June 12, 2017


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-233, An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.


CPC

Gord Brown

Conservative

Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, CPC)

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

(Motion agreed to)

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Gord Brown

Conservative

Mr. Gordon Brown

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again to speak briefly about Bill S-233, why it is important, and why it is important that it be dealt with quickly by the House.

Bill S-233 would correct a long-standing problem on the waterways along our border with the United States, whereby pleasure boaters transiting these waters must check in at the Canada Border Services Agency's border crossings if they intend to stop or anchor in Canada. As I have outlined previously, this is an onerous restriction to pleasure craft operators, who may not know that they have drifted into Canadian waters while fishing or relaxing with their families, and it is a colossal waste of CBSA resources to try to track and charge offenders.

The current regulations were put in place during prohibition and have become an impediment to relations with our neighbours along the border, bringing Canada bad press and hard feelings, especially when innocent U.S. citizens are stopped, forced to lie in the bottom of their boats, and fined on the spot for breaking a regulation that they did not know existed. When this Parliament began, I introduced a private member's bill to correct the situation. My colleague in the Senate, Senator Bob Runciman, introduced a similar bill in the Senate that eventually became the bill in front of us today, Bill S-233.

I was pleased when the Senate not only considered Bill S-233, but provided speedy passage of it. It was thoroughly debated, and committee heard from witnesses from both sides of the border. That committee made some reasonable and excellent changes to make the bill better following consultation with the CBSA. It was quickly given third reading, approved, and sent to the House, where I have been pleased to sponsor it. The bill was supported by all parties in the Senate and was passed quickly to the House, where it has also been receiving speedy processing and all-party support. Just last week, it also passed through the public safety committee unanimously. I want to thank the Senate and my colleagues in the House for recognizing the importance of the bill and getting it passed before the summer boating season gets into full swing.

The current law has been a black eye for Canada for many years, and even the agency in charge of enforcing the law realizes how onerous and restrictive it has been both to enforce and defend. That is why the agency had a hand in amending the bill, to ensure that it not only meets the enforcement requirements, but is compliant with being a good neighbour.

While we are entitled to enforce any laws we see fit to protect our borders, transiting pleasure boaters are not our enemies. This bill recognizes that fact. I should point out that while the bill permits pleasure boaters to transit our waters, it still gives the CBSA the freedom to stop any vessel that it wishes if it suspects that something is amiss. Any transiting boater who subsequently decides to stop in Canada, drop anchor in Canadian waters, or tie up to another vessel, must still report to the CBSA. The bill would also clear up regulations in a few other areas, and will, for example, now permit whale-watching passengers to exit Canadian waters and return without requiring a CBSA inspection upon their return, provided they do not leave the vessel.

I do not want to take up too much of the House's time with this bill today. There has been much debate on this bill, and I am encouraged that there has been strong support from all sides of the House. I know all members agreed on the need for this change and I appreciate their support.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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LIB

Karen McCrimmon

Liberal

Mrs. Karen McCrimmon (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Senator Runciman's Bill S-233, conveyance presentation and reporting requirements modernization act.

This bill would relieve persons onboard conveyances, such as private boats, tour boats, cruise ships, and private aircraft, from having to report to the Canada Border Services Agency when they pass incidentally into or out of Canadian waters or airspace.

We are pleased that this bill has made such rapid progress through the Senate, where it passed unanimously, and the House. I would like to thank the standing committees of both Houses for their collaborative and expeditious deliberations.

Current Canadian law requires that all boaters report to the CBSA every time that they enter Canadian waters. This is in contrast to the United States, where boaters are only required to report their arrival to the United States Customs and Border Protection if they have docked at a foreign port or have had contact with another vessel in foreign waters.

Simple activities like fishing, water skiing, and touring do not trigger reporting requirements. The differences in American and Canadian reporting requirements have been a source of frustration for individuals who enjoy leisure activities and businesses that make a living on our shared waterways.

As the member opposite from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has rightly emphasized, international tourism is a key driver of Canada's economy. We must do everything we can to support and promote our tourist industry, and the small and medium-sized businesses that are its backbone.

