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House of Commons Hansard #238 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was preclearance.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of 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, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

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10 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

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10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

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10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:05 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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

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10:05 a.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the preclearance act 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 travellers in Canada.

The world we live in is increasingly interdependent, a world in which capital, goods and people move ever more freely. To remain competitive we must look outward and think globally. New technologies and modes of transportation increasingly allow us to transcend national boundaries. In this era of just-in-time production we must find new and innovative ways of moving people and goods while ensuring the safety and security of our border.

Today over $1.35 billion in trade crosses the Canada-U.S. border each day. There are over 200 million border crossings each year. The success of our bilateral relationship with the United States hinges on our ability to move people and goods efficiently. I would like to elaborate on how this act will help to modernize the management of our border.

Preclearance is not a new concept. It was introduced in Toronto in 1952 and 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 U.S. formalized this arrangement under the air transport preclearance agreement.

Bill S-22 will provide structure for the existing preclearance regime and direct its enforcement. The bill represents roughly two years of negotiations with the United States government. The preclearance scheme is a hybrid which maintains the supremacy of Canadian law but also allows the U.S. to administer certain civil and administrative matters in designated areas that pertain to the entry of persons and goods to the United States.

One of our primary objectives has been to safeguard Canadian sovereignty. This has been accomplished by ensuring reciprocity, by making clear that the charter of rights and freedoms and all Canadian laws will apply and by ensuring that only Canada enforces criminal matters in the preclearance area.

Since the signing of the open skies agreement in 1995 there has been a 39% increase in air traffic between Canada and the United States. Many destinations do not have customs and immigration inspection.

When this legislation comes into force, intransit preclearance operations will be extended in Vancouver and will be implemented in Toronto and in Montreal's Dorval airport. Other Canadian airports with current U.S. preclearance programs will subsequently become eligible for intransit preclearance.

Intransit preclearance will improve service to international transiting passengers, encourage the use of Canadian air carriers and airports for travel from Asia and Europe to the United States via Canadian airports and foster economic development in airport communities.

The preclearance act is intended to be the basis for agreements between Canada and the United States for other modes of transport which may include air cargo, road, rail, marine and ferry. This will further revolutionize the way we manage the border by creating a virtual border, a border that allows travellers and commerce to be processed at their point of departure rather than at the physical border. It will significantly reduce costs and increase convenience.

Canada and the United States have a long history of co-operation along the world's longest undefended border. Beyond facilitating travel and trade, the preclearance act is a symbol of how we can manage the border as a joint asset in the next century.

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10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to seek unanimous consent to divide my allotted 40 minutes with the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley.

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10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is that agreed?

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10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:10 a.m.

Reform

Jason Kenney Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, given that this is my first opportunity to do so, I would like to begin, on behalf of the official opposition, by congratulating the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the leadership of Premier Mike Harris for the stunning re-election last night against overwhelming odds.

We are thrilled to see that a tax cutting, fiscally responsible government has been re-elected in Ontario. It will certainly help to increase transit and free trade. That is why this bill will be much more used under a Mike Harris government in Ontario. There will be more economic growth in this province, which will mean more trade with our partners to the south and elsewhere.

People who are watching today on electronic Hansard will see that the code of this bill is S-22. Sometimes they will see bills that are C-34 or C-56 and so on. These different codes indicate where the bill has been introduced. When the bill is preceded by a C , it means that it has come in through the House of Commons, which is the conventional means of introducing a bill into parliament. When the bill is preceded by an S , it means that it has been introduced in the other place, the so-called upper Chamber. That would be the unaccountable, unelected, patronage haven a few metres down the hall from here. This just so happens to be such a bill, Bill S-22, Senate Bill 22.

We are joined by the esteemed and newly academically accredited government House leader, to whom we extend our commendation. I would like to point out that while he may have extraordinary academic credentials, he does not seem very capable of managing the legislative agenda of the government through the normal democratic conventions of parliament by introducing legislation first in the House of Commons. Instead, he has taken to the objectionable practice of introducing bills such as this in the other place. Why? Presumably because he thinks it is easier and because they have so little work to do over there. They are so unburdened by the business of the people that bills can be introduced there to expedite their passage through parliament.

