September 18, 2017

LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

It is my duty to inform the House that vacancies have occurred in the representation, namely: the hon. Rona Ambrose, member for the electoral district of Sturgeon River—Parkland, by resignation effective Tuesday, July 4, 2017; the hon. Denis Lebel, member for the electoral district of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, by resignation effective Wednesday, August 9, 2017.

Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed my warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of writs for the election of new members to fill these vacancies.

It is also my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation in the House of Commons for the electoral district Scarborough—Agincourt, in the Province of Ontario by reason of the passing of Arnold Chan.

Pursuant to subsection 28(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill the vacancy.


Subtopic:   Vacancies
Sub-subtopic:   Sturgeon River—Parkland, Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, Scarborough—Agincourt
Permalink

(Bill S-211. On the Order: Government Orders:) March 30, 2017—Consideration at report stage of Bill S-211, An act respecting national sickle cell awareness day—Mr. Fisher


LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

On Thursday, September 14, 2017, the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour informed me in writing that he would be unable to move his motion during the hour provided for private members' business. Since it was not possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence, I am directing the clerk to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Private members' hour will therefore be suspended.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   National Sickle Cell Awareness Day Act
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LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. Strahl, the member for the electoral district of Chilliwack—Hope, has been appointed a member of the Board of Internal Economy in the place of Mr. Brown, the member for the electoral district of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, for the purposes and under the provisions of section 50 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Board of Internal Economy
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.)

moved that Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by welcoming you and and all other members back to the House of Commons to our business on behalf of Canadians.

Reflecting on the announcements that you just made at the opening of this session, members will obviously see behind me the vacant desk that was formerly occupied by the member for Scarborough—Agincourt, adorned today with flowers in his memory. We all think very fondly of our friend and colleague who passed so suddenly just a few days ago. We all share the grief of his loss.

However, if there is one bit of advice that Arnold Chan would give this House, it would be to proceed with the public business of Canada and to do so with substance, civility, and strength. We will all strive to do that in his memory.

Today we are beginning this fall sitting of the House with a debate on Bill C-21, legislation that will amend the Customs Act to enable the collection of certain basic exit information when someone crosses the border to leave our country. This bill will close a gap in our security and administrative framework by giving a clearer picture of who is actually exiting Canada at any given moment in time so that we can better ensure the efficient movement of legitimate trade and travel and keep our border secure.

Every day, around 400,000 people and $2.5 billion in bilateral trade cross the Canada-U.S. border in both directions. We and our American counterparts have frequently reiterated our shared commitment to creating an even safer border that promotes even greater prosperity, two goals that go hand in hand. The bill before us today is a big step toward achieving those goals.

It would likely come as a surprise to most Canadians that basic exit information is not collected already. We do, of course, take careful note of people arriving in Canada, but until now, we have only collected exit data on foreign nationals and permanent residents leaving the country. By contrast, most other countries keep track of who leaves as well as who arrives. We need to address this security loophole and in effect catch up to the rest of the world.

The exit information that will be collected is brief, basic, and unobtrusive. It is the name, nationality, date of birth, gender, and the issuing authority of the travel document—in other words, nothing more than what is found in the normal course on page 2 of one's passport, along with, of course, the time and the place of one's departure. This information will be gathered without imposing any new requirements on the travelling public.

When a person leaves Canada by land, they will, as usual, show their passport to a U.S. border officer and the U.S. will automatically send the information on page 2 back to Canada. For those leaving by air, air carriers will collect the basic passport data from passenger manifests and provide it to the Canada Border Services Agency before departure.

As a result, Canadian authorities will be better able to manage our border, combat cross-border crime, respond to national security threats, prevent the illegal export of controlled goods, ensure the integrity of our immigration system, and protect taxpayer dollars against the abuse of certain government programs.

As an example of how the bill would help with police investigations, take the case of Amber Alerts. When an alert is issued, the RCMP would ask the Canada Border Services Agency to create a lookout for the missing child or for a suspected abductor.

If information relayed to CBSA by U.S. border officials matched that lookout, CBSA would alert the RCMP that the person had left the country. The RCMP could then coordinate with its American counterparts to locate the child and apprehend the offender, knowing precisely when and where they left Canada. If the lookout matched someone on the passenger manifest of an imminent outbound flight, police could intercept the abductor at the airport and rescue the child before departure.

