Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization Act

An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements)

Status

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

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Customs Act to exempt certain persons from the requirement to present themselves to a customs officer if

(a) they enter Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada on board a conveyance directly from outside Canada and then leave Canada on board the conveyance, as long as they did not land in Canada and the conveyance did not stop while in Canadian waters, including inland waters, or did not land while in Canada; or

(b) they leave Canadian waters, including the inland waters, or the airspace over Canada on board a conveyance and then re-enter Canada on board the conveyance, as long as they did not land outside Canada and the conveyance did not stop or land while outside Canada,

unless the officer requires them to comply with subsections 11(1) and (3) of that Act.

It also exempts the goods imported on board such a conveyance from the requirement to be reported at a customs office unless an officer otherwise requires. Further, it adds a regulation-making authority for defining the expression “make contact with a conveyance”.

Finally, this enactment amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by adding regulation-making authorities, including one for the exemption of certain persons or categories of persons from the requirement to appear for an examination to determine their right to enter or remain in Canada. It also allows an officer to require these persons or categories of persons to appear for such an examination despite that exemption.

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.

Public Safety and National SecurityPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Kanata—Carleton Ontario

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Senator Runciman's Bill S-233, conveyance presentation and reporting requirements modernization act.

This bill would relieve persons onboard conveyances, such as private boats, tour boats, cruise ships, and private aircraft, from having to report to the Canada Border Services Agency when they pass incidentally into or out of Canadian waters or airspace.

We are pleased that this bill has made such rapid progress through the Senate, where it passed unanimously, and the House. I would like to thank the standing committees of both Houses for their collaborative and expeditious deliberations.

Current Canadian law requires that all boaters report to the CBSA every time that they enter Canadian waters. This is in contrast to the United States, where boaters are only required to report their arrival to the United States Customs and Border Protection if they have docked at a foreign port or have had contact with another vessel in foreign waters.

Simple activities like fishing, water skiing, and touring do not trigger reporting requirements. The differences in American and Canadian reporting requirements have been a source of frustration for individuals who enjoy leisure activities and businesses that make a living on our shared waterways.

As the member opposite from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has rightly emphasized, international tourism is a key driver of Canada's economy. We must do everything we can to support and promote our tourist industry, and the small and medium-sized businesses that are its backbone.

Millions of Canadians rely on the tourism sector for employment, and that is why our government has made it a priority to promote Canada as a top destination in the global tourism sector. Making sure that more international tourists choose Canada would mean more jobs for Canadian youth and a boost for small businesses in every region of the country.

This bill would help us to market Canada as a destination of choice more effectively. It will do this by exempting private boaters or passengers on other water-borne craft from having to report to the CBSA when crossing into or out of Canadian waters for fishing, sightseeing, or other low-risk activities. Doing so would reduce the reporting burden on the boating community and align our marine reporting requirements with those of the United States.

This would bring great benefit to water-sports enthusiasts and businesses in communities on both sides of the border. People aboard boats, be they private craft, tour boats, cruise ships, or even whale-watching ships, would no longer be required to report to the CBSA in the following circumstances: when they do not land on Canadian soil, and when they do not let off existing passengers or take on board new passengers when in our waters. Cruise ships would clear passengers and crew at their first port of arrival in Canada and enable them to transit international or foreign waters between Canadian ports of call without requiring further CBSA processing. This bill would also apply to aircraft, which may cross incidentally into Canadian airspace without landing.

In sum, these changes would streamline reporting requirements, reduce administrative burden for low-risk activities, and align Canada's approach with that of the United States. The bill would do so while respecting our commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders.

During the course of the bill's development, parties on both sides of this House and the upper chamber agreed to strengthen reporting exceptions and to make certain that the CBSA and its law enforcement partners have everything they need to do their jobs effectively. As a result, amendments were made to apply the same set of newly proposed conditions under Bill S-233 to loop movements, which are cross-border movements in and out of Canadian, U.S., or international waters that return to the same place of origin; and direct transits, which are cross-border movements from one location outside of Canada to another location outside of Canada, or from one location within Canada to another location within Canada.

The amendments specify that people and goods not disembark the vessel or aircraft, and that the vessel or aircraft not anchor, moor, land, or make contact with another conveyance. This bill also makes explicitly clear that border services officers would retain similar powers that they have under both the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Customs Act.

This means that CBSA officers can continue to require people to answer customs or immigration questions regardless of whether they are exempted from reporting. Officers may ask, for example, to verify a person's goods, work permits, or other immigration documents, or they may compel an examination if they deem it warranted.

