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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Beloeil—Chambly (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Safety February 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today is the second anniversary of the first vote on Bill C-51. The Liberals and the Conservatives joined forces to pass a bill that violates our rights and freedoms.

History is repeating itself with Bill C-23, which is bad for human rights and Canadians' privacy.

The government has admitted that the current pre-clearance system works well, so why is it so determined to forge ahead with giving American officers more powers on Canadian soil?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech and the question that followed.

The Liberals seem to have fallen back on the argument that it is okay because it is already happening. They are accusing the NDP of wanting to close the borders. Seems like the politics of fear to me.

Here is the truth. If pre-clearance is already happening, if it is working well, if the goal is simply to expand the pre-clearance process to other airports, train stations, and ports, and if the government wants reciprocity, which would mean posting Canadian officers in the United States, then why give American officers so many additional powers?

For example, they will be allowed to do strip searches without a Canadian officer present, carry firearms, and interrogate and detain Canadians and permanent residents who choose to leave the pre-clearance area.

If the system is already working well, can my colleague explain why additional powers should be granted?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, we do stand up for workers, but we also stand up for human rights. That is what this is about.

One Canadian had his private life scrutinized in the presence of American customs officers before being interrogated, detained for several hours, and turned away at the border. That arbitrary and discriminatory decision was made after the officers took his smart phone and discovered his sexual orientation.

More and more Canadians are being unfairly turned back at the border, and Bill C-23 will pave the way for even more abusive practices.

How is the government going to stand up for human rights and Canadians' rights?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to listen to talking points on the economy when what we are talking about is more and more asylum seekers risking their lives to cross the border and come to Canada.

The government needs to act quickly and address the lack of resources by taking concrete immediate action. With spring right around the corner, the situation is likely to change quickly. We need more border officers, but we also need to suspend the safe third country agreement.

The Prime Minister has said that everyone is welcome here in Canada. When will this government get its head out of the sand and take action?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I acknowledge the economic significance of pre-clearance and everything that this entails, but the fact remains that there are some serious concerns.

Again, even though this practice already exists, we are giving U.S. officers more power. One of the problems is the government's argument about the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Consider our cell phones when we cross the border. There was a time when most people did not bring their phones with them, or did not even have a cell phone.

More and more we bring our entire life with us on small computers tucked away in our pockets. The problem is that there is no real legislation in Canada to govern how border officers, Canadian and American alike, are to deal with this on Canadian soil. We can take for granted that the charter will provide some protection, but there are no real legal precedents. We are simply relying on ministerial directives that apply to the Canada Border Services Agency. This concern was raised by the Privacy Commissioner.

Given that the current U.S. government is talking about creating more laws to obtain passwords for social networks, especially for cell phones, does my colleague not understand the consequences this could have? Furthermore, even though the application of the charter is mentioned in the bill, according to case law, the charter has never been fully applied to what happens in customs.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

He raised one point that Bill C-23 would change. He talked about the fact that, if a traveller does not like an officer's questions, the traveller can leave the pre-clearance area. What this bill actually changes is that people will no longer have the right to do that. If they do, they will be subjected to interrogation by officers.

As I said earlier in this debate, when I was going back and forth with the minister, that can be justified on the grounds that they just want to get certain answers. The problem is that officers are being given the power to detain Canadians and permanent residents and ask them questions.

According to this bill, the period of time must be reasonable even though there is no clear definition. That is what we are concerned about. Let us take the example of a permanent resident who refuses to be questioned and wants to leave the pre-clearance area. This was an example used in the media by a former lawyer from the immigration section of the Canadian Bar Association.

Would it not be problematic if a permanent resident of Canada in the process of obtaining his or her citizenship were to get a criminal record, given that the law refers to lack of co-operation, simply because officers asked questions and were profiling and the resident simply chose to leave the pre-clearance area?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

Since he mentioned the Jean-Lesage airport, I will ask him a very simple question. The president and CEO of the airport believes that it is unfair that Quebec City has to pay for the infrastructure needed for a pre-clearance area given that Montreal did not have to pay these costs and is not charged for this service.

Would my colleague like to comment on whether the government will commit to help different ports, stations, or airports that will host such new sites and pay the related expenses?

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Madam Speaker, what Canadians want to see is a government that will stand up for their rights and not have a situation like the gentleman from Vancouver who is turned away at the border because of his sexual orientation and because he is being accused of hiding something nefarious on his phone because he deleted his browser history.

As I said at the outset, we certainly agree with the upside of pre-clearance. Again, I would ask the government to explain why, if pre-clearance already exists and pre-clearance zones already exist, we need to hand over all these powers to American agents on Canadian soil if the system is already in place and we simply want to have it happen at more destinations.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Madam Speaker, the issue here is that people are concerned because we are saying that we want to expand the number of places where pre-clearance happens, and we want Canadians to do pre-clearance in the U.S. As I said in my speech, that is all fine and good; yet we do not have a justification for why they would need this sudden expansion of powers. As I said at the outset, in the climate that exists now where we are seeing Canadians being turned away at the border, being asked for their cell phones, and being profiled, Canadians are rightfully concerned about what this would mean.

Again, I return to my question for the minister. If the safeguards are so strong that none of these things will happen, then why even give these extra powers to American agents at all? Why not just have faith in Canadian agents and law enforcement to ensure security and to ensure that this is all happening properly and just keep the system in place as it is now? That is not something the government has been able to justify.

Once again, we have the government finding itself in a situation where there is a climate that is changing quickly. It is an unpredictable situation. Who knows what executive order will be signed tomorrow? Who knows what Canadians will be asked to give up next at the border for the right to simply go to visit a family member or to conduct business or work? That is the concern Canadians have, and that is why we find that there has not been sufficient justification for this expansion of powers.

Preclearance Act, 2016 February 21st, 2017

Madam Speaker, that is an important point, because the use-of-force standards for Canadian agents and for American agents are different. That is exactly one of the parts of the bill where we can identify that being an issue.

It raises another issue, if my hon. colleague will allow me to raise another point that I did not have time to mention during my speech. The minister raised it in his speech. It is the concern, for example, of the absence of a Canadian officer if ever a body search has to take place. The example the minister gives is that in six decades it has only happened once or it has never happened, so it does not matter. However, we do not draft laws by saying, well, it never happens so it probably will not happen, so it is no big deal. It is very serious, especially when we consider, for example, the transgendered community and the very different definition that exists for U.S. customs in how its officers treat people in terms of deciding whether a man or a woman will be the one doing the search on a citizen. How do we reconcile that with how we treat a Canadian who might be in that position? It is not clear, and it is a problem.