On behalf of the Canada Border Services Agency, I am pleased to be here to contribute to your ongoing discussions regarding privacy at Canada's airports and borders. With me today is Robert Mundie, acting vice-president of the corporate affairs branch and the agency's chief privacy officer.
The CBSA is committed to maintaining both an individual's right to privacy and the safety and security of Canadians. Our officers are trained to conduct all border examinations with as much respect for privacy as possible.
The CBSA's information collection has always maintained a balance between protection of the border and national security, while safeguarding the privacy of the information with which we have been entrusted.
Currently, under the authority of the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, we collect routine, biographical data from the passport—name, date of birth, and citizenship—and some biometric information, such as fingerprints, in certain visa-required situations.
This information is shared with international partners when and where necessary, and is covered by legislation, international treaties, and bilateral information sharing agreements.
Collection is almost always done through automation, for instance, by scanning the machine readable zone of a passport to reduce the possibility of error. Once collected, the information can be shared systematically or on a case-by-case basis.
For example, data is routinely and systematically shared with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and with Statistics Canada, and can be shared on a case-by-case basis with the RCMP and CSIS pursuant to an active investigation.
Robust privacy programs and policies are in place to guide information sharing and use.
We have a statement of mutual understanding, in addition to various memoranda and information sharing agreements, with the United States, highlighting privacy principles that both parties will adhere to with respect to personal information.
We also consult regularly with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and have prepared detailed privacy impact analyses for various initiatives.
For example, the entry/exit initiative, or Bill , has submitted a PIA for each phase of the project and has implemented all of the Privacy Commissioner's recommendations. We will further engage the OPC should Bill receive royal assent.
We protect personal information through restricted system access with user profiles. In addition, detailed instructions have been provided to users on how information can be shared. For instance, they must adhere to strict information retention and disposal schedules.
Individuals may submit an access to information request to the CBSA to obtain their travel history, including records of entries and, for third country nationals and permanent residents, their exit from Canada.
In the event of any questions or discrepancies, individuals can request that the CBSA amend or correct the information. If the CBSA agrees that information should be changed, it will also automatically and systematically inform any party who received the information of that correction.
In summary, the agency collects information to support its mandate with respect to national security, border management, and immigration program integrity. It shares information only when it's relevant, proportionate, and necessary to the administration of customs and immigration law.
Before concluding, I would like to say a few words regarding an issue that I know is of interest to the committee, the searches of electronic devices at the border.
As the committee is aware, courts have long upheld that travel across international borders is voluntary, and that there is a lower expectation of privacy when travelling, particularly when entering or leaving a country's borders.
The agency uses many avenues to inform the travelling public of their rights, their obligations, and what they should expect. Travellers are aware that they, and their goods, may be subject to thorough examination.
The Customs Act gives border services officers the authority to examine goods for customs-related purposes. In this context, goods are defined in section 2(1) of the act to include “any document in any form,” which therefore encompasses electronic documents.
The examination of digital devices and media must always be performed with a clear link to administering and enforcing CBSA-mandated program legislation that governs the cross-border movement of people and goods. Individuals also have the obligation under section 13 of the Customs Act to present and open their goods if requested to do so by an officer. Because a password may be required to open and examine documents on an electronic device, officers may compel a traveller to provide it in order to allow for the fulfillment of that traveller's obligations. The examination of electronic goods may uncover a range of customs-related offences. For example, electronic receipts may prove that goods have been deliberately undervalued or undeclared. Electronic devices may also harbour prohibited goods such as child pornography. I would like to underline, however, that CBSA policy is clear: electronic devices should not be searched as a matter of routine.
In fact, officers are instructed not to do so unless there are a number of indicators that a device may contain evidence of a contravention.
It is agency policy to turn off wireless and Internet connectivity when examining a device to ensure that the examination does not extend to material not stored directly on the device. This means that information stored remotely but accessible from mobile devices or laptops—such as social media accounts or computing clouds—cannot be searched. Officers cannot compel individuals to provide passwords for accounts that are stored remotely or online.
In conclusion, the CBSA takes its privacy protection responsibilities seriously.
We welcome the views of the Privacy Commissioner and we will continue to work with his office to strengthen our information-sharing activities and the way we collect, store, retain and dispose of personal information.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. We would be pleased to answer any questions from the committee.
Thank you for the question.
