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Results: 1 - 12 of 12
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-07 13:16 [p.1105]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Conservatives for sharing this time with me so that I can speak to this important bill. As other members have pointed out, this has been a long time coming, and it is something civil society organizations and citizens have been asking for.
CBSA officers are on the front lines at our borders and do important and valuable work. CBSA officers interact with 95 million travellers every year. It is important that the work they do is recognized and that the people who step up to do that job are respected and recognized for the work they do. My sister was a police officer in the OPP for 24 years. My uncle served in the RCMP. I spent time with them on ride-alongs and saw the work they do. I have talked with their colleagues and documented some of the work they do. Just like the folks who are here to serve and protect us as part of our parliamentary security, these are people who step up to serve and protect our communities, and it is important to respect the work they do.
However, there can be complaints that come forward to the media. The last time we were debating this topic as Bill C-98, there was a complaint brought forward to the media by a woman who had been mishandled by the CBSA. She had been strip-searched, felt the whole process was arbitrary, and did not have the confidence to complain to the CBSA about what had happened to her. In 2016 to 2018, there were 1,200 cases of alleged misconduct by CBSA employees. These are the things that can taint an organization that employs many people. There were 228 cases of neglect of duty, 183 cases of discreditable conduct on duty, 59 cases of harassment, 38 cases of criminal association, 25 cases of abuse of authority, seven cases of assault, five cases of intimidation, five cases of uttering threats, five cases of sexual assault and four cases of smuggling. There have been accusations of racism and other things happening at the border.
Most people do not realize that when they cross the border, they are in a legal no man's land and have very few rights. The CBSA has extensive powers to take blood and saliva samples, to access data on computers and ask for passwords, to conduct strip searches, to detain people and to arrest non-citizens. We have had 14 deaths since 2000 in CBSA detention centres, and there has been no independent review of these deaths or any potential criminal implications for any wrongdoing. It is very important to bring the CBSA into the same process that all of our other security forces have with respect to oversight bodies, so having a public complaints and review commission is really important.
There are a couple of things in this bill we would like to see adapted and changed.
The RCMP Act, under the ineligibility paragraph at subsection 45.29(2), excludes current and former members from serving on the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. Under the act, “member” has a specific definition, and means an employee of the RCMP. Presumably, this should be amended so the current and former agents of the CBSA should also be excluded from sitting on the public complaints and review commission. It is incumbent that it be independent, because somebody who has served with the CBSA may have colleagues who are being called forward with respect to a complaint. Therefore, it needs to be completely at arm's length if we do not want this continued relationship.
When one is in these security organizations as a police officer, it is like a brotherhood or sisterhood. These people think the best of their officers, and they want to believe the best of them.
This was the case for my sister when she was in the OPP. She was at the Ipperwash Inquiry, looking into the wrongdoing of fellow officers. At first, she had trouble believing they could be involved in the wrongful death of Dudley George. In that inquiry, some of the worst behaviour of certain members of the OPP came out. It is important that it is an independent body that looks at these behaviours and reviews it properly.
Another thing we would like to see changed is some notification for people who are to be deported. There is a case of a gentleman named Richard Germaine, who is an indigenous man. He was born in California, lived his whole life in Penelakut Island, which is in the Cowichan—Malahat—Langford riding. He is married. He is a community leader.
Right before Christmas, without any warning or knowledge that his citizenship papers were in any sort of disarray so he could take some steps toward it, CBSA officials showed up at his home, they put him leg irons and took him away in front of his wife, who is a residential school survivor. This traumatized her, their children and their grandchildren. They took him in a van to a detention centre in Vancouver where he was ordered to be deported as quickly as possible. He had no idea what was happening to him.
Fortunately, he was working with an ethnobotanist at the University of Victoria. The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands helped, working with the minister, to ensure Germaine was taken out of detention.
I realize that some people might cut and run with a notification, but in this case, it clearly shows that just showing up right before Christmas, putting somebody in leg irons and dragging the person away is not appropriate. That is another aspect we would like to see amended.
We share concerns about how this will be funded to ensure the public review complaints commission has adequate funds to do its work.
However, we think this is an important legislation to pass. CBSA should have the same kind of oversight that other police agencies and security agencies have in the country.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-07 13:25 [p.1106]
Madam Speaker, the commission should be completely at arm's length from the minister. When we have these processes, they should be independent and able to do their work without political interference.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-07 13:25 [p.1106]
Madam Speaker, it is very important that the people who step up to serve and protect our communities have adequate resources and that public complaints commissions like this have adequate resources.
To have people in positions of responsibility, like the CBSA, RCMP and any other police force, work extended overtime is not a good idea. We want people to be at the height of their ability to think and act, and to be reasonable. We want them to do their jobs adequately. Being sleep deprived and overworked is no way to do that.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-07 13:27 [p.1106]
Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. It is a very good idea to combine the two of them, because there would be a cost savings and there is a level of expertise already.
