Numerous concerns have been raised regarding the broad powers that will be granted to preclearance officers under the preclearance bill. Critics of the preclearance bill say that it goes too far and that Canada has given up too much of its sovereignty.
Preclearance allows all necessary customs and immigration inspections to be completed before departure, while the traveller is still in Canada, and the powers that U.S. border officers exercise under Canadian law are governed by the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Proponents say preclearance will facilitate the flow of people and goods between the US and Canada. Under preclearance, a traveller passes through US customs in Canada, so they do not need to do so once they enter the US, and vice-versa. There are US preclearance areas in eight Canadian airports, along with some train and ferry crossings in BC, and plans to expand this to more Canadian airports and train stations. Canadian preclearance zones would also be established for the first time in the United States.
As the House of Commons finished its spring sitting last week, the Government of Canada introduced new legislation to make progress, as promised, on critical national security priorities. Publishing the details now will give ample time for these three measures to be studied before they come up for debate and votes in the fall.
Built by diversity and stronger because of it, Canada is fundamentally a safe and peaceful nation. The Aga Khan has described Canada as the finest expression of pluralism the world has ever known. But we are not immune to tragedy, as demonstrated by the horrible events in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa in October of 2014 (and elsewhere on other occasions too). So how should we respond? One thing is clear -- Canadians want thoughtful, inclusive consultation and dialogue. Not fear mongering. And not naivete. The public wants to be honestly informed and sincerely engaged.
Canada and the United States share the longest and most lucrative unmilitarized border in the world. It spans nearly 9,000 kilometres. There are 120 official crossings. Some 400,000 people move back-and-forth across that border every day. So does two-way trade valued at $2.4-billion every day. At one and the same time, we want the border to be safe and secure while trade across it remains a major source of economic growth and prosperity. If security concerns linger, the border thickens and the legitimate movement both of people and goods becomes more difficult.