Both the CBSA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have confirmed that the bill respects their mandates and will allow officers to focus on higher priority reporting and monitoring activities.

Thanks to these important consultations and the collaboration of honourable senators and MPs, I am confident that this bill will reduce the burden on individuals and businesses without sacrificing public safety. It is not always easy to create a border that maintains the safety and security of Canadians while facilitating legitimate, low-risk activities and trade.

Bill S-233 achieves both of these objectives. Canadians and Canadian businesses will benefit from the streamlined and simplified system that it proposes.

I encourage all member of the House to vote in its favour.

Public Safety and National SecurityPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again to speak briefly about Bill S-233, why it is important, and why it is important that it be dealt with quickly by the House.

Bill S-233 would correct a long-standing problem on the waterways along our border with the United States, whereby pleasure boaters transiting these waters must check in at the Canada Border Services Agency's border crossings if they intend to stop or anchor in Canada. As I have outlined previously, this is an onerous restriction to pleasure craft operators, who may not know that they have drifted into Canadian waters while fishing or relaxing with their families, and it is a colossal waste of CBSA resources to try to track and charge offenders.

The current regulations were put in place during prohibition and have become an impediment to relations with our neighbours along the border, bringing Canada bad press and hard feelings, especially when innocent U.S. citizens are stopped, forced to lie in the bottom of their boats, and fined on the spot for breaking a regulation that they did not know existed. When this Parliament began, I introduced a private member's bill to correct the situation. My colleague in the Senate, Senator Bob Runciman, introduced a similar bill in the Senate that eventually became the bill in front of us today, Bill S-233.

I was pleased when the Senate not only considered Bill S-233, but provided speedy passage of it. It was thoroughly debated, and committee heard from witnesses from both sides of the border. That committee made some reasonable and excellent changes to make the bill better following consultation with the CBSA. It was quickly given third reading, approved, and sent to the House, where I have been pleased to sponsor it. The bill was supported by all parties in the Senate and was passed quickly to the House, where it has also been receiving speedy processing and all-party support. Just last week, it also passed through the public safety committee unanimously. I want to thank the Senate and my colleagues in the House for recognizing the importance of the bill and getting it passed before the summer boating season gets into full swing.

The current law has been a black eye for Canada for many years, and even the agency in charge of enforcing the law realizes how onerous and restrictive it has been both to enforce and defend. That is why the agency had a hand in amending the bill, to ensure that it not only meets the enforcement requirements, but is compliant with being a good neighbour.

While we are entitled to enforce any laws we see fit to protect our borders, transiting pleasure boaters are not our enemies. This bill recognizes that fact. I should point out that while the bill permits pleasure boaters to transit our waters, it still gives the CBSA the freedom to stop any vessel that it wishes if it suspects that something is amiss. Any transiting boater who subsequently decides to stop in Canada, drop anchor in Canadian waters, or tie up to another vessel, must still report to the CBSA. The bill would also clear up regulations in a few other areas, and will, for example, now permit whale-watching passengers to exit Canadian waters and return without requiring a CBSA inspection upon their return, provided they do not leave the vessel.

I do not want to take up too much of the House's time with this bill today. There has been much debate on this bill, and I am encouraged that there has been strong support from all sides of the House. I know all members agreed on the need for this change and I appreciate their support.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 8th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security concerning Bill S-233, an act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with an amendment.

June 7th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

We're going to do that. Luckily you're dealing with a committee that is very experienced at clause-by-clause. They're very effective at it. Also, as we begin our clause-by-clause, Justin is with me. He is our procedural clerk who does legislation. He's here to make sure that I don't make mistakes.

We'll go to the clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-233.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), we will postpone consideration of the short title, which is clause 1, and move to clause 2 of the bill.

(Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to)

(On clause 4)

On clause 4, are there questions or concerns?

June 7th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

I'm not understanding. It's clause-by-clause consideration on this bill, Bill S-233. That's what we're doing.

June 7th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Senator Bob Runciman Senator

Mr. Chair, it's an honour and a privilege for me to appear before this committee. I want to thank you for the invitation. I'm pleased to appear alongside my long-time friend, Gord Brown, on the bill, because this is a file we've worked together on for a number of years.

The bill, which amends the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, is the result of significant consultation and co-operation with Minister Goodale's office and the Canada Border Services Agency. I want to thank them for their help, and in particular, thank the minister for supporting this legislation.

Amendments suggested by CBSA and passed in the Senate have, in my view, made the bill simpler and more cohesive, and will strengthen border security.

