Wednesday: Border Data Collection Bill Returns to Commons

Wednesday: Border Data Collection Bill Returns to Commons

The Canada-United States border crossing at Lacolle, Que., south of Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

UPDATED May 2, 2018 2:30pmET

The House of Commons has adjourned for the day following tributes to Conservative MP Gord Brown, who has died at age 57.


Legislation that empowers the Canada Border Services Agency to collect data on people leaving Canada is scheduled to return to the House of Commons.

Bill C-21, now at report stage and third reading, would see exit information that is similar to the details currently collected on those crossing into Canada. That includes full name, date of birth, citizenship, and sex.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the process “brief, basic, and unobtrusive” while kickstarting debate on C-21 in September 2017.

“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,” Goodale said. “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.”

Anyone leaving the country would also be compelled to answer questions, if so requested.

New Democrats have raised privacy concerns during parliamentary debate, with Conservatives supporting C-21 as the culmination of work begun under their watch.

Plans for an integrated Canada-U.S. entry-exit system date to 2011 and the previous government. The 2014 target for completion was eventually pushed back to 2018; a 2016 auditor general report pointed to privacy concerns over information sharing with other Canadian departments and agencies.

C-21 would allow exit data to be shared with government officials responsible for Employment Insurance and Old Age Security. The government also claims the system will help track high-risk travellers, illegal exports, and expired visas.

The information would be retained for 15 years, following an amendment passed by the Standing Committee on Public Safety.

But as for Canadians’ personal information in the hands of U.S. officials, the federal privacy commissioner warned last year that Ottawa must “remain vigilant in monitoring any changes to how information-sharing activities with the US are being operationalized” — especially after an executive order from the Trump administration to exclude non-citizens and non-residents from federal privacy law.

The parties hold their weekly caucus meetings on Parliament Hill.

Bill C-374 is debated at third reading.

In committee:

  • Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly briefs the Commons official languages committee on the government’s five-year plan. LIVE ONLINE at 3:30pm ET / 12:30pm PT
  • The Senate social affairs committee hears from senators on other committees studying the cannabis bill (C-45). Criminal lawyers also brief the committee. LIVE ONLINE at 3pm ET / 12pm PT

-Andrew Thomson