In case any of my Canadian readers were still under the illusion that Trump’s fascism wouldn’t bleed into our country, I present to you Bill C-23, a law which strips us of several immigration rights at border check points between Canada and the United States… even if the check point is on our side of the border.
U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.
Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.
The bill would enshrine in law a reciprocal agreement for customs and immigration pre-clearance signed by the governments of Stephen Harper and Barack Obama in 2015. Both houses of Congress passed the U.S. version of the bill in December.
Michael Greene, an immigration lawyer in Calgary, says C-23 takes away an important right found in the existing law.
“A Canadian going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area [on Canadian soil] can say: ‘I don’t like the way [an interview is] going and I’ve chosen not to visit your country.’ And they can just turn around and walk out.
“Under the new proposed bill, they wouldn’t be able to walk out. They can be held and forced to answer questions, first to identify themselves, which is not so offensive, but secondly, to explain the reasons for leaving, and to explain their reasons for wanting to withdraw,” said Greene, who is national chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s citizenship and immigration section.
“And that’s the part we think could be really offensive and goes too far.”
Howard Greenberg, a Toronto immigration lawyer who has chaired the immigration law committees at the Canadian Bar Association and the International Bar Association, says the law raises the prospect of a Canadian being arrested simply for deciding he or she has had enough with a certain line of questioning.
“At some point, it may change from a situation where you’re simply responding to a question, to a situation where you’re failing to respond to a direction of an officer. So the ambiguity is somewhat dangerous for the traveller.”
Yes, that’s right. American border agencies can detain you in your own country.
I have to say I’m somewhat blindsided by how obsequious our government seems to be. In what world would a country be okay with citizens being detained on their own soil by foreign powers?
My new Member of Parliament has already gone on record to criticize the law, but even if the Conservatives wake up and throw their weight in with the NDP, the Liberal supermajority can still make it pass.
I don’t think I had any intentions of visiting the United States as it is, but just the symbolism of “Americans can arrest Canadians on Canadian territory” strikes me as a stunning invasion of our so-called sovereignty.
Here’s hoping the Liberals come to their senses.