We want to make it clear that the official opposition objects to government bills being brought before us in the elected and accountable Chamber which have first been introduced in the unelected and unaccountable Chamber. It may just seem to be a technical complaint by members of my party, but for us it represents a legitimization of an illegitimate upper Chamber which ought not to be exercising powers in a modern democratic society.

We look very closely at every bill that comes before us which is first introduced in the Senate. Our position is to oppose those bills simply as a symbol of our opposition to using the Senate as a place for the introduction of legislation. We have not done that in this case. While I have registered my serious objections to Senate legislation, we find that this bill is good in its intention and that it is a well drafted bill which seeks to expedite the intra-transit flow of passengers and goods between foreign jurisdictions and Canada en route, for instance, to our major trading partner, the United States.

In principle, the Reform Party of Canada endorses, embraces and supports free trade. We support reducing red tape. We support any measures that would make it more convenient for travellers, business people and trade in goods and services to pass into Canada and through Canada. That is the objective of the bill, and for that reason we can support it.

Never let it be said that simply because we are in the official opposition position we always oppose legislation unthinkingly and in a knee-jerk fashion. That simply is not true. Members of the government would sometimes have people believe that the opposition opposes for the sake of opposing. That is not so. As I understand it, the official opposition has supported roughly half of the government bills introduced in this session of parliament. Those have mainly been technical bills that have achieved incremental advantages and which we have not objected to in principle. This is such a bill.

I wanted to make that point very clear because we try to be a constructive opposition. Where we see flaws in legislation, we speak up and object to it and do so sometimes very vociferously. When we see bills that are supportable, that incorporate common sense and are reasonably well drafted, we are prepared to support them at all stages. We do exercise discretion in the way we analyze legislation and in what we choose to support and oppose. Never let it be said that this official opposition is simply an obstructionist opposition.

Yes, when it comes to the tax increase, soft on crime, top-down, Ottawa knows best agenda of the government, we do oppose it vigorously, as we do with various bills before parliament today, but not 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.

Essentially, as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated, the bill deals with Canada allowing the United States to operate preclearance centres in Canada. That already is the practice for Canadian travellers travelling directly to destinations in the United States. A case in point would be someone travelling through Lester Pearson airport in Toronto, which is the airport that had its privatization contract screwed up by this government and which cost the taxpayers billions of dollars.

However, if we were travelling through that Liberal white elephant en route to the United States, we would present ourselves at a U.S. customs desk and would have to pass through U.S. immigration. If we were travelling to the United States so that we could pay less taxes, we would end up not having to stop to clear customs in the United States. This is advantageous to our trading partners, the Americans, because it allows them to screen potentially problematic travellers, commercial or personal travellers, before they get onto American soil. It is to their advantage in terms of interdicting contraband and interdicting illegal immigrants and illegal aliens.

It is also good for Canadians because it expedites our passage. It is very quick. We get checked in at the airline counter and within a few minutes we pass through American customs and immigration and are essentially in a legal no man's land until we arrive in the United States. However, we are able to walk off the plane there and away we go.

For tens of thousands of air travellers, this preclearance, which happens at most of our international airports, is certainly a convenient expedition of travel. It saves time and therefore saves money.

The bill would essentially expand that. It would allow in-transit preclearance services. Suppose we were to arrive from Asia at the Vancouver International Airport on Canadian Airlines, our preferred airline, we would find, if the bill is passed and the elements of it are adopted and implemented, that we could pass through this kind of preclearance allowing Canadian transportation hubs like Vancouver to increase. It would also assist Canadian air carriers. This is of particular importance to Vancouver, which is becoming a major hub for international travel. We want to do everything we can to expedite that.

If the traveller's final destination is Europe or South America on a non-stop flight from Vancouver, the passenger can wait in the transit lounge until his next flight and not go through customs and immigration until his final destination. That is the kind of thing this would allow.

I just want to make clear once again that we are distressed to see this bill coming from the other place. We really do object to this gratuitous legitimization of an illegitimate, unelected Chamber by this constant introduction of government legislation. It was a very irregular practice until this House leader and this government began to regularize it.

