House of Commons Hansard #219 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was preclearance.


Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario


David Collenette Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that Bill S-22, an act authorizing the United States to preclear travellers and goods in Canada for entry into the United States for the purposes of customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak today on Bill S-22, the preclearance act which was introduced in the House yesterday. This is a good news bill for Canada and Canadian travellers. It is a key element in Canada's efforts to modernize our border with the United States while at the same time maintaining Canada's sovereignty and protecting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.

Before explaining how this bill does exactly that, I will briefly tell members what preclearance is and how Canadians have and will benefit from these services.

Preclearance was introduced in Toronto in 1952. It is currently operating at the Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal airports. It allows U.S. border control officers working in Canadian airports to determine whether people and goods can enter the United States.

In 1974 Canada and the United States formalized this arrangement under the air transport preclearance agreement, but this did not spell out the powers of U.S. preclearance officers in Canada and was not given force through implementing legislation.

This year is the fourth anniversary of the Open Skies Agreement and the 25th anniversary of the 1974 Air Transport Preclearance Agreement.

These two agreements have worked hand in glove to transform air passenger travel between Canada and the United States.

In the past, travelling from Canada to the United States was long and arduous because the airlines were often prevented from providing efficient routings by the outdated air agreement. Because of open skies, some 60 U.S. destinations can now be reached non-stop from 19 Canadian cities and many more can be reached by convenient connections at U.S. hubs.

Parenthetically, I should point out that in transporter traffic, since the open skies agreement has come in, Canadian carriers dominate that market. Canadian carriers carry more passengers in the transporter market than do U.S. carriers. That is a testament to the efficiency of Canada's various airlines.

Why was preclearance important to this success? Because many of those 60 U.S. destinations do not have an adequate level of customs and immigration inspection.

At airports with inspection services, passengers who are precleared in Canada do not wait in line for customs and immigration services upon arrival at U.S. airports and thus enjoy shorter connection times with onward flights.

The fact that travellers could be precleared by U.S. inspection agencies in Canada helped make Open Skies work.

Since the signing of the open skies, air traffic has increased 39%. That is quite a remarkable achievement. It has risen from 13.5 million passengers to 18.7 million. Compared to 1994, about 2.6 million more business travellers and tourists arrive in Canada from the United States by air.

U.S. preclearance operations in Canada have operated efficiently for over 40 years. In 1997, of the 8.5 million passengers processed at U.S. preclearance sites, less than .002%, a minuscule amount, were denied entry into the United States.

We have four major objectives for border co-operation: access for our friends, families and business partners in the United States and the promotion of tourism; facilitate goods to ensure access to the United States market; protect Canadians from international crime and its effects; and ensure Canadian sovereignty and protection of our rights and freedoms.

This act does contribute to these four objectives and gives Canada a crucial building block for the 21st century.

Major changes have occurred since 1974. The 1982 charter of rights and freedoms granted Canadians new individual rights.

Border processing of persons and goods has evolved as a result of the rapid increase in border crossings and the adoption of new technology. Traffic has risen dramatically, as has the number of routes. The need for efficient and effective processing is essential in an era of just-in-time delivery.

This act, which is modelled on existing preclearance schemes in Europe, will allow Canada and the United States to modernize and apply new innovative approaches to border management. It will be accompanied by amendments to the 1974 Canada/U.S. Preclearance Agreement which will reflect the new legislation and other safeguards agreed to by Canada and the United States.

The Preclearance Act will update and clarify the legal status of U.S. preclearance services at Canadian airports. It will provide legal authorities to protect travellers' rights, while countering illegal activities under Canadian law. Finally, it will provide the legal basis for other border facilitation initiatives by air and other modes of transportation.

The bill will provide a structure for the preclearance regime and it directs enforcement. The bill represents roughly two years of negotiations with the United States government that was really a balancing act which required marrying the legal regimes of our two countries. It allows all of us to be satisfied that our own rights are respected.

I should point out that the officials in the Departments of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, Revenue Canada, Justice and my department have worked very hard at crafting these compromises to ensure these basics rights that we all respect and expect are protected in the bill.

The preclearance scheme we have before us is really a hybrid which maintains the supremacy of Canadian law but allows the United States to administer certain civil and administrative matters in designated areas that pertain to the entry of persons and goods to that country.

One of the primary objectives for us during negotiations was to safeguard Canadian sovereignty. I do not think there is a member in this House who would disagree with that priority. We think it has been accomplished in a number of ways.

The agreement is entirely reciprocal. The charter of rights and freedoms and all Canadian laws will apply in the preclearance area, so let us not pay attention to those naysayers who somehow say that it is an erosion of Canadian sovereignty. The charter of rights applies everywhere in Canada and it will certainly apply in this instance.

All criminal matters will be dealt with by Canadian law enforcement officers. There will be no enforcement of American criminal law. In the case of conflict of laws, Canadian law overrides American law and that is the way it should be.