This is also useful retrospectively if an abductor has taken a child out of the country. For example, if a child is discovered missing in the afternoon and the exit data show that the child crossed into Vermont that morning, that is obviously extremely helpful for investigators in both countries as they work together to bring the child home safely and to apprehend the abductor.

The same principle would apply in the case of known high-risk travellers, such as fugitives from justice or radicalized individuals. Combatting the phenomenon of Canadians participating in terrorist activities abroad is a key priority for our government and, I am sure, for Parliament. The collection of basic exit information would be an important new tool for our national security agencies in this regard.

It would also be useful in Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking. It could help police determine the location of a suspect or a victim of human trafficking. It could help determine the travel patterns of suspects or victims, which in turn makes it easier to identify human smuggler destinations or implicated criminal organizations, and it could help police to identify other suspects or victims by learning who is travelling with the individual in question. All of this information is invaluable not only for the advancement of human-trafficking investigations but also later in the criminal justice process in support of ensuing prosecutions.

Bill C-21 would also help immigration officials to make better-informed decisions and better use of their resources. With access to reliable exit data, immigration officials would be able to base their decisions on a more complete and accurate picture of an applicant's travel history. When conducting investigations, they would be able to prioritize activities and resources by focusing on people who are actually still in Canada rather than wasting time looking for someone who has already left.

Bill C-21 would also help to protect taxpayer dollars by reducing fraud and abuse of certain federal programs with residency requirements. By establishing when people leave Canada, we would be able to better determine who is and who is not eligible for certain benefits. Of course, when people are entitled to benefits based on their residence in Canada, those benefits are properly and generously provided by Canadian taxpayers, but eligibility criteria exist for a reason, and Canadians expect the government to administer these programs accurately.

Let me be clear: people collecting benefits in accordance with the law would not be affected in any way. People currently receiving old age security would not be affected, because once they have 20 years in residence in Canada as an adult, their OAS is fully portable wherever they may choose to live in their golden years. Medicare eligibility would also not be affected, because the exit information that we're talking about today would only be used in the administration of federal programs, and the administration of medicare is at the provincial level. However, by helping to identify fraud and abuse, Bill C-21 would help ensure the integrity of benefit programs and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars.

The bill also includes measures to strengthen the ability of the Canada Border Services Agency to deal with smuggling and the illegal movement of goods out of Canada. Hon. members may well remember that the Auditor General published a report in the fall of 2015 finding that improvements were needed to combat the unlawful export of controlled goods or dangerous goods, including illegal drugs and stolen property.

Bill C-21 would help address that situation, as identified by the Auditor General, by providing CBSA with authorities regarding the export of goods similar to the authorities that already exist with respect to imports.

As with any measure that involves the collection and sharing of information, privacy considerations must be paramount. Our government takes this very seriously. We have an obligation to protect the privacy of Canadians, and privacy protections have been built into the core of this initiative, as reflected in Bill C-21.

To begin with, the government has engaged proactively on this matter with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and we will continue to do so. Privacy impact assessments have already been completed for the current and previous phases of implementation, involving the collection of basic exit data for non-citizens. Summaries of those assessments are available on CBSA's website. An additional assessment will be done once this new legislative framework is enacted and put into place. We will ensure that we protect the privacy of Canadians.

It is important to note that before any information can be shared between CBSA and any other federal agency or department, a formal information-sharing arrangement must be established. Such an arrangement would include information management safeguards and privacy protection clauses.

The exchange of information with the United States would likewise be subject to a formal agreement to establish a framework governing the use of the information and to set up the mechanisms necessary to address any problem that might arise.

At all times, exit information would only be disclosed in accordance with Canadian law and CBSA employees would continue to receive training to ensure they would be aware of their privacy responsibilities with respect to accessing and disclosing personal information.

Crucially, as I said before, the only information we are talking about in Bill C-21 are the basic facts, as laid out on page 2 of one's passport, which, of course, is the document one hands to the foreign border service officer whenever one seeks to enter another country. It is that basic information that would be transferred back to Canada so Canadian authorities would know when a person left the country. It is nothing more than that.

