The Prime Minister’s Office received a flood of emails opposing the government’s bill to implement new pre-clearance measures at Canadian airports and other departure points following a CBC News story on concerns about the powers the bill grants to U.S. border agents, documents show.
It’s been eight months since the U.S. Congress passed its version of a law to implement the latest cross-border agreement with Canada.
The U.S. law authorizes its Customs and Border Protection officials to set up pre-clearance locations at more Canadian locations, allowing Canadian travellers to bypass immigration and customs procedures on arrival at their U.S. destination.
Canada was expected to pass its version of the law around the same time. After all, it was Canada that lobbied hardest for the agreement.
But that hasn’t happened.
Canada’s ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, told the Senate foreign affairs committee he is feeling pressure from U.S. legislators, who keep asking when Canada’s legislation will pass.
“Please hurry it up, because I’m a bit embarrassed. I leaned on the Americans so heavily and now they’re coming back and saying, ‘Where’s yours?'” MacNaughton told senators in June.
The bill emerged from the Commons with a thumbs-up, but it has yet to pass the Senate.
One clue to the delays may be found in the prime minister’s mailbox.
Avalanche of criticism
CBC News has obtained a trove of public communications, mostly emails, sent over a 10-day period following the a CBC News story on controversial aspects of C-23, particularly the new powers it would grant to U.S. border agents working on Canadian soil.
Letters and emails sent on the issue from Feb. 10 to Feb. 20 comprise 1,527 pages. Only 777 pages have been released to CBC News so far.
Names are redacted and, in some cases, so are the towns and provinces the letters and emails came from.
Government insiders say the volume of mail received was “unprecedented” and took officials at Public Safety by surprise.
• What is pre-clearance?
Pre-clearance allows Canadian visitors to the U.S. to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration while still in Canada at a Canadian port of departure.
Eight Canadian airports offer pre-clearance, two more will…