Millions of Canadians rely on the tourism sector for employment, and that is why our government has made it a priority to promote Canada as a top destination in the global tourism sector. Making sure that more international tourists choose Canada would mean more jobs for Canadian youth and a boost for small businesses in every region of the country.

This bill would help us to market Canada as a destination of choice more effectively. It will do this by exempting private boaters or passengers on other water-borne craft from having to report to the CBSA when crossing into or out of Canadian waters for fishing, sightseeing, or other low-risk activities. Doing so would reduce the reporting burden on the boating community and align our marine reporting requirements with those of the United States.

This would bring great benefit to water-sports enthusiasts and businesses in communities on both sides of the border. People aboard boats, be they private craft, tour boats, cruise ships, or even whale-watching ships, would no longer be required to report to the CBSA in the following circumstances: when they do not land on Canadian soil, and when they do not let off existing passengers or take on board new passengers when in our waters. Cruise ships would clear passengers and crew at their first port of arrival in Canada and enable them to transit international or foreign waters between Canadian ports of call without requiring further CBSA processing. This bill would also apply to aircraft, which may cross incidentally into Canadian airspace without landing.

In sum, these changes would streamline reporting requirements, reduce administrative burden for low-risk activities, and align Canada's approach with that of the United States. The bill would do so while respecting our commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders.

During the course of the bill's development, parties on both sides of this House and the upper chamber agreed to strengthen reporting exceptions and to make certain that the CBSA and its law enforcement partners have everything they need to do their jobs effectively. As a result, amendments were made to apply the same set of newly proposed conditions under Bill S-233 to loop movements, which are cross-border movements in and out of Canadian, U.S., or international waters that return to the same place of origin; and direct transits, which are cross-border movements from one location outside of Canada to another location outside of Canada, or from one location within Canada to another location within Canada.

The amendments specify that people and goods not disembark the vessel or aircraft, and that the vessel or aircraft not anchor, moor, land, or make contact with another conveyance. This bill also makes explicitly clear that border services officers would retain similar powers that they have under both the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Customs Act.

This means that CBSA officers can continue to require people to answer customs or immigration questions regardless of whether they are exempted from reporting. Officers may ask, for example, to verify a person's goods, work permits, or other immigration documents, or they may compel an examination if they deem it warranted.

Both the CBSA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have confirmed that the bill respects their mandates and will allow officers to focus on higher priority reporting and monitoring activities.

Thanks to these important consultations and the collaboration of honourable senators and MPs, I am confident that this bill will reduce the burden on individuals and businesses without sacrificing public safety. It is not always easy to create a border that maintains the safety and security of Canadians while facilitating legitimate, low-risk activities and trade.

Bill S-233 achieves both of these objectives. Canadians and Canadian businesses will benefit from the streamlined and simplified system that it proposes.

I encourage all member of the House to vote in its favour.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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?

Daniel Blaikie

NDP

Mr. Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the bill before us. It accomplishes a few things, one of which is that it makes it easier for businesses that are operating near waters on the Canada-U.S. border to run their businesses. They are able to have their clients pass over the border as long as they are not disembarking either from aircraft or from maritime vessels. Therefore, there is a trade component.

There is also a principle of reciprocity, because the United States has already taken measures to make the process for visitors on that side less cumbersome. This is a case of Canada being a good neighbour and giving the same rights and freedoms to American boaters that they are conferring on us as Canadians.

This changes a long-standing piece of legislation that I understand comes from the prohibition era, so it is also good housekeeping. The consensus on the bill is a good example of where we see a number of trade measures that can be implemented by Parliament that make sense.

People will know that the NDP never hesitates to speak up when we feel that trade measures contemplated by government are not in the best interests of Canadians. This is not one of those cases. It also serves to highlight that when concerns are raised about other trade issues, those come from a place of genuine critique and concern for the interests of Canadians. We are quite happy today to support this piece of legislation.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

There being no further debate, the hon. member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes has up to five minutes for his right of reply.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Gord Brown

Conservative

Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members for Kanata—Carleton, and Elmwood—Transcona for their speeches today, and their support for the bill. As we heard, this is a common sense bill. We will see a lot of problems go away, from the New Brunswick–Maine border, across all of our boundary waters with the United States, all the way to British Columbia.