Strip searches are a rather unpleasant part of customs duty and enforcement will be done only by Canadian officers. Canadian police officers will be available at all preclearance sites to ensure that these goals are attained.

U.S. preclearance officers will not, I emphasize they will not, have immunity from criminal prosecution. The American government will be liable for civil actions, personal losses or property damage claims against American officers in the course of their work.

While the charter applies exclusively to the action of governments, the intent of the legislation is that the charter would apply to U.S. officers' activities because their actions would be authorized by the act and would occur on Canadian soil. Travellers would also have full rights under the Canadian bill of rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The American government agrees with the application of the charter to U.S. preclearance activities.

The main job of a preclearance officer is to determine whether travellers and goods are to be allowed entry into the United States. The act would grant a preclearance officer the authority necessary to make that determination. The administration of U.S. law would be limited to those dealing with customs, immigration, public health, food inspection and plant and animal health.

Only the provisions of those laws that are directly related to the admission of travellers and the importation of goods to the United States will be administered. These border control laws can only be applied in preclearance areas or in transit areas which will be designated by the Government of Canada.

The bill also requires airlines to provide limited personal information about passengers from third countries passing through Canada, if the passengers wish to use in transit facilities.

This information will be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. Advance information will not be provided for travellers originating their trip in Canada and bound for the United States.

All aspects of this preclearance regime will be fully reciprocal with the United States. Canada will not proceed with enactment of this legislation until an amendment to the 1974 agreement has been signed between the U.S. and Canada which guarantees reciprocity.

Canada has not established preclearance in the U.S. However, we have agreed to consider requests by San Francisco and Anchorage, Alaska, to establish Canadian preclearance services in their airports.

Some amendments were passed in the other house which addressed concerns with respect to the false declaration and the introduction of a review process which ensures that a traveller is knowingly making a false statement and which provides for a review within five years of the legislation coming into force.

Very often we are criticized for introducing bills in the other place. Bills of this nature which deal with such technical matters and fundamental issues of law are well suited to be introduced in the other place. Senators have taken the time to thoroughly debate and discuss this bill and they have made amendments which we feel are very sensible. I would like to thank my colleagues in the other place for their work on the bill.

The bill ensures that a traveller can refuse to answer a question and can leave the preclearance area unless an offence is suspected. Mere suspicion is not sufficient grounds to conduct a search. The legal standard that must be met is that reasonable grounds must be there to suspect.

Travellers will be put on notice through signage and brochures that they have rights and obligations in seeking entry to the United States.

The fundamental principle of the bill is that Canada and the U.S. wish to ensure the integrity of our border operations. We do not want preclearance sites to become the preferred routing for organized crime and we will not permit that. To prevent that illegal activity on Canadian soil, we have to ensure that travellers who are reasonably suspected of committing a crime can be prevented from leaving the area while it is determined an offence has been committed. This principle we believe is consistent with Canadian operations at our airports and land borders and with Canadian jurisprudence.

Upon passage of legislation, in transit preclearance operations will be extended in Vancouver, and will be implemented in Toronto and in Montreal's Dorval Airport.

Calgary Airport will be eligible for in transit preclearance no later than January 1, 2001. Other Canadian airports with current U.S. preclearance programs, such as Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa, subsequently will also become eligible for in transit preclearance.

The successful implementation of an in transit pilot project at Vancouver Airport, introduced after the Prime Minister's visit to Washington in 1997, has demonstrated the benefits of this process.

The act paves the way for in transit preclearance in other airports. This will provide passengers, travelling from Asia and Europe to the United States, better and quicker air service.

In the past, in transit passengers were obliged to pass through both a Canadian and U.S. inspection process, often requiring two visas and a much longer connection time. The new in transit arrangements will eliminate the Canadian inspection process and encourage international passengers to use Canadian air carriers and airports for their travels to and from the United States.

It is not anticipated that there will be an increase in refugee claims as a result of this particular initiative. The pilot project in Vancouver has resulted in only one refugee claimant, one out of about 100,000 passengers using these in transit facilities.

The preclearance act is intended to be the basis for agreements between Canada and the U.S. for other modes of transport as well. As trade and travel between our two countries continues to grow in leaps and bounds, the government intends to enter into discussions and negotiations for air cargo, road, rail, marine and ferry preclearance. All good news.

I am glad my friend from Winnipeg—Birds Hill is in such a good mood. He will be speaking on the bill and I know he will wholeheartedly endorse the government's position.

This legislation will clarify U.S. authorities and protect travellers' rights under Canadian law and safeguard Canadian sovereignty. There will be a uniform regime in place at preclearance sites and border entry points to counter illegal activities across our shared border.

I encourage my colleagues on the other side to give their full and rapid support to a bill that we consider to be a priority so that those airports I mentioned can put the necessary arrangements into place and we can give better service to Canadians and other travellers using Canadian airports.

