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Results: 1 - 15 of 297
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here continuing the debate on Bill C-3, a bill that the Conservatives are cautiously optimistic about, as it would provide some degree of oversight to CBSA.
One of the pressing issues with the CBSA, and one on which I think there will be a need for a great deal of oversight, is the challenge that has grown up under the Liberal government of people crossing the border illegally. It has put a strain our system, especially as many refugees in other parts of the world have to wait a very long time.
Given that this is one of the issues raised in terms of the CBSA and oversight, I wonder if the member could give the House an update on what is actually happening in terms of that challenge.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, I am extremely pleased that all members of the House, I believe, are supporting Bill C-3.
All of us in the House recognize that it is extremely important to have in place an independent review and complaint process, as we certainly want to make sure that all of our constituents are protected. That is, again, why we are extremely pleased.
The RCMP and other government departments have these types of independent review processes in place. That is why we are moving forward to put resources and the necessary investments in place to make sure that when such complaints come forward, our constituents will be afforded an opportunity to make a complaint that will be investigated by an independent body.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-07 10:06 [p.1073]
Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could reflect on how important it is that we have oversight for Canada border control agents. We have other oversight boards that cover our RCMP and correctional officers. I believe having public oversight ultimately assists in building confidence in our system.
Could my colleague provide her thoughts on the importance of this, given that most people would probably be surprised to find out that we do not currently have oversight? This is a priority for the government because it is our third bill.
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, perhaps many in the House are not aware that prior to entering politics, I worked within the Codiac RCMP regional office in Moncton, New Brunswick. During that time, I saw the value of having an independent body that was able to conduct investigations when people felt they did not receive the proper service.
With respect to having in place an independent body, we want to make sure that all of our constituents are treated with the utmost respect and that they have the confidence to move forward and make a complaint when it is necessary. That is why we are very pleased to be moving forward with the bill in a timely fashion.
However, not only are we moving forward with the bill, but in budget 2019 more than $24 million has been set aside to make sure that the appropriate resources are in place.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, as I have said before, as someone who came to the House asking for oversight for the CBSA, I am really excited about the enthusiasm of the other two parties, late though it may be.
Bill C-23, which was passed in the last Parliament, granted extensive powers to U.S. border agents in pre-clearance areas in Canada without any oversight whatsoever, including over their use of force or complaints about things like harassment of religious or ethnic minorities.
If my hon. colleague has an enthusiasm for independent complaint mechanisms, why do we not have any mechanism at all that would apply to the U.S. border officers operating on Canadian soil in the pre-clearance areas?
View Ginette Petitpas Taylor Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, first and foremost, I want to thank my colleague for his support of the bill.
Once again, our priority is to make sure we have an independent review complaints process for the Canada Border Services Agency, as that is where we have jurisdiction. We want to make sure that our constituents have access to an independent body to which they will be able to make a complaint if necessary. I also want to highlight that we recognize that the large majority of interventions at the CBSA are very positive. However, for some extreme circumstances, we want to make sure that is available to them.
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2020-02-07 10:09 [p.1074]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to add to the debate of Bill C-3 today.
An independent review and complaints mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency would fill an important gap for our national security agencies. This is not a new issue for parliamentarians. Members will recall that similar legislation was introduced and debated in the last session, as Bill C-98. That bill received unanimous consent just eight months ago, and since that time our government has had the benefit of considering comments made on previous legislation. With its introduction as a new bill, it is reflective of many of the comments and recommendations previously made.
CBSA oversight is not a new idea. In fact, Bill S-205, introduced by former Senator Moore in the other place a few years ago, proposed a CBSA review body. That was, in part, in response to a previous call by senators to create an oversight body through the 2015 report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Many parliamentarians, academics, experts and stakeholders have made similar calls over the years. That is largely because Canada is the only country among our closest allies not to have a dedicated review body for complaints regarding its border agency. Furthermore, the CBSA is the only organization within the public safety portfolio without such a body. Bill C-3 would change this environment.
