Campobello Island – Bill C-21 has received Royal Assent, and is soon to become law in Canada. Campobello Mayor Stephen Smart said his biggest concern about this bill is how it is going to be implemented, and the effect on residents of Campobello. Unfortunately, this is something they just won’t know until it actually goes into effect.
“It may, as Minister Goodale has stated, have no effect on our daily lives,” said Smart.
“But, in an area like Campobello Island, we are hyper-sensitive to any changes related to crossing the border.”
The enactment of Bill C-21 amends the Customs Act, allowing the Canada Border Services Agency to collect personal information on all persons who have left or who are leaving Canada. This information can be collected from prescribed persons and sources. The bill also amends the Act so all goods being exported from Canada are reported, even if there are exemptions in place, and officers will have the power to examine any and all goods being exported.
Also, the Act allows the disclosure of information that is collected under the Act to be used by the Department of Employment and Social Development for administering and enforcing the Old Age Security Act.
Smart said this would not be so much of a problem for islanders if they had year-round ferry service to the Canada mainland rather than having to cross the U.S. border for all of their daily business. It also deterred many tourists last year, who “saw the border as an inconvenience they were not willing to go through”.
Smart also said many New Brunswick residents cancelled planned visits to Campobello Island last summer, because there was no ferry service, and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of crossing an international border.
“The perception is that it is difficult to get here, even if not fact deters many visitors, service providers, and potential residents from coming to the island. Another barrier is not needed,” he added.
Smart worries Bill C-21 will be implemented in a way that makes things even more difficult for island residents than they already are. He said that over the next few months, Council will be looking for support and funding for a new ferry service, even if is just a seasonal one. He said a seasonal service is a “great place to start” and that it could be achievable.
Not only will this be beneficial for those who live on the Island, but also for the mainland. Smart said the potential financial benefits to the mainland are estimated to be approximately $3 million annually.
“I hope that the implementation of the new legislation comes with common sense, and does not create another obstacle for this community,” said Smart.
“The ability for Campobello Island to receive services from Canada and to participate more fully in the country we call home can only lead to a healthier community, in all measurable aspects.”