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Parliamentary context and partnerships: President transition 2022

Parliamentary context

Over the course of the first session of the 44th Parliament, the CBSA undertook preparations for 16 appearances by Agency officials or by the Minister of Public Safety. While appearances touched on a variety of topics related to the CBSA mandate, most were related to legislative amendments, gun control, and threats posed by Russia in the context of the Ukraine invasion.

During the session, two Government Bills were introduced in the Senate on behalf of the Minister of Public Safety. Bill S-7, An Act to Amend the Customs Act and the Preclearance Act, would strengthen the framework governing the examination of personal digital devices at the border. In , the Minister appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on National Defence (SECD) on this bill. Bill S-8, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, would trigger inadmissibility of individuals on grounds of human or international rights violations, including sanctions. In , senior officials appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (AEFA) on Bill S-8. Both Bills will continue to the House of Commons in the Fall.

Additionally, Bill C-20, An Act establishing the Public Complaints and Review Commission and amending certain Acts and statutory instruments, was introduced in the House of Commons and might be considered in committee in the Fall. This bill aims to establish a Public Complaints and Review Commission that would serve as an enhanced independent review body for both the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the CBSA.

Furthermore, CBSA officials, including the President, appeared several times before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU) on the topics of gun control and gun violence. The President also appeared before SECU, and CBSA officials appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN), to discuss threats posed by Russia in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine. SECU may continue its assessment of Canada's security posture in relation to Russia in the Fall.

In , the President appeared before the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency (DEDC), alongside the Minister and portfolio counterparts of the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to support the Minister in his testimony regarding the government's invocation of the Emergencies Act. DEDC will continue its work in the Fall, and the CBSA has been identified as a potential witness. It is expected that the Agency will be called on to provide testimony in order to speak to the border blockades that affected various ports of entry in .

In , the CBSA appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT) to testify on the potential impact of the ArriveCan application on certain Canadian sectors. Similarly, the CBSA appeared before TRAN to testify on ways to reduce red tape and costs for airports to make air travel more affordable and accessible. Due to the continued use of ArriveCAN for travellers entering Canada and the ongoing backlogs at the border caused by the influx of travel, it is expected that the Agency might be invited to appear before committees on related topics in the Fall.

The President has also been invited to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP) to speak to the Agency's efforts to address past findings by the Auditor General (AG) related to the processing of asylum claims (Spring 2019 AG Report), alongside counterparts from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

The Agency's home committees (SECU and SECD) will continue to study issues related to the CBSA mandate. Also, the House of Commons decided to reappoint the Special Committee on the Canada–People's Republic of China Relationship (CACN), therefore future discussions on national security in that forum may also implicate the CBSA.

The Agency will continue to track the following legislative proposals through Parliament:

  • Government Bills C-20 (Public Complaints and Review Commission) and C-21 (firearms)
  • Government Bills S-6 (regulatory modernization), S-7 (personal digital devices) and S-8 (inadmissibility based on sanctions)
  • House of Commons Private Member's Bills C-242 (temporary resident visas for parents and grandparents), C-243 (elimination of the use of forced and child labour in supply chains), C-262 (Corporate Responsibility to Protect Human Rights Act), and C-263 (Responsible Business Conduct Abroad Act)
  • Senate Public Bills S-204 (goods from Xinjiang), S-211 (fighting forced labour and child labour in supply chains), S-224 (trafficking in persons), S-223 (trafficking in human organs), and S-235 (citizenship and transition out of the care of a child welfare agency/foster parent)

Currently, we are in a minority government context. Last Spring, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party agreed to a supply and confidence agreement from until when Parliament is scheduled to rise in June of 2025.

The House of Commons is scheduled to resume on Monday, , while the Senate is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, .

Domestic and International Partnerships

The CBSA depends on partnerships with federal agencies and departments, provincial and international governments, and private sector partners and stakeholders in order to achieve its mandate. Leveraging partnerships gives the CBSA access to the right information to make decisions that protect Canada and Canadians; provide for excellent service in safe and secure facilities; and negotiate agreements and arrangements that contribute to modern, integrated global border management strategies.

The CBSA administers more than 90 Acts, regulations and international agreements, many on behalf of other federal departments and agencies. Working collaboratively with partners, the Agency is better positioned to set priorities and manage its operations by developing processes and designing controls that contribute to the safety and security of all Canadians while facilitating the movement of admissible people and goods, and providing excellent service.

