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Results: 1 - 15 of 19
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-21 12:22 [p.1391]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. He talked about guns at the border.
Does he realize that the rules could be tightened to prevent gun trafficking on the black market?
View Luc Desilets Profile
View Luc Desilets Profile
2020-02-21 12:26 [p.1392]
Mr. Speaker, there is one part of my colleague's speech that I am very much interested in. He alluded to human trafficking a few times.
Could he elaborate on that a bit?
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-07 10:33 [p.1077]
Madam Speaker, I am going to pick up on what my colleague was saying about the transportation of goods on both sides of the border.
We are hearing from our farmers about a problem. Quite often, tanker loads of cows’ milk are being passed off as tanker loads of goats’ milk. This keeps the quotas a bit higher than what is actually being imported. I would like my colleague to comment on that.
Should complaints of this nature be addressed by a possible independent complaints commission?
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-07 13:25 [p.1106]
Madam Speaker, of course the commission must be independent, but how does my colleague feel about the lack of resources that forces officers to work longer hours? They are inevitably more tired.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-07 14:09 [p.1112]
Madam Speaker, my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent reminded us that Bill C-3 pertains to the handling of complaints within the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA. However, he then went on to speak for 10 minutes about irregular migrants who cross the border at Roxham Road.
Am I to understand that he believes that irregular migrants are to blame for the poor handling of complaints at the CBSA?
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-06 16:14 [p.1049]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Indeed, we agree on a number of points.
I would like to hear her thoughts on one important aspect. As we know, CBSA is understaffed. That is causing delays and creating tension and stress for officers and travellers alike.
Does the government plan to look at that problem?
View Louise Charbonneau Profile
View Louise Charbonneau Profile
2020-02-06 16:30 [p.1052]
Mr. Speaker, I need to mention an important fact. The Bloc Québécois is not blaming the Canada Border Services Agency officers. We do not want to put the agency on trial.
Rather, we believe that the government is the one responsible for the agency's lack of oversight and the lack of transparency, which is unusual for such a large organization. The Liberals and the Conservatives are both responsible for tolerating this for so long.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-06 16:45 [p.1054]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
This morning, I took a training course on the importance of cybersecurity and concerns about our electronic devices. Cybersecurity is getting more and more attention, and several arrests have been made in relation to this.
Could the member explain how this bill would improve cybersecurity?
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-06 17:19 [p.1059]
Madam Speaker, in theory, my speech should last about 20 minutes, but it might be a little shorter. I want to give some notice to the speaker coming after me. If he or she is listening and is not already in the House, he or she can come a little earlier.
Today we are debating the role of the Canada Border Services Agency. It might be a good idea to remind everyone that the Canada Border Services Agency is a massive organization. It is responsible for enforcing no fewer than 90 laws and regulations, which is a lot. This is a very important organization.
One of the main laws that the Canada Border Services Agency is responsible for enforcing is the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or IRPA. Immigration experts and lawyers often say that if Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, is the judicial branch that handles immigration, the CBSA is its enforcer. This metaphor comes up often in the immigration world.
IRCC follows the judicial process. If a claim is filed, it is made in writing. The claimant is then heard by a panel, which must render a written decision. There are several ways to challenge the decision, either by review or appeal.
There is a transparent, substantive and reasoned process for challenging decisions that fall within the legal branch. However, at the enforcement level, there is no system in place to challenge what is being done, such as how CBSA officers may deal with individuals who, for example, are subject to deportation orders or with immigrants detained in detention centres for identification purposes.
There may be gaps in several places, but there is no way to find out what those gaps are, other than through an access to information request. There is no open complaint system, there is no open process, and there are certainly no guidelines for handling these complaints.
That is exactly what Bill C-3 is trying to correct. We need to ensure that there is a transparent system in place to monitor and track complaints, and perhaps even facilitate filing them.
The subject has attracted media attention in recent years. CBC filed access to information requests to get a better idea of what was going on and what kind of complaints were being received internally. It is possible to file complaints, but they have to be submitted to the CBSA and are handled by the agency, not by an external third party.
CBC filed an access to information request and got some information. From January 2016 through half of 2018, the CBSA received no fewer than 1,200 complaints about its employees. In some cases, the complaints were about harassment and grave misconduct. CBC noted that the number of complaints ruled credible was not made public and there was no information about measures taken to address complaints found to be credible. There is no accountability. Nobody follows up on the complaints. There is no system to remedy complaints deemed admissible.