Although I do not have the statistics with me, I can tell you that the great majority of those who arrived—and are still arriving, unfortunately—had a piece of identification or a document. When people cross between two points of entry, as we have been able to see on many occasions in the news, they are intercepted by the RCMP. They do a preliminary background check to make sure that the people do not pose a threat. They are then taken to our point of entry, where we can continue the checking, which of course includes taking fingerprints, so that we can determine whether there is anything else in their background.
I should tell you that the checking has multiple stages. Canadians can be assured that, once we release people, they do not pose a threat. If we consider that there is a threat to security, if we are not able to identify the people in front of us, or if we believe that, for whatever reason, those people will not show up for further procedures, we always have the option of detaining them.
Basically, those are the steps we follow.
We'll bring the meeting back to order.
Before I introduce everybody, the Canadian Bar Association has submitted a full brief in English and the executive summary in French, so I need to ask for unanimous consent to allow those documents to be circulated to our committee.
Do I have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you, everyone. We'll have those documents circulated. I'll introduce our guests while I wait for that to happen.
Welcome again to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, meeting number 69. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h)(vii), this is a study of the privacy of Canadians at airports, borders, and travelling in the United States.
From the Canadian Bar Association we have Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, member-at-large for commodity tax, customs and trade; and David Fraser, executive member, privacy and access law section.
As individuals we have Michael Geist, Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law in the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa; and Kris Klein, partner, nNovation LLP.
We'll start off with the Canadian Bar Association, for 10 minutes.
Mr. Chair and honourable members, we appreciate your invitation and are very pleased to be here today on behalf of the privacy and access law section, immigration law section, and commodity tax, customs, and trade sections of the Canadian Bar Association, as well as the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and the ethics subcommittee of the policy committee of the CBA board, to present views on the privacy of Canadians at airports, borders, and travelling in the United States.
The CBA is a national association of 36,000 lawyers, law students, notaries, and academics. An important aspect of the CBA's mandate is seeking improvements in the law and the administration of justice. This is what brings us before you today.
My name is David Fraser. I'm an executive member of the privacy and access law section. I'll be representing the CBA sections that prepared our submissions to the committee on this issue, along with Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, who is here with me today. Cyndee is an executive member of the commodity tax, customs, and trade section.
Some information collection is necessary, and certainly expected, at the border; there is really no doubt about that. Our principal concern and the concern of the Canadian Bar Association is mainly about where the line is drawn and where the line is moving and how the fundamental principles in our charter may be left behind as this line is moved. We have commented in our document on both Bill , related to Customs Act amendments, and Bill , related to pre-clearance.
In Bill , we're very concerned about open-ended discretion being given to the CBSA to examine people leaving Canada.
In Bill , we're very concerned about what may be a general disregard of the charter and Canadian norms, when non-Canadian law enforcement officers are empowered to conduct invasive examinations in Canada. We're concerned about broad powers to interrogate those who choose to withdraw from entering the United States. We're concerned that U.S. officers can, for example, perform a strip search in Canada over the objection of a CBSA officer. We're concerned generally about a lack of accountability.
Obviously, electronic devices and the privacy of the contents are of great concern. As lawyers, we're seeing and hearing about searches of digital devices becoming much more commonplace. The CBSA is essentially using suitcase law, developed before the 1980s, to justify a massive intrusion into digital information.
The Customs Act provisions that are at issue were drafted before the 1980s, before laptops, before smart phones, and before thumb drives. In the meantime, the Supreme Court of Canada has said very strongly that all Canadians have an extremely acute privacy interest in the contents of computers, laptops, and smart phones. This has apparently fallen on deaf ears within the CBSA. People travel with a huge quantity of personal information, and the CBSA say that they can go through it legally on a whim. They say they don't, but the law, if applied as they say it is, would allow them to do it on a whim. We say this is likely unconstitutional and needs to be very closely examined by Parliament.
We also have concerns about information sharing, in that the devil is in the details: questions about information sharing between administrative agencies and law enforcement, between one law enforcement agency and another, between federal and provincial agencies, between private companies and governments, and vice versa. We think this needs to be scrutinized very closely, particularly as this information is moving around at a rapid pace. Then you overlay on top of this information sharing between governments, which of course is becoming even more common and something we need to be very concerned about.
My colleague Cyndee will introduce the balance of the issues that we've addressed.
An issue of great importance to the Canadian Bar Association is solicitor-client privilege. Solicitor-client privilege is fundamental to the proper functioning of the Canadian legal system. As a result, steps must be taken to ensure that solicitor-client privilege is protected at Canadian airports, Canadian ports of entry, and U.S. pre-clearance areas on Canadian soil.
