Roundup: Lagging CBSA oversight

A report commissioned by PCO advises for the creation of a new oversight body for both the CBSA and the RCMP, given the amount of overlap between the two bodies when it comes to law enforcement. Currently, CBSA has no civilian oversight, though its national security functions are just now getting some oversight under the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, and those functions would likely fall under the creation of the new intelligence commissioner created in Bill C-59 – but those don’t deal with the day-to-day interactions at the borders, or with some of their other functions, like immigration detention.

What the Canadian Press story doesn’t mention is that there is right now a Senate bill sitting on the Order Paper, which passed the Senate unanimously, to create a CBSA Inspector General. In fact, it passed in October 2016, and has been sitting there ever since, as no MP has bothered to sign up to sponsor it (which is unusual in the extreme). More unusual is the fact that Ralph Goodale had previously signed up to sponsor the version of the bill that was being debated in the previous parliament, but now that he’s public safety minister, he’s become much more gun-shy, saying that they need to do more consultation and will come out with their own bill. But almost a year-and-a-half later, it’s still sitting there, when it could be amended by the government to make whatever technical fixes they deem necessary and swiftly passed. (I last wrote about this for the Law Times a year ago).

Of course, if they wanted to go that route, the government would need to give the bill a Royal Recommendation and put in implementation language into the bill – something that it currently lacks to get around the requirement that it can’t spend money. In other words, it’s a framework but nothing more at this point. But if the government were serious about oversight for CBSA, they could do something to ensure that it happens expeditiously. But that commitment to oversight seems to be a bit more academic at this point, given that they haven’t moved on this in all this time. And that should be mentioned in these more recent stories, but haven’t been.

Good reads:

  • In response to a Canadian Press survey of female MPs regarding sexual harassment and violence, some MPs spoke on the record about the issues they face.
  • Here’s a look at the landscape in the lead-up to the meeting in Vancouver on the situation with North Korea and what its nuclear threat means to Canada.
  • Surprising no one, partisans are gonna partisan over the plans to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Iran as protests there continue.
  • In the wake of increased US protectionism over softwood lumber, there are now fears that they will slap new duties on imports of newsprint.
  • There are complaints that the government’s changes to parental sponsorship applications won’t make any substantive difference.
  • The government plans to use web-scraping tools to try and predict areas where suicides will be more likely, but insist there won’t be privacy implications.
  • Joshua Boyle, a Canadian who had been a hostage in Afghanistan for five years, has been arrested on a list of charges that may be related to his mental state.
  • The Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia was ordered to delete a tweet praising the beautiful beaches of Myanmar, given the Rohingya crisis there.
  • There is talk about how excise taxes on recreational marijuana may help if the prices get too low and are seen to encourage use.
  • Public sector unions want damages for Phoenix pay problems, and the government agrees. And now comes more haggling as to what those should be.
  • Here’s a look at private members’ bills and Senate public bills currently up for debate.
  • The interim Correctional Investigator, Ivan Zinger, has now been made permanent, and will serve a five-year term.
  • Andrew Scheer claims Conservatives are more tolerant than Liberals because they accept anti-abortionists and eschew Pride parades. Yay “tolerance.”
  • Tabatha Southey takes on the faux outrage over Justin Trudeau’s ugly Xmas sweater that was supposedly “offensive” to Christians.