Through its Rule 10-7, the Senate gives procedural footing to section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867. That rule reads, “The Senate shall not proceed with a bill appropriating public money unless the appropriation has been recommended by the Governor General.”

That rule is more trite than our own Standing Order 79(1), but it still applies the same principle. Therefore, how does that rule-addressing the constitutional principle in section 54 intersect with provisions worded like clause 26 of Bill C-343?

Page 155 of Senate Procedure in Practice informs us that:

In addition to the factors outlined in the above quotation, rulings have noted that a bill that would otherwise require the Royal Recommendation can proceed if it clearly provides that it does not come into effect until funds have been separately appropriated by Parliament.

In support of that proposition, footnote 181 references citation 611 of Beauchesne's, which I earlier quoted, as well as two rulings of Mr. Speaker Kinsella. The first ruling, delivered on May 27, 2008, and recorded at page 1086 of the Senate Journals, lays out the Senate Speaker's logic in working through the question. The hon. member for Guelph quoted a portion of it. Allow me to quote further parts of that ruling, which state:

The key to this issue is, of course, clause 52(2). Under this clause, most of the Bill cannot come into force until funds have been recommended by the Governor General and appropriated by Parliament for the purposes of the Bill. No expenditure whatsoever would thus be incurred by the mere passage of Bill S-234...

When the term “appropriation” is used, it is often used quite loosely. It does, however, have a narrower meaning. An appropriation is a sum of money allocated by Parliament for a specific purpose. As seen with supply bills, appropriations quite often fund entities whose legal framework has been separately established.

One must, therefore, consider whether Bill S-234 actually “appropriates” money within this meaning. As already discussed, funds for the purposes of Bill S-234 will have to be separately appropriated or voted by Parliament, on the Governor General's recommendation, before the Bill can enter into force.

Here comes the kicker:

Bill S-234 thus appears to respect fully the financial initiative of the Crown, since no funds are being or must be appropriated.

Later, Speaker Kinsella said:

Bill S-234 respects the financial initiative of the Crown, while allowing Parliament the opportunity to consider a new proposal. The Bill in no way incurs actual expenditures, it merely sets the stage for such expenditures to be incurred, if the Crown chooses to recommend them, and if Parliament chooses to appropriate these funds.

The second ruling, on May 5, 2009, found at page 564 of the Senate Journals, recalls the analysis in the ruling I just quoted and concluded:

The ruling on Bill S-230 is the same. The bill does not require a Royal Recommendation, since nothing can happen following its adoption until and unless funds have been appropriated”.

This line of logic is also followed by former law clerk and parliamentary counsel, Rob Walsh, in his 1994 Canadian Parliamentary Review article entitled, “Some Thoughts on Section 54 and the Financial Initiative of the Crown”, where he quoted from a former chief legislative counsel of the Department of Justice. He stated:

Sometimes bills are passed during a session for which no appropriation is made. In those cases we will usually put an appropriation clause in the bill because there has been no appropriation. In other cases, we do not have to put appropriations in the bill; we presume that Parliament will appropriate the moneys. If they do not appropriate the moneys, effectively the law will not operate.

Finally, I want to address the 1978 ruling of Deputy Speaker Gérald Laniel, cited by the government House leader's parliamentary secretary in his submission and answered by the hon. member for Guelph. Mr. Walsh offered this critical perspective of the decision, in the article I just referenced. He stated:

It is difficult to see why this should be so when passage of the bill, with a non-appropriation clause, would clearly indicate that an expenditure of public funds under the bill is not authorized.

Later in the article, Mr. Walsh argued the following:

In respect of a private member's bill containing a non-appropriation clause, the Speaker need only ask two questions: (a) would the bill, in the absence of the non-appropriation clause, require a royal recommendation? and (b) if so, is the non-appropriation clause sufficient to dispense with requiring a royal recommendation? In respect of the latter, the test should be whether the non-appropriation clause clearly disclaims authorization by Parliament to expend public funds for purposes of the bill. In the absence of an authorization by Parliament, no public funds may be expended: section 26, Financial Administration Act.

Additionally, Mr. Walsh advanced this thought:

It is also argued that such bills constitute an indirect demand for supply and would, if passed, leave the Crown bound to make a demand for supply for purposes of the bill and the Crown ought not to be put in a position where its financial initiative is compromised. In this connection, it is pertinent to note that the Crown has been known to not proclaim...into force an Act that has been passed by Parliament. If the Crown is not obliged—and evidently does not feel itself obliged—to bring into force an Act that Parliament has seen fit to enact, how can it say that enactment of a private member's bill with a non-appropriation clause leaves it obliged to exercise its financial initiative and to make a demand for supply? In short, this argument lacks credibility.

In conclusion, the authorities are clear that the legislative language used by the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix is an acceptable manner in which to proceed. It recognizes the government's exclusive rights concerning financial initiatives, while offering something of a turnkey statutory structure for the government to bring into force at a time of its choosing and in a manner entirely respectful of our constitutional rules concerning financial bills.