This will increase economic activity, it will be good for the airlines and it is good for our relations with the United States, all without compromising Canadian values and the integrity of Canadian law.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his comments. I will say right off the bat that the Reform Party supports this bill, even if it does come from the Senate. Some worthwhile things come from there and we are debating one of them today.

Bill S-22 is an act to establish the reciprocal agreement between Canada and the United States allowing U.S. customs inspectors to operate in precleared designated areas as established by the minister. The goal is primarily to allow a freer flow of goods and travellers into the United States.

Coming from Vancouver where the test case was done, it is certainly a great benefit to any of those who have been travelling into the United States over the last few years. A lot of us remember getting off airplanes in San Francisco, Los Angeles or even Hawaii after five hours in an airplane and standing in long lineups waiting to be cleared. It was a disaster. Canadians in the west are very pleased that the test was there and that it will be going right across Canada.

One of the more exciting things in this bill, as the minister has just said, is that we are going to study in Anchorage and San Francisco preclearing Canadians or others coming into Canada. That is extremely important.

The minister mentioned the people in transit coming through Vancouver and that only one has asked for refugee status, which is a pretty good record. It is a commendable record and certainly has speeded the service up. It has helped Canadian and foreign airlines increase business in the Vancouver airport which is great. It means more money for Canada if those planes land here, fill up here and the crews stay here.

There is an interesting aspect of preclearing when coming into Canada. A large number of people who come into Canada ask for refugee status at airports at our own customs and immigration facilities. Certainly if we get into preclearance, those numbers will be greatly reduced.

I hope the government gets on with its study quickly and does preclearance for all major locations coming into Canada, especially some of those in Asia and the U.K. I think it would certainly benefit all Canadians if we had that type of preclearance coming into Canada. For anybody who arrives at Vancouver International Airport now at certain times of the day when there is between 500 to 800 people in lineups, it can take an hour and a half to get through the clearance after having spent 8 to 13 hours on an airplane.

The sooner we look at this preclearance ourselves the better. It will benefit the travellers who will not have to stand in long lineups when they arrive in our country. It will also benefit our immigration process. People who land in Canada and their passports are missing and they say they are refugees get to stay here and go through a process that takes five to seven years. That is not acceptable to most Canadians.

This bill is such a good one. We are talking about television and we hope that when this bill goes to committee the meeting can be televised. Then all Canadians could see the great benefits in dollars this bill is going to bring to Canadians by allowing them this freer access up and down. It certainly would be a great bill to start the televising of committees which we have been discussing in the House over the last few weeks.

Last year 8.5 million people were precleared from Canada going into the U.S. That is a significant amount of our population. Certainly with this bill it is likely to increase a little bit over the years.

There are a lot of Canadians who will be quite excited when they read today that their travel is going to be made easier. I know those in British Columbia, many of whom will go through San Francisco when coming back in, will be quite happy that they will be able to get off the airplane in Vancouver and go straight home because they will have been precleared at the other end.

I guess we will find out when we get into committee when we are going to start these test cases. I know it will be a very popular move in western Canada.

I said earlier that the minister has laid out pretty well what is in this bill. I could go on for a lot longer on some of these issues, but I will sit down right now and get this bill through and into committee and make sure it becomes law as quickly as possible.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill S-22. Far from being controversial, this piece of legislation will make things easier for a number of travelers. It is in keeping with what has been done so far with regard to customs preclearance.

On May 8, 1974, the government of Canada and the government of the United States of America entered into an agreement on air transport preclearance. The purpose of that agreement was to speed up and facilitate trade between the two countries.

Bill S-22 goes along the same line, but is aimed at broadening this statutory authority, on a reciprocal basis, to facilitate cross-border movement by other means of transportation. To this end Bill S-22 authorizes the United States to administer in Canada provisions of American law related to the admission of travelers and the importation of goods into the United States, except for criminal law. It is important to note that criminal law is excluded from this agreement.

The administration of such provisions of American law in Canada will be subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Finally, the bill provides that the government may, by order in council, restrict the scope of these provisions if, in its opinion, the United States do not accord Canada the same privileges. There is therefore an element of reciprocity in this agreement aimed at facilitating movement, both ways. If ever this was not the case, the bill contains provisions allowing the government to rectify the situation by order in council.

Canada has allowed U.S. federal inspection services to preclear air passengers on its territory since the 1950s. Preclearance refers to the measures by American federal inspection services in relation to travellers and goods leaving Canada for the United States.

As others have already pointed out, these measures were made official in 1974 with the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States on Air Transport Preclearance.

Under that agreement, there are now preclearance services affecting some 8.5 million passengers at the following Canadian airports: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, of course at Dorval. However, since that agreement was signed, there have been certain changes in Canadian law, particularly the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As well, there have been changes in border procedures because of the rapid increase in cross-border traffic and technological advances.

