Political deep integration continues apace. The Liberal government is in the process of passing an extraordinary piece of legislation, C-23, which effectively cedes Canadian sovereignty to US border officials. Under this Bill, expected to pass shortly, Canadians can be held for interrogation by US border guards at airports, even if we decide we’ve had enough hostile questioning about our religion, political views, social media habits, or mode of dress, and decide to stay in Canada after all. If we try to get up and leave at that point, or decide we don’t want to answer more questions, we will be breaking Canadian law, and liable for arrest, conviction and imprisonment. Meanwhile, Canadian border officials in American airports will now have the right to prevent Canadian permanent residents from boarding an aircraft.
At a stroke, what we assumed were basic civic rights are being whisked away by the Trudeau government. American authorities will be able to detain Canadian citizens on Canadian soil, and the Liberals are making it a crime for us to refuse to cooperate. And just as American green card-holders are being harassed and blocked at US airports, so Canada is now following suit against its own permanent residents, who—until now—had the unfettered right to enter Canada.
Pre-clearance has, of course, been a convenient way of entering the US. Better to be refused here than have to pay your way back from there. But this new law will apply, as noted, even to Canadians who change their minds about traveling to the US after getting a taste of the Orange Era from a sneering and hostile American immigration official. It’s worth reiterating: you won’t just be able to walk away. You will remain under American authority, in Canada, and if you resist or refuse to answer an American interrogator’s questions, you can be prosecuted—by Canada.
This may seem to some like small potatoes. Most Canadians don’t fly to the US. Most who do are unlikely to be harassed at the border. But it is wrong, I think, to dismiss this move so easily. Giving Americans the right to detain Canadians on our own land, and subjecting the latter to prosecution if we fail to comply, is a significant break from the past. Does anyone believe that US pressure will stop there, and that more concessions won’t be made?
Trudeau’s grinning performance in Washington, strong handshake and all, was really a gesture of obeisance. It was a dutiful visit to the court of the mad king. He will sound tough on trade issues for domestic consumption, and try to recover his shining mantle after his dismal performance of late, but he is what he is: little more than a satrap, not the leader of a sovereign nation. Just watch him.