I may add as a way to sum up, that this is an important bill and if we look at the human side of things, we are looking at an ombudsperson for victims of crime and we need to think of those victims at all times, think of the impact that the legislation like this would have.

I offer this submission to you, Mr. Speaker, to take under advisement when ruling on the royal recommendation of the bill.

Private Members' BusinessPoints of OrderGovernment Orders

May 12th, 2017 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would ask for your patience in that I hope to get through two issues dealing with points of order raised earlier.

First, I am rising on a point of order respecting four bills on the order of precedence that require a royal recommendation. These bills include Bill C-315, respecting the conservation of national historic sites account; Bill C-343 , an act to establish the office of the federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts; Bill S-205, to appoint an inspector general of the Canada Border Service Agency; and Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety.

Without commenting on the merits of these bills, I submit that these bills contain provisions that infringe upon the financial prerogative of the crown.

Members will note that section 53 of the Constitution states that:

Bills for appropriating any Part of the Public Revenue...shall originate in the House of Commons.

Section 54 of the Constitution requires that bills that appropriate any part of the public revenue must be recommended to the House by the Governor General.

Standing Order 79(1) states that:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

I submit that all four bills stand in contravention to the Constitution and, more important for you, Mr. Speaker, to Standing Order 79(1).

Additionally, I would cite page 769 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which states, “An amendment intended to alter the coming into force clause of a bill, making it conditional, is out of order...”.

Bourninot, fourth edition, page 407, refers to the financial initiative of the crown as a constitutional obligation and states that “No principle is better understood than the constitutional obligation that rests upon the executive government, of alone initiating financial measures...”.

Erskine May, 21st edition, page 691, defines the financial initiative of the crown as the “long established and strictly observed rule of procedures, which expresses a principle of the highest constitutional importance, that no public charge can be incurred except on the initiative of the Crown...”.

The procedural authorities are clear. Bills that seek to appropriate monies for a new and distinct purpose must originate in the House and must be recommended to the House by the Governor General through a minister of the crown.

I therefore submit that the two aforementioned Senate public bills should be ruled out of order and the two private member's business bills should not be put to a vote at third reading absent a royal recommendation.

Both Senate public bills in question, as well as Bill C-343, contain a provision that prohibits the coming into force of the bill unless the appropriation of monies for the purposes of the act has been recommended by the Governor General and such monies have been appropriated by Parliament.

By including such a provision, it is an explicit acknowledgement that the bills require a royal recommendation.

Let me quickly review the provisions in each of these bills that would result in a new and distinct spending request.

Bill S-205 provides for the appointment of an inspector general of the Canada Border Services Agency.

Subclause 15.12(3) provides for the salary and expenses for the inspector general. Subclauses 15.12(4) and (5) provide for the pension benefits and other benefits under the Government Employees Compensation Act and regulations. These proposals are not authorized by any statute or appropriation.

Clause 17 of Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety, authorizes the minister to enter into agreements, including funding agreements, that the minister considers necessary for carrying out the purposes of the act. Subclause 17(2) provides greater detail around the operation of such funding agreements between the federal government and the provincial governments. These specific purposes are not authorized by any statute or appropriation.

Bill C-343, An Act to establish the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Criminal Acts and to amend certain Acts, would provide for an appointment of a federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts. The bill would also provide for remuneration, the payment of expenses related to duties and functions, and the hiring and remuneration of staff to assist the ombudsman in the discharge of his or her duties. These purposes are not authorized by any statute or appropriation.

Precedents clearly state that the establishment of a new body requires a royal recommendation. For example, the Speaker ruled on July 11, 1988, on the report stage amendments for Bill C-93, an act for the preservation and enhancement of multiculturalism in Canada, that two report stage motions were inadmissible because they would have established a new government department, which in turn would have resulted in significant new spending.

Precedents also show that a royal recommendation is required for the establishment of a new office. The Speaker ruled on February 11, 2008, on Bill C-474, respecting the Federal Sustainable Development Act, that:

Clause 7 of the bill provides for the governor in council to appoint 25 representatives to the advisory council. Section 23 of the Interpretation Act makes it clear that the power to appoint includes the power to pay. As the provision in Bill C-474 is such that the governor in council could choose to pay a salary to these representatives, this involves an appropriation of a part of the public revenue and should be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

With respect to the use of a provision in the bill to elude the requirement for a royal recommendation, the Speaker has ruled that this approach is unacceptable. On November 9, 1978, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-204, which included a clause stating:

Nothing in this act shall be construed as requiring an appropriation of any part of the public revenue.

The Speaker ruled that:

...the House should be cautioned that the Chair could not interpret the incorporation of such a clause in a private member's public bill as an acceptable way of eluding the requirement for a royal recommendation where such a recommendation is required.

I submit that the approach of eluding the requirement for a royal recommendation by tying it to a coming-into-force clause is a clear attempt to accomplish something indirectly that cannot be accomplished directly.

