Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise again to speak to Bill . I had an opportunity to illuminate many of the great benefits the bill would bring to Canadians in my speech at second reading.
I want to begin my comments by thanking all the members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for their work. It is evidenced by the fact that our government adopted all of the committee's amendments, including the NDP amendment for a five year review. There is an excellent relationship between the committee and our ministry in making sure we have the most effective bill possible. It has been a pleasure to work with the committee members, and I want to take the opportunity now at third reading stage to thank them.
It is appropriate that we are speaking to Bill on the eve of summer. Many Canadians are getting ready for their travel plans, visiting family, or taking a vacation. One of the things they do not want to deal with on vacation is long lines, hassles, and problems getting to where they want to go.
Pre-clearance would help us facilitate the movement of goods, services, and people, making sure people are avoiding long lines, and that they can expand the number of destinations they can go to. In fact, some 12 million passengers each and every year in the airline sector alone already use pre-clearance. Some people may use pre-clearance, and not even realize they do. People flying out of Pearson have the opportunity to go through customs before landing on U.S. soil, which not only accelerates the opportunity for them to get to work, see family, or start their vacation, it also means they get to have that process happen on Canadian soil. I will get back to that in just a moment.
On the range of airports, it means there are a vast number of airports that suddenly open up to airline passengers as if they are domestic travellers. If people want to go to Nashville, for example, in the absence of pre-clearance, they will be in for a lot of transfers. With pre-clearance, they get to go there directly, roughly doubling the number of cities they can travel to as Canadian citizens. That is certainly a big benefit as a traveller.
The other point, which is incredibly important, is that often in this debate, we have a discussion in abstraction about whether or not there will be issues with moving pre-clearance on this side. Aside from the fact that it has already been happening for six decades, there is the point that someone who is already travelling to the United States gets to have that process happen on Canadian soil. The great benefit of that is that individuals have the opportunity to have the full protection of the Canadian charter, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and Canadian law, generally, so that if something were to happen that they did not agree with, there is the opportunity in the process to have that protection on Canadian soil.
It is important to look at this in conjunction with the work we are doing on oversight, more generally, to ensure as we look at our oversight mechanisms more broadly, when someone does have problems, CBSA has independent oversight. Members can see what is proposed with oversight more generally with Bill , which was tabled just yesterday. It was the largest update of our security intelligence framework since the creation of CSIS. It would put in place rigorous and effective oversight, both in the form of a security and intelligence review body, but also in the form of a committee of parliamentarians. I was very pleased to see the Senate adopt Bill without amendment yesterday. It will allow us to bring forward that committee of Parliament.
Therefore, it can be seen that we are looking at oversight, and making sure that the laws and powers that are extended have rigorous oversight. Of course, one of the great advantages of having pre-clearance happen on Canadian soil is the leverage. If something were to go wrong, there is the opportunity to have discussions bilaterally with our U.S. neighbours to ameliorate that.
There have been some questions about different elements of the bill. For example, if people walk into a detention area, they have to explain why they are there. Some people have taken issue with that, saying there should not be unnecessary delays. Of course, that is exactly the language of the bill. One should only be detained for a limited period of time, and it should only be to ascertain necessary information. Some people have asked, why? Very importantly, we could imagine that if somebody walked into a detention area, was just looking around, casing out a pre-clearance zone, and then made a decision to leave, we want to know why they were there, why they showed up. Asking questions in that regard is extremely important.
I spoke to many of these matters when we were at second reading. I want to come to the testimony we heard at committee. The committee had an excellent opportunity to hear from a very wide array of witnesses as to the economic and other benefits that would come as a result of Bill .
We are all aware of the aspirations of the Jean Lesage and Billy Bishop airports. It is important to enumerate and talk about some of the other witnesses we heard from in terms of the benefits of this bill. In conjunction with that, technical briefings were provided to parliamentarians by Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency that expanded upon some of the concerns, and I hope answered them.
I would like to go to the individuals from a variety of sectors such as tourism, Canada-U.S. trade, airports, and others. They told the public safety committee how pre-clearance would benefit their businesses. On that basis, I am going to begin with the tourism industry.