Bill S-233 was introduced to deal with an overly bureaucratic requirement for boaters who cross from the United States into Canadian waters, but who do not land, anchor, or moor. Right now, occupants of a boat on a direct route from one place outside Canada to another place outside Canada do not have to report to Canada Border Services Agency when they cross into Canadian waters. Someone out fishing or pleasure cruising and who crosses into Canadian waters is required to report, even if they have no intention of stopping or coming to shore.

We have two sets of rules, depending on whether you are travelling directly from one place to another, or travelling in a loop by starting and finishing in the same place. The absurdity of the current reporting requirements became obvious approximately six years ago, when a fisherman from New York State was charged with failing to report to CBSA while drift fishing in the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River. He was threatened with the seizure of his boat unless he paid a $1,000 fine on the spot. Then he was driven to the border and had to phone relatives or friends to pick him up at the customs station on the Thousand Islands Bridge.

I have to tell you, as Gord and I both know, this caused an uproar on both sides of the border and has damaged cross-border relations. Although I don't agree with the approach that was taken in this case, I don't deny that the officers followed the letter of the law as it's currently written in the Customs Act.

That's why I introduced this bill, to bring Canadian law into line with the practice followed by United States officials, and to impose similar rules for those travelling directly from one place to another and those who might be just out sightseeing or fishing.

The current rules are confusing for both Canadians and Americans. Their enforcement in that infamous 2011 incident put a chill on relations between our two great countries and damaged the economy of the tourism-dependent region in which Gord and I live, the Thousand Islands.

Let me give you an example. According to Gary DeYoung, who is the director of tourism of the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, the number of short-term and non-resident fishing licences sold by vendors in New York State's St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties—and these are the types of licences sold to tourists—was more than 18,000 in 2010, but dropped to less than 11,000 in 2015.

In the Thousand Islands area, the border isn't marked, and it zigzags around some 1,864 islands. It's not always possible to tell which country you're in, and a requirement to report to customs immediately after entering Canadian waters, if you have no intention of stopping or coming ashore, is impractical to say the least. Rather than risk arrests for unwittingly crossing the border, some tourists have decided to just stay away.

My area is not unique. The border intersects a number of other rivers and lakes across Canada.

My goal was to bring some common sense to the reporting requirements, but I knew that it was vitally important not to jeopardize border security while doing that. In my view, Bill S-233 finds the right balance between freedom of movement and security.

Clause 2 of the bill amends subsection 11(5) of the Customs Act to exempt boaters who cross into Canadian waters from reporting to customs as long as they do not land, anchor, moor, or make contact with another conveyance. In addition, they must remain continuously on board the conveyance while in Canada. This clause will offer a similar exemption from reporting to CBSA for Canadian boaters who leave and then re-enter Canadian waters, as long as they remain continuously on board while outside Canada, and the boat did not land, anchor, moor, or make contact with another conveyance while outside the country.

Clause 3 of the bill amends subsection 12(5) of the Customs Act to apply the same rules to goods on board a conveyance. However, and this is an important element for anyone concerned about security, Canada Border Services Agency officers have the authority to require reporting in individual cases, both under the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This discretionary or residual power to require reporting when necessary is important to allow border services to fulfill their mandates and to maintain border integrity. For example, it will allow officers to require exempted persons to answer immigration questions.

When I introduced this bill, I recognized that adding an exemption to reporting required safeguards. That's why I included the provision that the exemption applied only if the boat did not anchor, moor, or make contact with another conveyance. As a result of an amendment at committee, those safeguards now have been extended to direct “point A to point B” travel, as well as to what are known as the loop movements, which I described earlier, when a boater is just out for a ride and starting and finishing from the same spot.

This not only strengthens border security, because direct travel faced no such restrictions before, but it also simplifies reporting requirements. Whether you're taking the shortest route between two destinations or whether you are fishing or pleasure cruising, you don't need to report unless, again, you anchor, moor, or land, or unless an officer makes a demand. The exemption would apply equally to an American entering Canadian waters or a Canadian re-entering Canadian waters, and it applies both to persons and to goods. The exemption is extended to include international waters, another element that was not in my original draft, but was added at the request of CBSA. This will solve a problem on the east and west coasts by eliminating reporting requirements for whale watchers who leave from Canada, enter international waters, and then return to Canadian waters.

In conclusion, Mr. Chair, I realize this legislation has no impact on many Canadians, but for folks in Gord's region and my region of Ontario, who share the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario with our American friends—I should say all the Great Lakes—it has a profound impact on lives and livelihoods. On their behalf, I ask for your support for Bill S-233 and encourage its speedy passage.

Thank you very much.

June 7th, 2017 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair (Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)) Liberal Rob Oliphant

I call this meeting to order.