We are of course going to continue our fight to legitimize that upper chamber. Next week, we will be participating in a rally outside the other place, co-sponsored, believe it or not, by members of the NDP and the Liberal Party. The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton will be co-sponsoring the event with Reformers and concerned Canadians who are distressed with the lack of democracy in parliament and in the other place in particular. We will be there and one of the things we will be objecting to is this House leader's and this government's legitimization of that upper chamber by introducing bills there.

In closing, I want to say that we will support Bill S-22 here at its final stage and hope for its expeditious passage into law so that we can increase, and make more convenient, travel for Canadians and other passengers through this country.

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10:20 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise to any of my colleagues that I would be speaking on the preclearance bill. The movement of goods and persons across the Canada-U.S. border is a pet project of mine. I have been working with the Cascadia trade corridor project for almost two years now and have appreciated the preclearance that has been a pilot project at the Vancouver airport.

Although I share the concerns of my hon. colleague, that the bill should have and could have been introduced through the House of Commons rather than the Senate, which is an unelected, unaccountable body, I do feel that the legislation is very dearly and badly needed to advance the free trade that has been developed between Canada and the United States, as well as making it easier for our trading partners from countries other than the United States and Canada.

This preclearance bill will make it much easier for the international community to use Canada as a gateway to its trade in the U.S. or to use Canada as a gateway from the U.S. back home. It is essential that we make the movement of people, who have legitimate business to carry on, or a legitimate desire to visit Canada or the United States, as unencumbered as possible.

One of the concerns people express is that travellers would fall under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and this preclearance bill addresses that. It allows American customs and immigration officers to have a degree of law enforcement of the American act on Canadian soil, but with limitations. I think that would meet the concern that some Canadians have that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be somewhat undermined.

I think this preclearance bill does deal with the issue. For anyone who is concerned about the heavy arm of the U.S. authorities, that would be minimized. It is not to say that we will not see the odd incident that we have seen in the past happen, but I think the bill clarifies the role that U.S. officials would have in Canada and reciprocally what role Canadian officials would have in the United States.

I would like to share with Canadians, who might be watching or reading Hansard on the Internet, that we cannot underestimate the importance of our trade with the United States. There is over $1.4 billion worth of trade between Canada and the United States every single day. The free trade agreement accounts for about a third of Canada's GDP, which means a lot of jobs. It means a lot of Canadians are working today because of the trade arrangement we have with the United States.

Canadians can also appreciate that part of that ease of trade is the ease of movement of persons and goods across the border. We in the House have a responsibility to make sure that everything humanly possible is done to make sure that the trade corridors have the right infrastructure and the right legislation to allow for the movement of trade, people and goods, that will allow this free trade agreement with the United States, and potentially our NAFTA agreement with Mexico, to reach the potential that is out there. It means jobs for Canadians. It means an increasing standard of living for Canadians. Hopefully, it means lower taxation and a greater awareness of what the North American continent has to offer to the international trade community.

The preclearance act is a start. My understanding is that this preclearance act is primarily for airports. Although I think it is very important that it be started with the air industry because it has already shown that it works very well, we, in particular on the west coast with Amtrak, would like to see this brought in very quickly in terms of looking at train services between Canada and the United States. We could then continue to promote the “two nation vacation” concept that is being promoted by Cascadia and, I would imagine, other trade corridors are also looking at it. We could then promote the concept of international travellers being able to land in our country and getting preclearance in any mode of transportation. This would allow our customs and immigration agencies to highlight their time and pinpoint their efforts on the 20% of problem cases.

Preclearance allows far more information to be shared with our authorities before they transfer across the border. It allows customs and immigration officials at the border to concentrate on those individuals who may create the problems that we are all concerned about, whether it is illicit drugs, illicit goods or illegal immigration flowing across the border. This would allow both Canada and the United States to concentrate their efforts and resources on the problem cases.

Hopefully this preclearance will be brought through not only for air, but for rail and potentially trucks. It would be great to see trucks enter some kind of preclearance which could take place outside of the border corridor or the border infrastructure. What we see now is a congestion of trucks and trains having to stop at the borders. This has caused a problem for Canada in trying to meet its pollution requirements under its Kyoto obligations.