The subject of the complaints was interesting too. It was not until the media got involved that we found out what was going on. Of the 1,200 complaints received, 59 were about allegations of harassment, five were about allegations of sexual assault, and 38 were about statements alleging criminal association.
In connection with the lack of a complaint handling system that was uncovered by the CBC, we are seeing another problem, namely that people who are in Canada temporarily have less access to this complaints system. We are talking about temporary residents and visitors who may also have to deal with CBSA officers. Some examples were reported by the CBC. A woman who was supposed to be deported to Guatemala claimed that CBSA officers seriously injured her by pushing her to the ground and kneeling on her back. She said, “They pulled [my arm] backwards and kept kicking my back with their knees”.
In that specific case, there is nothing in writing on that woman's file to indicate whether there had really been any excessive use of force. There was no follow up to the complaint because there is no complaint tracking mechanism. However, Nazila Bettache, a Montreal doctor who later saw the woman, said that she had suffered a traumatic injury that damaged the nerves in her cervical spine. Nevertheless, as there is no complaint tracking system, no one could ever shed light on what really happened.
A year and a half ago, La Presse filed an access to information request to get a better idea of what happens to complaints that are received and handled internally by the CBSA. La Presse found that about 100 of the approximately 900 complaints that were received were deemed to be founded. About one in 10 complaints is considered to be founded by the CBSA. Once again, that is problematic because we do not know what criteria are used to determine whether a complaint is founded or credible. The complainant does not necessarily receive a decision with reasons, as would be the case with a complaint received and handled by independent organizations with clear guidelines.
The report noted that some complaints were about CBSA officers who made racist or crude comments about travellers. There is no way to see the details of these complaints or how they were received, assessed and handled, as the case may be.
The Canadian Press also looked into this matter. For 2017-18, it identified 105 complaints that were deemed to be founded, which represented about 12% of the complaints received. It analyzed 875 complaints in total. Once again, we have to wonder about the proportion of complaints that are received and deemed to be founded. Perhaps a more detailed analysis with clear criteria would reveal that more complaints should have been deemed credible and accepted and analyzed. These complaints could have led to follow-up and hopefully to corrective action.
In this case, the Canadian Press looked at the type of complaints made. It mentioned one traveller who stated that a CBSA officer was rude and yelled at her until she passed out. Apprently, the officers only reported that she was found to be in medical distress and received appropriate care. There seems to be a discrepancy between the content of the complaint and the manner in which it was analyzed by the CBSA. However, an external investigation is not necessarily carried out in such cases.
Another complaint came from a traveller who reported that the officers were insulting other travellers and lacked respect. Radio-Canada also looked into this. It raised an issue that is a bit different but that also deserves to be analyzed by the committee that examines Bill C-3. The Radio-Canada articles state that border officers have the right to search the contents of electronic devices but that they have to put the device in airplane mode. It seems that, in many of the cases that were reported, the CBSA officers did not abide by that directive and there was not necessarily any follow up. I will give a few examples.
One person was asked for access to her online bank accounts. The person had her phone with her, and the CBSA officers asked for access to her bank account without giving any reason to justify it. We have to wonder whether it was legitimate to ask the person to give them access to her bank accounts.
Another traveller gave the following example. At the Montreal-Trudeau Airport, returning from a trip to Cuba, he was asked by border officers to open his luggage so they could inspect the contents. The traveller said that he had been to Cuba 15 times and never had any problems. That evening, he was clearly targeted.
In his luggage, he had a cellphone, a tablet and two USB keys, which contained his lesson plans and his students' files. The officers asked him whether they could inspect all of the contents of his USB keys and tablet. The next day, the man received warning messages informing him that an unidentified person had tried to access his Hotmail and Facebook accounts.
This raises questions that are very interesting to me as a lawyer. When those articles were published, I remember that they got people in the legal field talking, particularly my colleagues in immigration law.
Like my colleagues, I wondered what I, as a lawyer, would do if I arrived at customs and a CBSA officer asked me to unlock my phone to verify the contents.
As I am bound by solicitor-client privilege, it is possible that my phone might contain confidential information. I might be an immigration lawyer, and my phone might contain information from my clients that might end up in the hands of the CBSA. Do I cancel my trip? Do I hand over my phone to the officer? Later, if I want to file a complaint, the system does not allow me to do so properly.