One thing I highlighted in my speech is that the RCMP Act, under the review process with the RCMP, says former members of the RCMP cannot be part of the commission. They cannot be part of the complaints process. The bill does not specifically say that former or current members of the CBSA cannot take part in the commission. It needs to be amended so we have the same rules for the CBSA as for the RCMP. I would like to see a level playing field between the RCMP and the CBSA and that former and current members of the CBSA are excluded from this commission.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-07 13:29 [p.1107]
Madam Speaker, yes, that is a concern for me as well. Parliamentarians should be able to review these reports.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-06 16:16 [p.1050]
Mr. Speaker, the bill is changing parts of the RCMP Act. The RCMP Act excludes current or former members of the RCMP from serving on the Public Complaints and Review Commission. “Member” under the act has a specific definition; it means an employee of the RCMP.
Does the member think that members and former members of CBSA should also be excluded from the review process so that they are not adjudicating over their former colleagues?
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 16:32 [p.1052]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank members of the Conservative Party for organizing their speeches to allow me to have a portion of their time.
I am very pleased to see this bill come forward. We worked on it in the 42nd Parliament as Bill C-98 when it had a different name, but there are some concerns.
I would like to split up my time to talk about what the Canada Border Services Agency is, what it does, what the problems are and whether this bill would fix them. I will try to move quite smartly through that description.
We have in Canada national security agencies, such as the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment, which is a bit of a different animal, and the Canada Border Services Agency. They essentially are a collection of national security intelligence agencies that work with each other. As of now, the Canada Border Services Agency is the only one that operates without either oversight or a complaints process, yet it does have extraordinary powers.
The Canada Border Services Agency's powers at the border are superior to those of the police. They have powers to arrest, detain and remove people from Canada. This is a profound power, the ability to have someone deported. I want to underscore this for members because we need to get a review of our immigration and refugee law on another occasion. This bill does not have the scope for it. The previous government under Mr. Harper changed the deportation rule from deporting people as soon as is practicable to as soon as it is possible. That has resulted in a lot of people being thrown out of Canada more quickly than I think most Canadians would find fair, and certainly with disastrous consequences on a humanitarian ground.
The CBSA authorities can prevent people from entering Canada. They can conduct interviews with refugee claimants when they have lost their first opportunity to explain why they wish asylum. They can detain refugee claimants on any number of grounds. They can issue removal orders and send a person out of Canada without an admissibility hearing. In other words, they have enormous powers. By the way, a review of the agency, which I found extremely informative, was issued in 2017 by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.
The question is whether, with all of these powers, everything is going very well. It is not perfect by any means. There are literally, as we have heard from other speakers, hundreds of complaints every year, but many of them are of a rather routine nature. They are unpleasant but they are accusations of racism and unpleasant comments.
I know that we want to thank the vast majority of members of the Canada Border Services Agency at the borders. We need them to be focused on stopping the flow of illegal drugs. We need them to stop the flow of illegal handguns. I think it would be well worthwhile as a public policy matter to stop having it be a priority to find people whose citizenship is irregular and deport them in a hurry. A lot of families are ripped apart by this and it would be much wiser to focus on those things that we know we want to stop at the border, such as drugs and guns, not necessarily people.
This brings me to one of the most tragic of many tragic stories. This one led to an inquiry. Unfortunately, it was in the form of an inquest because the woman in question died.
Her name was Lucia Vega Jimenez. She was stopped at a transit stop in Vancouver and transit police thought there was something unusual about her. It has been alleged it was her accent. It turned out that her citizenship papers were irregular. They turned her over to the Canada Border Services Agency and she was incorrectly advised. The inquest proved that she had been incorrectly advised that she had no hope of avoiding deportation and that there were no appeals. That was not correct. She hanged herself in her cell. The inquest then was able to find that there was a lot of discussion within the agency of how to cover this up, what to do if people found out. It is long overdue to have this kind of a complaints commission.
We now have another change that is worth looking at because we are in a new era of national security law. We have the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. It has the ability to have oversight over what all the agencies do, but it does not take complaints in the same way that this complaints commission would take complaints.
The public complaints and review commission, which is renamed from the public complaints commission that only looked at the RCMP, would now take on the Canada Border Services Agency. I will be voting for this bill at second reading. I do want to see this bill get to committee.
However, the concern I have is that there are a number of excluded areas that the complaints commission cannot look into. We need to look at those and recognize that while the larger agency, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, can give a summary and an overview of how the CBSA has been performing in these areas, people cannot make complaints in the same way.
Complaints cannot be made about the agencies in Bill C-3 that we are debating today. They cannot be made about decisions made by CBSA employees under statutory authorities. This of course includes one of the key areas where abusive behaviour has been reported and is of greatest concern, where people are detained and can die or could be deported and die in a country they should never have been sent back to: the statutory authorities under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and under the Customs Act.
It cannot receive complaints about matters that could be more appropriately dealt with by other bodies, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Commissioner of Official Languages, and the Privacy Commissioner.
This one is really disturbing. It cannot receive complaints on the conduct of part-time employees at detention facilities where CBSA detainees are being housed. That is particularly concerning, because it goes on to actually say that the CBSA would not even be required to investigate complaints that relate to part-time employees.
We need to look at the whole scheme of things where things can go wrong and make sure that in this legislation we fix it as much as possible.