Rocky Mountaineer, one of the sites included in pre-clearance expansion, spoke to committee about how the current customs process works at their station in Vancouver, B.C. With routes that run between Vancouver and Seattle, Rocky Mountaineer currently uses post-clearance customs and immigration processes.
For example, on a southbound journey, U.S. customs and border protection officers conduct customs proceedings on arrival in Seattle. It can take 30 to 45 minutes to clear an entire train upon arrival. With pre-clearance, passengers would be cleared as they arrive to the train station, similar to the experience they go through at one of the eight Canadian airports with pre-clearance operations, some of which I was referring to earlier. Instead of a large group of people arriving simultaneously to be cleared, passengers could be managed as they arrive, and check in for their trip. It would be a more comfortable and manageable experience for passengers, and much more efficient for customs and immigration officers. That is the primary goal of Bill more broadly, to make the traveller experience more efficient, while maintaining security standards at the border.
As the Business Council of Canada pointed out during its testimony to committee, travellers seek out the path of greatest convenience and least resistance in air travel. It is not just the convenience factor, but there is a major economic benefit to the changes being talked about today. As Canadians or others are contemplating what kind of travelling they may want to do this summer, or any point in the year, they are going to choose the options where they are least inhibited, and are going to be dealing with the least number of headaches. Helping facilitate that is only in our best interest, particularly when we are thinking of foreign visitors who may be attempting to travel in and around North America.
Pre-clearance would give Canada a competitive advantage. It would increase the number of destinations Canadians could travel to directly. I gave examples earlier, and Reagan airport in Washington is another great example. Without pre-clearance facilities, a traveller from Ottawa would not be able to fly directly to Reagan because it does not have customs and immigration facilities. I gave the other example earlier of Nashville.
Once travellers would be pre-cleared in a Canadian airport, they would arrive in the United States just like any other domestic travellers in the U.S. It would let them step off the plane immediately, make a connection, head to a meeting, or begin their vacation, all because they were able to pre-clear at the start of their travels in Canada.
The Business Council of Canada further stated that our country has a great desire for increased trade investment in tourism, and expanding pre-clearance would give a tremendous competitive advantage. It is worth noting that, in an age when there is so much competition for trade and commerce, anything we can do to eliminate obstacles and red tape, and move people, goods, and services in a better fashion is only to our advantage. Where we do not put it in place, we have a competitive disadvantage that is incredibly inhibiting. What we heard in testimony is how important it is to have pre-clearance go through to make sure we continue to have a strong competitive advantage.
Billy Bishop Airport also spoke specifically to this advantage. It has worked extensively to bring pre-clearance to the Toronto Island Airport over the last several years, and would work to implement pre-clearance facilities at its airport with the passage of Bill .
I have had the opportunity to meet with the folks who are responsible for Billy Bishop, and they are ready to go. They foresee enormous economic benefits, not only for that airport, but for the entire greater Toronto region, and of course for the Canadian economy.
Billy Bishop welcomed 2.7 million passengers in 2016 alone, generating $2.1 billion as an economic impact per year. It is a huge amount, and that is before it has pre-clearance. It is the sixth-largest departing airport for U.S.-bound passengers, and the ninth-largest airport in Canada. Expanding pre-clearance to Billy Bishop will promote speed, access to increased destinations, and efficiencies, all without compromising security or safety of the border. In fact, from my earlier comment earlier, it would enhance them. It would make sure that Canadians are getting their pre-clearance done on Canadian soil under the full protection of Canadian law.
Toronto Pearson International Airport is the original example of the benefits of pre-clearance, as the original airport to be granted pre-clearance. As the Greater Toronto Airport Authority testified before committee, each new link or flight route is an opportunity for trade and jobs, something I do not think anybody in this House wants to stand between.
Toronto Pearson has become the fourth-largest air entry point into the United States. It pre-cleared six million passengers last year alone. It has had a 30% increase in pre-clearance traveller growth in the past five years. Quite simply, these numbers demonstrate the undeniable need for expansion and pre-clearance. If we see the benefit and impact of pre-clearance at Pearson, and we imagine Billy Bishop and all the other locations that are contemplating pre-clearance, and we magnify that increase in travel and that increase in commerce, it is not hard to get to a very significant number and the billions of dollars in increased activity for our economy.