There are some gaps when it comes to privacy protection. How do we know if limits have been exceeded when those limits are not yet clearly established? They cannot even be corrected through a process where a complaint is deemed acceptable after being analyzed, detailed and justified, or challenged in court and referred to higher courts to set precedent, because such a system simply does not exist.
The Bloc Québécois will support Bill C-3, just as we supported its previous iteration in the last Parliament, although it may have been introduced a bit too late, unfortunately causing it to die on the Order Paper.
However, we hope the bill will benefit from many thoughtful comments, but not only from CBSA staff. It is important to remember that our support for this bill does not mean we are in any way criticizing CBSA officers. No large organization has a monopoly on problems, nor is any organization immune to them.
The main objective is to give CBSA a chance to develop a good system for analyzing complaints so it can put best practices in place and, if necessary, be able to dismiss people who do not apply best practices when complaints are considered valid.
We hope the committee that studies Bill C-3 will hear from many experts, especially immigration lawyers and representatives of the union representing CBSA employees. This will ensure that the final version of the bill will give CBSA the best possible system for processing complaints and that complaints are then processed in a way that ensures CBSA officers are given clearer guidance.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-06 17:34 [p.1061]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for his remarks regarding the work we have already done on this file. I am not the only one who has been looking closely at this matter. We have worked together, as a team.
I do not have any suggestions to make at this time, especially since I am not a member of the committee. I will leave that to my colleagues who will be tasked with studying the bill. I would not want to put any words in their mouths, and I do not want them to feel tied down by my recommendations, which they might not necessarily agree with. I will therefore refrain from speaking on their behalf.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2020-02-06 17:34 [p.1061]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
She raised issues related to cybersecurity. She also talked about the different types of complaints. As my party's status of women critic, any time sexual assault or harassment comes up, that is in my wheelhouse.
In this day and age, with women being encouraged to file complaints and speak out about these situations, I would like to know if an independent agency can help encourage them to do just that.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-06 17:35 [p.1061]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Shefford for her question.
Simply having an external agency makes things seem legitimate. For example, if the police is investigating the police, that gives people the impression that cases will not be treated fairly.
If an external organization is responsible for reviewing complaints, that will encourage people to file complaints. It is harder to complain about an organization that is also responsible for reviewing complaints made against it.
I hope this will be an incentive for people to file complaints and that it will come to include specific measures for complaints related to sexual assault.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2020-02-06 17:36 [p.1061]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question. It raises important issues that will need to be addressed when the time comes to decide who will sit on this commission. Unfortunately, I cannot give him an answer.
I would not be surprised if people responsible for immigration and national security files were chosen. As I mentioned, the Canada Border Services Agency is a huge organization with many services. The CBSA administers 90 acts and regulations. In some cases, even foods may fall under its purview. There may be complaints about this as well.
I believe that a commission that is as eclectic as possible could be a good thing and would make compelling recommendations.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Rivière-du-Nord. With his expertise in law, he will be able to probe into the specific details of the case that brings us here today.
Today's motion is a particularly sensitive matter, because it is about the death of a young woman. This woman was very close to my own age, and her death could have been prevented.
I am speaking as the new Bloc Québécois critic for public safety and emergency preparedness. I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois regarding the security and protection of Quebeckers and Canadians alike. Like my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, I find this case totally incomprehensible, especially since it is about violence against a woman, committed by a killer whose record was well known.
I am speaking today to make sure that murders like the one committed under the circumstances that led to the death of Marylène Levesque never happen again. Today, the Bloc Québécois will be supporting the Conservative Party's motion, the first point of which condemns the actions of the Parole Board of Canada. As we know, those actions led to the horrific death of a 22-year-old woman last month. This young woman was murdered by an offender who was out on day parole.
When it comes to justice, one must always be careful about criticizing decisions and policies. It is important to really understand the procedures, the laws and, most of all, the unique features of each case. The reason we are supporting this motion today is that we want to understand why the laws were not applied properly and why the procedures were not followed. The murder of Marylène Levesque could and should have been prevented.
We are not challenging the whole notion of rehabilitation. The purpose of putting an inmate who was behind bars for years on supervised parole is to rehabilitate him. In my opinion, supervised parole does not mean allowing an inmate to obtain services to satisfy his sexual needs. It is both unacceptable and in violation of the Criminal Code. In this particular case, it is clear that parole officers had information that could have prevented this murder.
