Bill C-23 must not pass! Write to your MPs!

Bill C-23 must not pass! Write to your MPs!

As many of you know, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently introduced to the House of Commons Bill-23, an Act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States. This bill, if passed without amendment (and it is likely to pass during this Parliament session) would give "U.S. border guards new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil". It would also "erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada". See this article for more information. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-clearance-border-canada-us-1.3976123 In short, agents of the American government would have the power to detain, interrogate and search Canadian citizens and permanent residents within Canada, even preventing them from leaving the US customs area after having entered it. On top of potentially being in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it would put into question the value of Canadian citizenship for those not born in the country, at the very least. In any case, the bill would directly and negatively affect  those of our colleagues and students who already face «special screenings» at the hands of the TSA.

I encourage all members of the department to write (or call) your member of parliament, to Ralph Goodale and Justin Trudeau at the earliest occasion. I have included a template letter below (drafted by Canadian author Amal El-Motar) and my French language translation, to press upon them your displeasure at this bill. It is not scheduled for debate this week, so there is enough time to tackle the issue before it becomes a problem.

Let's do this!


ENGLISH

[Your MP here]

I’m writing to express my deep concerns about Bill C-23, an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, introduced by Mr. Ralph Goodale (https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-23/), and discussed in some depth in this CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-clearance-border-canada-us-1.3976123

As your constituent and a Canadian citizen, I take particular exception to section 31 of the bill; therein, the bill proposes empowering American Customs and Border Patrol agents, acting as pre-clearance officers, to detain and question Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

While the spirit of the law pertaining to 31(2) might exist within the realm of reasonable questioning and information gathering, the language is suitably nebulous such that a preclearance officer might interpret section 31(2b), “questioning the traveller for the purposes of indemnifying them or determining their reason for withdrawal,” as a licence to excessive interrogation and detention. It is my opinion that the limitation on section 31 outlined in 31(3), specifically the language surrounding “unreasonable delay” is vague and fails to explicitly protect Canadian citizens from an unconstitutional challenge to their liberty at the hands of foreign nationals.

While I understand that it is a privilege to enter the United States of America, the Charter rights guaranteed to Canadian citizens on Canadian soil do not end in a pre-clearance area. To that end, I would ask you to review this bill, and propose an amendment to its language that would not leave Canadian citizens in Canada beholden to foreign authority and potential abuses of power.

Sincerely yours,

[Your name]


FRANÇAIS

[Votre député ici]

Je vous écris pour exprimer mes profondes inquiétudes à propos du projet de loi C-23, la Loi relative au précontrôle de personnes et de biens au Canada et aux États-Unis, présenté par M. Ralph Goodale (http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Mode=1&DocId=8380353&Language=F), et discuté en profondeur dans cet article de la CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-clearance- border-canada-us-1.3976123

En tant qu’électeur et citoyen canadien, je m’oppose particulièrement à l'article 31 du projet de loi. Le projet de loi propose de permettre aux agents américains de la douane et de la patrouille frontalière (TSA), agissant en qualité d'agents de pré-dédouanement, à détenir et à interroger les citoyens canadiens sur le sol canadien.

Bien que l'esprit du droit applicable au paragraphe 31 (2) pourrait être justifiable dans le cadre d'un interrogatoire raisonnable et d’une collecte d'informations, le libellé est suffisamment vague pour qu'un agent de précontrôle pourrait interpréter l'article 31 (2b), «interroger [le voyageur] aux fins d’identification ou de vérification des motifs pour lesquels il se soustrait», en tant que permission excessive d'interrogatoire et de détention. À mon avis, la limitation de l'article 31, énoncée au paragraphe 31 (3), plus précisément le libellé entourant le «délai raisonnable», est vague et ne protège pas explicitement les citoyens canadiens d'une contestation inconstitutionnelle de leur liberté aux mains de ressortissants étrangers.

Même si je comprends qu'il soit un privilège d'entrer aux États-Unis d'Amérique, les droits garantis aux citoyens canadiens en territoire canadien par la Charte des Droits et Libertés ne se terminent pas dans une zone de pré-dédouanement. À cette fin, je vous demande de réviser ce projet de loi et de proposer un amendement à sa formulation qui ne permettrait pas que les citoyens canadiens en territoire canadien soit soumis à l'autorité étrangère et à des abus de pouvoir potentiels.

Bien à vous,

[Votre nom]


Fanfic continued, part 6a

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