Statement made on 09 March 2011 by Senator Roméo Dallaire
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:
Honourable senators, with your permission, before I speak to third reading of Bill S-13, I would like to propose an amendment.
Motion in Amendment
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire:
Honourable senators, I move:
That Bill S-13 be not now read a third time but that it be amended on page 6, by adding after line 16 the following:
"15.1 (1) Within one year after this Act receives royal assent, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness shall prepare a report that sets out all government expenditures associated with the implementation of this Act and shall cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament.
(2) The report may be referred to the standing committee of each House that normally considers matters relating to national security and defence or, in the event that there is no such standing committee, to any other committee that the Senate or House of Commons may designate or establish for the purposes of this section."
Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today to Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America.
This is a positive bill, although it does need a little help. As honourable senators are aware, Bill S-13 would implement an international agreement reached between Canada and the United States in May 2009. As my colleague Senator Manning indicated, the United States has already implemented this agreement.
This treaty is the framework agreement on integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America.
The objectives of the framework agreement are to provide additional means to prevent, detect and suppress criminal offences and violations of the law in undisputed areas of the sea or internal waters along the boundary between Canada and the United States and to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of such offences and violations.
Why is this proposed legislation necessary? Not only is it to follow the application of the treaty already signed, but in the specifics, nearly one half of the Canadian-American border consists of maritime or water milieu, on both sides of the border. The geographic vulnerabilities of this maritime setting are exploited by criminal organizations to the detriment of the security and safety of both Canada and the United States of America.
The Canadian government, since 2001, has invested over $1 billion in projects to enhance the marine security of the border, and to ameliorate the on-water presence and coordination of law enforcement.
A key element of Canada's National Security Policy of 2004 is the enhancement of maritime security and safety. As delineated in the North America Security and Prosperity Partnership of 2005, the Government of Canada at the time was also committed to cooperating with the United States to pursue a strategy to improve maritime port protection and transportation, and to combat transnational threats, which include organized criminal activities, migrant smuggling and contraband trafficking. It is within this environment of increased border cooperation and greater focus on maritime security that the pilot program Shiprider was conceived. The genesis of this proposed legislation dates back to the Shiprider pilot program of 2005, created and implemented under the previous government.
The four operational goals of the Shiprider program, as outlined in the RCMP-U.S. Coast Guard Shiprider 2007 impact evaluation final report, are as follows: first, to enhance cooperation between Canada and the United States in law enforcement agencies, chiefly the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard, but not singularly; second, to enhance the operational effectiveness of the interdiction and enforcement of Canadian and American laws by our respective law enforcement agencies; third, to enhance international border integrity via an increased presence of law enforcement; and, finally, to promote and demonstrate safe boating techniques.
The Shiprider program was largely a success and this bill, amended, would allow those successes to continue into the future. Nonetheless, it is important that the Department of Public Safety, the RCMP and other relevant law enforcement agencies ensure that in implementing this bill, the governmental responsibility to consult, and accommodate, Canada's First Nations peoples is fulfilled consistently and in good faith.
As was stated by the leaders of the Mohawk government from the communities of Akwesasne and St. Régis, which are right on the border and have waterways, in their testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, Aboriginal peoples in this region are keen to participate in this government initiative. They told our committee that the purpose of this initiative is largely welcomed by their communities. They understand that cross-border criminal activity in the region will undermine the national security and economic interests of both the United States and Canada.
However, they want to be a meaningful and respected partner in the implementation of this bill to ensure their interests in the region are also protected. They want to know how this initiative might affect their traditional fishing, hunting and trapping activities in the Akwesasne and St. Régis area, and how it might affect their use of the river system in this area. They want to ensure, in the words of Brian David, Acting Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, when he appeared before the committee, that "the police distinguish the good people in Akwesasne from the not-too-good people in Akwesasne."
The Aboriginal communities also want to know how this legislation might affect their hard-fought rights of self-governance and other Aboriginal treaty rights. These are significant, legitimate and sensible concerns that the government has an ethical, a moral and a legal responsibility to address in the implementation of this proposed legislation.
If this bill does become law, I call upon the government to engage the Aboriginal communities in the geographic areas affected by this bill and to implement the legislation in a manner that fully respects their concerns as well as their Aboriginal and treaty rights.
I have another point for your attention, honourable senators, about this particular bill. The coming into force of large sections of this bill are dependent on what happens to Bill C-38, the Ensuring the Effective Review of RCMP Civilian Complaints Act, and Bill C-43, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act, which are currently before the other place.
Clause 24 of Bill S-13 before us, the clause concerning the coming into force of the proposed legislation before the other house, reads as follows:
The provisions of this Act, other than sections 22 and 23, come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor-in-Council.
What are we to make of sections 22 and 23? Bill C-38 and Bill C-43 may be passed with amendments, and these sections refer directly to those two bills. It is one thing for proposed legislation in this chamber to refer to a law that is currently in effect in Canada. It is completely different for a bill to have particular effects that are entirely determined by what occurs to multiple other bills that are currently under study by Parliament and what they ultimately will bring to our bill.
Honourable senators, we must be vigilant of what effects and provisions will be determined by the events, which are outside the control of this chamber and may affect those two bills in the other place and, by extension, Bill S-13.
The imperative for clear legislation is especially present when dealing with a bill that has implications for Canadian sovereignty and the potential rights and freedoms of those apprehended during these cross-border operations. The complexity, if not ambiguity of the legalese in trying to cover two other bills still in full action in the other place, and trying to cover those bases in one bill, is not an effective way of going about passing a bill when we are looking for a simple solution to what is an effective means to achieve our security.
Also, let us not forget that the RCMP-U.S. Coast Guard Shiprider 2007 impact evaluation final report states:
The RCMP will have to make a considerable investment in time, money and human resources to effectively put into place full-time operational Shiprider units. This will be a significant undertaking for the force and a departure from its focus on land-based activities.
Clearly, the implementation of this bill will require substantial government expenditure.
Honourable senators, several members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence requested further details on the cost of implementing this proposed legislation. We have not received answers from the minister, or from senior members of the department who are involved in the actual implementation process of this bill. We were told that this information will be available in future budgets and that we should not worry about the cost for the moment.
Honourable senators, imagine, for example, your son or daughter wanting to buy a car with your money. He or she might indeed need a vehicle to get to school or to work. However, before approving the purchase, you would be well within your rights to want to know which car they wanted to buy and the cost of the car. This government wants us to give them permission to buy a car with taxpayers' money and only inform us, after the fact, about how much they spent to do the job.
Honourable senators, it is fiscally irresponsible for us to endorse a bill without an iota of information as to its cost. It is well within the purview of this chamber to expect the executive branch of government and the bureaucracy to inform us of the implementation costs associated with implementing this bill. They bring others to us, yet we see similar inaction in regard to wanting to provide us with costing. They want to endorse these bills with comments such as "We think we can absorb it; it is not significant;" and "We are getting a good deal on the Americans' back."
Honourable senators, Canadian taxpayers do not want members of Parliament to rubber stamp pieces of legislation. They expect us to understand fully how proposed legislation will be implemented and how much it will cost.
This bill will do us well, for sure. However, for the reasons I have raised and introduced in the amendment of Bill S-13, I believe it is essential that these bills increase the transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility with which this bill should be implemented.
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