Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today but disappointed in many respects, because Bill C-23 is being expedited through the House. It is unfortunate. Many times Liberal members criticized the Conservatives for using time allocation as an archaic way of processing legislation through the House, and today it seems to have become the regular way of doing business. It was an exception to the rule no less than 15 years ago, but now time allocation has become the standard operation of Conservative and Liberal governments. That is unfortunate because errors in bills continue to happen because they do not have a full examination.
The Liberals are starting to see that come true by what is taking place. Not only is there the arming of U.S. border patrol agents but also the basic disregard of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is quite alarming that the so-called party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has disavowed standing up for Canadians. We saw that today in the House of Commons with the weak-kneed approach of Liberal members to what is taking place on the border where Canadians are being denied entry into the United States for racial and ethnic reasons. The website states why they cannot enter into the United States but racial and ethnic profiling is not one of the reasons. The Liberal government has had plenty of opportunities to speak strongly to the United States, but it has not done that. That is a charter right. It is quite clear that the way the United States processes individuals entering the country violates our strong relationship with that country.
Before I move from that topic, it is important to note that the Liberal government is compliant with the U.S. behaving in such a manner. We have signed agreements with the U.S. on several issues relating to border security, relating to processing at the border, relating to immigration and other things, and that country has decided to dump those agreements, go it alone, without a peep from our government. It is shameful.
Back in 2002-03 I was at the Canadian embassy when then ambassador Raymond Chrétien identified that there were going to be five to seven nations, such as Pakistan, that were going to be put on a separate list for going into the United States. I said that we should object to this because a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, and that once an individual has been vetted through our process, that person should be treated as such. To this day we have yet to have a prime minister, whether it was Prime Minister Chrétien or Prime Minister Martin, stand up against this. We knew Prime Minister Harper was not going to do that. However, this body here has had plenty of opportunities to do so.
Putting closure on this debate brings up a number of sensitive issues that need to be vetted.
I grew up near the border. I live and work there. I am raising my family there. I have been crossing the border all of my life. One of my first negative experiences with crossing the border was at the age of 18 when my best friend Jeet Pillay and I were going over to watch a baseball game. He was asked by U.S. officials what country he was from. He said that he was from Canada. I am as white as a bag of milk on a beach but he happens to be brown skinned. These border officials said, “No, no, no. We want to know what country you are from. Where were you born?” He said that he was born at Hôtel-Dieu Grace hospital, which is only three blocks away from where we were crossing on the Canadian side. The officials pulled us in and detained us for about three hours just because of Jeet's skin colour. We missed most of the game.
I have become very used to what is taking place at the border and also what happens under the leadership of presidents and others. The Department of Homeland Security, which has become the over-arching thing, is a relatively new phenomenon. We forget about this. It has become one of the biggest bureaucracies, if not the biggest, in the world, but it is only a recent creation by the United States government.
We have problems with customs and border protection and also having their agents on Canadian soil and making decisions about our citizens. We also have problems with its agents on Canadian soil being able to make decisions about Canadian citizens, decisions that could affect their livelihood, decisions that could prevent them for social reasons from entering the United States. Decisions that could embarrass them publicly and shame them are being made by U.S. officials on our soil.
On top of that, they could now be armed on our soil. People say, “That is not too bad, they would have to go under these rules, terms, and conditions; they are really good fellows and there is no problem there, it is fine”, but what have we done in this act? We have not done any oversight as in making sure that we are actually going to screen and have accountability there. It is very weak. Who are we talking to?
We are talking about a problem that they have in the United States, that the customs and border protection system right now has a corruption issue. The Americans have a serious corruption issue that has been growing in the United States. Those recent problems that they have faced involved everything including drug trafficking, bribery, human smuggling, false statements, and breaking of personal privacy. These are real things that are actually happening. These are real men and women who have done those wrong things in the hire of the U.S. government for many different reasons that I do not know, but they are real cases. I am going to talk about a couple of those cases because it is important that we know the type of people who could be on our soil doing our yeoman's work that should be done by Canadians, and without the proper checks and balances. The Liberals know because they are getting squeamish about this. There is no doubt about it. When they allow another country to come in with arms and put their beachhead down here, then they ultimately have to be overseeing this properly, which the Liberals have not done.
Hence, there is the rush to put this through. At a time when the U.S. is basically tearing up agreements that we have had and denying people entry into the United States for reasons that the Americans describe as normal cause and at a time when we have more people from the United States coming to Canada as refugees, the Liberals want to rush this out the door. It does not make any sense, aside from political pressure and political damage, as opposed to doing the right thing and going through this every single step and every single way to make sure every voice is heard. In watching the debates today, it might be one of the reasons Liberals often do not take their full allotted time. That is the reason to shorten their time in the House.
I want to talk about a few of the cases because they are important. Manuel Eduardo Pena, customs and border protection officer, was convicted by a federal grand jury in Brownsville. Special agents witnessed Pena take the firearm from the store and deliver it to another person in exchange for money. He was sentenced to five years' probation. Adam Bender, from my neck of the woods, worked on the Windsor-Detroit border crossing at the tunnel, minutes from my home. He admitted that he used his position to allow illegal immigrants to enter through his lane at the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. For human smuggling, he got 24 months in prison. John Ajello is another customs and border protection officer. He got a misdemeanour of supplementing federal salary. He was accepting payments during an operation related to information sharing that he should not have done. He was making money during an investigation. Luis Alarid got seven years in prison for trafficking and bribery, conspiracy to smuggle more than 100 kilograms of marijuana into the United States, and receiving more than $200,000 in bribe money. They were all convicted. Noe Aleman Jr.'s crime was encouraging and inducing illegal immigrants to stay in the country. He was a veteran of six to 10 years. A lot of them, well over half, are veterans of the service. It goes to show us that the danger is not just with the new people who are hired, but it actually can be corruption through the system that the Americans have.
There are many good officers out there. I deal with this. I travel. I have season's tickets to sporting events in the United States. I go through all the time. There are wonderful people there, but there is also this shadow of conspiracy, conviction, and unauthorized behaviour that now we are actually empowering at a time when there is investigation.