This is meeting number 68 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Pursuant to the order of reference of Thursday, May 18, 2017, we are considering Bill S-233, an act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

We welcome Senator Runciman, the author of the bill in the Senate, and Mr. Brown, the sponsor of the bill in the House of Commons. It's a privilege to have you with us.

We'll begin with the committee having a chance to discuss the bill with its mover and its sponsor. My hope is that we get to clause-by-clause today and do a full consideration of the bill in one meeting.

We will begin with Senator Runciman. Each of the presenters will have 10 minutes, if you so desire, to explain the bill to our committee members.

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization ActPrivate Members' Business

May 18th, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Tobique—Mactaquac and the member for Essex for their support for this bill.

The member for Essex rightly pointed out that I had introduced a parallel bill to Bill S-233 in the House, which was Bill C-273. Therefore, I am delighted to see support across party lines for this bill.

We do not need to have any more debate on this. We can move it on to the committee so members of the public safety committee can have a further look at it and then move it back to the House so we can have a debate at third reading.

I also want to thank the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for his work in finding the technical amendments that were required to see the government support this bill.

I do not think we need to do much more talking about this today. I want to thank everyone for their support for the bill.

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization ActPrivate Members' Business

May 18th, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill S-233, an act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, regarding the presentation and reporting requirements.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the hard work of the member for Beloeil—Chambly, who serves as our critic for public safety. His great work in the House and his dedication to his riding has made me proud to have him as a colleague.

I am very pleased to see Bill S-233 come up for debate, and I am also grateful that the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has sponsored this legislation. I know the member is also the sponsor of his own private member's bill, Bill C-273, which is quite similar to Bill S-233. I have read Bill C-273 and I spoke with people in my riding about it a number of months ago.

My riding of Essex has many kilometres of shoreline along beautiful Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, and the issues that Bill S-233 seeks to address are certainly important to the concerns of the people that I was elected to represent. This legislation seeks to modernize Canadian requirements for boaters who cross from the United States into Canadian waters but who do not land, anchor, or moor.

Currently, people out fishing or pleasure cruising who cross into Canadian waters have an obligation to report to the Canada Border Services Agency, even if they have no intention of stopping or coming ashore. They are allowed to do so by phone or in person at one of the border security checkpoints. Those who do not report to CBSA can face hefty penalties, including the immediate and permanent seizure of their vessel, physical restraints, and fines of $1,000 to $25,000. These penalties seem grossly disproportionate to the harm done.

There have been media reports of American boaters unintentionally entering into Canadian waters, then being fined and forced to pay the fine on the spot to avoid having their boat seized. Every summer we see cases like this of people being fined. These stories spread and they deter both Americans and Canadians from enjoying our shared bodies of water and participating in activities that are important economic drivers for our communities, like in the town of Belle River, close to where I live.

This is why this legislation is so important to me. Essex is home to three significant bodies of water. To the north, we have Lake St. Clair, a freshwater lake that we share with Michigan. There are many boating and sailing clubs and marinas located along these shores, as the lake is very popular with recreational users. In fact, I live only a couple of blocks away from this beautiful lake.

To the west, we have the Detroit River, a heritage river that flows from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie. It is an important transportation route and a major element of our international border with the U.S. It also played a significant role in the prohibition era, which contributed to our rum-running history, where liquor was frequently smuggled across the river into Detroit. In fact, we can still find many heritage homes with hidden rooms. Various books have been written about this interesting period in time.

To the south, we have Lake Erie, a beautiful Great Lake where fishing, agriculture, and tourism are all important economic activities for our region.

In the summer months, boaters from both sides of the border are active users of our shared bodies of water.

In Windsor-Essex, many of my constituents use I-68s, which are permits issued under the Canadian border boat landing program that is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The program allows boaters that are citizens or residents of Canada or the U.S. to enter or return to the U.S. by pleasure craft with only one inspection conducted by U.S. customs per year. People in Essex will apply each year at the beginning of the boating season. I-68s allow them to travel by pleasure craft within 25 miles of the shoreline along the U.S. border with Canada for up to 72 hours without being inspected. Without an I-68, boaters must present themselves for inspection.

However, Canada does not have a similar program that allows boaters to spend time on our shared bodies of water without worrying that they may have unintentionally crossed the border and are subject to a heavy fine for failure to notify CBSA. Instead, we have overly bureaucratic requirements that can be very frustrating for people in my riding of Essex as well as for other Canadian and American boaters.

Over the past year, many people have contacted my office with questions about the in-transit exemption and confusion over the reporting rules for Canadian boaters who enter U.S. waters, but do not anchor or touch shore, and then re-enter Canadian waters.