A lot of pollution is caused by the delay and congestion in the movement of people and goods by truck traffic. A lot of pollution we see every day is caused by trucks lining up and being put in park or neutral while they wait to proceed either on city streets or across the border at various check points. To have preclearance for people who are not a problem in an area that is not consuming time at a congestion point would be such a great thing for the advancement of our trade corridors.

The preclearance act is a good first step. I am disappointed that it came not through the House of Commons but through the Senate. Barring that, I look forward to legislation that will broaden the application of the preclearance. I would like to see that it is not too long a time before these kinds of applications are added to the preclearance.

Certainly this is a first step. I look forward to supporting it and to making sure that at the Vancouver airport, at the Amtrak station in Vancouver, at the border crossings this kind of preclearance is a very effective way of moving not only goods, but people so that we can have this two nation vacation. We can have open borders and free trade that benefits all Canadians.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start my remarks by pointing out as well that the number of this bill is S-22. People are not aware that most pieces of legislation we deal with are numbered C something, C and then a number, meaning that bill originated in the House of Commons. S-22 means that it originated in the Senate, in the other place, the unelected and as other members have pointed out, unaccountable other place.

It makes me wonder and it is mind boggling that if the government wanted to garner the Canadian public's interest and support for this bill why it would originate the bill in a place that only has the support of 5% of the population. Recent polling shows that a full 45% of the population wants to see the Senate radically reformed, the triple E model, elected, effective, et cetera. Another full 40% of Canadians want to see the Senate abolished altogether. They want to see it done away with. There are very few Canadians left who really like it the way it is. Probably the immediate families of senators are the only people left who think it is a really good idea.

If the government were serious about having people rally around Bill S-22, it should have been a bill with a C number. It should have originated in the House of Commons from elected representatives.

Speaking to the bill, the preclearance act was introduced in the Senate by the deputy leader of the government side in the Senate. The bill would provide U.S. federal inspection services with the appropriate statutory authority at designated areas in Canada to determine what people and what goods would be allowed entry into the United States.

Canada has allowed the U.S. federal inspection services to operate air passenger preclearance in Canada since the 1950s. This is not really anything new. It seeks to broaden and expand the preclearance situation in the airports.

The NDP caucus has serious reservations about Bill S-22. We recognize, as do members of the other parties who have spoken, that it is in the interests of Canadian travellers to be processed more quickly and to move more freely through the airports if it is only a simple trip to the United States, to our main trading partner. However we should point out a number of problems with the bill as it stands. Our caucus hopes to have the opportunity to move amendments which I will speak to later.

Bill S-22 represents a substantial intrusion on Canadian sovereignty. It gives officers of a foreign government the power to enforce foreign preclearance laws on Canadian soil. We believe that preclearance and intransit facilities can be legislated in a manner that is less intrusive, particularly for Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

We also have concerns about the legal implications of the bill. While some of our arguments were already addressed by amendments that have been made earlier, we still have some concerns as it is presently drafted. I would like to go through a few of those in the time I have.

The NDP remains of the view that it is possible to achieve our goals with a voluntary rather than a compulsory framework. Persons wishing to go to the U.S. could voluntarily submit themselves to examination and if necessary search. If they did not wish to undergo that kind of process, they could then withdraw their application to enter the U.S. and leave the preclearance area.

We do not believe it is necessary to create Canadian offences for resisting the enforcement of foreign laws on Canadian soil. As such we believe that clauses 33 and 34 should be removed and that clause 10 should be amended to clearly provide that right of withdrawal.

We also believe it is not necessary to grant preclearance officers the power to enforce U.S. laws on Canadian soil. In particular, we see no reason for granting the power to levy fines, seize property or to declare it forfeit as per U.S. law. Those in favour of the bill are arguing that the U.S. officers should have the same powers that they enjoy at land crossings where they are operating on American soil. In this case they would not be operating on American soil. We believe this is a major difference both legally and geographically.

If we grant these powers, they can result in enforcement of penalties or the forfeiture of goods in Canada for doing things which are not against the law under Canadian law. We are granting U.S. officers the right to enforce and penalize Canadians on our soil. We think this is a breach of Canadian sovereignty.

Under the use of force, we are very concerned about clause 12 which authorizes preclearance officers to use “as much force as is necessary” in order to effect their purposes. At the very least, this section should be modified to add the word “reasonably”. It is common in statutes of this type to use the term “reasonable force” and not give carte blanche to use as much force as is necessary. I know it is a fine legal point but it does give a lot of latitude to the enforcement officers.