With respect to Bill C-315, respecting the conservation of national historic sites account, I submit that the bill's proposal to create a conservation of national historic sites account requires a royal recommendation.

Proposed subsection 22.1(4) would authorize that payments may be made out of the account. The creation of an account within the consolidated revenue fund requires a royal recommendation. The royal recommendation for such a fund would cover the purposes of the fund and the authority to make credits to the account as well as the authority to make payments out of the account.

The member may be attempting to assert that the fund would be separate from the consolidated revenue fund, but precedents demonstrate that all separate accounts are only notionally separate and are in fact part of the consolidated revenue fund. For example, the employment insurance operating account was established in accounts of Canada by the act. All amounts received under the act are deposited in the consolidated revenue fund and credited to the account. The benefits and the costs of administration of the act are paid out of the consolidated revenue fund and charged to the account.

On June 13, 2005, the Speaker ruled on Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (Employment Insurance Account and premium rate setting) and another Act in consequence. He said:

I have carefully reviewed the submissions to determine whether Bill C-280 in clause 2 does anything more than rearrange the method of accounting for public funds.... On close examination, it seems to the Chair that clause 2 in Bill C-280 involves more than accounting methodology.

...Bill C-280 effects an appropriation by spending or authorizing the spending of public funds by transfer of the funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to a separate EI Fund with the result that these monies are no longer available for other appropriations Parliament may make.

What Bill C-315 contemplates is the creation of a fund within the accounts of Canada for the purposes of spending to maintain national historic sites. The creation of such a fund and the authority to spend to preserve such historic sites would be a new and distinct purpose that is not specifically authorized in any statute or appropriation. Therefore, without a royal recommendation attached to the bill, it should not be put to a vote at third reading.

The procedural authorities and the precedents are clear that bills that seek to appropriate monies for a new and distinct purpose must originate in the House and must be recommended to the House by the Governor General through a minister of the crown.

Private Members' BusinessGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2017 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The Chair would like to take a moment to provide some information to the House regarding the management of private members' business.

As members know, after the order of precedence is replenished, the Chair reviews the new items so as to alert the House to bills which at first glance appear to infringe on the financial prerogative of the crown. This allows members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Accordingly, following the April 10, 2017 replenishment of the order of precedence with 15 new items, I wish to inform the House that there are two bills that give the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions they contemplate. They are Bill C-315, an act to amend the Parks Canada Agency Act (Conservation of National Historic Sites Account), standing in the name of the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, and Bill C-343, an act to establish the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Criminal Acts and to amend certain acts, standing in the name of the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

Additionally, on an exceptional basis, I would like to raise concerns regarding Bill S-205, an act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other acts, and Bill S-229, an act respecting underground infrastructure safety. Both bills have been sent to the House of Commons for consideration. The Chair expects that in due course they will be given first reading in the House, as is usually the case with bills sent to the House by the other place.

As members know, certain constitutional and procedural principles inform the Chair with respect to bills containing spending provisions that would require a royal recommendation, which are also known as “money bills”.

A fundamental requirement for bills of this nature is that they must originate in the House of Commons. Standing Order 80(1) embodies this important principle, stating:

All aids and supplies granted to the Sovereign by the Parliament of Canada are the sole gift of the House of Commons, and all bills for granting such aids and supplies ought to begin with the House, as it is the undoubted right of the House to direct, limit, and appoint in all such bills, the ends, purposes, considerations, conditions, limitations and qualifications of such grants, which are not alterable by the Senate.

This stipulation explicitly prohibits “money bills” from originating in the Senate. In the past, if a bill requiring a royal recommendation was passed by the Senate and sent to the House, the Chair has seen fit to interrupt all further consideration of the bill.

The Chair has specific concerns about the unusual manner in which Bill S-205 and Bill S-229 are structured. Essentially, they appear to contain spending provisions that would require a royal recommendation, but they both conclude with coming into force provisions that suggest otherwise.

Receiving such bills from the Senate is exceptional and rare. Indeed it may well be the first time the House is seized with such legislative measures. Parenthetically, Bill C-343, which I referenced earlier, contains a similar provision.

If, following an anticipated first reading of Bill S-205 and Bill S-229, the Chair determines that the bills are contrary to our usual rules and practices regarding money bills, I would be obligated to disallow them to be further considered in the House. Specifically, it would be incumbent on me to order them removed from the Order Paper and any consideration of them ended. This is distinct from the process for bills first introduced in the House that require a royal recommendation, which are allowed to continue to the end of third reading before the Chair interrupts their consideration. Such would be the case for Bill C-315 and Bill C-343, should the Chair conclude that they do indeed require a royal recommendation.

In view of these considerations, I would encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the concerns about these bills that I have raised today, or any of the other bills now on the order of precedence, to do so at the earliest opportunity.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Message from the SenatePrivate Members' Business

October 25th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill to which the concurrence of this House is desired: Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Canada Border Services Agency Act (Inspector General of the Canada Border Services Agency) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts