OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his government’s proposed legislation to expand border preclearance at Canadian airports and other crossings Wednesday as the opposition New Democrats pushed to stop the bill in its tracks.

The NDP argued the bill doesn’t take into account what it called “the climate of uncertainty at the border” created by the Trump administration’s recently adopted immigration policies.

But Trudeau suggested it’s better to be cleared for entry into the United States while in Canada, because travellers are protected under the Canadian charter of rights, as opposed to American laws.

Bill C-23, the Preclearance Act, came up for second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale last June, it would replace and expand provisions of the Air Transport Preclearance Agreement signed between Canada and the United States in 2001.

The two countries signed a new agreement in 2015 to expand border clearance and proponents say measures included in the bill will speed the flow of people and goods across the border.

Under preclearance, travellers don’t have to pass through customs in the U.S., because they’ve already done so before departing Canada.

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