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View Tony Baldinelli Profile
View Tony Baldinelli Profile
2020-02-06 18:02 [p.1065]
Madam Speaker, I will share my time with my colleague, the member for Beauce.
I rise in the House today to support the government's Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. This bill makes two key changes to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. First, it will rename this agency to be called the public complaints and review commission. This bill will also expand the agency's responsibility.
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, as it is now named, is an independent agency. It is not part of the RCMP. The commission was created by Parliament in 1988 to ensure that public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially. The commission receives complaints from the public and conducts reviews when complainants are not satisfied with the RCMP's handling of their complaints. Bill C-3 seeks to expand the oversight responsibility of the commission to include the CBSA in addition to the RCMP.
The CBSA plays a vital role enforcing laws governing trade and travel, while stopping potential threats at Canadian border points. In carrying out these duties, the CBSA relies on border service officers who engage with the public at various points of entry: highway crossings, airports, marine terminals, rail ports and postal facilities.
Border service officers enforce laws and regulations that touch nearly every sector of Canadian society, including our agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors. The CBSA encounters millions of Canadians every year when goods, services and citizens travel from our country to another or return from their journey.
In a constantly changing world with ever-evolving threats, our border service officers work in fast-paced, intense and often stressful environments. CBSA officers, much like RCMP officers, are on the front lines of duty for ensuring the protection of our national security and public safety. They work under significant pressures and are constantly expected to perform to the best of their abilities. It is not an understatement to say that much of our national security and public safety depends on them.
We benefit every day from the hard work these officers put in and, for the vast majority, officers approach their work as professionals and conduct their work responsibly, as expected by the Government of Canada and citizens alike. However, instances of improper or inappropriate conduct from RCMP or CBSA officers can arise from time to time, which may trigger a civilian complaint.
Currently, individuals may launch a complaint against the RCMP for improper attitude, improper use of force, improper use of firearms, improper arrest, neglect of duty and mishandling of property, among other classifications. Many of these classifications could conceivably apply against CBSA officers in specific cases as well. That is why it is reasonable to reinforce existing CBSA procedures to hear comments or complaints about the public's experience with the agency by expanding accountability and oversight of the agency.
These changes in part reflect efforts to ensure that our law enforcement agencies are doing their work and interacting with citizens in an accountable, responsible, professional and respectful manner. It also heightens overall public trust and confidence in these critical institutions.
I am therefore encouraged that within this new minority Parliament, the government is introducing Bill C-3 early in the 43rd Parliament. The government is indicating that it understands this is something we can work on together to support and get passed for the benefit of all Canadians. My constituents want to see this kind of co-operation and I am pleased to be standing in my place saying that we will be supporting this legislation.
As many of my colleagues know, my riding of Niagara Falls is unique in our great country. Geographically, the riding stretches the length of the Niagara peninsula, touching on two of our Great Lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which are connected by the magnificent Niagara River. On the other side of this river is our greatest trading partner and ally, the United States of America.
My riding's connection to the U.S. is close not only in geographic terms, but we are also connected physically by four separate international border crossings that are all situated along the length of the Niagara River. These border crossings are the Queenston Lewiston Bridge in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Whirlpool Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, and the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. As such, the implications of Bill C-3 will be felt directly in my riding by many CBSA officers who work in and call Niagara their home.
Born and raised in Niagara, I am very familiar with the work of the CBSA. Furthermore, in my work with the Niagara Parks Commission for the past 18 years, my understanding and appreciation of their work grew. In this role, I had the pleasure of working with the CBSA on several occasions, in concert with our own Niagara Parks Police, to facilitate large-scale international events and visits to our community.
I understand first-hand the level of experience and professionalism our border officers exhibit when they conduct their work. However, as mentioned before, incidents can arise, and expanding the responsibility of the public complaints and review commission of the CBSA makes sense. In fact, this change would increase my level of confidence in our national security and public safety authorities overall.
It is my hope to see this reasonable bill be passed through the House of Commons, once again, in a timely manner, given its simple reintroduction without change and its recent history of going through the House of Commons parliamentary process with relative ease. Changing legislation is just one important part of implementing Bill C-3; funding it is another. Budget 2019 proposed to invest $24.42 million over five years starting in 2019-20, and $6.83 million per year ongoing, to expand the mandate of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. I look forward to reviewing budget 2020 for any updates to this funding, once budget 2020 has been published and passed later this spring. In the meantime, I am pleased to support Bill C-3 at second reading.
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