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Editorial: Timing is everything

Once upon a time, in 2015, a plan by then-president Barack Obama and then-prime minister Stephen Harper to make travelling between the two countries faster seemed like a very sensible idea.

What a difference two years make. In 2017 — while Canadians are well aware of the historic importance of the country’s relationship with the United States — there is much more uncertainty about the approach of American customs officers to those crossing their borders.

This week, Law Times reports that immigration lawyers are voicing concerns with Bill C-23.

They say the proposed changes would give enhanced powers to American border officers working at Canadian airports and likely result in a great deal of uncertainty for their work and their clients.

The bill would mean U.S. officers would have the power to detain Canadians travelling to the U.S. at preclearance facilities at some Canadian airports, and lawyers say Canadians will have little to no legal recourse for when their privacy rights are violated.

“If entries are refused, for suspect or other reasons, it will create re-work as we try to investigate and understand the reasons for refusal, then try to address same to finally gain entry for clients,” says Pantea Jafari, an immigration lawyer.

“I imagine we will also see increased concerns of clients being flagged for secondary review based on suspect and discriminatory targeting, which will require [a] different type of work for clients.”

The federal Liberal government ought to be aware of the winds of Canadian public opinion and the nation’s sensitivity on immigration-related issues. Wake up, and re-tool C-23.

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