I know that boaters in my region of the Thousand Islands, including some individuals who are here in Ottawa today, Mike Hornby, Ray Kostuch, George Grout, and Hugh Grout, are anxiously awaiting this bill getting through Parliament.

I would like to thank members from all sides of the House and in the Senate for their support, and I look forward to its speedy passage in time for this boating season.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker

It being 11:20, the House will suspend until noon.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:20 a.m.)

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Public Safety and National Security
Sub-subtopic:   Sitting Suspended
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(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)


CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, CPC)

moved:

That the House recognize that the government has mismanaged the economy in a way that is damaging Canadian industries and diminishing Canadians’ economic stability by: (a) failing to negotiate a deal on softwood lumber and instead offering a compensation package rather than creating sustainable jobs for Canadian forestry workers; (b) attempting to phase out Canada’s energy sector by implementing a job killing carbon tax, adding additional taxes to oil and gas companies, removing incentives for small firms to make new energy discoveries and neglecting the current Alberta jobs crisis; and (c) refusing to extend the current rail service agreements for farmers in Western Canada which will expire on August 1, 2017, which will result in transportation backlogs that will cost farmers billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour to be able to rise here today, on Monday at noon, to talk about how the Liberal government continues to mismanage our economy.

Before I start, I would like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

I thought it imperative that we table this motion today, before we head out on summer break later this month, to talk about how the Liberals seem to be incompetent when it comes to managing the important files to support our economy. In particular, they continue to mismanage our oil and gas sector. Critical infrastructure, such as transportation and rail service, has been completely forgotten by the Liberal government, and the resource industries, such as softwood lumber, agriculture, or our mining sector, have also been forgotten.

This is incredibly damaging to the people who live in communities in rural Canada who depend upon these sectors, yet the Liberals only seem to care about their own political pet projects. They have forgotten about rural Canada. They have forgotten about the important industries across this country, particularly in western Canada. We have to make sure that we shine a light on the Liberals' mismanagement of these files. We have to make sure Canadians understand that the Liberals are either incompetent when it comes to these serious files or they are callous and just do not care. To me, that is very disturbing.

The first part of the motion talks about the softwood lumber deal. I would like to remind everyone that, when we came to power under former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2006, we negotiated a softwood lumber agreement with the United States in three months. We then extended it in 2012 to take us right through until October 2016. That protected over 400,000 jobs across this country from coast to coast to coast, in every region, and it supported our businesses, jobs, and communities.

The Liberals have taken a laissez-faire attitude toward softwood. They allowed the agreement to expire in October 2016. They have failed to engage with the U.S. administration to protect Canadian jobs, protect access to the U.S. market, and also protect consumers in the United States who will ultimately pay higher prices. The jobs of Canadian forestry workers are in peril, and Canadian softwood lumber manufacturers and harvesters are seeing their businesses at risk, yet all we have seen from the Liberals is some EI reforms to help out those workers. That does not fix the problem.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is responsible for the softwood lumber agreement with the United States, tweeted this morning that Canada and the United States are miles apart on coming to some sort of an agreement. It is completely unacceptable that we are not getting any resolution from the Liberals on this file. We cannot sit on the sidelines and wait while these jobs, businesses, and communities are in peril.

We have to make sure that the government gets focused. Today is its opportunity to commit to solving the softwood lumber deal, and to take a page from the Conservatives' playbook on how to do it.

Members will hear today from a lot of Conservative members of Parliament who want to see the Liberals try to solve some of these problems rather than sit on their hands. I know that our critics in the official opposition, and members of Parliament from the Conservative Party, will strongly encourage the government to find solutions, while at the same time will be pointing out, without hesitation, the flaws in the Liberals' approach and their callous decision-making process, which are leaving rural and western Canada and the resource industries at risk.

The second part of the motion talks about how the Liberals continue to damage the economy by going ahead with their complete drive to kill the oil and gas and energy sectors in this country.