The other matter that is added to Bill C-3 which was not there in the previous Bill C-98 is that national security matters cannot be the source of a complaint.
There is good reason for that in policy because, after all, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency can look at the overview of what CBSA has been doing on national security matters. That is quite a different matter from saying someone cannot complain. The complaints are direct. They are personal. They deal with an actual incident. The review agency is going to look at the whole of the conduct as best as it can as an oversight agency.
I would be very interested to know if we cannot look at the CBSA in this bill and consider whether amendments would not be wise to say that any of the activities of the CBSA and its agents can come before the complaints commission. The complaints commission, if it knows of a better place, could make sure that takes place, as opposed to sending someone away, someone who has been traumatized by an episode at the border and sent away.
People may not know. Even if they are told to take the complaint somewhere, they may just stop. They may not want to go through a revolving door. The complaints commission could have a positive obligation not just to inform a person where to go but to actually take it on, organize the hearing and make sure it is started, make sure complaints are not ignored.
On the matter of national security complaints, I am very concerned about this. One of the places where the CBSA was first studied was in the context of the Arar commission of inquiry. Mr. Justice O'Connor, who was the commissioner in the Arar inquiry, commented:
The CBSA often operates in a manner similar to that of a police force. There is a significant potential for the CBSA’s activities to affect individual rights, dignity and well-being, and much of the national security activity undertaken is not disclosed to the public.
I am concerned that we not inadvertently miss an important piece of oversight, an important piece of justice to anyone who happens to be, and I certainly do not think it happens routinely, traumatized.
In my own experience, I had no idea there was a detention facility under the Vancouver airport where people are deported quite quickly, until the family of an indigenous man from Penelakut Island, not in my riding but nearby, reached out to me for help. It was in 2014. The issue was that CBSA agents had shown up at the door of his home. He is a grandfather, an indigenous man, living on Penelakut Island, whose wife was a residential school survivor. Without warning, they arrested him. They had sent him notices that he had missed. They put him in leg irons. They drove him in a van on that December night all the way to the Vancouver airport, where he was told it was hopeless and that he would be deported the next day back to the United States where he had been born. They did not say there was something called the Jay Treaty regarding indigenous rights. They just said that was it.
Fortunately, we were able to stop the deportation but it was not easy. It did give me an insight into what goes on.
I want to make sure this legislation will work. It needs amendments.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 16:43 [p.1054]
Mr. Speaker, it is essential that Canadians have confidence in the agencies that have extraordinary powers over them.
It was in the debate during the 41st Parliament on Bill C-51, legislation which made a major overhaul of national security law under the Harper administration, and it was very clear from legal analysts like Craig Forcese that we need to have oversight agencies, like the security intelligence review committee, but we also need to have agencies that can do on the spot, in real-time response.
What we have at this point in Canada is an improvement but the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency is at the level of oversight. We do not have that quick response that we get when we have what we have now in the complaints commission. We have a bit of this and a bit of that. We do not have a full and comprehensive system to ensure both oversight and review.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 16:45 [p.1054]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Shefford and congratulate her again on getting elected.
I think that this bill fails to address the issue of cybersecurity. It is a key issue because we have agencies that we are trying to improve. However, Bill C-3 is fairly limited in scope.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 16:46 [p.1055]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Beauce. I congratulate him, as well.
I am really sorry that the unions were not consulted. I really do not know why they were not, but I think it is absolutely mandatory to talk to the unions, because they are affected by this bill.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-06 17:01 [p.1057]
Mr. Speaker, I think we are all keen to get the bill passed in this session, and I am pleased that it has come up early.
Is the member worried at all? I wonder if he heard my concerns earlier. We should not exclude so many aspects of our Canadian Border Services Agency activities such that rather serious incidents fall through some cracks between a review agency at a global level and the specific complaints of individual incidents. Things could fall through the cracks with so many exclusions in the bill.
View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-01-29 16:17 [p.645]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see this legislation back in the House. I also want to thank former minister Ralph Goodale.
It has been a concern for a very long time that the Canada Border Services Agency has no oversight body. I agree with the member for St. John's East that it would be better to have a more comprehensive overview body, but a complaints commission would certainly be an improvement.
I am concerned about the number of exemptions. The minister said in his remarks that any negative experience should be investigated and resolved. I agree, but this legislation would exempt conduct of CBSA agents when they are under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and are operating under their statutory authority, or, and this is rather discretionary, matters that could be more appropriately dealt with by other bodies, or the conduct of employees at detention facilities where CBSA detainees are housed, or, and this is an additional exemption in this version of the bill, which is different from the last Parliament, national security. The concern here is that we really need an oversight body that would review what Canada Border Services agents do.
Most of them are exemplary but I have heard stories that would curl the minister's hair. One was an indigenous man who came to our office for help a number of years ago. He was taken from his home on Penelakut Island just before Christmas, put in leg irons, and driven from Vancouver Island to a detention facility at Vancouver Airport. I do not think under this law we would have any room to complain of the treatment of an indigenous man being put in leg irons and driven to sure and certain deportation if we had not been able to intervene.
Is the minister open to amendments?
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