Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency: Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities
Annual Report 2017–2018

Table of contents

Introduction

This report by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA, or ‘the Agency’) is presented to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (the Minister) to meet the Agency’s requirement to prepare an annual report on the application of the Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency: Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities (hereafter referred to as the MD). The report is made in accordance with clause 24 of the MD, which directs the CBSA to produce a classified annual report to the Minister regarding the application of the MD, and must includeFootnote 1:

This report also describes the activities that support the CBSA’s compliance with the MD from September 2017 to September 2018.

The Mandate and Role of the Canada Border Services Agency

The CBSA was established by the Canada Border Services Act and is an integral part of the Public Safety Portfolio. The CBSA administers more than 90 acts, regulations, and international agreements, many on behalf of other federal departments and agencies, or the provinces and territories.

The Agency's legislative, regulatory and partnership responsibilities include the following:

The CBSA and Information-Sharing

The CBSA relies on information to execute its border management responsibilities safely and efficiently. The CBSA’s collection, retention, and sharing of information is strictly within the parameters of its border management mandate, as set out by CBSA program legislation. The CBSA’s information-sharing activities can be characterized as follows:

While the CBSA has numerous partnerships and manages a substantial amount of information, the nature of its border management mandate and its network of partnerships is such that the Agency assesses its information-sharing holdings as predominantly low-risk in terms of possible association with mistreatment.

The CBSA recognizes that one of its key responsibilities is to be a responsible steward of the information in its control. In line with the MD, the CBSA has implemented measures to augment its management of information-sharing activities.

Interdepartmental Coordination

In developing its policy in support of the MD, the CBSA ensured that it is applying a compatible and complementary approach to that of other federal partners in terms of how it assesses risk of its information-sharing activities with foreign entities.

With that goal in mind, the CBSA has been an active participant in the Public Safety-led Information-Sharing Coordination Group (ISCG). This group is working to ensure that the implementation of the MD is consistent across all implicated federal departments and agencies. Through this group, the CBSA has leveraged the RCMP, and Global Affairs Canada country risk assessments to ensure that the CBSA is approaching risk of mistreatment in a manner consistent with similarly-mandated partners, and within the Government of Canada’s larger international framework.

New Policies, Guidance, and Procedures related to the MD

The CBSA’s participation in the ISCG has provided the foundation for the CBSA’s national policy entitled Policy and Operational Guidelines on Implementing the Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency: Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities (the policy).

The CBSA’s policy has been developed to support the consistent application of the MD across all of the CBSA’s domestic and international operations. The policy clearly outlines roles and accountabilities and requires CBSA officials to consult with the Agency’s Chief Privacy Officer for guidance and advice.  This in turn allows subject matter experts in the Chief Privacy Officer’s division to assess each situation on a case-by-case basis using the latest relevant information to produce a comprehensive and well-substantiated risk-assessment decision in each of the rare cases in which the CBSA could engage the MD. This process determines which cases meet the threshold for escalation to the President for decision.

Specifically, when approached with a situation wherein the MD could be engaged, the Chief Privacy Officer’s (CPO) division is expected to immediately obtain the latest information from Global Affairs, the RCMP, and CSIS, as well as any available open-source information. The risk assessments are to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure proper risk determination, and the required senior level engagement. In so doing, the CBSA focuses its risk assessment on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to launching the policy on the MD, the CBSA exercises additional governance by having a dedicated CPO help desk for front-line CBSA employees and CBSA liaison officers working abroad who have questions pertaining to information-sharing, including sharing that could engage the MD.

The CBSA expects its approach to implementing the MD to evolve through continued engagement with existing and future review bodies, as well as through continued consultations with portfolio and other federal government partners.

Awareness & Training

The MD was announced and distributed to all CBSA officials shortly after it was issued. A policy was recently adopted nationally to further support implementation of the MD and announced prominently on the CBSA’s intranet home page. The policy was approved by the CBSA’s executive committee.

In addition, CBSA employees regularly conducting information-sharing activities, or those whose responsibilities may bring them into information-sharing scenarios, receive training on information-sharing tailored to their particular roles and responsibilities. This approach ensures that training is commensurate with risk.

Work has also begun to add additional training modules, specific to the MD, to existing online training on information-sharing and explorations are under way to have Global Affairs Canada host online material for CBSA liaison officers to facilitate their access to online resources while abroad.

Activity Report - September 2017 to September 2018

The following section outlines by category of activity any cases that required the CBSA to engage the MD for the period from September 2017 to September 2018:

  1. Disclosures of Information made pursuant to the MD
    The CBSA had no cases.
  2. Requests for Information made pursuant to the MD
    The CBSA had no cases.
  3. Use of Information pursuant to the MD
    The CBSA had no cases.
  4. Restriction of any arrangements due to concerns related to mistreatment
    The CBSA had no cases.
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