Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see you in the chair again, guiding our democratic exchanges in the House.
I began my speech before question period. Having used up six minutes, I now have four left. In the first part of my speech, I explored the notion of borders from various perspectives: security, trafficking, trade, and the need for some to commute between various countries, in our case Canada and the United States.
As a certain philosopher whose name escapes me once said, borders guarantee a country's sovereignty. It can then be said that they guarantee our Canadian democracy, because in order to be enforced, rights must rest upon institutional foundations, foundations that can only be guaranteed within the borders of a sovereign state that has institutions such as the House of Commons, for instance.
The purpose of Bill C-21, which the Minister of Public Safety introduced on June 15, 2016, in this House, is to amend the Customs Act. Let me remind my colleagues that the whole content of this bill comes from the beyond the border action plan, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011. The general aim of that plan was to address any emerging threats to the Canada-U.S. border; to promote trade, which makes for continuous economic growth and job creation; to have an integrated cross-border law enforcement; and to establish critical infrastructure for cybersecurity, a need that keeps growing over the years as new technologies become more important in our daily lives and our institutions.
In my view, this bill was put forward in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Americans wanted to address the concerns of their fellow citizens about security in North America, which is quite natural. In fact, the goal is still the same. As good partners, we not only wanted to address the concerns of Canadians regarding their security, but we also wanted to be good economic, military, and social partners with the United States. We still want that today. Therefore, we began discussions about border security in good faith and with an open mind.
That being said, it was imperative for us, Canadians, to ensure the continuity of trade flow. That is what is difficult to maintain with this type of bill. As my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, our critic on this file, mentioned, this bill is intended to finally respond to the threat of terrorism. However, how can we achieve this while ensuring the continued free flow of goods?
We believe the government has accepted the main points we presented in 2011, which is quite interesting. However, this government still has many questions to answer about this bill. Will there be new infrastructure costs related to carrying out the inspection of outgoing people or goods? What measures have been put in place by this government to protect privacy and ensure that the collection of any new entry and exit data is carried out in a secure manner? How will this bill affect those people who enter Canada at unofficial entry points, as we saw this summer in Manitoba and Quebec? Finally, how is this issue reflected in our trade negotiations with the United States at this time, and will all Canadians benefit from these changes?