These foreign officers would have the right to hold people and stop people from leaving. That is a fairly sweeping power to grant a foreign officer on our soil. It means they could detain people. If the officers think people are guilty of breaking a law in another country, they could be held, essentially arrested. We are granting foreigners powers on our soil which we do not think is necessary. This needs to be reviewed.

Under that article, clauses 10 and 22 of the bill need to be revised because they have a very low threshold for who can be detained. The NDP is very serious about that particular issue.

We submit that the test contained in clause 24 is preferable. There it has to be belief on reasonable grounds. Again it is a term that would stand up in court if it was tested and challenged. This is not present in clauses 10 and 22. At the very least, we want the same test that is given in clause 24, to be treated the same way in clauses 22 and 10.

On passenger information, there is a whole series of questions that people are asked when entering the country. A lot of it is very private information. What is done with that information? How long is it kept?

We have to keep in mind that we are giving this information to a foreign country, not to a Canadian official. We may not wish to have this private information spread around, personal information such as health records. We are told that this information will be quickly destroyed but we do not know when. We are not told how long this information is kept. Can this information be sold or are they bound to keep it private? We do not have any control over that. Privacy is becoming more and more of an issue.

The NDP remains firmly opposed to the creation of Canadian offences for resisting or misleading a foreign preclearance officer. We do not think it should be a Canadian offence to mislead a foreign officer about an issue entering a foreign country. I suppose they have every right once a person is in their country to charge them with offences, but why should it be a crime in Canada to knowingly mislead a foreign officer on our soil? These are things we have serious problems with. We want clauses 33 and 34 modified to point to those concerns.

It is not just the NDP caucus that has problems with this. The Canadian Bar Association made a presentation to the committee and coincidentally it pointed to many of the same clauses we want changed. The association wants clause 10, clause 12, clause 24, clause 28, clause 32(h) and clauses 33 and 34 amended, most of which I mentioned in my original concerns. This is the Canadian Bar Association, people who actually know something about this.

In the interests of trying to make travel more convenient for frequent travellers, like us and business people who travel a lot, we are ready to trample on Canadian sovereignty. Why? Where is the payback in this? The two things are of completely different weight.

We are willing to give foreign officers the right to penalize Canadians under Canadian law for telling them stories that are not true. Frankly, it opens up such a can of worms that it should be sent back to the other place for them to try again and take into consideration such basic things as national pride.

The other group which spoke out very strongly against the bill is the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. It wrote:

In our view, the bill should not empower the officials of any foreign state to detain Canadians against their will, in this country, simply for a suspected violation of foreign law.

As I understand it, I could be arrested by a foreigner in my country because he thinks maybe I did something wrong in misleading by giving false information. If he thinks I might have some illegal substance on me he is allowed to strip search me, do all those things and hold me there against my will. In any event, that is one of their problems. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association went on to say:

Thus, even if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that any Canadians seeking admission to the United States have lied about possessing goods that they may not lawfully take into the United States—Such Canadians should have a presumptive right to leave the preclearance area without travelling to the United States.

In other words, rather than be arrested because the officer thinks perhaps I have some contraband, I should at least be allowed to leave, to change my mind, “Okay, maybe I will not go to the U.S. If you are going to be so difficult about this, I will just leave”. That would not be allowed. They could hold me there against my will, detained, arrested by a foreign cop on our soil. That is what the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has a real problem with.

Another person who has a problem with Bill S-22 is our own Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He wrote a very strong letter. Mr. Bruce Phillips, Privacy Commissioner of Canada, wrote to the chair of the foreign affairs and international trade committee:

I am writing to express my concern regarding potential privacy issues relating to Bill S-22. ...one must not forget the fact that customs officers in the course of exercising their duties often collect vast amounts of personal information about travellers, sometimes of a highly sensitive nature. As such, I feel it is my duty to impress on the Committee the need to ensure that the privacy rights of the travelling public are adequately honoured and protected under this Bill.

