Madam Speaker, as always when interrupted, my eloquence may be less than it was in the first several minutes. I will resume where I think I left off which was on the issue of the adequacy of the bill.
I have already made the points that we are concerned that the bill came from the Senate and was processed through there rather than through the House. It is well indicated that we are in support of the Bloc's amendments.
Beyond that we have some very serious concerns about the bill, particularly with regard to the tragedy of September 11. It is now totally inadequate to respond to the concerns of both Canada and the United States.
In that regard this was supposed to be about the free flow of goods and people across the border. Because it was our border we were looking at, it really was a question of the flow of people and goods from the United States into Canada.
It is important to my constituency and generally to constituencies in Canada that have large manufacturing centres. It is extremely important to those industries because of the nature of that trade that goods flow rapidly and equally so that the people involved in those manufacturing industries, including truckers and business people, are able to move easily across the border. Just on time manufacturing has been instituted in Canada and the United States now for over a decade. In order for that process to work, we must move across the border freely.
This bill was an attempt to deal with problems that existed long before September 11. Unfortunately it is wanting even with regard to the problems that we had at that time. What has happened since September 11 has dramatically increased the waiting periods on both sides of the border but particularly on the Canadian side going into the United States. That reflects the problems on the American side.
We do not do this a lot but I want to praise some of the work that national revenue has done with regard to the advancement of the use of technology and other systems to allow people and goods to move back and forth across the border. However that only works on the Canadian side, that is, it only works on allowing goods and people into Canada. The problem is it does nothing to allow goods to move from Canada into the United States.
It is important to note that 40% of all the trade in Canada moves across the five border crossings between Windsor and Sarnia. There are three tunnels, one for rail, two for vehicles, and two bridges for 40% of all the trade in this country. As a result of September 11 there have been tremendous backups.
I grew up in Essex county. The small town of Belle River is 20 miles, or 30 kilometres, from Windsor. On one day truck traffic was backed up from the Ambassador Bridge all the way to the Belle River Road which as I said is 30 kilometres from the border. Those are the kinds of problems we had.The bill is grossly inadequate to deal with those types of backups.
I want to come back to the praise I was trying to give to the department. It has moved further along both in human resources in the deployment of staff and in the use of technology on the Canadian side of the border. There has not been the same kind of response on the American side. That really is where the thrust has to be to get traffic moving again in an efficient and effective manner.
That is not to say there are no problems. We know that one of the systems, the Canpass system, allows priority to be given to people who hold the pass to move their goods across the border in a more rapid way than others. However one of the things that came out at the committee was that a full 15% of the addresses of people who hold Canpass passes are no longer accurate. The department itself gave that information to us.
Given the situation we have now and the screening that goes on around security, that is no longer acceptable. It should not be acceptable to Canadians and it clearly will not be acceptable to the U.S. government and its administration. We must improve these systems.
There is another system, Nexus, that assists individuals in moving across the border. These are people who move back and forth regularly. This system is similarly wanting in that it is not good enough. No one expects perfection but we are not close enough yet. We need to continue to work on that.
It is obvious that we need a system that both countries will accept and utilize to allow people and goods which move regularly back and forth across the border to have priority. It is the only effective and efficient way to move those goods and people.
We need the government to enter into intense negotiations with the U.S. government for these types of systems to be developed. It could also use the ones we have now and increase their effectiveness, or perhaps develop new systems that take into account the need to balance security and the efficient movement of goods and people.
Bill S-23, quite frankly, does not address these issues anywhere near adequately. It should go back for further review and be brought up to date.
I see that I am getting a signal from you, Madam Speaker, that my time has run out or is about to run out. I will finish with one other comment.
We have serious concerns, quite frankly, with regard to privacy and civil liberties in the bill.