Sometimes people receive conflicting information, and from year to year, how authorities interpret and apply the rules seems to differ greatly. This lack of consistency is understandably frustrating for people who want to enjoy the water without fear of facing fines for inadvertently breaking the rules.

I am currently advising my constituents to get their NEXUS cards, report in with CBSA before re-entering Canadian waters, and ensure that all adults and children in the travelling party carry their proper identification. If the rules are not clear, people should contact CBSA or U.S. customs before they even head out onto the water.

As I have outlined, boating is an important activity for people in my riding, and the legislation we are debating today will have a direct impact on my region. Bill S-233 may not fix all the confusion or inconsistencies surrounding the rules for Canadian boaters, however, it makes important changes to modernize Canadian legislation, and ensure that our laws are effective in promoting the goals they were intended to.

I spoke earlier about the Detroit River and the region's rum-running history. Canadians may be surprised to learn that many of Canada's existing boating rules were put in place over 80 years ago during the prohibition era to stop the smuggling of alcohol through Canadian waters. Clearly, it is time to take a fresh look at the rules and modernize them to reflect today's realities and more closely align our requirements with our friends in the United States.

In fact, the existing rules have damaged our relationship with the U.S., and have negatively impacted Canada's tourism sector. I know this is true in my region of Windsor-Essex, as well as in my colleague's region of the Thousand Islands. People in my region have been working hard to convince our American boater friends to return to our marinas. After 9/11, there was a significant downturn in U.S. visitors. Our region has been working steadily to turn this trend around. More visitors means more economic benefits for our region.

I have discussed boating requirements with the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. It strongly supports legislative action that strengthens our marine industry and encourages American tourists to visit our region, which has so much to offer for other visitors. We have outdoor activities, including fantastic cycling trails and waterfront trails. Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island are internationally renowned. Wine tours are a popular activity, as we are home to many different wineries that produce quality wines year after year. We have some great museums that chronicle our region's rich history, from the War of 1812 to the prohibition era and the Underground Railroad.

I speak often in this place about the strong trade relationship between Windsor-Essex and Detroit. People cross our border every day for work and play. Our regions and our economies are deeply integrated. However, the relationship is not static and we must always work to strengthen it in ways that benefit the people in our communities.

That is why I am pleased to offer my strong support for Bill S-233. It is time to remove the impractical, unnecessary reporting requirements for U.S. boaters. This is an important courtesy that we can extend to our American neighbours and that will no doubt benefit Canadian boaters and communities like mine in Essex.

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization ActPrivate Members' Business

May 18th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to a subject matter important to many constituents in my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac, New Brunswick, and highlight our Government's support for Senator Runciman's bill, Bill S-233. I would also like to congratulate my colleague, Senator Runciman, the office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and CBSA on their close collaboration and hard work to get the bill to this point.

Last, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes for sponsoring the bill in the House. I believe that the final result following amendments demonstrates a clear and cohesive bill.

I will provide a bit of background on this.

In December 2016, Senator Runciman introduced Bill S-233, the conveyance presentation and reporting requirements modernization act, to relieve persons on board conveyances, such as private boats, tour boats, cruise ships and private aircraft from having to report to the Canada Border Services Agency when they passed incidentally into or out of Canadian waters or airspace.

In several parts of Canada there are lakes and waterways that cross the Canada-U.S. border, not unlike my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac.

Currently, Canadian law requires that all boaters who exit Canadian waters, do not land on the American side, and make no contact with other vessels are required to report to CBSA upon returning to Canada. Many of these travellers live in New Brunswick and are my constituents. I have several hundred kilometres of border and it is dotted with small lakes and some large lakes. They are very low risk, from a CBSA perspective, and the reporting requirement creates frustration and confusion among boaters who often cannot tell where the international boundary line falls while on the water. It also creates increased workload for CBSA officers who could better use their time to examine higher risk travellers.

In the United States, boaters are only required to report their arrival to customs and border protection if they have docked at a foreign port, or have had contact with another vessel in foreign waters. Simple activities like fishing, water skiing or touring do not trigger reporting requirements so American rules do not require recreational boaters to report to U.S. CPB for similar activities.

The differences in American and Canadian reporting requirements have been a source of frustration, as my colleague had mentioned, for individuals and businesses in my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac. They either enjoy parts of their lives or make a living on our shared waterways along the border between New Brunswick and Maine. I have received many calls over the past year from constituents in my riding, declaring their concerns, especially concerning East Grand Lake and North Lake in the Forest City area, a place where, despite our international divider, individuals have formed friendships, family ties and share much more than the waterways in which their homes and cottages are built.