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada spoke to these benefits as well. It noticed last year that $91.6 billion was generated from tourism revenues in Canada alone. Over 627,000 Canadians are employed in the tourism industry. It is a massive number of people who are counting on us to have a regime that works for them, and facilitates movement of people, goods, and services.
As Canada's tourism industry grows, we must ensure that we are doing all we can to modernize, and expedite the flow of people and products across our border with the United States. Not only does pre-clearance attract tourists, but it can attract the air service, and allow airports to offer enhanced connectivity in an incredibly competitive global industry. It is a huge boon for both travellers and airports.
Canadian airports connect and manage over 133 million passengers each and every year. Of those, 9.8 million are tourists to Canada. In 2015, 12 million travellers were pre-cleared in Canadian airports to travel to the United States. The expansion of pre-clearance to additional airports, and other modes of travel, such as rail, will build on the success of pre-clearance operations. The economic and traveller benefits cannot be overstated. As we heard from many in the tourism, airport, rail, and Canada-U.S. trade industries, these changes are absolutely vital. Bill would ensure that more Canadians have access to pre-clearance, while making border travel and trade easier, more profitable, and more secure.
Perhaps in the closing time that I have, I can go over some of the concerns that have been raised, and how we think those concerns can be fully addressed. One of the concerns that was raised, both during the committee proceedings and outside of them, was the ability for officers to conduct strip searches of travellers in Canada.
The rules governing searches by U.S. pre-clearance officers will be almost the same under Bill as they are right now. A U.S. officer will still have to ask a Canadian officer to conduct a search involving the removal of clothing. The only difference is that in a rare circumstance that a Canadian officer is unavailable, the U.S. officer would be able to conduct the search. Any search by an officer of either country would be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is important to note just how rare a circumstance that would be, that a Canadian officer would not be present, but also how important, that if there were not a Canadian officer, that search could still take place.
Sometimes individuals have something on their person that could represent an immediate risk and danger to officers, and if officers are unable to conduct that search, it could put them at great risk, so it is something that cannot be deferred or simply held back.
Some people have asked what protections would exist for a transgender traveller being strip-searched by a U.S. officer. I can say that CBSA has policies in place allowing exceptions to the rule that strip searches must be conducted by an officer of the same sex as the traveller. For instance, in the case of a transgender person, searches of this nature by U.S. preclearance officers in Canada would be conducted in accordance with CBSA procedures and Canadian human rights jurisprudence. U.S. officers would be provided training to ensure that their conduct met these standards. This is yet another benefit of undergoing U.S. border procedures on Canadian soil.
I think I have explained why people have to identify their purpose when they arrive in a preclearance zone, so I will not talk about that any further.
Some people have questioned the term “unreasonable delay”. They have suggested that “unreasonable delay” of someone in a preclearance area is overly vague. Liberals would disagree. The concept of reasonableness is used widely in legislation and case law and usually means that other people in the same situation would reach the same conclusion or behave in the same way.
With respect to officer authorities, it has been used to refer to generally accepted standards. In fact, when the existing preclearance law was being debated in 1999, the NDP at that point argued in favour of adding the word “reasonable” to the section on the use of force as a way of limiting officer authorities. Certainly the NDP, in 1999, agreed that the term was specific enough to provide the protection and coverage required.
Others have questioned whether Bill would entitle U.S. officers to carry guns in Canadian airport terminals. The answer is no. Let me be very clear on this point. American officers would carry the same weapons as Canadian border officers in the same environment, without exception. Canadian border officers carry firearms at land, rail, and marine ports of entry, so U.S. preclearance officers would do the same. However, Canadian border officers do not carry firearms in airport terminals, so neither would Americans.
The same principle of reciprocity would apply to Canadian officers conducting preclearance in the U.S. One of the important tenets of the agreement reached with the Americans is the element of reciprocity. We would never see U.S.border officers with guns or comporting themselves in ways that would not be applied in the U.S. under similar circumstances.
