Our tourism economy depends on efficient border control policies

Ted Hsu
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download (1)imagesOn November 19, 2013, I asked the following question at the House of Commons Finance Committee:

“U.S. tourists are very important for my riding of Kingston and the Islands… I have heard from one person who had a DUI conviction a long time 0ago. I don’t know the exact story with regards to what is required to cross the border, but that seems to be an issue. Does the federal government need to do something to take care of cases like this, where this person is not a danger to Canada? He wants to come here.”

The President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), David Goldstein, responded to my question by explaining that they are very aware the issue and that they are working with Citizenship and Immigration and the Canadian Border Services Agency to address the problem.

We have a thriving tourist industry here in Kingston and the Islands, with 6,900 jobs benefiting from it according to TIAC. For me, it is a concern that the land border crossings in the Kingston areas are compelled to refuse entry to U.S. guests who pose little or no threat to public safety.

As the MP for Kingston and the Islands, several constituents have informed me of cases where American guests were declared inadmissible to Canada on the basis of, often, several decades old convictions – cases where there is very little public safety risk.

Recently I was contacted by a hospitality business owner who attracts regular guests from south of the border. A regular American customer was detained at the Lansdowne border on the basis of a minor charge from 41 years ago. Ironically, the detainee has, throughout his career, required and obtained FBI security clearances for his profession. The fact that this individual was refused entry into Canada is a loss to the local economy.

I have written the Minister and this particular individual’s matter has been resolved. However there is still the wider problem to deal with.

I understand the government’s difficult task in balancing policies that maintain public safety while supporting the tourism industry and call on the Minister to have the CBSA speed up the process already underway of changing policies to optimize this balance.