Canadians need to be confident that their complaints are handled and addressed appropriately and independently. They deserve enhanced reporting on how border services operate, which the bill also proposes. To expand on that, under Bill C-3, the new body would be able to not only report on its finding but also make recommendations as it sees fit. Those reports would include the PCRC's findings and recommendations on everything from the CBSA's policies and procedures to its compliance with the law to the reasonableness of the use of its powers.
This is about accountability and transparency. To parse why this is so important, we must take a look at the rapidly-changing context of the CBSA.
On a daily basis, CBSA officers interact with thousands of Canadians and visitors to Canada at airports, land borders, crossing ports and other locations. To put that in numbers, that is 96 million interactions per year with travellers and $32 billion per year in duties and taxes, according to the 2017-18 statistics. That is 27.3 million cars, 34.5 million air passengers and 21.4 million commercial releases. All of that happens at 13 international airports, 117 land border crossings, 27 rail sites and beyond. This will only increase. That is why the government introduced a federal budget last year proposing investments of $1.25 billion for the CBSA to help modernize some of our ports of entry and our border operations. After all, we know that business at the border never stops and is growing year after year.
As hon. members know, ensuring that business continues while protecting Canadians requires CBSA officers to have the power to arrest, detain, search and seize, and the authority to use reasonable force when required. We know that Canada's over 14,000 CBSA officers are truly world class, providing consistent and fair treatment to travellers and traders.
However, as business grows along with demands for accountability, the CBSA cannot reasonably be expected to handle all the complaints on its own, nor should Canadians expect it would. Currently, complaints about conduct and the service provided by CBSA officers are handled internally. If an individual is dissatisfied with the results of an internal CBSA investigation, there is currently no mechanism for the public to request an independent review of these complaints. Bill C-3 would neatly remedy all of this. For example, such an individual would be able to ask the PCRC to review his or her complaint. At the conclusion of a PCRC investigation, the review body would be able to report on its findings and make recommendations as it sees fit. The president of the CBSA would be required to respond in writing to the PCRC's findings and recommendations.
The PCRC would also accept complaints about the conduct and service provided by CBSA employees from detainees held in CBSA facilities. These could include complaints related to treatment and conditions in detention.
On the rare occasion that there be a serious incident involving CBSA personnel, Bill C-3 would legislate a framework to not only handle and track such incidents, but also to publicly report on them. It would in fact create an obligation for the CBSA to notify local police and the PCRC of any serious incident involving the CBSA officers or employees. As I have noted, the legislation would also allow for the PCRC to review, on its own initiative or at least at the request of the minister, any non-national security activity of the CBSA.
National security activities would be reviewed by the new national security intelligence review committee, which is the National Security Intelligence Review Agency, or NSIRA. As colleagues know, the NSIRA is responsible for complaints and reviews relating to national security, including those relating to the RCMP and the CBSA. Members will see provisions in Bill C-3 that would facilitate information sharing and co-operation between the PCRC and NSIRA.
I would point out that the PCRC would not have the authority to review, uphold, amend or overturn enforcement, trade or national security decisions made with the CBSA, nor would it consider complaints that could be dealt with by other organizations, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages or the Office of the Privacy Commission. What it would do is provide a reasonable, long-sought-after framework to build accountability in our public safety agencies and trust among Canadians.
As I close, I would like to point out that this is the latest in a line of recent measures to enhance accountability in our national security apparatus. The former Bill C-22 led to the creation of the now operational National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which has a broad mandate to review national security and intelligence organizations.
The former Bill C-59 led to the creation of the NSIRA. NSIRA now has the authority to review any activity carried out by CSIS or the Communications Security Establishment and any national security or intelligence-related activity carried out by federal departments and agencies.
All of this amounts to unprecedented enhancements in our national security accountability, on top of the government's creation of a national security transparency commitment, which is all about integrating Canada's democratic values into our national security activities.
These measures build on the government's broad national security consultations in 2016, which sought to engage Canadians, stakeholders and subject matter experts on issues related to national security and the protection of rights and freedoms. In those consultations, four-fifths, or 81%, of online responses called for independent review mechanisms for departments and agencies that have national security responsibilities, including the CBSA.