The bill's objective is to address this situation by exempting private boaters, or people on other water-borne craft, from having to report to the CBSA when crossing into or out of Canadian waters for fishing, sightseeing and other low-risk activities, pastimes that owners of pleasure crafts on the shared waterways enjoy doing on a daily basis on summer days in New Brunswick.

For private boaters, the passage of the bill will reduce confusion across the boating community and bring the benefit of a reduced reporting requirement, while also more closely aligning our marine reporting requirements with those of our US counterparts.

Eliminating the need to report to the CBSA would reduce the red tape and more closely align Canada's reporting process with those of our U.S. counterparts. This would streamline the movement of low-risk travellers and goods, without compromising our commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders and protecting the health and safety of Canadians. This goes hand in hand with what my constituents have been asking for: continuity and consistency of enforcement along our border, with the focus being shifted away from friendly, everyday boaters and those who call the lake their home and onto more high-risk activities along our borders.

Let me walk my fellow parliamentarians through some of the bill's key aspects.

What is really key to the bill is that it proposes to both reduce burdens on, and thereby benefit, water sports enthusiasts and businesses in communities on both sides of the border.

People aboard boats, whether they are private, tour or cruise ships, will no longer be required to report to the CBSA in the following circumstances: when they do not land on Canadian soil, and when they do not let off existing passengers or take on board new passengers when in our waters.

The legislation's primary purpose is to ensure that private boats, or leisure boaters, who depart Canadian water but have not touched foreign soil or made contact with other vessels, do not have to report to CBSA customs upon their return to the Canadian shore.

Similarly, it will exempt American boaters who have no intention of touching Canadian soil or rendezvousing with another vessel in Canadian waters from having to report to the CBSA before they return to the United States. This bill also applies to aircraft that may cross unintentionally into Canadian airspace without landing.

To sum up, these changes make for streamlined reporting requirements to reduce the administrative burden on people crossing into and out of Canadian waters or airspace incidentally.

By more closely aligning our reporting processes with those of the United States, we are accommodating low-risk activities in a manner that respects our steadfast commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders. On this point, let me emphasize that care has been taken to ensure that this bill's changes do not come at the expense of security.

While this is a positive step forward, I would be remiss if I did not mention the concerns that some people in my riding have voiced. They wonder if specific local examples such as the ones I will describe might be considered in the future.

The marina where individuals go to fill up their boats with gas on the shared waterways in my riding is on the Maine side of the water. This is where everyone gets fuel for boats and lawn mowers, other pleasure craft, and vehicles. This is the nearest fuel outlet. The alternative is travelling 45 minutes to transport large quantities of fuel, which is very unsafe for small vehicles.

It used to be that individuals would report in via phone upon pulling up to the marina to fuel up and then phone in again to report they were coming back to Canada. The phone is still available to report fuelling up, but when people finish fuelling, it is no longer possible to use it, because to return to Canada, they have to physically come back to the border to report.

This requires navigating a particular area or passage, which may be fine for jet skis and some boats at some points in the year when the water is fairly high, but it is extremely risky and dangerous for larger boats to navigate this narrow passageway, and there are lots of those around. Navigating this passage was not necessary when people could just phone in to report their return from the marina.

While it is recognized that border security is of the utmost importance, individuals are craving a solution. They want to revisit another means of reporting without navigating narrow, dangerous waterways.

I thank the House for the opportunity to share that local concern.

During the course of this bill's development, the upper chamber agreed to strengthen reporting exceptions and to make certain that the CBSA and its law enforcement partners would have everything they need to do their jobs effectively. As a result, amendments were made to apply the same set of newly proposed conditions under Bill S-233 to both loop movements—which are cross-border movements in and out of Canadian, foreign, or international waters that return to the same place of origin—and direct transits, which are cross-border movements from one location outside Canada to another location outside Canada, or from one location within Canada to another location within Canada.

These amendments specify that the vessel or aircraft must not take on or disembark people or goods and that the vessel or aircraft must not anchor, moor, land, or make contact with another conveyance.

In addition, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has also confirmed that the reporting exceptions being brought forward would have no impact on their ability to fulfill their mandate.

As a result of these important consultations, along with the collaboration of hon. senators, I am confident that the measures in this bill would reduce burdens on individuals and businesses without sacrificing public safety.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Senator Runciman for bringing this legislation forward. Achieving two quite different objectives—facilitating legitimate low-risk activities and trade while maintaining the safety and security of Canadians—is not always easy to achieve. This is a great example of working across party lines in co-operation and collaboration to adapt this bill, resulting in a positive outcome for the boating community on shared waterways throughout Canada's borders along the U.S.