It is worth mentioning that our hope and aspiration in passing this bill is that not only would preclearance be vastly expanded to include more locations across Canada but that we would see the same economic benefits and the benefits of the rapidity of travel we saw at YYZ . However, we hope, and have every reasonable expectation to believe, that the Americans will themselves also engage in preclearance in the opposite direction, which would have tremendous economic benefits and is something we would open by adopting Bill .
The last question put to us was the question of permanent residents of Canada being denied entry by Canadian preclearance officers in the U.S. That is not a concern. In almost all cases, permanent residents would be treated exactly the same way in preclearance areas as they would be at any other entry point in Canada. The rare exception would be where there was a major issue of inadmissibility, such as serious criminality. Such individuals would still come to Canada, subject to the usual admissibility rules, at an ordinary point of entry. They just would not have the benefit of preclearance.
I hope I was able to outline for the House the tremendous benefits we have before us with Bill . We need to get moving on this so we can help our tourism industry, trade, and Canada more generally.
Madam Speaker, I know it is the end of the sitting and I am happy to rise to debate Bill . The ability for me to speak on it is a privilege.
My friend, the member for , seemed to end the sitting a little early. He was already changing into Hawaiian shirts for the summer. He did not have his tie on. I have a lot of time for the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, particularly his concern for our men and women in uniform. I know he has been advocating on some mental health reforms, which have had him at odds with the sometimes. I respect him for doing that. I will chide him, but I will also compliment him. He also attended the Highway of Heroes Durham Light Armoured Vehicle launch in Durham last year, and that was an honourable thing to do. When he is appropriately attired, he is a very good member in this place.
Today, I want to take the time I am privileged to have to talk, for a moment, about the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship. It has been commented on throughout the history of Canada. In many ways, we can look to Canada as a country of evolution as opposed to revolution, as one historian said. We certainly both had our roots in the British influence, although of course Canada had two founding nations in France as well. We have the parliamentary democracy in our system of government that we owe to that time. Then Canada evolved with Confederation, which we will be celebrating on July 1, recognizing 150 years of the Dominion of Canada.
Then the statute of Westminster, which kind of cut the cord with the mother country, so to speak, allowed us to emerge following the Great War. Our independent actions were celebrated, quite rightly, in France in April, with the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. Canada very much earned its place on the world state through the blood, sweat, and efforts of our forebearers.
No relationship is more important to us than the U.S. relationship.
Each prime minister has brought their own approach to it, but I do not think any of them would say it is not the most fundamental relationship of which the needs to think.
In fact, the father of the current is quite famous for his quote, which he delivered in Washington. with respect to the U.S. relationship. He said that Canada “is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant...where we feel every twitch and grunt.” That is true. When the American economy stalled in the years of the great recession, it really took the leadership of Stephen Harper and the Conservative government to ensure we were not pulled into the depths of the global recession and the great recession the Americans saw in the United States. I am very proud we did not see that disruption, with hundreds of thousands of people permanently displaced from the workforce. In Canada, we saw a net job gain in excess of a million jobs at the end of the recession.
At times, our policies are similar. At times, we collaborate. Many times in our great history of two countries, we fought alongside one another.
I had the honour as an MP on the veterans affairs committee, to visit the Canadian Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery, some of the most hallowed ground in the United States. Mackenzie King erected a Cross of Sacrifice to the hundreds of Americans who died in the Great War, fighting with Canadian units. We recognize that in both the First World War and the Second World War, Canada was in the war faster than the United States, despite attempts by the government to suggest we had 150 years of peacekeeping in our past. We were in those conflicts alongside our allies and alongside our values before our friends in the United States and their own sons and, in some cases, daughters came to Canada to help the war effort.
We have a proud history as friends, as trading partners, as collaborators, as people who fought and bled together.
In all of those things, along with familial ties, and I am sure a lot of us in this chamber have relatives living and working in the United States, create a bond that is precious. Therefore, the relationship between Canada and the United States of America is critical.
Conservative governments throughout our history, particularly the Harper government and the Mulroney government, took that relationship very seriously, a relationship of equals, fighting for deals, fighting for agreements that were in our national interest. We can get along with a friend, an ally, a neighbour, but we can also fight for our own interests.