This outline should provide some rationale for bipartisan support for Bill C-3 by parliamentarians, academics, experts and stakeholders alike and other Canadians. Our security and intelligence communities must keep pace with evolving threats to the safety and security of Canadians and with a rapidly changing border environment. They must do so in a way that safeguards our rights and freedoms, and the people's trust in how the government works. That is why I ask the House to join me in supporting Bill C-3 today.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Mississauga—Streetsville for sharing his profound passion on this topic with the House and for the work he put into preparing those detailed remarks he gave to the House on Bill C-3 today.
Further to what the member said, does he think that this oversight body might take up the issue of increased illegal border crossing, if questions come to the oversight body related to that? I did not really hear an answer from the previous member. What is the government doing about this challenge of the growing flows across our border from the United States?
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2020-02-07 10:19 [p.1075]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the kind remarks. My passion is only rivalled by his enthusiasm, and so I thank him for that.
To address your question, as a South Asian male, there have been many incidents where there has been gross misconduct—
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2020-02-07 10:19 [p.1075]
I will address the question through you, Madam Speaker.
As a south Asian male, I have had many incidents with friends and families at border crossings where there has been gross mishandling of our entry into or departure from the country. This is not by any means indicative of the CBSA or its agents. I have a great deal of respect for those who keep our country safe.
It is important to address the fact that Canadians and others who are entering our country first have that mechanism to have complaints heard. Before we address the concerns of people who cross our border illegally, it is important to address the concerns and trust of those who are nationals of the country.
View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I am always disappointed to hear Conservatives using every opportunity to stigmatize refugees in this country.
I want to compliment the member for his speech on this topic and for recognizing that by and large Canada border services agents do a good job. However, having better accountability mechanisms would only increase the quality of the performance of those agents and help them establish public trust for the work that they have to do.
My question to him, because he is from Mississauga, has to do once again with pre-clearance, especially the very large numbers of people who are pre-cleared at Toronto's Pearson Airport. While we are establishing accountability for our border service officers, in the last Parliament the member's government put forward Bill C-23, the new Preclearance Act, that gives U.S. border agents the same powers as Canadian border agents and they are exercising those powers on Canadian soil. The bill even removes the right of U.S. citizens to withdraw from U.S. preclearance. There is no accountability mechanism in place for the activities of U.S. border agents in Canada.
I wonder if the hon. member has any comments on that problem.
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2020-02-07 10:21 [p.1076]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his advocacy and good work on this issue.
As I stated earlier in replying to the previous question, it is important that we address domestic concerns first and take care of our housekeeping here internally before we address any other concerns.
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2020-02-07 10:22 [p.1076]
Madam Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Châteauguay—Lacolle, where both the Lacolle border crossing and Roxham Road are located, I am proud of the way that our officials, in both the CBSA and the RCMP, have handled in a legal, humanitarian way the irregular entry of people crossing Roxham Road. Many residents in my riding work at the Lacolle border crossing. They have told me that they were hampered four or five years ago by cuts that were made by the Conservative government to their operations, cuts that hampered the security measures that they have to take on a daily basis.
I welcome the legislation. I would like to hear my hon. colleague's remarks on this issue.
View Gagan Sikand Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Gagan Sikand Profile
2020-02-07 10:23 [p.1076]
Madam Speaker, in our previous government, we provided an unprecedented amount of funding to the CBSA for restoring its ability to address concerns at the border, such as illegal border crossings or, in my neck of the woods, the smuggling of weapons perhaps.
Our government is quite aware of the need for the CBSA to be able to do its job. In order to allow its agents to do their job effectively, we have been quite pleased to continuously support it through funding at the national level.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
View Jacques Gourde Profile
2020-02-07 10:23 [p.1076]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Calgary Shepard.
I am pleased to participate in today's debate on 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.
The Conservative Party of Canada will always protect the integrity of our borders and ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency has the people and equipment it needs.
A public complaints commission will improve general oversight and help the Canada Border Services Agency do its job even more effectively.
I have a few questions for this government. First of all, why did it wait so long to fulfill a 2015 election promise and amend the act? This Liberal government definitely has a habit of putting commitments off until later. If it was so important in 2015, it should be urgent now that it is 2020.