The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly emphasized that solicitor-client privilege must remain as close to absolute as possible and should not be interfered with unless absolutely necessary. In the rare case of necessity, there must be explicit statutory language stating that privilege can be interfered with, which must be accompanied by legislative safeguards. Most people, including lawyers and clients, travel with solicitor-client privileged documents on their laptops, on their smart phones, on USB keys, and so on.
It is essential that the CBSA and U.S. customs, when operating in Canada, maintain a transparent policy and process to address solicitor-client privilege. When solicitor-client privilege is claimed, Canadian courts, not the CBSA or U.S. custom officers, should make the determination of the validity of such claims.
The Canadian Bar Association has made a number of recommendations in the submissions they have provided to the committee.
One, the CBA recommends the creation of a working group with representatives from the Canadian Bar Association, Justice Canada, and the CBSA to collaborate in the development of a defined policy for examination at the Canadian border where solicitor-client protected information is involved.
Two, the CBA recommends that the CBSA's policy on solicitor-client privilege be made publicly available on the CBSA website. Remarkably, it is not available at the current time for all to see and to hold the CBSA accountable. The CBA has made a number of recommendations in the submissions concerning the content of the current operational bulletin on solicitor-client privilege. Please review those submissions and our recommendations.
This committee should strongly recommend that the Canadian Ggvernment require U.S. customs to have a transparent and available written policy on solicitor-client privilege that is applicable to all pre-clearance examinations on Canadian soil. The CBA submissions also address oversight of the CBSA in areas such as information sharing by the CBSA with other government departments and other countries. Robust accountability mechanisms are crucial to the legitimacy and efficacy of our national security agencies as well as to public confidence in them.
This committee should recommend that the Government of Canada put effective CBSA oversight and complaints mechanisms in place, and that a transparent mechanism and process for Canadians and Canadian residents be put in place to challenge information collected about them at airports and the border. Any oversight model must incorporate a robust review mechanism. There should be verifiable procedures to ensure that any improperly obtained information is expunged from the CBSA and U.S. customs databases.
I would more than welcome any of your questions.
Thanks very much. Good afternoon.
My name is Michael Geist. I am a law professor at the University of Ottawa, where I hold the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. I have appeared many times before this committee on privacy issues, although not always in such a nice room. As always, I appear in a personal capacity representing only my own views.
I'm grateful to the committee for its commitment to privacy and its efforts to highlight the privacy issues associated with our airports and border crossings. The media has regularly covered these issues, as you know. There are fears of device searches at borders, stories of information sharing that goes beyond most reasonable expectations, and mounting concerns about the approach of U.S. law and border officials with respect to the privacy rights of non-citizens and non-permanent residents.
These stories hit home, as we saw just a few minutes ago with Mr. Long in the last panel. Everyone seems to have their own story. Recent incidents include one involving a Quebec resident who didn't want to provide his cellphone password. It was searched at the Canadian border in Halifax. He was ultimately arrested for not giving a passcode when asked. The argument was that he was hindering an investigation. In another incident, a Canadian man was denied entry into the U.S. after customs and border patrol officers demanded that he open his phone and provide access to his apps. There was yet another incident involving a Canadian photojournalist who was inspected on his way to Standing Rock. Officials photocopied pages of his personal journal and asked for three mobile phone passwords, which he said he could not disclose because of his ethical obligation to protect his sources. The phones were taken and returned hours later with tamper tape covering the SIM cards, suggesting the cards had been removed and copied.
The privacy associated with border crossings now seemingly captures everyone's attention. I think it's worth asking why. I think there are at least three sources of concern that help point to potential policy solutions.
First, there is the feeling amongst many that border crossings represent no-privacy zones in which it feels as if officials are entitled to demand whatever information they wish and can use whatever means to acquire it. I know of technical experts who regularly wipe their phones or establish border crossing social media accounts in order to counter fears of invasive searches, both physical and digital, when crossing the border.
Second, as these stories suggest, the search itself—and we've heard about this now from a number of people—has changed dramatically in recent years with the legal safeguards failing to keep pace. It's one thing to know that your belongings may be searched. Yet today, we all know that our devices and the information on them can tell a far more personal story, our social graph, our location history, our reading habits, our contacts, and our purchasing history. In searching this information, officials may literally be accessing just about everything about us. Doing so, potentially without appropriate safeguards, understandably leaves many feeling vulnerable. The data indicates, as we heard on the last panel, that at least in the United States, these forms of searches are increasing rapidly. In fact, in the United States, there have been some policies that have posited that such searches can occur with or without reasonable suspicion.