The official powers set out in Bill S-22 and the changes to the 1974 agreement would make it possible to exercise more appropriate control over the present border situation, while at the same time protecting travellers under Canadian law. American federal inspection services would be in a position to examine and seize goods and apply certain monetary penalties under American border control legislation.

American legislation would be administered only in designated preclearance areas and would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other applicable Canadian legislation.

No provision of American law that would be criminal under Canadian law may be administered in Canada. Criminal matters must be dealt with by Canadian authorities under Canadian law.

At the present time, international passengers travelling to the United States from a Canadian airport with preclearance services must go through Canadian customs and immigration services before going to an American preclearance officer.

The preclearance in transit planned for Canadian airports with approved services would enable passengers from third countries to pass directly through American preclearance services, thus undergoing a single inspection.

In transit preclearance services have been in operation since June 1997 in Vancouver international airport as a pilot project. Furthermore, if in transit preclearance services were operational, airlines would be obliged, before entering Canada, to provide preclearance officers with specific information on those of their passengers going on to the United States.

It has been agreed that the provisions of this bill would be matched with reciprocal provisions on the American side so that Canada may preclear in the United States within the context of American customs and immigration laws.

In general, that is not a problem. There is only one small concern at this point, with respect to the transfer of information the airlines will have to provide. I know the minister referred to this in his speech. Obviously, some care must be taken to ensure the airlines provide information on passengers in accordance with the provisions of privacy legislation.

So long as this is done properly for this part of the bill, the rest will only make the lives of travellers easier and improve cross border travel.

In this context, there is no doubt that we will support this bill, which, be it said in passing, has already been discussed and debated in the other House. Although it is certainly not our first choice and we might question its existence, much of the work has been done on this bill from the Senate.

I encourage my colleagues to support it, but to be careful, because it involves a reciprocal agreement. We must make sure that the Americans act as effectively as us, in putting all the measures necessary in place. If everything goes well, it will not be necessary to rely on the provisions of the bill that provide for the use of an order to restrict the scope of this agreement.

Assuming everything goes well, this legislation would make life simpler for travellers, given the increasing volume of business between Canada and the United States and, in the case that concerns us, between Quebec and the United States. As members know, the United States is now Quebec's main trading partner. A lot of goods are being traded and many individuals must travel to the United States to do business. Many companies with multiple interests have facilities or do business in Quebec, in Canada, in the United States and elsewhere in the world, and transit through our country and, in this case, often through Dorval airport.

This concludes my remarks on Bill S-22. I will be very interested to hear what other members have to say. I ask everyone to support the bill, while being vigilant concerning the confidentiality of the information that will be transmitted by airline companies, so as to prevent any abuse. The private nature of that information is a concern to many people, in this era of modern technology and massive transfers of personal information.

This process must not lead to abuse. It must be implemented in compliance with our own laws to avoid, for example, situations such as the one in which the Minister of Human Resources Development found himself, with the cards distributed to travellers to obtain information on employment insurance recipients.

Even though public opinion may support such a measure, we must still comply with the law. In this particular case, there was a problem and the courts strongly condemned the practice, from the point of view of its compliance with Canadian law.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport referred to me earlier as the member for Winnipeg—Birds Hill. I understand his reason for doing that. Many years ago when he and I were younger members of parliament I was the member for Winnipeg—Birds Hill and his riding probably had a different name.

I begin by registering our usual objection to bills originating in the Senate. We feel that there is no good reason this bill could not have come first to the House of Commons where it would have been considered by the appropriate committee and the good amendments made by the Senate would have been made by the committee instead. It is always a mystery to us why some of these bills end up coming to us from the Senate instead of going to the Senate from the House of Commons.

On the surface, in many real aspects, the provisions of this bill have a lot of merit. If processes at the border points and at airports in particular could be expedited, it is very hard to argue against that at a practical level. Nevertheless, there were a lot of concerns expressed by immigration lawyers and the Canadian Bar Association, as well as others.

This is not my particular area to critique, but after brushing up on it this morning I understand that a lot of these concerns were addressed by the government by way of amendments being made in the Senate. We commend the government for being open to amending its own legislation and for not being its usual pigheaded self when it comes to legislation. I attribute this to the open-mindedness of the Minister of Transport and we look forward to more open-mindedness on his part in respect of this bill and other legislation for which he might be responsible.

There are some remaining concerns about the bill having to do with privacy protection, which the member of the Bloc put on the record just minutes ago. There are concerns having to do with the power of U.S. authorities to detain people and a number of other concerns that the government still has to address. If the government can dispel those concerns, fair enough, but it was a legitimate concern in the first place which many Canadians had that this would be a further application of U.S. law on Canadian soil.

I say further because we in this corner of the House tend not to see this in isolation but to see it as a part of a growing trend where, bit by bit, Canadians become more subject to laws which are not of their own making; that is to say, not made in their own parliament. I am thinking, of course, of the effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other agreements on our ability to determine our own policies in many respects.

