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View John Williamson Profile
Madam Speaker, during tonight's adjournment debate, I will be speaking about the privacy rights of my constituents. I know for all members of the House privacy rights are important, and of course they are guaranteed by the Charter. They are paramount to our identity as Canadians.
Unfortunately, the government has missed the boat on protecting privacy rights in southern New Brunswick. Some members may recall my question last year about Canada Post mail delivery to a beautiful part of my riding called Campobello Island. U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to open and review Canada Post mail going to Campobello. That is because Campobello is Canadian territory but is only accessible year-round by driving through the state of Maine for an hour.
The government responded to my question by stating, “We will be looking at this matter and will have further things to say on it in the future”. I was expecting that, in this minority Parliament where the government is trying to work across the aisle, when a serious issue is brought to its attention, an issue that impacts the privacy rights of Canadians, it would act. Sadly, I was wrong.
My office has received a letter from Canada Post, which I will table after the adjournment proceedings. Quite frankly, the response from this government-owned crown agency, Canada Post, is tone deaf. Canada Post says that the United States has a right to open the mail and that Canada Post understands “this has caused you concern”.
Second, it says that the delivery route through Maine is “the only available option beyond seasonal ferry service”. From what I understand, Canada Post has not requested use of that seasonal ferry service. It has not contacted the ferry operator whose craft is in the water and available for private or public charter.
Third, the letter says that Canada Post is working on resolving the matter with United States government officials and hopes to see “fewer delays in the coming weeks”. Nearly two months have come and gone.
Here is the problem. The letter closes by saying, “to provide timely service, we ask that you refrain from ordering or sending items that cannot be sent by mail or that could be seized by a customs agent as they may delay passage of all mail through the border”. Therefore, Canada Post is asking for Canadians living on Campobello to use the mail less or not use it at all.
I have contacted Canada Post. I have brought this issue to the minister's attention and Canada Post has contacted my office. However, once again, its explanation does not solve the problem. According to Canada Post, this whole problem is because cannabis is mailable within Canada. It is just a fluke of geography that necessitates the crossing of borders to reach Campobello that causes some challenges here.
However, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. Also, geography cuts both ways. That is because there is a place called Point Roberts in British Columbia that is U.S. territory and is only accessible by passing through Canadian territory. The U.S. mail that is going to Point Roberts is not being opened by CBSA officials. Perhaps it is time that we did so.
I have some questions for my colleagues in the government this evening. Why has the issue of U.S. border official agents searching Canada Post mail still not been resolved? What will the Liberals do today, not in the future, to protect the privacy rights of Canadian residents living on Campobello?
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