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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-06 17:03 [p.1057]
Mr. Speaker, I must first compliment the member for Guelph. I respect it immensely when members come across as being very strong nationalists, thinking in terms of the nation first and foremost while having a love for the province they represent and not forgetting about our other provinces.
I appreciated his comments in regard to Manitoba's 150th anniversary of joining Confederation in 1870, much like my other colleagues who are enthusiastically getting behind members of Parliament from Manitoba. We recognize the importance of that event, as I said in a statement earlier today. We should be very proud of all the different regions of this great country.
To get to Bill C-3, I will try to emphasize the numbers. We are talking about oversight for our border control officers, and I want to emphasize how important those civil servants are to our communities. We often talk about the complaints, and there are complaints, as I will say right away. However, the vast majority of the work conducted by these civil servants is overwhelmingly positive. They do fantastic service to our country with the fine work that they do. I want to extend my compliments to them, and I know members of this House would echo those comments in regard to the outstanding work that they do day in and day out, seven days a week and 24 hours a day.
Let us think in terms of the number of transactions that take place, or of face-to-face encounters. This is what really took me aback when I was doing a bit of research on the issue. Think of 2018-2019 alone; CBSA employees interacted with over 96 million travellers, conducted four million traveller examinations and processed over 19 million commercial shipments and 54 million courier shipments.
Those are incredible numbers. Earlier today, we voted on the free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. In speaking to that legislation, we heard that in trade alone, we see $2 billion a day across that land border. I expect some of that is flown in and possibly even arrives by ship, but I repeat that it is over $2 billion a day in trade.
We have huge expectations for our border control officers. We expect them to be consistent and fair and to provide equal treatment. I suspect that it can be a challenge at times to provide that service, yet over 99% of the time, that is the type of service that they are providing. We need to feel comfortable about that organization, and confident in it.
The legislation before us was introduced by the Minister of Public Safety, and I compliment him and his department for the fine work they have done in ensuring that there was consultation over the last number of years. It is only because we had such a busy legislative agenda dealing with public safety in the previous run between 2015 and 2019 that this legislation unfortunately did not make it completely across the finish line. We are reintroducing it now, and it is a priority for this government. The Minister of Public Safety has done a fantastic job in pulling it together and making sure that we could deal with it it early in the current parliamentary session.
I have listened to a few members across the way who have already spoken on it. It is encouraging to hear that all members, or at least all parties of this House, have recognized the value of ultimately seeing this bill passed.
I understand that some members would like to review it at the committee stage, and I anticipate we will see some amendments. If our record has demonstrated anything over the last number of years, it is that our government, even in a majority situation, is very sympathetic to good amendments. In a minority situation, members can anticipate that we will continue to support good ideas that make legislation better for Canadians. I look forward to seeing the bill go to committee, given the type of support we have already seen at second reading.
Oversight is important. If we were to say there is public oversight for the RCMP, CSIS and our correctional services officers, most people would assume that we already have it for our border control agents. However, that is not the case. In essence, this legislation is meant to provide oversight for our Canada border control officers. As opposed to our creating something independent, this oversight body would also be able to deal with RCMP complaints. It has a name. It will be addressed as the public complaints and review commission, and it will deal with both RCMP and CBSA concerns or complaints that come forward.
As I referenced in one of my questions, by having oversight we are ensuring there is a higher level of accountability and transparency. In doing so, we are building public confidence in the system, and if not directly, then indirectly.
If we were to talk with stakeholders or individual Canadians, we would likely hear stories. We have already heard some of those stories in this debate. When we were debating Bill C-98, stories were brought forward as well, one about a border officer who had an issue and dealt with it in an inappropriate fashion.
We know that unfortunately things of that nature will occur. Members of the public need to feel that there is a sense of justice so that when they do occur, there is a place they can go to lodge a complaint. That is really what Bill C-3 would do. I see that as a win in many different ways. I suspect that if we were to talk to the civil servants who work for CBSA, they too would recognize the true value of oversight.
Our borders need to be safe. They need to be secure and open and provide for the efficient flow of travel and trade. As I referenced in my question to the member for Guelph, we have border officers not only along the Canada-U.S. border but also at the international airport in Winnipeg, and it is not alone. I believe we have 12, 13 or possibly 14 international airports in Canada. These points of entry and departure must have border officers in order to allow for the efficient flow of travellers and trade.
I am glad to see that we will finally have an oversight committee to build upon that confidence. I suspect and hope that members will see the benefits of moving the bill to committee, where we can give it a final review to see if there are ways to improve it.
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