House of Commons Hansard #173 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.


Border SecurityAdjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba


Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the Halloween night fearmongering of the independent member, I would like to reiterate that Canada and the U.S. share a long history of law enforcement co-operation. That has been very helpful and productive at the shared border. The Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies often work together to combat the trafficking and smuggling of everything from illegal drugs and tobacco to firearms and people. We want that to continue. It is a good initiative.

However, border law enforcement operations have been traditionally hindered by the fact that law enforcement officers are bound by jurisdictional limitations. In other words, they cannot enforce the law beyond their own border. This becomes an impediment to effective border policing, especially since criminal organizations are well aware of these limitations. It seems the hon. member wants those limitations to continue. We do not.

Organized crime groups use those limitations to their advantage. They do so by committing crimes in one country, then fleeing into the other country, knowing that they can often evade arrest and prosecution once they cross the border. To combat this law enforcement gap at the border, this government has made significant investments in recent years to strengthen border security co-operation with the United States.

In fact, when the Prime Minister and the U.S. President announced the declaration on a shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness in February 2011, the concept of integrated cross-border law enforcement was included as one of the four pillars of enhanced bilateral co-operation, specifically the regularization of integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operations, also known as shiprider in 2012. Shiprider allows specially trained and designated RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard officers to work together to enhance the domestic law of both countries, which I would think the opposition and the member would support, to enforce the domestic laws of both countries under the direction and control of the host country's law enforcement officers.

I want to be crystal clear on this point. While operating in Canada, U.S. officers would assist Canadian officers in the enforcement of Canadian law and would be under the command of a Canadian officer at all times. The reverse would occur when integrated operations occurred in the U.S. The vessels are jointly crewed to share resources and intelligence to better identify, interdict, investigate and prosecute criminal activity in shared waters.

Parliament was also consulted on integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operations for the required 30-day period in October 2009, following the signature of the shiprider framework agreement in May 2009. Regularized shiprider operations between Canada and the U.S. signal the beginning of a new era of co-operation for border law enforcement, an era in which resources are maximized, co-operation increased and border security vastly enhanced. I would think that all of us would want that. Canadians have asked us for that.

Shiprider strengthens border security, which facilitates the flow of legitimate people and goods, and protects the safety and security of Canadians and our economy.

Border SecurityAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I support shiprider. My question is not about shiprider.

Far too many questions remain and Canadians are largely being left in the dark. This is a crucial and expanded agreement, one that will well impact our sovereignty and the rights of Canadians like few others in our history. It must not be written and signed in secrecy.

In the interests of transparency and accountability, will the government agree to lay out what is exactly being negotiated under this cross-border law enforcement initiative and the government's position on each issue being negotiated? Will it respect existing Canadian laws and treaties, such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Canada-U.S. extradition treaty? Finally, will the government bring any agreement to Parliament for review and approval of this crucial document and agreement?

Border SecurityAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can rest assured that integrated cross-border law enforcement operations in no way compromise our constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. They do not cede or diminish sovereignty in any way. In fact, these integrated operations serve to augment our sovereignty by ensuring that threats are identified and interdicted prior to entering our jurisdiction or reaching our communities.

We have taken concrete measures to ensure proper oversight and accountability of these operations in Canada.

First, all operations taking place in Canada are conducted in accordance with all Canadian laws, including privacy laws. All designated officers are subject to our laws, including privacy laws.

Second, all operations taking place in Canada would be conducted under the control, direction and command of Canadian law enforcement officers.

Third, the current Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP or any subsequent review body for the RCMP will be mandated to review the conduct of participating officers in Canada.

The opposition member can rest assured that we are standing up for Canadians, keeping our borders open to legitimate trade and travel, but stopping criminals and those wanting to take advantage of us.

Border SecurityAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:25 p.m.)