Key federal partners

Public Safety Portfolio

Within the Public Safety Portfolio, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is a key partner in border enforcement. The CBSA is responsible for controlling the movement of goods and people through Canadian ports of entry (POEs), whereas the RCMP is responsible for the control between POEs and on First Nations reserves. Criminal investigations pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) are generally led by the CBSA, although those involving organized crime, human trafficking or national security issues are led by the RCMP. At the operational level, the RCMP leads a number of integrated teams in which the CBSA actively participates. The CBSA also collaborates with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service on national security issues and Correctional Services Canada on the potential removal of foreign nationals serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is a priority partner for the CBSA outside the Public Safety Portfolio, as the two organizations share responsibility for administering IRPA. Specifically, the CBSA is responsible for administering IRPA at Canadian POEs and enforcing it inland (for example, investigations, detentions, removals, and appearances before the Immigration and Refugee Board). In addition, the CBSA supports the security screening process for temporary and permanent resident applicants and provides intelligence support to IRCC. IRCC is responsible for processing applicants for temporary and permanent residence and their settlement and integration in Canada.

IRCC and the CBSA work together to maintain the integrity of the immigration program through the enhancement of screening tools, new controls and improved case management. Mutual priorities include irregular migration, admissibility and refugee determination issues, changes to visa requirements, international collaboration to facilitate removals, and the development of improved and integrated services to those crossing our borders. Moreover, there is a shared agenda to advance technological innovations that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations, both inland and at POEs.

Other federal partners

In addition to the above-noted organizations, the CBSA also collaborates closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Transport Canada, the Department of Finance, FINTRAC, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Health Canada, and the Communication Security Establishment. Collaborative efforts allow us to support one another to fulfil our respective mandates.

Law enforcement partnerships and other levels of government

In operational contexts, the CBSA collaborates with regional-level partners, including municipal and provincial police services, health and welfare agencies, and provincial correctional institutions. These partners support the enforcement of the various Acts administered by the CBSA.

Key domestic stakeholders

In the context of an increasingly globalized world, there are a large number of potential CBSA domestic stakeholders. Associations and individuals engaged in the commercial trade, business, immigration, human and civil rights, and travel and tourism sectors represent specific needs and interests of the Agency's clients and stakeholders. The CBSA works through a variety of fora to address concerns, and works collaboratively with external stakeholders when developing new policies and procedures. For example, the CBSA recently met with 17 regional and national organizations in the Toronto region to hear the perspectives of diverse stakeholders regarding the Agency's work, ensuring policies and operations are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus).

Examples of key domestic stakeholders by CBSA business lines include:

  • Air: Air Transport Association of Canada
  • Land: Canadian Trucking Alliance, Railway Association of Canada
  • Marine: Association of Canadian Port Authorities
  • Import and Export: BC Chamber of Shipping, Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Society of Customs Brokers, Shipping Federation of Canada, third party owner/operators of Port of Entry infrastructure
  • Refugees/Asylum: Canadian Council of Refugees, Canadian Red Cross

Stakeholder consultative committees

In addition to engaging individual stakeholders, the CBSA has two main consultative committees:

  • The Border Commercial Consultative Committee (BCCC), which is comprised of (and impacts) commercial stakeholders such as carriers, brokers, importers, and freight forwarders, and is Canada's National Committee on Trade Facilitation under the World Trade Organization (WTO)
  • The Air Consultative Committee (ACC), which includes airport authorities, airlines, and the CBSA. The ACC addresses issues in the air mode that impact the competitiveness of Canadian airports, and/or impact the ability of CBSA to fulfil its mandate

International partners

The International Strategic Framework guides the Agency's international programs and partnerships. The Agency is dependent on international partners to provide access to information, facilities and tools abroad to interdict inadmissible people and goods at the earliest point in the travel or commercial continuum, and to disrupt illicit border-related activity impacting Canada. These objectives are often achieved through the negotiation of international agreements (for example, Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements, Free Trade Agreements) and arrangements (for example, Memoranda of Understanding).

Multilateral relations

The CBSA participates in a number of international fora that help guide and contribute to achieving its strategic goals. Five key international fora are highlighted below.

