Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Vic Toews  Conservative

Status

Second reading (House), as of Nov. 29, 2010
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to, among other things,

(a) authorize the Minister, in certain circumstances, to designate as an irregular arrival the arrival in Canada of a group of persons, the result of which is that some of the foreign nationals in the group become designated foreign nationals;

(b) authorize an officer or the Minister, as the case may be, to refuse to consider an application for permanent residence if the applicant has failed to comply with a condition of release or other requirement imposed on them;

(c) provide that a person may not become a permanent resident as long as an application by the Minister for cessation of that person’s refugee protection is pending;

(d) add, as grounds for the detention of a permanent resident or foreign national, the existence of reasonable grounds to suspect that the person concerned is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality, criminality or organized criminality;

(e) provide that the Immigration Division must impose any prescribed conditions on the release of certain designated foreign nationals;

(f) provide for detention rules and a review procedure that are specific to the detention of certain designated foreign nationals;

(g) clarify the authority of the Governor in Council to make regulations in respect of conditions of release from detention;

(h) provide that certain designated foreign nationals may not apply to become permanent residents until the expiry of a certain period and that the processing of any pending applications for permanent residence is suspended for a certain period;

(i) require certain designated foreign nationals on whom refugee protection has been conferred to report to an officer;

(j) authorize the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the reporting requirements imposed on certain designated foreign nationals;

(k) provide that the offence of human smuggling is committed when a person organizes the coming into Canada of another person and knows, or is reckless as to whether, the entry into Canada is or would be in contravention of the Act;

(l) provide for minimum punishments for the offence of human smuggling in certain circumstances;

(m) in respect of the determination of the penalty to be imposed for certain offences, add as an aggravating factor the endangerment of the life or safety of any person as a result of the commission of the offence;

(n) change the definition of “criminal organization” in Part 3 to give it the same meaning as in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code; and

(o) extend the time for instituting proceedings by way of summary conviction from six months to five years.

The enactment also amends the Balanced Refugee Reform Act to provide that a refugee protection claimant whose claim is rejected is not prevented from applying for protection earlier than 12 months after the day on which the claim is rejected, if it is rejected as a result of a vacation of the initial decision to allow the claim.

The enactment also amends the Marine Transportation Security Act to increase the penalties for persons who fail to provide information required to be reported before a vessel enters Canadian waters or to comply with ministerial directions and for persons who provide false or misleading information. It creates a new offence for vessels that fail to comply with ministerial directions. It also amends the Act to authorize regulations respecting the disclosure of certain information for the purpose of protecting the safety or security of Canada or Canadians.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / noon
See context

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit saddened to have to rise in the House to debate Bill C-49, which has been titled by the government An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act. I am saddened, to start off with, because what we are seeing is yet another attempt by the government to centralize powers in the hands of its ministers. The designation that allows the minister to decide who is a first class refugee and who is a fifth or sixth class refugee is something that, it is fair to say, has received a great deal of opposition right across the country.

I will be referencing a little later both the organizations that have spoken out against what the government is attempting to do and also some of the comments from people who understand full well what needs to be brought to bear when we talk about refugees and the increasing uncertainty and conflict that leads to refugees sometimes arriving on our shores. I will be referencing that in a few moments.

Suffice it to say, the concerns about the concentration of powers in the hands of a minister who can designate any non-citizen as worthy of being thrown into prison is deeply concerning in this corner of the House. Another concern that has been raised, and there are many around this legislation, is that this flies in the face of our international commitments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The fact is that the government got a slap from the international community just a few weeks ago in the United Nations, when Canada was refused for the first time to sit on the Security Council, something we have done regularly since the foundation of the United Nations in which Canada was heavily involved. It shows how the international community is concerned more and more about the direction the government has taken. There is no doubt that this particular legislation flies in the face of those international commitments that Canada has signed.

One might say that the government is trying something it thinks will work. However, an interesting note I will add before talking about the existing situation for refugees is the fact that Australia tried this very same approach of throwing them all in prison, and what happened is that Australians and Australia realized how wrong-headed that attempt was and moved away from this type of mean-spirited approach to refugees.

The reality is, as we well know, there is no queue for refugees. What the Conservative government has done, to which the previous Liberal government contributed as well, unfortunately, is to gut the whole refugee process system in Canada. For example, in northern Sri Lanka, where the government has ended a civil war and has kept thousands upon thousands of northern Sri Lankan Tamil-speaking citizens in detention camps, there have been widespread violations of human rights, as indicated by any human rights activists who have been able to make it into Sri Lanka. Most of them have been denied access, which is worrisome in itself.