This bill is a copy of Bill C-98, which died on the Order Paper at the end of the 42nd Parliament. During its study of Bill C-98, the committee heard from just seven witnesses, including the minister and five officials who reported to him. I hope that this time, the parliamentary committee will have the freedom it needs to study this bill as thoroughly as it deserves and to hear testimony from more witnesses. We are going to make sure that all stakeholders are heard during this parliamentary committee study and that we get all time we need to do our job properly.
I want to take this opportunity to commend my friend and colleague, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, for his tireless dedication to the issue of public safety in Canada. I admire the way he gets things done and his attendance record in the House. Our whole caucus is very proud of him, and I tip my hat to him.
Our border services are also very important for protecting our economy and the safety of the foods we import. I would like some assurance from the Liberal government that our free trade agreements with our partners and other countries are fair and equitable.
Also, does the government complete all the necessary checks at the border to ensure that we are importing foods that meet environmental and safety standards equivalent to those enforced in Canada?
With regard to aluminum, will the government allow Chinese aluminum produced with coal-fired Chinese electricity to enter the country, rather than using aluminum produced here in Quebec with hydroelectricity? This is certainly not something we would expect from a government that claims to care about the environment. It is clear the government is not walking the talk.
I want to come back to the Liberal government's consultation process. Did the government ask the opinion of front-line RCMP and CBSA officers? If so, what were their concerns and how were they taken into account?
I also think there is a need to reassure Canadians about the independence of the commission. If the past is any indication, this government has a tendency to interfere with the work of independent commissions.
Recently, we saw the Prime Minister interfere in one of the Auditor General's files, and we have not yet gotten to the bottom of that situation. We, on this side of the House, still have questions about the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner's report in that regard. We hope to have the co-operation of all members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to launch a transparent study on that.
That said, I have no doubt that the debate on Bill C-3 is necessary and has merit.
However, I do think that it is more urgent to tackle the increasing number of illegal firearms in Canada, the gang shootings, the overdoses, mental health issues, legal backlogs, incidents of repeat offenders attacking Canadians, and human trafficking in this country. Why is this bill the government's top priority coming into this 43rd Parliament when there are all kinds of other pressing issues that should be handled first?
The Liberal government seems to want to address issues on which there is some form of agreement to avoid important societal debates. There is so much work to do to keep our country prosperous and safe. The government has been moving at a snail's pace since it came to power. It is playing the part of the grasshopper and doing whatever it wants, instead of taking care of the urgent issues.
Here is one important issue that should be a priority in the agenda of this spineless government, as I have already mentioned in the House in a members' statement. Canada is a country rich in natural resources, such as crude oil and natural gas in the west and Newfoundland and Labrador; hydroelectricity in Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia; nuclear energy in Ontario and New Brunswick; and last, but not least, the shale oil and gas, coal, solar energy, wind energy and biomass energy used in various provinces and territories. Our country is so fortunate to have all of these resources. So many countries would love to have Canada's resources to help lift them out of poverty.
This prompts us to ask other important questions. How are all these energy resources transported within Canada, to serve all the provinces and territories, and how are they exported out of Canada, to the U.S. and other countries? Do we have adequate infrastructure? Are these methods of transportation safe and reliable enough to ensure an uninterrupted supply or, as was the case in the recent propane crisis in Quebec, are we relying on a single transporter? What about the environmental and economic impacts? Do we have energy security? Many questions deserve answers. That is why I would like to see the creation of a national commission on energy security. In my view, Canada's energy sector stakeholders should work together as part of a large-scale national consultation sponsored by the federal government. We must have the courage to get our heads out of the sand and talk about the energy sector. Unfortunately, this is a wedge issue in Canada right now, when it should be something that brings us all together from coast to coast to coast.
I strongly urge parliamentarians from all parties to initiate this discussion, which is crucial to the future of our country. This dialogue with every stakeholder in the energy sector will make it possible to develop a serious strategy for the future of Canada's energy sector by creating a national commission on energy security.
Our Canadian approach to energy will guide the economic destiny of future generations and how we position ourselves on the world stage. Let us take up our responsibilities as parliamentarians and legislators in the House, and ask the government to show leadership for the well-being of Canadians and for our economic prosperity.
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