U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain travelers on Canadian soil under a proposed bill Canadian media say could pass in the current Parliament.
Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, would turn into law a reciprocal pre-clearance agreement signed by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-President Barack Obama in 2015. Both houses of Congress passed the U.S. version of the bill in December.
Pre-clearance allows visitors to the United States to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration while still in Canada, at their Canadian port of departure. Eight Canadian airports offer pre-clearance (two more are set to open in 2017); so does the Port of Vancouver, Vancouver's train station and some ferry routes.
According to one legal expert quoted in a story published on the Canadian Broadcasting website, under the new bill a Canadian “going to the U.S. through a pre-clearance area [on Canadian soil] can say: 'I don't like the way [an interview is] going and I've chosen not to visit your country.' And they can just turn around and walk out.”
But under the new bill citizens could be detained, and forced to identify themselves, answer questions, and explain the reasons for leaving the interview.
The bill also would permit U.S. officers to conduct a strip search of a Canadian citizen, if they deemed it necessary. Under the current rules, Canadians can only be searched by a Canada Border Services Agency border officer.