Bill S-233 does just that. To quote Senator Runciman:

This not only strengthens border security, because direct travel faced no such restrictions before, but it also simplifies reporting requirements.

It was also agreed that this bill, as it now does, must explicitly clarify that Border Services Officers would retain powers similar to those they have under both the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Customs Act. This means that CBSA officers could continue to require people to answer customs or immigration questions regardless of whether or not they are exempted from reporting. Whether it is necessary to verify a person's goods, work permits, or other immigration documents, or to compel an examination, under this bill officers would maintain their ability to enforce the CBSA's mandate and maintain border integrity.

Upon consultation, the CBSA has told us that the legislation would have limited operational impacts on their operations, as passengers aboard aircraft are already exempt from reporting when passing through Canadian airspace. Following an amendment in the Senate, the proposed legislation indicates that Canadian authorities would continue to have the authority to board and examine travellers and conveyances, if needed, to combat illicit activities and maintain border security.

Whether people are taking the shortest route between two destinations or whether they are fishing or pleasure-cruising, they would not need to report unless they anchor, moor, or land, or unless an officer makes a demand.

I am confident that Canadians will benefit from the streamlined and simplified system proposed—

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization ActPrivate Members' Business

May 18th, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

moved that Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for seconding this bill. I am here today to support a proposed amendment to the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to request the support of my fellow members in the House of Commons.

Bill S-233 aims to amend cumbersome and overly restrictive regulations to allow small pleasure craft to enter Canadian waters freely, so long as they do not intend to anchor or come ashore. As the regulations currently stand, American boaters who even knowingly drift into Canadian waters without reporting to the Canada Border Services Agency can face hefty penalties, which seem grossly disproportionate to the harm that is done. These include the immediate and permanent seizure of the vessel, humiliating physical restraints, and fines from $1,000 up to $25,000. The payment of such fines is often demanded on the spot with the threat of being towed to Canadian shores, and made to lie face down on the boat's floor for the duration of the trip. This is not how Canada should be treating our closest allies.

The current regulations found in the Customs Act were implemented during prohibition in order to stop the smuggling of alcohol across the Canadian border. An update is clearly long overdue as our rules should reflect the fact that we have made more than 80 years of progress toward the great relationship that we have with the United States today. Amending this legislation would not only strengthen our relationship with America but would also promote tourism to Canadian destinations by presenting Canada as a welcoming and fair destination. The U.S. already offers certain small crafts an exemption from formal reporting because such vessels are classified as low risk.

Canadians, therefore, are extended the trust to drift in and out of American waters, so long as they announce their intention to do so just once during the entire boating season. In contrast, many boaters from the United States feel unable to fish in certain regions out of fear that they might accidentally drift too close to the border and face severe penalties from Canadian authorities. Even in my own riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, long-time fishers and boaters have expressed frustration that they are unable to navigate the Thousand Islands waterway because Canadian laws are severe, unclear, and inconsistently applied.

Checking in currently requires either a trip to a CBSA checkpoint, which is costly in time and fuel, or the use of a cellphone, which is an unreliable service which has already resulted in the wrongful punishment of one family who made multiple attempts to call in, but still faced $3,000 in fines for what should have been a pleasant day on the water. Even when cellphone signals function offshore, which is far from guaranteed, boaters are not always spared from reporting to a checkpoint, an unnecessary inconvenience which often leads Americans to choose locations far from Canada's borders.

We share border waters with 10 states, in which more than 3.2 million small pleasure craft are registered, giving this bill the ability to have a positive impact on many lives, including those of Canadians. Not only do the boaters impacted aim to share our beautiful scenery, but they also contribute to our economy by purchasing Canadian fishing licences and encouraging travel to Canadian destinations. In fact, United States citizens purchased 331,327 Ontario fishing licences in 2015 alone. In this way, less restrictive regulations are of mutual benefit. The provinces receive extra funding and the tourism industry thrives on both sides of the border, all the while strengthening the relationship between Canada and the United States.

Unfortunately, our regulations have already done some damage. Americans who have already been subjected to the unfair treatment outlined in the Customs Act say they are no longer willing to buy Canadian fishing licences nor will they promote visiting our country at all, dealing damage to our tourism industry. In one such case, an American citizen, Roy Anderson, who had been fishing in Canada all of his life, was punished for breaking regulations he did not even know existed. After Anderson was heavily fined and briefly detained, he vowed that he would never again purchase another Canadian licence and stated that his friends would not even dare approach the border for fear of losing their boats or being subjected to massive fines.