Third, it may not be comfortable to say, but part of the concern stems from the fact that the U.S. border is by order of magnitude the most significant one for Canadians. This is not solely a comment about the current U.S. administration. Rather, it reflects long-standing concerns about the U.S. approach to privacy and fears that U.S. privacy protections may be weaker than those found in Canada. For example, the enactment of the USA Patriot Act after 9/11 opened the door to extensive access to personal information without traditional safeguards. Over 10 years later, the Snowden revelations reinforced the massive data gathering efforts of signals intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Most recently, the Trump administration's executive order aimed at reversing efforts to establish privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens and residents again placed the issue in the spotlight.
What is there to do about it? I thought the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who raised issues such as information sharing across borders, the U.S. executive order, and CBSA searches provided excellent context and advice.
I'd like to briefly provide additional comments on four issues.
First, I think this committee and several of these committees have done excellent work on Privacy Act reform. As you know, it has been an issue that has regularly come up before this committee. There are few areas within Canadian privacy that are more overdue for updating. Indeed, there have been consistent and persistent calls for reforms for decades.
One of the methods of addressing some of the airport privacy concerns in Canada may be through the Privacy Act. Your proposed reforms to provide the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada with greater powers would empower that office to examine border issues in a more comprehensive manner and open the door to more careful reviews of cross-border sharing arrangements. You recommended the reforms; now we need action.
Second, information sharing within government—we just heard about it from Mr. Fraser—remains a source of concern. Indeed, some of the most notable anecdotal stories involving abuses or questionable conduct at the border arise due to information sharing between governments or government departments. The Privacy Act and the OPC are supposed to create safeguards against misuse of personal information, or the use of information for purposes for which it was not collected. However, we have witnessed mounting pressure in recent years for more information sharing between governments and government departments.
Bill , which we all know garnered widespread criticism, featured a significant expansion of government sharing of information, undermining, I would argue, the effectiveness of the Privacy Act. Unfortunately, the information-sharing provisions as they were amended in that bill were only modestly changed. Information sharing was considered a feature, not a bug, and I should note that included the Liberal Party when it was in opposition.
Bill , which seeks to amend Bill , leaves many of the information-sharing provisions intact. There are two needs here that must be reconciled. One, I think we all recognize that government needs to be able to use the information it collects in a reasonable and efficient manner. Two, the public needs confidence that its information will not be misused. That confidence comes from legislative safeguards and effective oversight. There is reason to believe we do not yet have the right balance.
Third, as the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has discussed, Canadian law must apply on Canadian soil when it comes to these issues, particularly the charter. Reducing so-called friction at the border is a laudable goal. No traveller wants long lines or lengthy delays, and that of course applies in a commercial context as well. However, expediency has a price, and sacrificing the Canadian Charter of Rights on Canadian soil is, in my view, a bad bargain. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld unauthorized searches of devices, and those principles should apply on Canadian soil in a like manner at the border.
Fourth, with the NAFTA negotiations ongoing this week in Ottawa, I think it is important to link those trade talks with this issue. While there is no airport privacy chapter in the agreement, at least that I'm aware of, NAFTA touches on many of these related issues. There will be pressure—we know there is pressure—to speed up border crossings in the name of increased trade. Further, the digital trade chapter, formerly the e-commerce chapter, is likely to include provisions on data localization, prohibiting some of the data localization, and restrictions on data transfers. NAFTA, of course, is not a privacy deal, but the reverberations from the agreement will be felt in the privacy world.
The European Union has regularly linked privacy and data protection with trade. We ought to do the same, recognizing that these issues are linked and that the policy recommendations that come out of this committee on this issue need to make their way into the negotiations. In fact, I'd go even further by noting that the U.S. now seeks to accord the Europeans with privacy protections under the privacy shield. Other countries, such as Australia during the TPP negotiations, sought to ensure that Australians enjoyed the same level of protection. Surely, Canada can use the NAFTA discussions to ensure that the same kind of protection afforded to citizens of other countries outside the United States is afforded, as well, to Canadians.
I look forward to your questions.
Thank you for having me.
When I teach privacy law, one of the first things we do at the beginning of the term is have a discussion about reasonable expectation of privacy and what it is. It's always a great conversation, especially amongst the budding young law students, who are keen to say you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in everything. They want to say it's everywhere, but it isn't.