The reality is that those individuals who are facing persecution and human rights abuses on the part of the Sri Lankan military do not have a queue to go to. They do not have an office to go to. There is no system in place to ensure they can, through a legitimate and anchored process, come to Canada. We are talking about an area where there are widespread human rights violations, disappearances, rapes, assaults and murders, and there is no system or process, no queue, waiting for them.

What they do in their desperation, those of them who can, is escape. They escape in leaky boats. They try to get as far away from where their family is threatened with murder or rape as possible, as any of us would. When we look at the history of our country, whether we are talking about the Komagata Maru or the SS St. Louis, we have had circumstances in our past where right-wing media has tried to provoke the same kinds of divisions and attacks against legitimate refugees who, to a certain extent, were mirrored by the most recent arrivals.

These individuals spent months on a leaky boat with little access to drinking water or food. They are not individuals who are on a pleasure cruise. They are coming to Canada because they want to feel safe. They want to avoid the murder and mayhem they face in their home countries. There is no legitimate queue for them to go through that process. Perhaps that is the most significant point.

The government has gutted the type of regular queue and processing that would allow refugees to come to Canada through a regular method. On top of that, the minister has the ability to throw any individual into jail. Rather than tackling human smugglers, the government is tackling the refugees, after coming through months on the open dangerous seas with little food and water and finally making it to our shore, and throwing them in prison.

That is simply not a value that most Canadians share. It is simply not a value that led to the international conventions that are violated by this legislation.

I want to read a couple of comments from those who have reviewed the legislation.

Professor Audrey Macklin, Centre for Refugee Studies, said, “The bill is so flagrantly illegal that it is almost inconceivable that it could survive a court challenge”.

The president of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Wanda Yamamoto, said:

Measures keeping some refugees longer in detention, denying them family reunification and restricting their freedom of movement are likely in violation of the Canadian Charter and of international human rights obligations...People who are forced to flee for their lives need to be offered asylum and a warm welcome, not punished.

The Province, which is a local newspaper in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, in criticizing the legislation said:

—other sections of the act, such as creating second-class refugees out of people who arrive en masse, make the proposed legislation seem thrown together and ill conceived....Canadian history is sprinkled with examples of how overtly politicized immigration policy has led to inhumane decisions, including the Komagata Maru incident in Vancouver in 1914 and the refusal to accept Jews escaping en masse from the Nazis.

A wide range of organizations have clearly spoken up, opposing Bill C-49. I will just mention some of them in my closing few seconds.

The organizations include the Vancouver Interfaith Refugee Council, the Vancouver Airport Chaplaincy, the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, the United Church of Canada, the Salvation Army, Atlantic Refugee & Immigrant Services, the Council of Canadians, Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal, the Student Christian Movement of Canada, the South Ottawa Community Legal Services, South Asian Women's Community Centre, SOS, the Sojourn House, the Social Justice Collective of the Public Health Students at the University of Toronto, Salsbury Community Society, Sanctuary Coalition of Kitchener-Waterloo, Refugee Lawyers' Association of Ontario, the Quaker Committee For Refugees, Project Genesis, the Southern Ontario Sanctuary Coalition, the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Ligue des droits et libertés, the Legal Assistance of Windsor, Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, Jesuit Refuge, Inter Pares, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the Community Legal Services Ottawa, Committee to Aid Refugees, Montreal, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Chinese Canadian National Council, Centre for Race and Culture, the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Tamil Congress, Canadian-Muslim Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Dozens and dozens of other organizations have all said that the legislation is flawed and should be withdrawn.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the hon. gentleman. He will know that our government passed the very successful refugee reform bill in the summer. It was supported by all parties in the House, including his. The member for Trinity—Spadina did a lot of work with us on that bill.

Specific to this bill, what we have is a bill that would seek to put human smugglers in jail, give them guaranteed minimum sentences that would help protect Canadian sovereignty. It would ensure that the people who came to our country truly needed the assistance of the Government of Canada and the generosity of the people of Canada.

Would the hon. member simply look at this from the perspective of the Canadian people who want to continue to be a generous people and who want to continue to open our doors to those who need our help? However, we want to ensure that we protect Canadian sovereignty and that we take human smugglers out of the equation. We do not want people coming to our country and spending the rest of their lives trying to pay off the debts of these criminals who are getting these unfortunate people at the worst circumstances and bring them over here.

We want to ensure that people who need to come to our country can come here and can live a life that all Canadians—

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member clearly has not read the legislation. It does not crack down on the smugglers. It cracks down on the refugees. It throws little kids in prison. That is the absurdity between the government's rhetoric and the reality of what it has presented.