We have certainly seen an awful lot of that lately, thanks to chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, whereby the Canadian government is now being repeatedly sued on various grounds by American companies which have more rights in Canada than Canadian companies. They can sue the Canadian government, while Canadian companies only have access to domestic courts. Thanks to chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, American companies have access to domestic courts in Canada, but when that route fails them, if they do not have a leg to stand on, as is often the case, they can then continue to harass Canadian policy makers and Canadian polity, if you like, via the investor state dispute settlement mechanism that exists courtesy of the NAFTA.

Having said that, in respect of our larger concern, it is timely that this bill should be debated this morning because we note that the Canadian ambassador to the United States made a speech this week wherein he talked about the possibility of a customs union between Canada and the United States and further codification in areas as yet unspecified in our relationship with the United States. I hope that shortly I will be able to get a copy of that speech and perhaps learn more of the detail of what our ambassador had to say.

It ought to raise in our minds whether what we see before us in Bill S-22 is part of a larger agenda or trend toward the customs union and other ways of further integrating Canada with the United States, which I think would be of concern to a great many Canadians. It certainly would have been of concern to the Liberal Party of Canada when the Minister of Transport first joined it. It does not appear to be of concern to the Liberal Party now because it has been responsible for one of the biggest acts of integration, which is a polite way of putting it, vis-à-vis the privatization of the CNR, and its coming into American ownership at the level of about 60% of that vast Canadian infrastructure, as well as various other things such as going back on its position on the NAFTA.

However, this would still be of concern to many Canadians, even if it is no longer of concern to the Liberal Party. Of course the Liberal Party is in government and what it is or is not concerned about is very significant. It does not appear to be concerned about the continuing and deepening integration of Canada with the United States.

I wonder what we are to make of this speech by Raymond Chrétien, the nephew of the Prime Minister. Is he flying a kite for the government, a trial balloon or whatever metaphor one chooses? Is this something the government has in mind and has asked its ambassador to the United States to put into the public domain to see what kind of attention or criticism it attracts?

If he is not doing that for the government, what is he doing? I thought it was the role of ambassadors to put forward the position of their government. If he is not actually acting under instruction from the government then I would submit there is at least a good argument that he is overstepping his bounds as an ambassador by putting forward the notion of a customs union. Perhaps the minister or somebody else would like to say a word about just what the ambassador was doing when he made this suggestion.

It is hard for us to separate Bill S-22 and see it only in the very practical dimension that the minister asked us to view it in. Certainly from this very practical dimension it has a lot of merits. There are concerns that exist about the bill itself and for that reason it would be appropriate for it to go to committee as soon as possible. Let us have a good look at it from the point of view of the House of Commons to see if we can address some of the outstanding concerns.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting about Bill S-22 is that there is unanimity on it here in the House. A very good job was done on it in the other place, particularly the amendments by two honourable senators, one of which was to put in a 5-year limit after it takes effect, after which the minister can undertake a review. This is a very wise move, and we thank the senators and the government members for having accepted the change, which I feel is a very important one. Any concerns there might be will be verified and verifiable after the legislation has been in place for five years.

I will not go back over everything other members have said this morning on Bill SS-22. Essentially, it is a very solid bill, and one that modernizes what has been done for some years in the way of airport preclearance.

There are some concerns, however. Looking at a bill like this one, one can conclude that there is not really any preclearance in the U.S. for Canada and elsewhere. As someone put it to me, “With the Canadian preclearance areas for the U.S., it is as if the Americans were trying to protect themselves, by controlling arrivals into their country from outside their country”. How reassuring.

This leads them to say “If ever there are any problems, they are not on our territory, so this will make it easier to handle arrivals of people in the United States”. This is true. One can put a negative slant on it, that is to say that the Americans are using Canadian airports to have control over what enters the United States, be it men, women, children or goods. If there is a problem, at least they are not on American soil. The law is very clear. Canadian law and the Charter prevail.

True, we are helping the U.S. authorities, but we are helping even more Canadians and Quebeckers who travel to the United States. A number of us travel to the United States on a regular basis. Preclearance and intransit areas greatly speed up entry into the United States upon arrival on U.S. soil on the other side of the border. One does not have to wait for hours.

If there is a problem, at least with preclearance one is still on Canadian soil. The minister referred earlier to this whole issue of sovereignty.

Canadian travellers have a certain guarantee. But, as I said before, there is also a guarantee for the U.S. that, should there be a problem, it will be dealt with outside of their territory. This legislation helps people living in Quebec and Canada, while also helping U.S. authorities control the movement of men, women and goods.

To sum up, as I mentioned before, Bill S-22 updates and implements a system that already exists in the context of the global economy. There is a desire to facilitate passenger travel. However, extreme caution must be exercised. Many very interesting questions were raised during the proceedings of the Senate committee. I hope that the House committee will also review the bill fully. The Americans must ensure reciprocity with respect to their legislation on preclearance and intransit areas.