He has serious reservations that they are being adequately honoured under this bill. Again, as I have pointed out, there is no real detail about how long that information can be held and in what way that information might be used. In this electronic age our information is at risk all the time. We dealt with that in a previous bill in the House about privacy, electronic information, selling of credit card numbers and no end of things.

Those are some of the reasons we cannot support Bill S-22. Starting with its place of origin, the other place, we disapprove of that wholeheartedly. We have made that clear. I predict, Mr. Speaker, you are going to hear that from all the members on this side of the House. The origin of the bill is our first problem with it.

A key problem is clauses 33 and 34. We do not believe it is necessary to create Canadian offences for resisting the enforcement of foreign laws on Canadian soil. Also, we would like to see amendments to clause 12 which authorizes the preclearance officers to use “as much force as is necessary” without even adding the word “reasonably” or if there are reasonable grounds to think that someone is doing something wrong.

There is a problem with clauses 10 and 22, holding people against their will. If I walk into that preclearance area and the U.S. customs official, the foreign officer, looks at me and says, “It looks to me like you are carrying some kind of contraband”, I cannot just turn around and walk out and say, “I have changed my mind, this is too much trouble. I think I will go home”. The foreign officer can arrest me and detain me. We certainly want that amended.

Foreign officers can arrest for any number of reasons. I just used contraband as one example. They might think I am carrying an exotic plant, a parakeet, or whatever I might have up my sleeve.

We want to know how long they are allowed to keep this private information and what they intend to do with it. We need that section amended. As well, we remain firmly opposed to the creation of Canadian offences for resisting or misleading a foreign preclearance officer. I have summarized that one already. Unless we see serious amendments to the bill we cannot vote for it.

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10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise a second time to speak to Bill S-22.

Our party supports this bill. We do not share the criticism of some of our colleagues in the House that the bill comes from the other place.

I listened to Reform members, among others, speaking of the other place. They announced that next week our Reform friends are to have a social event outside the Senate. We wonder whether they will be wearing sombreros. Perhaps they will be in bikinis. Who knows. Next week Reform members will be made fun of once again in the Senate, so the invitation is open to everyone.

They are also saying that people in the country want a complete reform of the Senate, even its abolition. It is true that the Senate must be reformed. It is also true, I think, that we must look at all parliamentary institutions. They quote figures. They say that 45% of people in Canada would like the Senate to be reformed. Why not? They say that 41% of the people in Canada would like the Senate to be abolished.

There may be other polls, but they fail to cite them. If we asked Quebecers and Canadians what they think about their politicians, I am not sure that the rating would be very good. Does that mean that we should commit hara-kiri? There must be a minimum of credibility.

A credible poll was taken in Ontario—a Reform member was speaking of Ontario earlier—not too long ago, which revealed that 91% of Ontarians would not vote for the Reform Party. This was the latest Gallup poll. In Ontario, 91% would not vote for the Reform Party. Does that mean that the Reform Party should disappear or be reformed? Perhaps.

We have to be careful with figures. What I say is that the Senate needs not to be dumped on, but co-operation with this House and a look at how the system could be improved.

This week there was a report on the reduction in the numbers of French speaking Quebecers. There are political safeguards in the Constitution. The fact that 24% or 25% of senators come from Quebec is protection. The fact that one-third of the justices of the supreme court come from Quebec is protection.

We must first respect the Constitution, not denigrate it. We can make disparaging remarks about the other place, but are we not at the same time criticizing this House? We should be very careful.

We do not have a problem with the fact that the bill originated in the other place. On the contrary, people in the other place, particularly those who belong to my party, proposed amendments to Bill S-22, thus making it a very interesting piece of legislation. They are asking, among other things, that the bill be reviewed in five years. Now this is interesting.

After the five-year pilot project, it would be proper and timely to review the preclearance system in terms of its effectiveness. This system could be very beneficial to the whole country, and particularly to Quebec and Canadian travellers, by facilitating transportation and trips to the United States.

There is also an economic issue involved. It is said that Canada is becoming a gateway to the United States. As members know, one of the Canadian carriers is currently experiencing serious problems.

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10:45 a.m.

An hon. member

It is flying low.

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10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Indeed, it is flying very low.

Having international travellers make a stopover in Canada would have a significant economic impact.

Earlier we talked about free trade. Thank God we signed free trade agreements that opened doors for us.