The reason I have this long prologue to my speech is because Bill represents probably the most one-sided ineffective deal I have seen in my four years in politics. I bring to that experience from my time in the military and the private sector.
The relationship between Canada and the United States, under the current , has been a one-sided relationship with two U.S. presidents now. This has been the history of the Liberals. We saw the antagonism under the Chrétien government, with officials from the Prime Minister's Office having to resign for publicly criticizing a U.S. president. One of the Liberal members from Mississauga made inappropriate comments about a head of state. We have seen that relationship frayed and abused under the Liberal governments, and this is a perfect example.
I will use Bill as the example of that erosion because it comes out of the 's trip to Washington last March. On that day, as he is apt to do, the Prime Minister issued a tweet from Washington, which stated, “There is no relationship in the world quite like the Canada-US relationship.” I would agree.
Months later, the introduced President Obama in this chamber, the then president of the United States, before he left office. He embarrassed many of us in the House when he then referred to the two of them as a “bromance” and that these speeches would be an example of “dudeplomacy”. I hope Hansard can get that right. It is an anagram using the words “dude” and “diplomacy”. It is unbefitting for the Prime Minister of Canada to introduce the then president of the United States in our House of Commons that way. It was the same podium where Winston Churchill spoke and gave the “Some chicken! Some neck!” speech in the midst of the Second World War. To now have a who uses such laughable and immature terms shows why our relationship with the United States is fraying.
With that bromance in mind, how did Canada fare under the current Liberal government and President Obama? Within months of the Liberals assuming office, the president cancelled Keystone XL, a pipeline that would have ensured that Canadians got the fair world price, or a more, for our resources. It was a project championed by Canadian industry, by people who get their hands dirty in the oil sands in Alberta. Corporate Canada wanted to fund and finance it so our resource could be refined and we could have multiple options to get a better world price. He cancelled that deal because he knew the new Liberal would simply accept that.
Ironically, the change in politics in the United States has led to a president who is re-evaluating that deal, because Keystone has virtually zero impact on climate change. That assessment is from the U.S. State Department.
Therefore, Obama knew that he would receive silence from the with respect to a decision that hurt our economy and particularly hurt the province of Alberta, which we know is suffering terribly at the moment. Therefore, we lost Keystone under the bromance.
What else did Canada get? President Obama praised the 's carbon tax scheme and carbon pricing across the country. However, we certainly did not see President Obama introducing a carbon tax regime in the United States. Therefore, by praising the ill-informed move of the Canadian Prime Minister, President Obama allowed the Prime Minister to put Canada and our North American integrated economy at a disadvantage. The manufacturing facilities in the auto sector and other industries in southern Ontario compete against U.S. plants for business.
The Bakken shale deposit in Saskatchewan does not end at the Canada-U.S. border. Therefore, if there is going to be an input cost for carbon at a plant in Windsor, because of the and Kathleen Wynne plan, and there is not in Michigan mere kilometres away, where do members think the new vehicle will go?
I had the honour of being legal counsel for Procter & Gamble in Brockville. I was very proud that. For many years, every Swiffer pad members used in their homes was made there, in Canada, by people in Ontario. However, these plants are integrated. Of course, consolidation of manufacturing is now happening at an American plant and it has announced the closure of the largest employer in Brockville.
The U.S. president at the time, Mr. Obama, watched as the Liberal put Canada's economy at a competitive disadvantage.
The third issue is defence. Mr. Obama mentioned that in the chamber as well, asking Canada to step up more to meet our NATO requirement, which is 2% of GDP. In the last two weeks, the government released, with great fanfare, a defence policy, but it is fantasy. The Liberals' first two budgets cut $12 billion from defence. However, if we trust them, sometime before 2026, they will put more money back in.
I judge people not by their words but by their actions. I had quoted Mark Twain for the Liberal government. “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” The government has platitudes aplenty, but very little action when it comes to supporting our Canadian Armed Forces and supporting our manufacturing and resource sectors.
That brings me to Bill . I am glad my friends on that side are still listening at this point. Hopefully they will see I am right.