1) Five Country Ministerial (FCM): The FCM is an annual meeting of the security and immigration ministers of the Five Eyes (FVEY) countries: Australia, Canada, New-Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The FCM was created as the ministerial forum to discuss policies, operational approaches, and legal measures on a range of national security and public safety issues facing the FVEY partners. It also provides strategic direction to guide current and future cooperation; establishes a more integrated policy-making and planning structure; identifies gaps and opportunities for further collaboration; and, improves accountability. Public Safety Canada is the lead department for the FCM on behalf of the Government of Canada and is supported by the CBSA and IRCC.

2) Border Five (B5): The B5 is a high-level forum for relevant agency heads from the FVEY to influence and shape border management discussions at an international level among advanced and trusted partners and to promote their common interest in border security, intelligence, economic prosperity, and trade and travel facilitation. In fall 2019, the Chair for B5 came to the CBSA on behalf of Canada. Canada maintained the Chair for an additional year given the global pandemic situation. New-Zealand assumed the Chair of the B5 for 2022.

3) Migration Five (M5): The CBSA actively participates in the M5, along with IRCC. The M5 is an international forum of immigration and border security agencies consisting of the FVEY. The forum shares best practices on information sharing, data, and intelligence to optimize immigration decision-making, attract and facilitate legitimate travellers, and deter and disrupt individuals who act in bad faith or deceptively. In fall 2019, the CBSA and IRCC became M5 Co-Chairs on behalf of Canada, and maintained the Chair for an additional year given the global pandemic situation. The United Kingdom assumed the Chair of the M5 for 2022.

4) World Customs Organization (WCO): The WCO has 183 members, representing 98% of global trade. It acts as a United Nations-like organization exclusively focused on customs matters with various technical, policy and decision-making bodies. Canada is seen as a leader in the forum, as it collaborates with key partners and helps set and advance the global customs agenda in a manner aligned with the Agency's and the Government of Canada's economic and security priorities, and in a way that supports WCO members.

5) Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): The APEC is a multilateral forum aimed at facilitating free trade, regional economic integration, cooperation, and a sustainable business environment among the Asia-Pacific region. Canada is a founding member of APEC and is currently the third largest contributor to APEC's regular budget, which remains the only significant multilateral forum in the Asia-Pacific region in which Canada is engaged. While the Canadian engagement with APEC is led by Global Affairs Canada, the CBSA engages with APEC at the working level through various sub-fora, namely the Sub-Committee on Custom Procedures and the Digital Economy Steering Group.

Bilateral relations

In addition to participating in multilateral fora, the CBSA engages with key bilateral partners to advance its international strategic objectives, outside of the Five Eyes community. The Agency also leverages relationships in key regions or countries to support and advance the CBSA's international objectives. This includes nurturing and developing international engagement with the European Union, like France and Germany; Mexico; and, Indo-Pacific countries.

United States: Given the volume of travellers, goods and services that cross our shared border on a daily basis and the close cooperation required to limit the spread of COVID, and the importance of safety and security considerations associated with a shared border, the CBSA's relationship with its U.S. counterparts plays the most critical role amongst all of the Agency's partners in the management of the shared border.

On Canada-U.S. border management issues, the CBSA engages primarily with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), both of which are agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In addition, the U.S. Border Patrol (BP), a component agency of U.S. CBP, is responsible for patrolling the land border between designated POEs. This includes intercepting individuals seeking to enter the U.S. by irregular means, without presenting themselves at a POE.

The current US CBP Commissioner is Chris Magnus who was formally nominated to the position in . Previously, Magnus served as the chief of police in Tucson, Arizona, before he was nominated as the new Commissioner.

Mexico: Mexico is a key strategic partner in the Americas, in multilateral fora, and on trilateral issues with the U.S. The CBSA and its partners in Mexico work on initiatives and programs to disrupt irregular migration, trade fraud, trade based money laundering and contraband smuggling into Canada.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) is the CBSA's main partner in Mexico, present in all our forums of engagement and acting as a single window into the rest of the Mexican government. On migration issues, our key interlocutor is the National Migration Institute (INM), under the Ministry of the Interior. On customs issues, the CBSA collaborates closely with the National Customs Agency of Mexico (ANAM). This new agency was officially created in by separating the General Customs Administration from the Tax Administration Service.

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