That is why you are having this discussion today. On the one hand we have our cellphones, and we've heard testimony already saying that obviously we have a great expectation of privacy in our cellphone. We've even had the Supreme Court say the same thing, that on our devices we have a greater expectation of privacy.
On the other hand we have the borders, and—no joke—the courts in Canada have been strong in their position that we have zero expectation of privacy at the border. That's something the courts have said. Here are a couple of quotes from an Ontario Court of Appeal case from 2006:
||No one entering Canada reasonably expects to be left alone by the state, or to have the right to choose whether to answer questions routinely asked of persons seeking entry to Canada. ...The state is expected and required to interfere with the personal autonomy and privacy of persons seeking entry into Canada. Persons seeking entry are expected to submit to and co-operate with that state intrusion in exchange for entry into Canada.
We have these two competing forces, and I applaud the committee for trying to come to terms with it and come up with some meaningful recommendations. We're better off focusing on what we are doing here and some real solutions that we can impose here in Canada, as opposed to trying to figure out what to do to fix Canadian privacy rights in the United States, which is a pretty hard task to do from here.
Now the Privacy Commissioner has made a couple of recommendations in this respect, and I applaud them. For example, and Mr. Geist alluded to this, if Europeans have the privacy shield protecting them, why doesn't Canada have something similar? The starting point is the Judicial Redress Act in the United States, and the Privacy Commissioner has made a comment about this: it would be a simple fix just to list Canada as one of the countries that is afforded protection under this act in the United States. So it's not to say there is nothing that can be done to help Canadians while they are abroad; it's just that we have to recognize that if you are abroad, your privacy rights are not going to be the same as when you are at home.
The last point is let's concentrate on what we can do at home, and I won't reiterate it because I thought Mr. Geist said it really well: Privacy Act reform. Let's get our own house in order. This act is old, and it is in dire need of modernization. I'll end it there.
Based on my experience as a lawyer, there are a number of mechanisms already. There is a complaints process, but there is not a lot of back and forth with the complainer in that process. Also, it's going to the CBSA; it's not going to someone else looking at the actions of the CBSA.
The second mechanism is the recourse directorate. When a contravention has occurred, the recourse directorate is looking for a decision of the minister to overturn that contravention, or if a NEXUS pass has been taken away, confiscated and cancelled, a review of that process.
If you haven't had a contravention, though, you can't complain about the CBSA looking at your cellphone or your laptop. If someone who has had his or her cellphone reviewed without it leading to anything and then writes a complaint to the recourse directorate, the recourse directorate would say they have no jurisdiction to look at this because there is nothing for them to review. There is no provision of the Customs Act that authorizes them to do this.
There needs to be some mechanism in place to review the narrative reports of the officers, and the complaints. You have access to the complaint process, to the CBSA, not the Privacy Commissioner. How many people have complained about their laptop and electronic device searches through that mechanism? How many people have complained in the course of recourse directorate reviews? Also, even getting a number of narrative reports written by CBSA officers...they are a treasure trove of information as to what happened with respect to a particular incident at the border. You will find information in there.
In the last number of years we've clearly have had a recognition from the Supreme Court of Canada of the very high value of privacy that is existent in these devices. They are at the very high end of the scale. You can get a search warrant to search a house, and if it contains a computer, you need an extra search warrant to go into that computer. We actually have a recent case from the Supreme Court of Canada which recognized that there are circumstances where maybe that can be pierced in a little way, and that's the search incident to arrest. That's where, by analogy to the kind of security imperatives at the border, you have officer safety issues, you have the destruction of evidence issues, things like that, and the Supreme Court of Canada said ordinarily that you can never get into this thing without a warrant, but in a search incident to arrest we'll let you in there, but only in a very careful, very controlled way.
That may be in fact the middle ground, the documenting of exactly why you're doing it, what you're doing, and how you're doing it. I think part of that also is it's too easy for the CBSA to get into these phones. They have their policies and they have their procedures, but according to the law, as they seem to understand it, a CBSA officer can go looking through a young woman's phone just because she came from Cuba and there may be bikini pictures on it. There is no threshold in the law, as they understand it, to allow them to do that. There needs to be a balance, but it certainly doesn't need to be down here. It needs to be higher, up here.