Why do I call this the worst deal in Canadian-U.S.?
Some members agree with it and some do not, but the 's signature promise was to legalize marijuana. Therefore, this preclearance bill should have anticipated that move. However, I will tell people why this is the most comprehensive change to customs agreements between Canada in the United States.
We are giving the Americans the ability to have American officials search Canadians on Canadian soil, and I wish I were kidding. In clause 5, definitions, of Bill are frisk search and strip search. I am sad to say this late in the sitting, but in clause 23 is a monitored bowel movement. Therefore, it is an unprecedented, literally, level of access and powers, five enumerated grounds of powers for U.S. officials on our soil, including the gathering of biometric data.
What did we get in return?
The United States and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, ICE, did not even agree to remove one simple question on preclearance: “Have you ever smoked marijuana?” The could not even get that one question removed from the U.S. preclearance. Why is that important? Because, despite Colorado and some of the U.S. states, if a Canadian answers “yes” to that question, he or she can be banned from the United States. Therefore, people will be losing jobs, and we are already hearing of that, at a time when the government is legalizing marijuana.
The Liberal government seems to forget its evidence-based decision-making, which the Liberals talked a lot about in opposition, including my friend for . It is bad for the public's health. The Canadian Medical Association has criticized this decision. It is also bad on public safety and customs.
Canadians may think it is all fine because the Liberals are legalizing marijuana, but the Americans can still ask them that question, and they can then be banned from travel to the United States.
I was intrigued when the member for rose in debate here, because the other disaster of the March 10 agreement in Washington was what the did to our Arctic. With zero consultation with the Inuit and first nations of our north, the Prime Minister unilaterally agreed with President Obama to restrict 10% of our waterways and 17% of our land mass in the Arctic from development. Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. I guess he missed the duty to consult there. President Obama asked him to do it, and he gave a cursory phone call to territorial and aboriginal leaders mere hours before he pledged to give away their right to determine their destiny.
I heard about it when I was in Yukon. I know my former colleague, Leona Aglukkaq, was outraged by the 's acting in that fashion. Right now the Prime Minister has not even been to Yukon. He has been to private islands and all over the world, but he has not been to Yukon, and we have no cabinet representation from our Arctic. That was another disaster from the March 10 agreement in Washington.
The Prime Minister and President Obama also talked about the Paris accord, but as I said before, although President Obama praised the Liberal carbon tax, he certainly did not emulate it, and we are now falling further and further behind when it comes to competitiveness on a North American basis.
Bill is the culmination of a one-way relationship: the Americans get what they want, and under this , Canada accepts. With Bill C-23, the Liberals could not even get the Americans to take one preclearance question out of the ICE questions they can ask Canadians. They could not even get one question removed, but they are prepared to allow American officials to search our people on Canadian soil and they think that is fine.
The relationship between our two countries is critical, but it is also critical to look at it as a relationship of equals. So far, all that I have seen the current government achieve in Washington is a state dinner, tickets for family and friends, and lots of photos. In fact, if we look at the tweets, the was more impressed with tours of the Oval Office in Washington in March than he was in securing a deal in Canada's interests. At a time when we are seeing our auto and resources industries falling farther and farther behind, with marijuana becoming legal, people feel they can just voluntarily tell an American official that they have smoked marijuana. They probably do not know that they could lose their ability to travel for work because the Liberals could not get that one question removed.
Finally, the most egregious element of that day in Washington that led to Bill was the mistreatment of our Arctic and the lack of respect for our Inuit and first nations. The , who talks about healing the relationship as being central to the current government, gave a courtesy phone call to territorial leaders minutes before announcing that he was restricting their ability to be the masters of their destiny over their traditional lands and their traditional waterways.
I am glad my friends on the government side have listened intently. I hope they can reflect on these elements and how critical it is for Canada to have a mature foreign policy with our friends in the United States. I hope they can come back in the fall and rein in the and tell him that we want deals that are not just good for Canada, for our workers, for our first nations, and for our aboriginal people, but we want to make sure that our friends in the United States take us seriously. It is more than just tweets, photos, and state dinners; it is about getting a result that is good for Canada.