First of all, the inmate could have been under closer supervision before the murder because he had allegedly violated his parole conditions previously. Second, officials could certainly have forbidden him from contacting Marylène Levesque as he did, because she was a sex worker. That seems like a logical approach to me.
I will repeat that we must be prudent when commenting on legal processes or decisions. Generally, we do not know all the facts. In the case of the murder of Ms. Levesque, the facts indicate a serious failure to comply with regulations and even federal laws governing justice and public safety. It is outrageous and even mind-boggling that the board gave the accused permission to commit a crime, that is to use the services of a prostitute with the complicity of the system that was to ensure the protection of his victim. Quebec's justice and law enforcement authorities have spoken out about this.
Quebec City police chief Robert Pigeon condemned the Parole Board decision that let an offender commit another crime, that is to see prostitutes. I will quote Mr. Pigeon: “How can someone on parole, on day parole, obtain sexual services for consideration? That is a crime under the Criminal Code.”
The chief also raised the issue of how people are chosen to sit on the various committees. We in the Bloc Québécois would also like to know. There have also been many reactions in the National Assembly. The justice minister, Sonia LeBel, like everyone else, is demanding explanations from Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, particularly regarding the reasons that led to Mr. Gallese's day parole, given his history of violence against women.
Parti Québécois member Véronique Hivon, true to form in such cases, is asking for a serious analysis of the situation and asking some vital questions. Is it a lack of training, a lack of information or a lack of analytical tools? Was it the system that failed? Personally, I think so. The system has failed. It failed Marylène Levesque, and it failed all of us.
The Auditor General of Canada produced a report in 2018, in which he stated that, because of a lack of resources, the Correctional Service of Canada could not ensure inmates' successful transition from custody to day parole, increasing the risk of reoffending.
Here we have proof that the Correctional Service of Canada is not adequately managing offenders under supervision in the community. It is completely unacceptable.
If we want our rehabilitation programs to work properly, they need to be appropriately resourced. The lack of resources had already been raised by the Auditor General. Today, the government is forced to answer the questions we are all asking ourselves, namely, what it has or has not done to fix the problem. What is most deplorable is that it took the murder of a 22-year-old woman to raise these questions.
The Bloc Québécois will also support this motion because it calls on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to conduct hearings into this matter.
The Minister of Public Safety may well have requested an internal investigation, but this means that it will be conducted by Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada, the two agencies involved in this case. In my opinion, this kind of internal justice is wrong-headed, hence the need for an external investigation. Jean-Claude Boyer, a former member of the Parole Board of Canada, also believes that the investigation should be conducted externally, and independently. I would like to reiterate that this is entirely reasonable and necessary.
The Bloc Québécois will also support this motion because it calls for a review of the changes to the Parole Board of Canada nomination process made by the Liberals in 2017.
According to a survey conducted by the Parole Board in May 2019, 70% of parole officers said that they were not able to do their work properly or to properly protect the public. We are talking here about the safety of people we know, people in all of the regions of Quebec and Canada. In November 2018, the Auditor General of Canada came to a similar conclusion regarding offenders supervised in the community. How is it that nothing has been done since 2018?
Former Parole Board member Dave Blackburn expressed concerns about the new member appointment process established in 2017. He said, and I quote: “That year, the...government changed the member renewal process. Members who had already been appointed to the Parole Board had to go through the same appointment process as new candidates.”
What we understand from that is that, as a result of the new process, most experienced members did not have their mandates renewed. We can already see a number of problems there.
In closing, the Bloc Québécois will support this motion so that we can get to the bottom of the events that led to this murder, which, I repeat, could have and should have been avoided.
As a woman, as a Quebecker and as the Bloc Québécois critic for public safety and emergency preparedness, I want to offer my sincere condolences to Marylène Levesque's family. I would also like to tell them that we will do everything in our power to get to the bottom of what happened in order to honour Marylène's memory and ensure the safety of women in Quebec and Canada.
The goal is obviously to implement real measures to prevent any other such tragedies from happening in the future. The Bloc Québécois wants people to have confidence in their justice system, but that confidence has been seriously undermined.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-01-29 16:47 [p.649]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very happy that this bill has been introduced. We were taken for a ride in the previous Parliament. Bill C-98 was introduced too late and unfortunately died on the order paper. I hope that we will have time to pass Bill C-3 before the next election, which is looming over our heads like the sword of Damocles.
