Template: Call & Write to Your MPs About Bill C-23

I read this article yesterday about Bill C-23 and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

U.S. border guards would get new powers to question, search and even detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil under a bill proposed by the Liberal government.

Legal experts say Bill C-23, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and likely to pass in the current sitting of Parliament, could also erode the standing of Canadian permanent residents by threatening their automatic right to enter Canada.

I expressed my concerns about it on Twitter in a thread beginning here:

Charles Tan very helpfully storified the rest, for those of you who don’t use the service.

Here, courtesy of Adam Shaftoe (and slightly modified by me in 1st paragraph to add links for the benefit of staffers), is a template for anyone who wants to write to their MP about this issue. I urge you to do so. According to my MP’s office the bill isn’t on the schedule to be discussed this week, so there’s still time to confront its many problems.

I’d also encourage you to write to Ralph Goodale’s office and the Prime Minister’s; from what I recall of working in ministerial correspondence the greatest weight/urgency is given to letters originating from an MP, but in a case like this I think volume matters as much as anything.

[Your MP here]

I’m writing to express my deep concerns about Bill C-23, an act respecting the pre-clearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States, introduced by Mr. Ralph Goodale (https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-23/), and discussed in some depth in this CBC article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pre-clearance-border-canada-us-1.3976123

As your constituent and a Canadian citizen, I take particular exception to section 31 of the bill; therein, the bill proposes empowering American Customs and Border Patrol agents, acting as pre-clearance officers, to detain and question Canadian citizens on Canadian soil.

While the spirit of the law pertaining to 31(2) might exist within the realm of reasonable questioning and information gathering, the language is suitably nebulous such that a preclearance officer might interpret section 31(2b), “questioning the traveller for the purposes of indemnifying them or determining their reason for withdrawal,” as a licence to excessive interrogation and detention. It is my opinion that the limitation on section 31 outlined in 31(3), specifically the language surrounding “unreasonable delay” is vague and fails to explicitly protect Canadian citizens from an unconstitutional challenge to their liberty at the hands of foreign nationals.

While I understand that it is a privilege to enter the United States of America, the Charter rights guaranteed to Canadian citizens on Canadian soil do not end in a pre-clearance area. To that end, I would ask you to review this bill, and propose an amendment to its language that would not leave Canadian citizens in Canada beholden to foreign authority and potential abuses of power.

Sincerely yours,

[Your name]

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3 Responses to Template: Call & Write to Your MPs About Bill C-23

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks for this. I used your template as a starting point to contact my MP.

  2. tournevis says:

    Here is the French language translation I talked about doing yesterday. https://www.dropbox.com/s/x03jw96850zowo6/Lettre-C-23.pdf?dl=0

  3. Concerned says:

    Hi there,

    Very appreciated. I was specifically looking for something I could use, and possibly share with others. The only thing I might add is a consideration for permanent residents in your letter template. My partner, an American, a woman of colour, and child of immigrants, already feels very uneasy about traveling back to America to visit family given the current political situation. She worked hard to gain her permanent residency here in Canada, and has been residing here since 2009. The idea that she could be kept from coming back into this country by American border guards is deeply troubling. Canada is a country that needs and should celebrate those people who choose to make their homes here and contribute to the makeup of our country. While not yet a citizen, permanent residency is also something that should be celebrated and protected.

    Thanks again.

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