But the bill is clearly a step in the right direction. We will see this in the future. Although the minister told us that very few refugee applications were made at Vancouver Airport during the preclearance and intransit areas pilot project, only one in fact, all parliamentarians must realize that other applications will follow.

There could be an increase in such applications in the future. Depending on the international context, or preclearance and intransit areas, many refugee applications will be made right here in Canada. Will Bill S-22 be blamed? That is always a possibility, but I think such applications could be attributed to the situations people face in their own country.

I would therefore like to pay tribute once again to the work done in the other Chamber. There are some exceptionally talented individuals there who are responsible for seeing that a bill as important as this one can begin or end its journey here.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be able to make a few comments on this very important bill.

We have the opportunity for Canadians to engage in a little of streamlining to reduce costs a bit. I think I would be in favour of that as would thousands and thousands of taxpayers who today are facing the taxpaying deadline. They realize they have less and less money for themselves because the government keeps taking more and more.

Bill S-22 has a plan in it to streamline some costs. Passengers who are merely travelling through Canada to another destination would not have to go through Canadian customs. I think we would applaud that.

I have a small concern which some people may not even notice. It is Bill S-22 instead of Bill C-22. For those who know the way things work around here, the S means that the bill was started in the Senate. Usually we would expect a bit of a debate from a Reformer on whether or not the Senate is justified in bringing in such a bill. I will surprise the House today by saying that I believe the Senate is justified in bringing in such a bill. The question at hand is not whether the Senate is justified in doing this but whether we could improve it.

When I was in high school many years ago we had a fine class motto which I have used all my life: “Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better best”. That is an excellent plan.

It is good that the Senate should take a piece of legislation such as this, do some study on it, and realize that it is good for the different provinces in the country. There is nothing wrong with that. That is good.

What would be better? It would be better if the Senate were elected. Then when it did something like this there would be no need to question the legitimacy of what is being done. There would be no reason to question whether or not Canadian taxpayers and Canadian citizens are represented since the senators would have been elected by the very people they are purporting to represent. That would be better.

What would be best? It would be best if the Senate were a true triple E place where it would not only be elected but would have equal representation in the provinces.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The member still has 17 minutes left in his speech. As today is Friday, I thought we might be able to recognize a few more members on statements. I thought we could go to Statements by Members now and he would have the full flush the next time.

Canadian Blood ServicesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Blood Services is launching this week its first youth initiative aimed at raising the awareness of young Canadians of the ongoing need for blood donations.

CBS is kicking off this campaign by sponsoring the band category at the YTV network's 1999 youth achievement awards, which will be held this evening at the National Arts Centre. This event, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is widely recognized as a premier platform to champion and promote the youth of Canada.

Bayer Inc., a leading manufacturer of blood products, has enthusiastically agreed to partner with CBS and develop a 30 second advertisement targeted at the youth market, to secure air time for this ad on YTV, and to allow for a young person designated by each CBS blood centre to attend the youth achievement awards.

Fourteen youths have flown to Ottawa for this special two day program of activities which will include a visit to Parliament Hill. These exceptional members of the youth community have all distinguished themselves in assisting CBS in its essential mission, either through public speaking or recruitment of blood donors and volunteers, and they are here today.

I would ask all members of parliament to join me in congratulating these exceptional young people.

Canadian Firearms CentreStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, contrary to ministerial propaganda, Canadians are not exactly beating down the doors of the Canadian Firearms Centre.

According to Access to Information, between December 1 and February 28, 17,983 applications for possession licences were received and three and a third per cent were actually processed, along with 16,870 old FAC applications which were still lying around.

Of 21,674 registration certificates issued only 2,023 went to individual applicants. The remainder were for businesses.

At this rate every gun owner in Canada could be licensed by the middle of the next century and all privately owned long guns registered by the year 2864. The annual cost, $50 million; the public benefit, zero.

HealthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the European Union has introduced labelling requirements for genetically modified foods. Polls show that Canadians want genetically engineered foods to be separated and labelled.

These foods are increasingly a part of our diet. They are identical in appearance to unmodified foods but may pose unknown risks from allergens and environmental threats.

Canadians have the right to know if the foods they buy and eat have been genetically altered. They have the right to choose for themselves.

Václav HavelStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians witnessed in the House a living champion of freedom, President Václav Havel of the Czech Republic. The Prime Minister introduced him as “a beacon of freedom”.

You, Mr. Speaker, referred to “how one individual can influence the course of history in the face of great adversity” when thanking him yesterday. Mr. Havel honoured our country by accepting to address the nation.

It was also a very special moment for Manitobans when my alma mater, the University of Manitoba, granted President Havel a special honorary degree in recognition of his unique place in world history, for he is a man of courage, conviction and insight.

We were truly privileged in the House to experience the eloquence of his philosophy and the simplicity of his words when he concluded his remarks by saying “while the state is a human creation, humanity is a creation of God”. Truly Mr. Havel reminded us of the ethics of human conscience.