As I mentioned at the outset, our government is committed to ensuring the efficient flow of trade and travel essential to our country's prosperity, while keeping our border secure at the same time. It is in furtherance of this dual objective that I introduce Bill C-21. I look forward to the constructive engagement of all hon. members as we discuss the bill in the chamber and then proceed to consider it in further detail in committee.

I thank members for their attention. My only regret today is my friend Arnold Chan is not here to participate in this debate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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CPC

Pierre Paul-Hus

Conservative

Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, as the new public safety critic for the official opposition, I look forward to asking my hon. friend some questions in the House.

The first question I would like to ask this morning after listening to his speech pertains to his perception of the issue of declaring marijuana use, should the drug become legal in Canada. As we know, our American neighbours have a different perspective on the issue. We are looking at a bill that, incidentally, was prepared by the previous Conservative government and one that I fully support.

However, since the proactive disclosure of information is the intent here, can the minister tell us what Canadians are supposed to do with regard to disclosing their marijuana use when crossing the border?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the export or import of marijuana, carrying that drug across the border, it is illegal now in both directions to export or import, and it will continue to be illegal under the new legislation. There is no change in that regard whatsoever. Obviously, the Canada Border Services Agency will take all the normal precautions when the new regime is changed in Canada, following approval in the House, to ensure Canadians are fully informed of their border rights and responsibilities.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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NDP

Matthew Dubé

New Democratic Party

Mr. Matthew Dubé (Beloeil—Chambly, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech.

Some of the most egregious human rights violations Canada has, unfortunately by proxy, been a part of have often had to do with information sharing. One particular case, the most infamous, is the Maher Arar case. When we look at Bill C-21, the minister might say that it is only what is on page 2 of one's passport. What he is forgetting to talk about is the fact that this information is then being handed over to the U.S. government in a context where executive orders have been adopted, removing privacy protections from the information that is not of an American citizen.

I want to understand why the minister thinks we can start sharing exit information with our American counterparts in that context, especially given some of the discrimination that has been going on at the border lately.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. gentleman may be misunderstanding the facts. When Canadians cross the border into the United States, they show their passports. Travellers disclose the information. They hand their passports to American border control officers and they run it through their database system to determine if there are any flags, warnings, or whatever. The traveller discloses the information in order to gain permission to enter the United States.

What this new system means is that the Americans will then transmit that data instantly back to Canada so we will have that information on the Canadian side and can know that a particular person left Canada at this departure point at this time. The system will work the other way around, for people crossing from the United States into Canada. The person would show his or her travel documents to the Canadian border officer and the Canadian border officer would, in addition to doing the normal checks on the Canadian side, send that information back to his or her counterparts in the United States.

Indeed, the only information that is involved is that basic ID data contained on page 2 of a person's passport. People should not have any elevated fears about any incursion into their privacy as a consequence of this. There will be among all government departments formal information-sharing agreements that will specify precisely the limits that will pertain to the use of this information.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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CPC

Randy Hoback

Conservative

Mr. Randy Hoback (Prince Albert, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to pass on my condolences to members across the aisle on Mr. Chan's passing. It is a great loss, and we feel their pain.

Bill C-21 is legislation that we can all support. It would modernize our border. It would allow the free flow of goods back and forth even more effectively. If we could even move beyond this into some new type of agreement with the U.S. so we could even speed up the crossing of commercial goods across the border, that would be positive too.

What people in Saskatchewan really want to know from the minister, and it is a very important and simple question, is with respect to the proposed tax changes coming down the pipe, which are going to affect farm families and make it impossible for a family farm to pass on to the next generation. Where does he stand on these proposed tax changes?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman for his kind remarks with respect to our late colleague Arnold Chan.

On the issue of commercial goods, the key legislation in respect to speeding the movement across the border has already dealt with by the House in Bill C-23, the whole issue around pre-clearance. The House has given its approval and that bill is now in the Senate waiting approval. It provides the framework within which we could extend pre-clearance of passengers to pre-clearance of cargo. The President and the Prime Minister specifically agreed to pursue that when they met in the spring, and it is very high on the agenda for both countries.

