Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see this legislation back in the House. I also want to thank former minister Ralph Goodale.
It has been a concern for a very long time that the Canada Border Services Agency has no oversight body. I agree with the member for St. John’s East that it would be better to have a more comprehensive overview body, but a complaints commission would certainly be an improvement.
I am concerned about the number of exemptions. The minister said in his remarks that any negative experience should be investigated and resolved. I agree, but this legislation would exempt conduct of CBSA agents when they are under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and are operating under their statutory authority, or, and this is rather discretionary, matters that could be more appropriately dealt with by other bodies, or the conduct of employees at detention facilities where CBSA detainees are housed, or, and this is an additional exemption in this version of the bill, which is different from the last Parliament, national security. The concern here is that we really need an oversight body that would review what Canada Border Services agents do.
Most of them are exemplary but I have heard stories that would curl the minister’s hair. One was an indigenous man who came to our office for help a number of years ago. He was taken from his home on Penelakut Island just before Christmas, put in leg irons, and driven from Vancouver Island to a detention facility at Vancouver Airport. I do not think under this law we would have any room to complain of the treatment of an indigenous man being put in leg irons and driven to sure and certain deportation if we had not been able to intervene.