The Balanced Refugee Reform Act received the support from many members in the House of Commons. Yet the government does not seem satisfied with having brought in that legislation. It is one of the few pieces of legislation that was actually effectively drafted. Most of the time, tragically in the House, we have legislation that is thrown together on the back of a napkin. That is why dozens and dozens of national organizations are taking a stand against the legislation. That is why we have very prominent Canadians speaking out against it because it penalizes refugees.

Any of us in the same kind of situation, such as in northern Sri Lanka, where the army writ rules and where there are widespread human rights violations and disappearances, would be desperate to get out and get our families to a safe place. That is what these occasional boats are trying to do and we need to ensure those folks are integrated in to Canada.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the United Nations, we have the UN protocol on trafficking of persons. We are expected to protect human trafficking victims. That is the whole incentive of this UN protocol to which we adhere.

In this situation, I want the hon. member to drift away from the actual legislation for just a moment and the general theme of human trafficking. There seems to be areas that need to improved when it comes to the services provided to victims. As my hon. colleague from the Conservative Party just said, the government wants to protect those most vulnerable in these situations, while cracking down on the smugglers at the same time.

We hear a lot from NGOs, community organizations that help those identified as trafficked persons. They provide temporary protection services and they offer them a place to stay, et cetera.

I have seen a lot of the input from these organizations. They say that they are uneasy about doing this because a lot of the social services provided to these people are sorely lacking in our country.

Are we worried more about one side of the equation, about the punishment, as opposed to helping out the legitimate—

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I respect the time commitment.

I mentioned earlier some of the organizations opposing the legislation, which includes the Anti-Human Trafficking Action Group, Le Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale and the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women. These are anti-trafficking organizations trying to crack down on human smuggling.

I will mentioned one more reference. Donald Galloway, professor of law at the University of Victoria, says:

Contrary to claims made by the government, this legislation does little to constrain the criminal activities of human smugglers. Indeed, its primary target is not the smuggler but those who seek Canada’s protection including those who are entitled to it.

Many law professors have said the same thing. It does nothing to counter human smuggling. It does everything to attack the fundamental principles of refugee protection in our country.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

I appreciate your intervention, Mr. Speaker. I will endeavour not to use the names of my colleagues.

On October 21, the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the President of the Treasury Board held a press conference in Vancouver. They stood in front of the resting hulk of the Ocean Lady, the ship that entered Canadian waters a year ago, with 76 Tamil migrants on board, to announce the legislation we are discussing today. It is important we remember that incident because it is a concrete reminder that human smuggling is a growing reality and it should concern every Canadian.

This is a serious issue that is literally washing up on our shores. Not just once but twice in the last year a boat full of Sri Lankan Tamil migrants reached our Canadian shores. Let us face it. Human smuggling is a big business that generates significant profits for sophisticated criminal organizations and others who engage in crime.

Smuggling is also a dangerous business for countries that it targets, including Canada. This activity bogs down our immigration refugee protection system and unfairly penalizes those refugee claimants who arrive through regular means and those who wait patiently for their asylum claims to be finalized. The human and financial resources required to ensure the safety of the migrants once they reach Canadian waters and to conduct identity and admissibility examinations can also significantly tax our system.

This is why our government has taken decisive action to stop human smugglers from targeting Canada and profiting from their elicit activities. Bill C-49 is our answer to those who think Canada is simply an easy target.

Under the preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system bill, our government is proposing several important changes that will make human smugglers pay for their crime and ensure that Canada can continue to offer refugee protection to those who really need it.

The bill would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate an irregular arrival, thereby making those involved subject to the bill's measures. The minister could make the designation in two circumstances. First, the minister could declare a smuggling event if the examination relating to identity and admissibility of the persons involved in the arrival and other investigations could not be conducted in a timely manner. Second, the minister could make such a designation if there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the arrival involved human smuggling committed for profit or that the arrival was linked to organized crime groups or terrorist organizations.

The bill would also make it easier for law enforcement officers and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute human smugglers.

Under the current law, prosecutors must prove that the alleged smuggler knew the individuals being smuggled did not possess the proper paperwork and documents to enter Canada. We are aware that this can be a very onerous, difficult and complex challenge for law enforcement agencies. More important, the existing offences do not capture all the ways that human smuggling can occur. The proposed amendments will broaden the offences of human smuggling and facilitate the prosecution of human smugglers, therefore ensuring that Canada's smuggling offences provide a comprehensive response to this crime.