With respect to tax matters, which has nothing directly to do with this legislation, the fact is that the government is in pursuit of two very key priorities: to ensure our economy grows and succeeds and to ensure the tax system is fair to all Canadians in every part of the country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

David Graham

Liberal

Mr. David de Burgh Graham (Laurentides—Labelle, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his kind words with respect to the passing of our friend and colleague Arnold Chan, who I very much miss already. However, that is not the topic of today's debate. Could the minister tell us what current systems exist today to find out who is leaving the country? What information do we have today, if anything?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Mr. Speaker, we have systems in place that collect and provide that information with respect to foreign nationals and permanent residents. However, the legal authority has never existed to collect and make use of that information with respect to Canadian citizens. That is the critical change involved in Bill C-21 for everyone leaving the country. We have the information on foreign nationals. We have the information on permanent residents. However, we do not have that information with respect to Canadian citizens. By changing the Customs Act, we will give ourselves the legal authority to collect that data and ensure the picture is complete with respect to all persons leaving the country.

It is a bit ironic that we have forever collected the data with respect to people coming into the country but never leaving the country. Many people have observed that as a major gap in border security, which needs to be fixed. I hope the House can move quickly in order to get it done.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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NDP

Brian Masse

New Democratic Party

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, we are saddened by the passing of Mr. Arnold Chan. Our condolences to his family, his friends, and the Liberal Party.

One of the concerns in my riding with respect to the bill is with the sharing of information in the U.S. Patriot Act and the potential sharing of information with American border crossing operators. Matty Moroun owns the Ambassador Bridge. The minister and his government chose to give this private American billionaire, who was incarcerated for state and federal issues related to government funding in that area, a new border crossing through a cabinet order.

Why did a private American business person, who has a current border crossing that has a daily exchange of 25% of Canadians with the United States, get a new border crossing in such a manner and guarantees about personal identity and protection, given that U.S. customs is integrated with this private enterprise? Does he have any concern that this private American citizen, a billionaire, has a criminal record and has been granted a new border crossing?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph Goodale

Mr. Speaker, the border between Canada and the United States is a hugely important international asset. It is some 9,000 kilometres long. There are 117 border crossing points. It is a border where 400,000 people and $2.5 billion in trade crosses every day. It is obviously a hugely important international asset and is the longest, most open, most prosperous, and most successful border in the history of the world. We are working very hard to ensure that the border functions successfully, that it is safe and secure, and at the same time that goods and services move effectively and efficiently. We will take all necessary steps in that process to enhance Canadian prosperity and connect and protect Canadian public safety and security.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
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CPC

Pierre Paul-Hus

Conservative

Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand in the House today to speak to Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Act.

Before I go any further, I would like to once again thank the leader of the Conservative Party for appointing me to his shadow cabinet as critic for public safety and emergency preparedness. I look forward to working with our leader, my cabinet colleagues, and our entire caucus so as to ensure that the concerns of all stakeholders within the public safety and emergency preparedness portfolio are heard and addressed.

I also hope to work productively with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. I am very pleased that we can begin today by discussing a bill that we believe is a step in the right direction for Canada's public safety.

One of the major stakeholders in public safety is the Canada Border Services Agency. This is an agency, as I will explain later, that will be directly affected by the bill we are discussing today.

CBSA employs nearly 14,000 individuals, including 6,500 uniformed CBSA officers who provide services at approximately 1,200 points across Canada and at 39 international locations. While most Canadians will be familiar with this agency from the interactions they have with its officers at the border crossings on land, air, and sea, they may not know just how busy this agency really is.

The CBSA's responsibilities include detaining those people who may pose a threat to Canada and removing people who are inadmissible to Canada, including those involved in terrorism, organized crime, war crimes or crimes against humanity. The CBSA also stops illegal goods from entering the country, and protects food safety, and plant and animal health.

I want to thank the people at CBSA for the hard work they do every day. I thank them for everything they do and for the work that happens behind the scenes that international travellers are unaware of. We certainly know that the CBSA agents are there working hard to protect us.

Given the state of the world today there is no role more important than to work every day on finding the best ways to enhance public safety for all Canadians.