Anderson even made the statement that, in his eyes, Canada clearly does not want Americans entering our country. Anderson's story appeared in the press dozens of times as Canadians and Americans alike criticized the actions of Canada Border Services Agency and repeatedly called on these regulations—which they viewed as antiquated, outrageous, and unfair to the American people who so kindly grant us access to their water—to be changed.

This is not the image of Canada that should be portrayed in the media. Canadians are kind, welcoming, and fair. We are not aggressors who feel the need to harass harmless fishermen on a day out with their families. We have a great country with many things of which to be proud. The media should have no shortage of happy and positive stories to write, but these stories are being overshadowed by policies that do not reflect the image of the Canada we know today. If we want the media to write kindly about us, we must always strive to give them reason to do so. With each story that portrays Canada in a negative light, fewer American citizens feel welcome in our country. We cannot stop the press from writing about us, but we can give it reasons to write kindly.

The first step is making things right in our own regulations and understanding that, if we do not change the way we treat our visitors, they are unlikely to continue coming back. As it is, businesses and fishing associations in Canada and the United States have already begun to complain about our treatment of U.S. citizens. The St. Lawrence River Walleye Association in New York State has expressed concern that our policies could put a serious damper on relations between our countries, as its members feel unwelcome and threatened by our current regulations. After hearing stories in the media, many fear drifting too close to the Canadian border and incurring fines that they cannot afford to pay. Many simply choose to stay home.

Similarly, Scott MacCrimmon of Ed Huck Marine in Rockport, Ontario, has called the regulations one more barrier to visiting the Thousand Islands and feels that our unwelcoming attitude toward American citizens is creating a division between the countries and preventing Americans from doing business in Canada at all. MacCrimmon stated that the frustration and confusion that stems from these regulations is harming relations between Canada and the United States. From his perspective, as Americans come to feel unwelcome in Canadian waters they are less likely to visit at all, a great source of concern for those working in the tourism industry who rely on seasonal visits from American citizens to stay afloat.

A number of Canadian chambers of commerce have also echoed these concerns, even pointing out the devastating impact that these regulations are having on their marketing efforts. The Gananoque chamber of commerce even stated that the proposed amendments would aid in the promotion of not only the Thousand Islands but every Canadian market town bordering the United States. It further stated that, given our 150th anniversary, Canada should be doing everything possible to promote our natural beauty, rich history, and cultural diversity.

We should therefore aim to be ever more accommodating and inviting to the southern neighbours who treat us so kindly. The days of prohibition are over, and it is also time that we do away with old regulations intended to solve an issue that is long gone. There is no longer any need to check every boat that happens to cross into our territory, and it is therefore excessive and unnecessary to make these requirements of American boaters. Small pleasure craft pose little to no threat to Canadian safety, so long as they steer clear of our shoreline. It is therefore imperative that we begin treating our American neighbours as friends and not criminals.

This bill has already passed the Senate of Canada. Senator Bob Runciman worked with the government on some of the technical amendments that it wanted to see in this bill. It did pass the Senate unanimously. I am looking forward to seeing this bill move through the House of Commons and on to committee in the hopes that we could see this bill through before our boating season gets into full swing. We know that we are coming up on the long weekend here, across Canada, and traditionally it is the start of the boating season, but it really gets into full swing as we move toward Canada Day. This would be a great way to celebrate Canada Day, to see this burdensome issue go away.

It really is an issue. We have Patty Ritchie, who is a New York State senator, who has come to also testify as a witness in front of the committee in the Senate, as I did myself. I really think it is overdue that this bill pass this House and that we get this fixed. Let us bring our legislation into 2017 and do away with regulations that do us no service.

May 4th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

I'm very happy to call this meeting to order. I wish everybody a good morning on this glorious day.

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The April 10 list has been replenished. We have 15 items on that list. What we'd also like to do today is add the three Senate public bills. One of them we've had previous notice of, which is Bill S-226, but two were introduced yesterday. They are Bill S-231 and Bill S-233, which we would like to add if we have consensus.

Do we have consensus to add those two Senate bills in the interests of time and efficiency?

Conveyance Presentation and Reporting Requirements Modernization ActRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2017 / 3:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill, seconded by the member for Sarnia—Lambton, into the House of Commons.

Bill S-233 proposes to enact amendments to the Customs Act that will exempt certain persons from presenting themselves to a customs officer if they are merely transiting through Canadian waters with no intention to stop. It has been passed by the Senate, and I hope members of the House will agree to pass the bill through this House to remove a major irritant along the border between Canada and the United States.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time)