Senator Bob Runciman - Ontario - Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes

News Updates


Immediate release


OTTAWA, April 11, 2017 – Senator Bob Runciman’s bill to bring a more rational approach to reporting to Customs for boaters who cross into Canadian waters has passed the Senate.

Senators voted tonight to approve Bill S-233, following speeches in support of the legislation by Runciman and Senator Peter Harder, Government Leader in the Senate. The bill now moves to the House of Commons, where it will be sponsored by Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Gord Brown. The bill amends the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to exempt boaters who cross into Canadian waters from reporting to Canada Customs, provided they don’t drop anchor or arrive on shore.

“This is common-sense legislation that should end the confusion for American and Canadian boaters alike,” Runciman said. “It will help the tourism economy and improve cross-border relations.”

Runciman proposed amendments that were adopted at committee so Canadians who venture into international waters and then return to Canada will also be exempt from reporting to Customs, provided they don’t anchor, moor or land when they are outside Canada. This will benefit whale-watchers on Canada's east and west coasts.

The bill’s passage by the Canadian Senate was hailed by New York State Senator Patty Ritchie, who worked with Runciman to raise awareness following a 2011 incident in which a U.S. fisherman was charged with failing to report entry into Canadian waters.

"The St. Lawrence Valley has always been a place where Americans and Canadians think of themselves as neighbours and friends. This legislation will allow American boaters to innocently cross into Canadian waters without worrying that they are violating a law," said Ritchie who testified in support of the bill at a Senate committee in Ottawa. “I want to thank Senator Runciman and Member of Parliament Gord Brown for working with me to bring common sense back to boating on our international border waters." 

Runciman is hopeful the House of Commons will deal with the bill quickly, since the government has announced its support. This is the fourth bill of Runciman’s to pass the Senate. Two of them went on to become law, while a third is now before a House of Commons committee.

For more information, please contact: Barry Raison

Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Senator Bob Runciman’s Office

(613) 943-4020 or

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