With terrorism on the rise in many countries around the world, including Canada, unfortunately, the unspeakable crimes involving human trafficking and the pain and suffering of the victims' parents, and organized crime destroying individuals and entire families, we cannot afford to be lax in our efforts to keep Canadians safe.

What is human life worth? What lengths should we go to in order to protect our sons and daughters? How far should we go to make our children and families feel safe at home and in their community day and night?

We know that our Constitution affords rights to criminals, but it also provides rights to law-abiding citizens. Can we not balance the two?

I sometimes feel that in dealing with criminals, the rights of law-abiding citizens are taken lightly and justice is not properly served. Recently we saw the current government bend over backwards to provide long-term financial support to a young man who gladly and passionately fought against our allies. The government gave him up to $10 million for his trouble but had very little to say about the soldier's widow or her children.

I raise this point because from time to time, the Prime Minister speaks more passionately about non-Canadians and acts in ways that make every Canadian stop and think to themselves: is this Prime Minister speaking for me or for someone halfway around the world? Who does he really care about?

We agree and share the compassion of many Canadians who follow current events and see the struggles of people in faraway lands. We can never agree, though, that their interests, desires, or even hopes can be placed above the Canadians who fulfilled their duty and elected us to office to come to this place and speak on their behalf. We must remember that we speak on their behalf, so it worries me when we have cases like the recent payout to Mr. Khadr. We find the Prime Minister absent, the details of the payout secret, and Canadians left feeling uncomfortable living out their daily lives knowing that the government has made a criminal wealthy and free to walk the streets of our compassionate country.

I am all for gathering together, as we are today, to talk about bills that will make criminals and smugglers think twice about their activities. I am also strongly in favour of any bill that will make it difficult or even impossible for people to abuse or illegally benefit from our generous benefit programs.

Bill C-21 is part of a broader initiative called beyond the border, which was created in 2011 by our previous Conservative government. It is good to see that the Liberals are following in our footsteps and making this action plan a reality. The action plan includes key areas of co-operation, such as addressing threats early; trade facilitation, economic growth, and jobs; cross-border law enforcement; and critical infrastructure and cyber security, which is very important.

This bill is part of an action plan that seeks to maximize the benefits we derive from our close relationship with the United States. By moving forward with a perimeter-based security approach and by working together both inside and outside the borders of our two countries, we can improve security and expedite the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between the two countries.

The declaration made in 2011 includes the establishment of an entry-exit system for the two countries. Bill C-21 is an important part of the initiative I just mentioned. To make such an entry-exit system possible, it must include the exchange of relevant entry information by the relevant government so that documented entry into one country serves to verify exit data from the other country.

While at this time the Government of Canada currently collects biographical information about travellers entering Canada, it has no reliable way of knowing when and where travellers leave the country. Bill C-21 would help Canada implement phases 3 and 4 of the entry-exit initiative. It would help Canada and the U.S. exchange basic biographical data on all travellers, including Canadian and American citizens using land ports of entry.

The CBSA already collects biographical exit data on all air travellers leaving Canada by obtaining electronic passenger manifests from air carriers. Such practices are not uncommon around the world. In fact, the Australian government uses movement records to track arrivals and departures at its borders. Movement records may include name, date of birth, gender, relationship status, country of birth, departure and arrival dates, travel document permission, and travel itinerary.

In 1998, the U.K. government ended its collection of paper-based exit controls and in 2004 introduced a more sophisticated approach by collecting advance procedure information for inbound and outbound air passengers. In 2015, the government also introduced embarkation checks, which are to take place at all ports to the U.K. Information collected under this legislation includes passports or travel documents and biographical information.

The Government of New Zealand has a passenger departure card system in place for outbound travellers. Before going through customs, travellers have to fill out a departure card under the country's 2009 immigration legislation. These cards are used to collect information such as a passenger's travel itinerary, nationality, passport information, date of birth, occupation, country of birth, and current address.

Since 2008, the United States has been requiring air and marine carriers to provide border police with an electronic list of all passengers and crew members before any international flight or departure under the advance passenger information system. This information must be provided before departure so that the manifests can be compared to the terrorist watch list and the information can be added to the data base.

