Let’s talk about Bill C-23, and what it could mean for some Canadians.
Bill C-23 is called the pre-clearance Bill because it’s about the powers that US customs officials have when Canadians pre-clear US customs on Canadian soil. You can read more about it here.
Currently, if you are pulled aside for questioning in pre-clearance, and you don’t like the way the interview is going/feeling, you are allowed to change your mind about going to the USA, and leave. Yes, you read correctly. Did you know that?
Under Bill C-23, this would no longer be the case. People could be forced to answer questions, to explain why they want to leave or have changed their mind – and could even be arrested.
“Ok,” you may be thinking.”So you just have to answer a few questions.”
Let’s think about this through an equity lens.
Who do you think is going to be asked to explain their change of heart, and wanting to leave?
Will it be the white male corporate executive going to New York on business or….?
And whose answers do you think will be scrutinized?
We often fail to see the insidiousness of Bills and laws when they don’t impact us. At a glance, this new Bill may not seem like such a big deal – if you’re part of the dominant group, with social power. But strip that social power away (pun intended) and each non-dominant identity can give cause for concern, skepticism, and fear. So while the aforementioned executive may not feel much difference once the Bill passes, some Canadians may have a completely different travel experience – at the very least, in terms of potential stress and anxiety from worrying about what could happen.
Because you see, deeming someone uncooperative, or in need of questioning – regardless of what one may think – is extremely subjective, and susceptible to prejudice and unconscious bias. Who is going to regulate that?