Under the new law, prosecutors would only have to prove that the alleged smuggler brought people into Canada knowing that these persons would not be entering Canada in a proper way and, in fact, in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For example, the very act of bringing people into Canada in a way that would allow them to avoid presenting themselves for examination would be captured in this offence. Arriving in the belly of a ship or hidden in a shipping crate certainly qualifies as avoiding examination.

I also noted that the offence would include the elements of recklessness. This means prosecutors could also provide evidence that the human smuggling had occurred by showing the accused smuggler knew there was a substantial likelihood that the coming into Canada of migrants would violate the IRPA but decided to proceed anyway.

The proposed changes would also impose mandatory prison sentences on convicted human smugglers. The mandatory minimum period of imprisonment would depend on how many persons were smuggled and whether specific aggravating circumstances could be proven.

What do we mean by aggravating factors, some people might ask. That would be, for example, if the offence was committed for the profit or the benefit of, or at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization or a terrorist group, or if a person accused of committing the offence endangered the life or safety of or caused bodily harm or death to any of the people who were being smuggled.

Depending on the presence of one or both of these aggravating factors, the mandatory prison sentence would vary, depending on what could be proved.

In a case where fewer than 50 persons were smuggled, the mandatory minimum would be three years if one factor was proved, or five years if both factors were proved. Where the smuggling involved 50 or more persons, the mandatory minimum would be five years where one aggravating circumstance was proved, or 10 years if both were proved.

The proposed legislation would also hold shipowners and operators to account for using their ships in human smuggling operations.

These are significant changes with specific penalties that reflect the government's strong desire to deter and denounce these activities, and I believe this is the right approach.

They also reflect our commitment to ensuring the safety and security of our streets and communities.

As part of this legislation, participants in human smuggling would face mandatory detention of up to one year, giving Canadian authorities enough time to determine things such as identity, admissibility and illegal activity.

The legislation also includes amendments that will help reduce the attraction of coming to Canada by way of illegal human smuggling operations. For example, those who come to Canada as part of an irregular arrival, including those who subsequently obtain refugee status, will not be allowed to apply for permanent resident status for five years, and as a result, will be prevented from sponsoring family members for a period of five years.

It will also ensure that the health benefits that participants receive are not more generous than those received by the general Canadian population. It will also improve our ability to revoke the protected status of those who demonstrate that they are no longer legitimately in need of Canada's protection.

I am sure that all hon. members would agree that if individuals who are in the process of claiming refugee status can safely, and by their own initiative, return for a holiday or long-term residency to the country that they purport to be fleeing from, they are clearly not in need of Canada's protection and they therefore should not be considered a protected person.

I believe the bill is a strong message and a message that Canadians are demanding that Parliament make. Canadians from coast to coast have been calling members of Parliament of all parties to ask us to crack down on human smuggling. They are very upset that a business has been made out of facilitating illegal migration and encouraging queue jumping.

Canadians want to help those who are genuinely in need of our protection, but we believe the system must be fair.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, to my colleague, I would like to ask a two-part question. I would like to get his comment on the first part. He talked about the idea of cracking down on the smugglers themselves, but the prosecution of the smuggler.

One of the ways that is done, and this is a policy in the United States, is that in 2000 they enacted the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. In that act they have what is called the “T” visa. The way the T visa works is that they are provided the social services to bring them back to full health. It also provides them with the ability to be functional, and obviously to bring them back to a situation such as they were in before they became a victim of trafficking. However, the eligibility requirement to that involves being involved in the prosecution of the trafficker.

The idea is that in order to be eligible for these services to help these people, they have to be involved in the prosecution of the person involved in the trafficking of these persons. I wonder if the member would agree with that.

Secondly, I have a very quick and pointed question. Once a person is deemed to be, in his words, unfairly penalized, who is a legitimate refugee and identified as such, what happens then?

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, there is absolutely nothing within this legislation that would reduce the opportunity or not allow a person to be involved in the prosecution against the smugglers. Obviously it is in everybody's interest, including those people who have been smuggled, to be involved in the prosecution of these folks.

This is a big business that organized crime is undertaking in this country, and abroad as well, and we need to get to the root of that. We need to cut off their profits from this illegal activity. A whole host of provisions were brought forward in the speech that go after the actual smuggler, and it is important that the concentration be on that. Obviously it is a point with which I think the hon. member would agree, that we have to go after those people who are exploiting innocent people, taking their money, bringing them to Canada under false pretences, and telling them that there will be a land of opportunity and hope. In some cases, I do not think the people being smuggled even know that they are coming by illegal means, but that is where the concentration of this legislation puts full force and all members need to support it because of that.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my friend in relation to this particular topic and he has hit the nail on the head. Clearly even the media seems to indicate that the path the Conservative government is taking is clear, it is fair, and it rewards those people who are prepared to stay in line.