As I said at second reading of this bill, let us not forget that this does a service to Americans. We must not overlook this fact. For quite some time now we have been telling Americans “Let us facilitate the movement of people from this country”. We have been telling them “If ever undesirables want to enter the United States”—very few of them Canadians, of course, but people from elsewhere—“they will be arrested before they even set foot on U.S. territory”.

This is another thing preclearance does. It has advantages for Canada and advantages for the United States. They tell us “Before entering the United States, travellers from all over will be stopping over in your country. You will have the economic advantage, but we will have an advantage too. If they do not suit us, we will just hand them back over to you”. Then the Canadian justice system will deal with them. They will be protected by the charter. The Americans wash their hands of all this.

It has to be said that this is to their advantage. They will have far less trouble dealing with a possibly undesirable international clientele, because now it is Canada that will deal with it all. They will be returned to their country of origin at Canadian expense, or be processed through the Canadian legal system.

My colleague from the New Democratic Party said “Yes, but the Americans are going to apply their own legislation very strictly”. That may be the case, but they will not do it very often. Someone undesirable will simply be turned over to the Canadian authorities. We will be the ones stuck with dealing with them and expelling them from the country.

We are familiar with the problems often encountered with illegal immigrants involved in crime, and how difficult it is to get rid of them with all the appeal processes there are here. They will come under Canadian jurisdiction.

That said, there is one interesting aspect for this country. This bill casts some light on practices that were already in place. It is a bill that comes to us from the other place and I must draw attention to the work that was done there.

It is often said that in that other place they do not have much to do. If that is so, it is because there is not much happening in this place as far as legislation is concerned. Where is the government's vision on legislation? There is none.

The main work of the other place is to review, analyse, re-examine and possibly amend bills before returning them to us. If they have nothing to do in the other place, it is because there is nothing much doing here.

There are some top-notch people in the other place, as there are many in this House. There are some so-so people in the other place, as there are here too perhaps. Not many, of course, but there are some.

Let us try to focus the energies and strengths that exist in this parliament. Let us also try to improve what is being done and how it is being done. It is not by running down the other place that we will improve things.

If Quebecers and Canadians were asked who they trusted least, the answer might well be this country's politicians, with the exception of yourself, Mr. Speaker, perhaps. That does not mean we should all go out and commit hara-kiri. We must continue to work at improving our credibility and showing that we can make a difference. All members of the House are motivated by one thing: to make a difference for those we represent.

Bill S-22 can also make a difference for those we represent by simplifying business and pleasure travel toward destinations in the United States.

Once again, it is not because the bill comes from the other place that it is bad. I would even say that it is not because an idea comes from the Reform Party that it is bad. Absolutely not. Nor does this mean that all their ideas are always sensible and well thought out. However, the fact remains that we cannot be running each other down. We must get one thing straight, which is that each time we say something bad about the other place in the House, we are saying something bad about ourselves as well.

I am therefore pleased to support Bill S-22, and I wish to congratulate the people in the other place, as well as members of this House, for the very fine work that was done.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We are getting into the period for Statements by Members. If the member desires, he may use the 10 minutes remaining in his allotted time following question period.

Preclearance ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the position of the party I represent is very clear. I know that other members wish to take part in the debate. So with great generosity—one big difference between us and certain other parties is our great generosity—I am going to turn the floor over to other parliamentarians. I think that all parliamentarians and the people in the other place should have this positive and open attitude toward the Chair and toward the Canadian public. I will therefore leave my time for other parliamentarians.

Whig StandardStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased for the opportunity to recognize the Kingston Whig Standard as the oldest continuously published daily paper in Canada.

The Whig has served well the interests of the people of the vibrant historic city of Kingston and surrounding areas. The Kingston Whig Standard has provided me with a daily account of local, national and international news and happenings for many years.

The many excellent reporters and columnists, led by publisher Fred LaFlamme and joined by the Whig Standard community editorial board, inform, provoke and entertain us all.

The Kingston Whig Standard has won many distinguished awards nationally and internationally for journalism and photographic achievements.

I am sure none of these are more valued than the 150 year record of service to eastern Ontario. On behalf of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, who is the member of parliament for Kingston and the Islands, myself and our constituents, I send hearty congratulations and best wishes for ever success into the future.

