Thank you, Mr. Chair.
My thanks to the minister, Mr. Bolduc, Ms. Wherrett and Ms. Watkinson.
My questions will be about part 1 of Bill C-23, which deals with preclearance by the United States in Canada and with the powers of American officers in preclearance matters.
I am well aware that clause 9 could not be clearer: Canadian law applies. Subclause 10(2) stipulates as follows:
[An American] preclearance officer is not permitted to exercise any powers of questioning or interrogation, examination, search, seizure, forfeiture, detention or arrest that are conferred under the laws of the United States.
He just can't.
I am also well aware of clause 11, which tells us that an American preclearance officer on Canadian soil must work in accordance with Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So I know all that. I am fully aware that a Canadian preparing to travel to the United States will have all his rights as a Canadian respected in a preclearance area on Canadian soil.
With all that, let me put my lawyer's hat on. In all humility, I can say that lawyers have a talent for finding tiny irritants. I have found one in subclause 22(4). Though we know that Canadians' rights will be respected, subclause 4 of clause 22, tells us the following about preclearance officers:
A preclearance officer may conduct the strip search if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the conditions under paragraphs (1)?(a) and (b) are still met …
This is the most intrusive kind of search, but he can conduct it if a border services officer declines to conduct it.
Subclause 22(2) says that, if an American preclearance officer wants a strip search to be conducted, he must ask a Canadian officer to do so. However, in paragraph 22(4)(a), we see that an American preclearance officer can conduct a strip search if a customs officer declines to do so.
There is nothing else in the paragraph. How is it to be interpreted? If a Canadian customs officer is present, sees that there are reasonable grounds but is not in agreement and will not strip search a person, how will things end up under this provision?