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View Steven Blaney Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise today, as we face this national crisis. This crisis is the result of the Canadian government's lax approach in two of its most important roles: ensuring the security and integrity of our borders, and ensuring respect for law and order. Unfortunately, as we are seeing right now, the government has failed miserably on both accounts. That is why we are calling for immediate action.
One major role our police forces play is ensuring respect for law and order. The Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, meanwhile, must ensure respect for and the integrity of our borders. It is important to remember that the CBSA is an organization with nearly 14,000 border services officers and other staff working at over 1,200 ports of entry in 39 countries. Over the years, this agency has become an important part of our system for keeping Canadians safe. Obviously, given the volume of claims processed by the CBSA, there may be times when people who use its services or have dealings with the agency are less than satisfied with their interactions. That is why there was a complaints system in place, one that was to some degree overseen by the agency.
The purpose of this bill is to establish a new independent body, the public complaints and review commission, tasked with reviewing public complaints regarding the agency. This will also build on the efforts made since the agency was created in 2003 to make it a law enforcement agency and give dissatisfied people the option to file a complaint.
Were there complaints in the past? Indeed, there were. In 2018, 100 complaints were deemed to be founded by the CBSA's complaints review department. This work will now be done by an independent entity. The number of complaints may seem high, but it is important to remember that 95 million travellers deal with the Canada Border Services Agency, and five million of those interactions involve commercial vehicles. The number of complainants is therefore quite small relative to the huge flow of people who deal with the CBSA. Nevertheless, these complaints must be properly addressed and that is why we are in favour of creating this complaints commission.
That is where we are. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable work of our border services officers and decry the fact that the current government ended the televised series Border Security: Canada's Front Line, which allowed Canadians to learn more about the work of these officers. The series did not cost the government anything and it helped showcase the remarkable work done by border services officers.
As my NDP colleague mentioned, we have to wonder why the government waited until the end of the last session of Parliament to propose creating the public complaints and review commission, even though it made that commitment in 2015. It is about time that the government moved forward, but we have to wonder why the Liberals were so complacent with respect to the implementation of this measure.
Moreover, the national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, Jean-Pierre Fortin, has said that he was not consulted. The Liberals should have consulted him because he stated that he was in favour of this measure. The Liberals missed yet another opportunity to demonstrate that this is a worthwhile project that has the approval of the public and to showcase the excellent work of border services officers.
This raises an important point, and that is the government's responsibility to ensure the integrity of the border and the enforcement of law and order. As I mentioned, the government has failed miserably on both fronts.
Before this government and the misguided tweets of the Prime Minister, the integrity of our border was assured. The Prime Minister's tweet undermined our border system. I am obviously referring to the situation at Roxham Road, which is a threat to our territorial security, since people are illegally entering the country. We should remember that entering by Roxham Road is illegal. We are tolerating a shortcut that allows individuals to bypass our immigration system.
Unfortunately, in recent weeks, we have been focusing mainly on the blockades, which is quite understandable. However, we have seen an upsurge in illegal entries at Roxham Road. That is due to the government's lack of leadership with respect to its responsibility to ensure the integrity of our borders.
With regard to law and order, a lack of leadership creates situations like the one my colleague mentioned, where the government, to some extent, is interfering in the RCMP's operations by stipulating that it cannot intervene or use force to resolve the conflict. The problem is that this interference undermines the moral authority of our police, just as the Prime Minister's tweet undermined the Canada Border Services Agency's authority in ensuring respect for our borders. The Liberals restricted the police's and the border authorities' ability to intervene, with disastrous results.
Our businesses are currently in a critical situation. I was talking about that earlier with my colleague from Beauce. This morning, I met with a business owner from my riding whose American competitors are quite happy about the fact that his merchandise is stuck in our trains. What are his clients doing? They are turning to American suppliers. He told me that he is losing close to $65,000 in sales and, on top of that, he is going to have to pay an additional $7,500 to redirect his containers. That is a loss of $72,500 for just one business owner. This is one of dozens of examples in my riding and hundreds across the country. Our businesses and our workers are being affected by the government's lack of leadership and moral authority.
We can provide support, but we expect the government to refrain from interfering in the operations of the Canada Border Services Agency and police forces. What we are currently seeing is that, by insisting on a peaceful resolution, the Liberals are violating the moral authority of police forces, to a certain extent. Law enforcement then cannot establish a balance of power and are unable to intervene and enforce law and order.
The consequences here are many. First, this undermines the moral authority of our police forces and the Canada Border Services Agency. This crisis has caused gridlock across the country, and we are seeing financial losses, enormous costs and repercussions. As my colleague mentioned, the long-term damage here is that this situation is normalizing non-compliance, disrupting order and disregarding the integrity of our borders.
For this reason, we are calling on the government to not only advance this bill, but also to restore moral authority for our police forces and border services. It must not interfere with their operations by insisting on using political solutions to address law-and-order problems.
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