THE BC Civil Liberties Association expressed its deep disappointment at the passage in the Senate of a bill that will give extraordinary new powers to US customs and border agents on Canadian soil at customs preclearance sites across the country.
Josh Paterson, Executive Director, had on Monday testified at the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence where the BCCLA sought amendments to key provisions of the bill that it said would better protect Charter rights. Amendments proposed by Senators Serge Joyal and Marilou McPhedran were voted down on Thursday.
Paterson said: “We are very disappointed that this new law has passed which gives American border guards significant new powers on Canadian soil. US guards will now be able to detain and even perform strip searches on Canadians in certain circumstances – powers that should never be given to them under any circumstances. Only Canadian officers should be entrusted with such coercive powers.
“Making matters worse, the new law says that neither the American nor the Canadian governments can be held liable in court for many potential rights violations that could occur when these new powers are used. The Trump administration has made clear that it intends to discriminate against people at the border. Now the Canadian government has given the US government even more power to put that discrimination into action. ”