The Prime Minister is married to a flawed policy, a regressive policy, called the carbon tax, and he is forcing it on the provinces and the territories. This carbon tax is going to hurt the most vulnerable in our society. It will increase the cost of doing business. The cost to farmers in particular for what they are going to have to pay extra for fuel, fertilizer, and other energy costs is going to be huge. Farming is an energy-intensive industry.

My son-in-law is a grain farmer. I come from a farming background. My brothers and my father and mother were all involved in agriculture, as am I. We will be hit the hardest. What will that do? It will not only reduce our bottom line but will increase the price of food. Not only will it increase the price of producing that food, it will increase the cost of transporting that food. Canada is a vast nation, and everything has to be put onto trucks or rail. It is all pulled by diesel. That will see some of the highest levels of carbon taxes of anything.

Low-income Canadians and those living on fixed incomes cannot afford a carbon tax. They have been completely ignored by the Liberal government. The Liberals like to claim that they have been able to bring the biggest tax cuts to the middle class, but that is a farce. It is a shell game, because with one hand they give, and with the other hand they taketh away.

For those Canadians making over $45,000 a year, the Liberals decreased income taxes by 1.5%. They then increased taxation through payroll taxes and CPP premiums by 2%. Middle-class Canadians are short a half per cent right now, and that does not include paying more for a carbon tax, which will impact everything they do, such as their home heating bills and the cost to commute. Public transit will go up, because it will cost more to put fuel in those vehicles.

The Liberals eliminated the tax credit for public transit, Mr. Speaker, again targeting low-income Canadians, students, and seniors. Those who depend on public transit are being completely thrown to the curb.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
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CPC

Erin O'Toole

Conservative

Hon. Erin O'Toole

Under the bus.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
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CPC

James Bezan

Conservative

James Bezan

They are being thrown under the bus, Mr. Speaker, as my friend from Durham just said, by the Liberals. That is not acceptable. It is callous and inconsiderate. The Liberals are hurting those who need every penny kept in their own pockets, but the pickpockets on the Liberal side just love to pull more revenue from Canadians through additional taxes.

The Liberals are also going after the gas and oil companies by putting in place things like a methane tax, again increasing the cost of doing business and not doing anything to change the story on climate change.

When fuel prices go up and energy costs rise, Canadians still have to buy their gas, their diesel, their electricity, and their home heating fuel. Higher prices do not reduce consumption rates. All they do is generate more dollars for the coffers of the Government of Canada and the provinces, and that is not appropriate. Doing that kills jobs.

There is a jobs crisis in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, provinces that depend on the oil and gas sector, and in western Manitoba and places in Ontario, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia, with the Hibernia oil fields and offshore drilling. Those jobs are being lost, yet those jobs support communities. When oil workers leave the field, who is going to be in those small businesses up and down Main Street, those pa and ma shops? If they have no one to come in to do business, how will they stay in business? If they are not able to sell their wares, sell their services, that is unacceptable.

Finally, the other issue I want to talk about today, and the House will hear in detail from my colleagues about this, is how the government's Bill C-49, what the Liberals call the modernized transportation act, is the opposite of that. The bill would put shippers and grain farmers across Canada at risk.

For western grain farmers, August 1 is a new crop year. Those farmers will have more difficulty moving their grain when the current shippers service agreements expire August 1. It will be more difficult for them to get the new crop to market. The bill would put all the power back in the hands of the oligarchs at the railways.

I am looking forward to hearing all the arguments brought forward by my colleagues on today's important motion.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
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LIB

Greg Fergus

Liberal

Mr. Greg Fergus (Hull—Aylmer, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague across the aisle. I know he is a man of great experience. He was really painting a very one-sided portrait, a partial portrait, of what is going on.

The hon. member says that nothing has been done by the government for rural Canada. In the last budget, where were they in terms of supporting $2 billion in investments for rural Canada? Why are they not talking about that?

The hon. member keeps saying that the Liberals are trying to kill the oil and gas sector by putting a price on carbon pollution. All Canadians know that more than 80% of Canadians live in jurisdictions that have already put a price on carbon. The federal initiative is only to fill the gap where it has not been done.

I would love to hear from the hon. member why he would paint such a partial picture. I would like to have the hon. member please address that question.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—Canadian Economy
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June 12, 2017