Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Border Agency Watchdog Will 'Fill Gap' for Disgruntled Travellers, Goodale Says

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Border Agency Watchdog Will 'Fill Gap' for Disgruntled Travellers, Goodale Says

Article excerpt

Independent border complaint system in works

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OTTAWA - Travellers, immigration detainees and others who feel mistreated by Canada's border agency will be able to complain to an independent body under a new measure included in the federal budget.

Border officers can stop travellers for questioning, take blood and breath samples, and search, detain and arrest people without warrants. Some encounters at the border have left travellers frustrated and angry.

The border agency has also come under pressure to be more forthcoming about its role in immigration detentions following people's deaths in its custody -- 14 of them since 2000, according to a compilation of reports by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

The Liberal government is planning legislative changes to give the RCMP watchdog the additional responsibility of handling public complaints about the Canada Border Services Agency. The budget allocates $24 million over five years, starting in 2019-20, and $7 million a year after that, to expand the mandate of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Wednesday the government wants to move quickly on establishing the revamped agency to "fill a gap" in federal public-safety operations and bolster accountability.

"We'll obviously provide it with a different name, there'll be changes in structure, the new money is identified in the budget to move it forward," Goodale said in an interview. "But the objective here is to have an appropriate review agency that can deal with complaints on one side dealing with the RCMP, and on the other side dealing with CBSA."

The border agency's thousands of employees manage the flow of about 100 million travellers -- as well as many millions of commercial shipments -- entering Canada annually. They collect, analyze and distribute information concerning people and goods at border points, air terminals and seaports. …

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