Aluminum IndustryStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Chicoutimi this morning, the Government of Canada announced a new initiative to create a technological road map.

This working tool will target the future needs of Canadian industry in technological and product terms. In regional terms, it will be used in the creation of a development plan for second and third levels of aluminum processing.

The implementation committee will comprise people working in Canada Economic Development, Industry Canada, the National Research Council, the Aluminum Association of Canada, Alcan, as well as the Quebec aluminum research and development centre.

Our government is concerned about development in the regions in Quebec. An initiative like the one announced this morning is another example of our concern for working together with the stakeholders in the community and with the Government of Quebec.

Youth ViolenceStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Chuck Cadman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the determination of Mr. Paul Glover. In September 1993, two teenagers viciously assaulted him. He suffered very serious injuries from multiple kicks to the face. His facial bones were literally separated from his skull. Last Friday in Vancouver, Paul won a civil judgment in excess of $60,000 against the two who are now in their early twenties.

Paul Glover has paved the way for victims of violent young people. The criminal courts hold offenders accountable to society. The only recourse for victims is through the civil court. Paul has shown that teenagers who cause harm to others cannot escape their civil liability.

It is somewhat coincidental that at a time when parliament is considering the role of victims in the criminal justice system, Paul Glover has advanced the cause in the civil courts. Canadians owe Paul and Debbie Glover and lawyers, David Marley and Vahan Ishkanian, who worked free of charge, a debt of gratitude. Soon I hope to see more victims of young thugs follow Paul's lead in pursuing their own civil remedies.

Canada Customs And Revenue Agency ActStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, I am pleased to tell the House that the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act received royal assent on April 29, 1999.

The creation of the agency marks the beginning of new and exciting partnerships with the provinces and the territories. It also offers a unique opportunity to provide better and more cost effective service to all Canadians by reducing overlap and duplication.

I can assure the House that the new agency will continue to offer the best service to its clients and to be one of the best and most respected tax, customs and trade administrations in the world.

Quebec EconomyStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, between 1991 and 1997, Quebec's exports, primarily to the United States, in the manufacturing sector, excluding automobiles, grew by 120%. At the start of the decade, exports represented 21% of Quebec's GDP. Today they have reached 36.4%.

The phenomenal increase in Quebec's exports can be explained by business people's openness to globalization. Secure access to the U.S. market, strengthened by the free trade agreement and the rapid reduction of customs tariffs, have encouraged Quebec businesses to turn to the U.S. market.

Quebec, one of the main forces behind the free trade agreement, expresses its dynamism daily in meeting the challenges of market liberalization.

To better ensure our place in the world and to give the economy of Quebec room to expand internationally, only one avenue is open: sovereignty for Quebec.

Danièle SauvageauStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is desperately looking for something to make people forget its definition of the Quebec identity.

This is why many Bloc Quebecois members who are desperate to get noticed and to look good in the eyes of their leaders are using my analysis and the solution I have put forward in the Danièle Sauvageau issue.

What is shameful is that, to them, this issue is just an opportunity to score political points. They do not understand that the last thing Danièle Sauvageau wants is to become a political martyr helping them score points. She does not want her reputation and credibility to be used by people who are sorely lacking in that respect.

To show compassion for someone is to understand what this person is going through and, more importantly, not to use but to support him or her. Those who will make comments or ask questions about Danièle Sauvageau must realize that the more they use her, the more they cut her off from the position she loves so much.

Politics must deal with other issues. It is not up to the government to select a coach. There are other approaches, like dealing with the thrust of programs, not their management. This is the type of issue that makes people even more cynical about politicians.

I wish luck to Danièle. I understand her sadness. I am confident that the decision makers will follow up on the balanced solution that I have put forward.

I am asking the members of the Bloc Quebecois to show compassion and to stop using Mrs. Sauvageau for their own personal benefit. There are other ways to make the headlines. This one is unhealthy.

Global Internet ContestStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, two students and their computer teacher from Dauphin—Swan River are going to Hong Kong after winning a global Internet contest.

Smith Jackson, a Ukrainian bilingual elementary school in Dauphin, was the only Canadian school selected as the grand prize winner in the AT&T virtual classroom contest. Smith Jackson formed a team with Talahassee, Florida and New Delhi, India to win the grand prize in the elementary school category. Over 300 schools from 38 countries were involved in this contest.

All these students deserve our recognition for this global accomplishment: Andreja Frykas, Jordan McLaughlin, Joey Smigelski, Joleene Showdra, Travis Prytula, Scott Tokaryk, Alyson Sametz, Brent Hancharyk, Andrei Dandridge-Evancio, Larisa Matwee, Melissa Zabiaka, Allan Bernat and teacher Stephen Jaddock.

We wish them all the best.

Battle Of The AtlanticStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 2, Canadians across the country will pause to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic.