The Bloc Québécois plans to vote in favour of Bill C-3, as it did with Bill C-98. There is no surprise there.
The current situation is untenable. The statistics are alarming. From 2016 to 2018, there were 1,200 complaints, including 59 allegations of harassment, 38 allegations of criminal association and five allegations of sexual assault. Those are striking figures. The Canada Border Services Agency is short-staffed. Complaints may not always be given the attention they deserve. We think that an independent commissioner should be appointed.
It is also not right that the CBSA itself hears complaints about its own services. That obviously does not meet the minimum legal requirements, whether under natural law or in accordance with the rights set out in our charters regarding an impartial hearing before those concerned. Since the commissioner would be a third party, we believe that he could deal with any complaints filed with his office in a serious, impartial, fair and independent manner—at least that is what we hope. We believe that creating the commissioner's office would make this possible.
This is nothing new. I looked at the statistics on the various complaints that were filed. In 2017-18 alone, just two years ago, there were reports of racist and rude comments. Officers allegedly searched cellphones without putting them in airplane mode, which is illegal. Searches can be conducted legally if the phone is in airplane mode, but not otherwise. In some situations, officers allegedly took photos of the information contained in cellphones. They also allegedly forced someone to open their banking app. All of these things are unacceptable.
Some people complained about rude treatment. Apparently an officer shouted and insulted travellers. In another case, people who had dealings with the CBSA were told there was no interpretation service available, which meant that they were unable to communicate with the officer. One officer was racist and told a client he was ugly. That is unconscionable. This is not a banana republic.
We think complaints should be treated with respect, as should all CBSA clients, whether they are right or wrong, which is a different story. At a bare minimum, these requests should be handled respectfully and attentively.
Last year, the member for Vancouver East quoted something Justice O'Connor said over 10 years ago. He recommended introducing a CBSA oversight mechanism. More recently, an immigration lawyer named Joel Sandaluk said this on CBC: “CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself. It's hard to imagine an organization with the size and the complexity and the amount of responsibility and authority of an agency like this would be completely without any kind of oversight.”
He added that the statistics may have been skewed, but temporary residents of or visitors to Canada were in fact not here long enough to file a complaint. Obviously, he did not even mention those who do not file complaints out of fear of reprisal. It is a troubling situation and according to Mr. Sandaluk, this is likely only the tip of the iceberg.
CBC mentioned the case of a woman deported to Guatemala who was allegedly pushed to the ground by an officer, who is alleged to have kicked her and dug his knee into her back. That is outrageous. When we read these reports, these statistics, we do not get the impression that this is a professional border services agency that serves a country like Canada and serves the people and the visitors of Quebec who have to deal with them.
More recently, just a few weeks ago, the Canadian Press reported some statistics. The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group of Toronto said that the definition of a founded complaint in the CBSA reports was too vague to allow adequate changes or adjustments to be made. This is just another situation that does not help to improve the services provided by the agency.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, told Radio-Canada that the agency and its customs officers had not followed acceptable practices for handling the personal information of Canadian citizens re-entering the country. It is not your ordinary Joe saying it, it is the commissioner himself. He added that the line had been crossed.
It is ridiculous. It is about time that we acknowledge and address this issue.
According to other information made public by Radio Canada, a CBSA officer apparently shredded his handwritten notes three days after receiving a call from one of the commissioner's investigators.
For all these reasons, we believe that Bill  C-3 must be implemented as quickly as possible. Once again, they must not play the same trick on us that they did with Bill C-98, which was introduced before this bill. We believe that Bill C-3 should be referred to a committee right away.
In closing, I want to make it clear that the Bloc Québécois is not blaming the officers or the agency. That is up to the commissioner, if warranted, and if designated.
We believe that the Canada Border Services Agency has not had the benefit of adequate oversight, which it should have received from the proper authorities. Respectfully, the responsibility lies with the current Liberal government and its predecessor, the Conservative government. We believe that the time has come to address this issue and we are grateful for Bill C-3.
I would also like to add that the union representing the CBSA officers should appear before the committee when it studies the bill. We hope that the bill will be referred to a committee as soon as possible. The committee should make every effort to hear from experts, immigration lawyers who have worked with the CBSA and the officers' union. I am convinced that the union has important things to tell the committee about this issue.
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