Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says that although 200 people in Canada have been unable to use their Nexus cards to cross the American border since U.S. President Donald Trump issued his travel ban, none of them were Canadians.
"None of them are Canadian citizens," Goodale said during question period Monday. "We are working with our American counterparts to make sure that all Canadians are treated fairly."
Nexus cards started being revoked after Trump's executive order barred entry to the U.S. to passport holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The Nexus program allows citizens and permanent residents in Canada and the U.S. to be pre-screened for clearance in a bid to speed up border crossings.
But Goodale's claim that none of the people affected are Canadian is being challenged by Toronto-based lawyer Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, a customs lawyer, who says she is aware of a number of Canadian passport holders who have had their Nexus cards revoked by the U.S. government.
"Minister Goodale is misinformed," she said. "I have been contacted by Canadian citizens who have had their Nexus cards revoked."
CBC Toronto reported last week that a number of Canadians had their cards revoked despite holding Canadian passports. Since then she is aware of another five such cases.
Todgham Cherniak said that one of the people who has reached out to her for help is a Canadian citizen who was born here, someone who is not a dual citizen and does not have any connections with one of the seven banned countries.
Another is a Canadian citizen who was born in one of the banned countries, but also has permanent residency status in the U.S. A third is a Canadian citizen with dual citizenship in one of the banned countries.
Others, said Todgham Cherniak, did not want any details of their cases revealed publicly.
Cases unknown to Public Safety
Scott Bardsley, Goodale's press secretary, said he could not comment on any individual cases, but as far as Public Safety Canada was aware, no Canadian passport holders have been caught up in the crackdown.
"The understanding we got from the U.S. government is that approximately 200 permanent residents [of Canada] had their Nexus cards revoked because of the executive order, but dual nationals …were not being affected," he said.
Bardsley also said that there are a number of reasons that the U.S. or Canada could decide to revoke a Nexus card, and many of those reasons have nothing to do with Trump's executive order.
"Sometimes people fill out their customs form incorrectly and get caught and they are no longer considered trusted, because it is a trusted traveller program," Bardsley said.
Crafting a process
Todgham Cherniak said Public Safety Canada should create a process where the federal government could work with the U.S. on behalf of Canadian citizens who have had their cards taken away.
But Bardsley said that since the federal government is still unaware of any such cases, and has not been in contact with Canadians who have been stripped of the travel convenience, it would be premature to set up a process to reverse those decisions.
Bardsley also stressed that the situation was currently evolving and that it would take time to sort out. It is a sentiment Goodale expressed earlier Monday.
"This order is just over a week old. It is now subject to extensive court proceedings. There is a good deal of uncertainty around this whole situation," Goodale told reporters ahead of question period Monday.