On September 10, 1939, Canada declared war against Nazi Germany. Within a matter of weeks the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Merchant Navy joined the battle.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest and perhaps the most critical battle of the second world war. The liberation of Europe depended on the ability of allied merchant convoys to make their way through a phalanx of German U-boats.

Canada played a pivotal role in the ultimate victory of the Battle of the Atlantic. Thousands of young and inexperienced Canadians went to sea, unprepared but ready to fight, and they fought. They fought with courage and they fought with pride, under horrible conditions and the vagaries of a cruel sea, because they knew that the freedom of our nation was at stake. Over 5,000 Canadians paid the ultimate price and never returned home.

I invite my hon. colleagues and all Canadians to participate in the activities being held this weekend to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic. It is an opportunity to reflect on the proud heritage of our men and women in uniform and to pay tribute to those who sacrificed—

Battle Of The AtlanticStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dartmouth.

Social UnionStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canada is in the early stages of implementing the social policy framework called the social union. However, I am frankly worried that these programs could end up designed to aid bureaucrats, but not necessarily Canadians.

This month, the auditor general looked at the first two programs being implemented under the social union, the national child benefit and the employment assistance program for persons with disabilities.

Among his comments, he found that the NCB failed to make a reduction in child poverty a measurable goal of the program. He also noted that success for the EAPD will be measured by counting participants, not by determining the increase in employment or employability of disabled Canadians.

It is not good enough for the social union to claim success because it spent a pile of money. Success should be measured by the increase in the quality of Canadian lives.

I hope that the House and all Canadians will watch the evolution of programs implemented under the social union like hawks to ensure that the benefits go to needy Canadians, not to bureaucrats and politicians for clever sleights of hand.

Youth Achievement AwardStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, Jack and Mark Nowinski, 19 year old twins from my riding of Kitchener—Waterloo, are in Ottawa this week and they are winners of the YTV Youth Achievement Award for innovation, science and technology.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but in this case mother was the necessity for the invention.

These two young men invented an ECG machine, a mix of computer software and electrical hardware, that allows people to monitor their heart at home. They were motivated to do this in order to help their mother, Barbara.

This invention also earned Mark and Jack top honours at the 1998 international science and engineering fair in Texas. They have numerous other inventions to their credit.

They are currently students at Resurrection High School and would like to go to the University of Waterloo's program of electrical engineering this fall.

I join my colleagues in congratulating Jack and Mark for their achievements and say to the Nowinski family, who came to Canada from Poland in 1982, “thank you for enriching our country, Canada”.

Ontario TaxesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, in Ontario jobs are up because taxes are down. Mike Harris' government yesterday announced its blueprint plan to keep Ontario on the right track.

From 1995 to 1998, Mike Harris has cut taxes 69 times, including a 30% cut in income tax rates. This was the largest tax cut in Ontario history and the first real increase in take home pay for the average Ontarian. These cuts produced the dramatic result of 540,000 new jobs being created in Ontario in under four years. That is more new jobs than the combined populations of London, Kingston and Sudbury. This puts Mike Harris's Tories ahead of schedule in their five-year plan to create 725,000 new jobs. Most of all, the Harris government's efforts to improve the province's fiscal management means more money for education and health care for all of Ontario.

Ontarians will ask if they are better off than they were four years ago. Yes, they are. They will also ask who the strongest leader is. That is Michael Harris. Less tax, balanced budgets—

Ontario TaxesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, Maxwell Yalden, the former commissioner of official languages, recently wrote an article to try to show that bilingualism had made progress in Canada over the past 30 years, but failed to include actual figures.

Mr Yalden will be interested to learn that, since 1951, in spite of the millions of dollars invested, the ability to speak French has dropped from 31.9% to 31.3% among Canadians, while the ability to speak English increased by 4%.

Also, compared to 30 years ago, there are 60,000 fewer Canadians outside Quebec for whom French is the language spoken at home. In eastern Ontario, where the Official Languages Act has been in effect for 30 years, the assimilation rate doubled in that time, rising from 13% to 24%.

The Bloc Quebecois sincerely hopes that the next commissioner of official languages will be an ally for the francophone communities and that he will tell things as they are, not as the government would like them to be.

High Commission In New DelhiStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, like many members with large and active Indo-Canadian communities in their ridings, I have heard over the years a great number of concerns regarding the immigration section of the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, India.

During the Easter break I had the opportunity to visit New Delhi and made a point of meeting with the Canadian immigration officers there to investigate these concerns.

What I found was a group of very talented, very professional officers who, under the leadership of Mr. Jean Roberge, are working hard to ensure that people receive the highest quality of service.

Along with counselor Roberge, I met with officers Robert Romano, Brian Beaupré, Larry Carroll and Brian Le Conte. These officers are aware of the concerns and are working hard under very difficult conditions to address and improve them. Their attitude and actions on these issues are examples of the very best of the Canadian public service.

Therefore, I am here today to applaud the employees of the immigration section of the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi and would encourage other members to do the same.