Wednesday: Border Data Collection Bill Back in Commons

Wednesday: Border Data Collection Bill Back in Commons

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

May 9, 2018 6amET

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.

Debate was scheduled for last Wednesday; the House of Commons adjourned early following the death of Conservative MP Gord Brown.


Also on Parliament Hill

The party caucuses hold their weekly meetings.

MPs vote on two private member’s bills: C-374 and C-377. And Bill C-354 returns for third-reading debate.


In Committee

  • The Commons environment committee considers amendments to Bill C-69.
  • New Brunswick Health Minister Benoît Bourque and provincial officials appear at the Senate social affairs committee on cannabis legalization (Bill C-45). Also testifying are the chair and vice-chair of the federal task force struck to consider legalization and regulation (former cabinet minister Anne McLellan and Dr. Mark Ware, respectively). LIVE ONLINE at 3:15pm ET / 12:15pm PT
  • Two B.C. First Nations chiefs testify via video link on the Senate bill to invoke federal control over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Senators hear from Chief Ian Campbell (Squamish First Nations) and Chief Nathan Matthew (Simpcw First Nation). LIVE ONLINE at 6:45pm ET / 3:45pm PT

-Andrew Thomson