I would start my response by noting—I think it was Kris that noted—that the courts often say that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. I think part of the problem here is that, if we are reliant on a reasonable expectation of privacy, but many people have in a sense been taught that you should not expect any privacy when you're crossing a border—I don't think that's the right thing to have been taught. However, from an experiential perspective, that is how many people regard that experience. Then it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if we're reliant on a reasonable expectation of privacy, but people don't expect any, well then they say, “Sorry, you got exactly what you expected.”
From my perspective, one of the starting points for solving this issue is to leave out the privacy side and let's establish reasonable expectations about what people will encounter when they cross the border. Part of that depends upon far better disclosure and information. We've already seen, in some of the questions here where there is confusion, even after you've heard from the CBSA or other officials about what the policy happens to be.
If you're getting the actual officials in here and questioning them and you're still not sure about what is actually taking place, Canadians can hardly be blamed for not having any real understanding about what the standards are, much less the fact...the idea that we ought to be separating what Canadian officials are doing and what U.S. officials are doing. When we have U.S. officials on Canadian soil, many people struggle to distinguish between what's taking place because it's all happening here, at the Ottawa airport, or at Pearson, or wherever it happens to be, even if the officials come from different places.
Even before we say let's set out and fix the law, we have to begin, I think, to establish reasonable expectations for people, which must surely come from far better disclosure and clarity about what is permitted and what is not. I think that will allow for a much more robust debate to ensure that people do sleep well at night, when it comes to the kinds of standards that we have about protecting our borders, but also sleep well at night knowing that the next morning, when they're going to the airport, they're not going to be subject to an invasive search that seems inappropriate.
That's a good question. I'm not sure if it's unfair, but it's a good one.
I think—and it has been highlighted by a lot of your witnesses—that the move to the electronic and digital world has meant that the scope of a search is not the scope of a search from a decade ago. If we are looking at it purely from where the law is at, and the reality of the implications from searches today, quite clearly the concern arises that, once you shift from the physical belongings in my bag, whether that's a new handbag or some other sort of thing that is there, into, in a sense, the cloud—although we did hear the notion that they are not looking in the cloud but strictly for what's on the device, so much gets stored on these devices—that's where I think there has to be a bit of catch-up.
For me, a close second—I guess it's a theme because I've raised it now a couple of times—is the lack of clarity and the uncertainty associated with what takes place. This is, for me, a really serious concern. I didn't mention it, but I think in some ways it's one of the reasons this issue resonates with people. Literally, I think every person will have a story. I can recall, for myself, immediately after the Trump executive order, I was crossing a land border with my son to go to some basketball games in March. As we were going there, there was a lot of uncertainty. What exactly are they going to ask? Are they going to just let us through, or are they going to want to see phones or devices, or question whether I am permitted to go with my son across the border and whether there is a letter from my wife? What other information are they going to look for? There is no place where you can get that. I crossed, and they waved us through immediately. I'm a lucky white guy, as it turns out.
The reality is that, for me, it's usually not that big a deal, but for an awful lot of people, depending on where they were born, the colour of their skin, or the background they have, this is an issue that keeps them up many nights and raises enormous fears. Finding ways to address that, and, I would argue, address it on both sides of the border.... I don't think we can solely say, let's fix the Canadian side of the issue, while recognizing that for millions of Canadians, the issue will still remain. Especially when we are in the midst of active negotiations with the United States about NAFTA, that surely is one of the places where there is an opportunity to try to craft some of these solutions.
As for the question of who's getting it right, I think everybody is struggling with these issues, and everybody's circumstances are different, in terms of the security imperative and the like, which makes it difficult to identify precisely the right place to land.
This is obviously a commonality among many countries, especially attempts to facilitate border crossing and make it easier. One of the problems with those attempts to facilitate and make life easier is that it comes with the provision of a massive amount of information, which then gets widely shared. The vision is, let's make it easier for people to travel across borders, but the price of doing so becomes passenger lists, other sorts of information, or biometric data, as you provide in a NEXUS context.
There has been a large price, it seems to me, in terms of some of the things that people have to surrender as part of that. Perhaps other colleagues on the panel have their own experience or knowledge, but I think we are seeing many countries grapple with some of the same kinds of questions.
One thing, though, that distinguishes our country from pretty much all others, save, I suppose, Mexico, is that our border is with the United States, or at least our most commonly traversed border is with the United States. Given what we are seeing take place in the United States, it really is unavoidable to begin to look at those issues, especially in the way that we have tried to facilitate some of those border crossings by saying, let's do pre-clearance, and, in fact, let's facilitate as much pre-clearance as possible.