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A new bill proposed by the Liberal government, Bill C-23, expands the powers of U.S. border guards on Canadian soil and places limits on permanent residents and their right of entry to Canada. Under current law, a Canada Border Services Agency Officer may alert Citizenship and Immigration if they feel a permanent resident has violated the terms of their residency but cannot prevent them from boarding their flight. Permanent residents, like Canadian citizens, enjoy an absolute right to entry.

However, under clause 48(4) of the proposed bill, a CBSA officer may now prevent the permanent resident from boarding their flight to Canada where they feel the permanent resident has not met their residency requirements. The resident has the option of driving or finding a ride to a land border, where their legal right to enter Canada is still unimpeded.

In response to a Canadian Lawyer query requesting further clarification on the operation of this clause, Public Safety Canada spokeswoman Mylène Croteau stated that the traveller would be advised of the reasons for their refusal. They would be able to seek a review of the CBSA officer’s decision before the Federal Court. She added that the government intends to develop regulations that will clarify the grounds of inadmissibility under which CBSA officers may refuse permanent residents pre-clearance.

Another contentious aspect of the proposed bill is that it gives American border officials increased power to question and detain Canadian citizens who seek pre-clearance to travel to the United States. American officials can continue to question Canadians attempting seeking pre-clearance, even if the Canadian withdraws their request to enter the United States.

The Bill is scheduled for a second reading in the House in June 2017.