Pedahbun LodgeStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week in the National Post it was reported that the Pedahbun Lodge in Toronto, a government funded addiction treatment centre for natives, had spent money on paying off the executive director's parking tickets, hiring her family, and flying staff to California. There were also allegations that a clinic van was used to smuggle illegal immigrants into Canada from the U.S.

Needless to say there are many troubling questions still be answered. Why was 15% of the budget spent on travel that was meant to treat addicts? This is inexcusable.

My suggestion to the Minister of Health is that $500,000 given to this dysfunctional organization may be better spent on a lodge in Manitoba by the name of St. Norbert Foundation/Selkirk Healing Centre.

I know that the ministers of health and foreign affairs are aware of this establishment and its success rate. It provides long term residential programming for aboriginal men, women, youth and family units experiencing a variety of addiction problems.

This organization is desperate for funding. Why not give it a chance to prove itself and replace those that are hurting, not helping our aboriginal people?

Spanish And Portuguese SynagogueStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 21 it was my distinct privilege to witness the presentation of a heraldic coat of arms to the 231 year old Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal. Its design reflects the cultural origins of this unique institution.

Red and gold colours encircle the crest representing its members Sephardic Jewish origin from Spain and Portugal. Four columns in silver symbolize the four different locations they have occupied since 1768. The 10 commandments crested by a red maple leaf on the crown reflects Canada, where the Jewish population found haven and security from war and discrimination.

This synagogue has evolved over the years. Today it is multicultural and multilingual, with members coming from the Middle East and Europe.

The congregation, led by Rabbi Howard Joseph, has had many distinguished community and civic leaders who have contributed to our society's growth and development, including a Montreal police chief, as well as the founders of the Montreal Waterworks, the Montreal Board of Trade, the Bank of Montreal, la Banque Nationale, Canada Steamships Lines, the Theatre Royale and its members who continue to be active and contributing citizens.

In essence, this coat of arms says—

Spanish And Portuguese SynagogueStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am very sorry but we are over the allotted time.

Access Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Rick Limoges Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, May 31 to June 6 marks Access Awareness Week in communities across Canada. This week reminds us that access to full participation in Canada's economy and society for people with disabilities involves all of us as citizens.

The Government of Canada has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at helping people with disabilities to access the workforce. These include the opportunities fund, the Canada study grants for students with disabilities, the employability assistance for people with disabilities initiative in partnership with the provinces, as well as support to national disability organizations and improvements to the Canada pension plan disability program.

In coming months we shall be working in conjunction with the provinces and territories as well as with the disabled themselves to ensure that Canadians with disabilities may take full part in all aspects of Canadian society, at work and at play.

National Access Awareness Week gives all of us an opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do—

Access Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. The hon. member for Nipissing.

D-DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the upcoming 55th anniversary of D-Day this Sunday, Canadians will honour members of all our armed forces who played such a decisive part in the assault on Normandy.

Over 15,000 Canadians, a fifth of the total allied invasion force, successfully won a seven kilometre stretch of France from a desperate enemy. The Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force added to their reputations during the Neptune offensive. The tragedy of Dieppe two years earlier was avenged.

The many cemeteries in Normandy are a timeless reminder of the terrible cost of war. Our D-Day casualties were 359 killed and 715 wounded. More than 5,400 Canadians have their graves in Normandy that tell of the ferocity of the battles that were to be fought later.

The bridgehead to victory was firmly secured on June 6, 1944 and 11 months later the liberation of western Europe was complete.

We thank all of those men and women who participated in this campaign. We will remember them.

Tiananmen SquareStatements By Members

June 4th, 1999 / 11 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, today, June 4, marks the 10th anniversary of the brutal suppression of China's democracy movement at Tiananmen Square.

The world watched with horror 10 years ago as the government of the People's Republic of China ordered its military to open fire on young, unarmed students peacefully demonstrating their support for freedom and democracy. Over 2,000 demonstrators died that day. This House would never condone such government action.

Today hundreds continue to be locked up in jails for promoting freedom and democracy. The flames of democracy have not been extinguished in China. On this 10th anniversary we call on the government of the People's Republic of China to release those students still in prison for supporting freedom and democracy that day.