The bill we are looking at today, which I am proud to say was originally introduced by the Conservatives, is first and foremost aimed at combatting terrorism. That is why we must not oppose it. We believe this bill will build on the good work we have already started with our American partners.

That being said, I must ask the minister to clarify one thing. Over the past year, a troubling trend has emerged. We are seeing more and more people entering Canada through unofficial crossing points, coming through fields or forests, in the depths of winter and the height of summer, steering clear of Canada's official ports of entry. We therefore welcome this bill for what it will do to strengthen border security. The border is not just a single crossing with a lineup of people waiting; it stretches from one end of the country to the other.

Our concern is that other topics like unofficial ports of entry are also relevant to our discussion today. Although this government is implementing some excellent border security initiatives that originated under the Conservative government, it does not seem to care about securing the border between official ports of entry.

I hope the minister plans to clarify this contradiction, not only for us in the House, but also for the men and women who work for CBSA and the RCMP. We have always known that the Prime Minister was not too concerned about the danger posed by criminals, and now he appears even less worried. The Prime Minister recently ordered budget cuts at the Canada Border Services Agency, and did so very quietly. On the one hand, the Liberals talk about increasing security, but on the other, the Prime Minister quietly orders budget cuts.

I recently received a call at my office from a woman who told me that CBSA services at the Oshawa airport and at the commercial office in Barrie have been completely eliminated. The Liberals are just talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they say they are here for Canadians, but on the other hand, they make cuts.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
?

An hon. member

And love photo ops.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CPC

Pierre Paul-Hus

Conservative

Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus

That is right.

I asked my staff to call the office of the Minister of Public Safety to get some information about that decision. We have yet to get a response. I understand that he was on vacation, so I expect to get a response fairly quickly now.

This is 2017, and the world is becoming increasingly unstable. This is certainly not the time to be making cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency and chipping away at our border controls. I have a number of questions about that, and these are things we will be discussing, so I would appreciate the people opposite paying close attention. What are their thoughts on everything that happened with illegal migrants this summer? On the one hand, here they are with a very positive bill, but on the other, they are cutting services. Earth to the Liberals.

I should add that we did not get this information from the minister's office or through official channels. People in Oshawa and Barrie called our office to ask why those offices were closed. That just does not work. We know where the criminals go. People who want to smuggle drugs and other stuff go through small airports in small towns. They do not go through Toronto or Montreal airports with their cargo. They use small airports, which is why it makes no sense to cut border services in small airports.

Honestly, what I am afraid to ask the minister today is whether we can expect other budget cuts that will affect Canadians' security. Are we going to be seeing even bigger cuts to organizations responsible for ensuring the security of Canadians as they go about their day-to-day lives? Will Canadians have even more reason to be concerned about their security? Will these agencies have to do even more work with less money, which will put more pressure on the front-line men and women? Is the minister planning other nationwide cuts?

We have already said that the Prime Minister was big on selfies and soft on crime. He is building on that reputation. Under his watch, our border agents and law enforcement officers have been sent two different messages. The first message is that they have to guard our border as if their lives depended on it. The second message is that guarding the border is overrated, that the CBSA agents and the RCMP should relax a little and allow the world to enter Canada unchecked.

We are definitely going to support Bill C-21. We must enhance security, not reduce it. In my riding and in all the beautiful regions in Canada, Canadians deserve the best security service possible. I feel very strongly about that. It is why I am here.

Like the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, I take my mandate very seriously. We must work more closely together to ensure that terrorists, organized crime, and those who cheat our immigration system cannot continue unimpeded.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
LIB

David Graham

Liberal

Mr. David de Burgh Graham (Laurentides—Labelle, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate some of what my colleague has said, but I want to confirm that the Conservative Party is indeed fully supporting this bill. If so, we are very pleased to hear that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CPC

Pierre Paul-Hus

Conservative

Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus

This bill was originally introduced by the Conservatives. We are very pleased to see that the Liberal government is moving forward with it. However, it is important to us that we keep moving in this direction in the context of security today and managing the problems at our borders. This bill is the first step. Make no mistake, we must go even further and ensure that our border services, including customs officers and the RCMP, can do their job properly.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink

September 18, 2017