Most Canadians, Canadians we know, are prepared to stand in line for a movie or shows of different kinds, or even just stand in line to be polite to other people who have been there for a longer period of time, no matter what the topic is.

In this particular case, some of the opposition members are suggesting that if one commits a crime, if someone is prepared to pay somebody illegally to enter Canada, he or she should be rewarded for that. I do not understand that, because Global National specifically said, “The Conservatives want to send two message: First, that Canada welcomes immigrants as long as they play by the rules. But, for those who don't, they can expect to be harshly punished.”

I would like my friend to comment a little more on the tactic of the opposition members who want to reward those people who are prepared to jump the queue.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, obviously there is some tension, and we hear it from the hon. members across the way. They are sensitive about this issue because they know that their constituents are telling them to get real and to get some legislation in place that goes after those people who would queue-jump, who are breaking the rules, and those people who are exploiting the vulnerable.

While the opposition may want to play politics with this issue, it is absolutely essential that we as parliamentarians stand together in support of those people who we are elected by, who are demanding that we cut down on the events that we are seeing where people are jumping the queue, but also where people are funneling money towards organized crime.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I heard what the government members want to do, I said to myself that if that is the kind of country they want, let them go ahead. However, that is not my kind of country; it is not what the Bloc wants. We do not want to go down that road. We do not want to be extraordinarily tough on crime, as they say, just because that is their inclination.

The purpose of this bill is to crack down on human smugglers. However, the Conservatives are aiming at the wrong target; they are completely misguided. The people who are exploited and vulnerable, who are fleeing because of political, economic or social conditions, are the ones arriving here, and the Conservatives are targeting them. They are taking aim with a really big gun, one that is too big. Instead of clamping down on the smugglers, they are clamping down on the vulnerable. Have the members who spoke seen the conditions in which these people live in their countries of origin? I use “live” loosely in this case. These people survive. They are used to living in fear, hiding, being secretive. They are hunted down in their own country. Some say that they go into hiding when they arrive here. That is what they have been taught to do. It is their survival instinct. These people have come here and should not be subject to different measures simply because they arrived in a group of 49 or 50 others.

These people sometimes leave behind children, relatives, perhaps even spouses. And now they are told that if they come here with 50 others they will be put in prison for 12 months and they must not ask why as the answer will be “because”. The government has cause to spend more and more money on prisons. At the rate they are going, the Conservatives will need more prisons. They take the people who arrive in Canada and tell them that they will immediately go straight to the Hilton prison without asking any questions. Instead of targeting the smugglers, they are targeting the victims.

They are creating categories of refugees not on the basis of their status or where they come from, or the relative danger of their place of origin, but based on how and with whom they arrive.

Clause 17, which amends section 117 of the act and adds subsections, very clearly states that when the offence involves fewer than 50 people, the smuggler will be sentenced to five years in prison, but if it involves 50 or more people, the sentence will be 10 years. So what happens if there are only 50 people? Will they throw one person overboard? Pardon the expression, but when smugglers know that if there are 50 or more people, they risk one sentence if caught, and if there are fewer than 50 it is another matter, what will they do? Will they draw straws? Will they ask themselves which one to get rid of? It makes no sense.

The government has introduced a muddled, convoluted bill because a boat arrived one day with about 500 people on board. It created quite a frenzy, as if the 500 people were armed to the teeth and were suddenly going to threaten 30 million people. Come on. The government reacted strongly, too strongly, based on presumptions.

The government says these people can be imprisoned for up to 12 months with no recourse to challenge that. These people are being told that they are now in Canada, which they chose for its freedom, and now they are being introduced to our kind of freedom. If that is the kind of freedom they want, then fine, but that is not Quebec's idea of freedom. If we needed another reason to fight for what is fundamentally right, the Bloc Quebecois's raison d'être—Quebec sovereignty—there is it. Canada puts refugees in prison when more than 50 arrive together on one boat.

This flies in the face of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and many international obligations, including the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Canada has signed. This infamous bill also flies in the face of that convention. It also goes against the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It lumps men, women and children together and says “thank you, good-bye”. One has to read it to believe it. The Conservatives really did this.

It is not for nothing that Canada lost its seat on the United Nations Security Council. It was this type of disgraceful policy that caused the seat to be lost. Why did the other countries vote against Canada? It is not because they did not receive their goodies, but because they wondered whether Canada was suited for the Security Council. It is too bad, but they said no. It is unfortunate, but such bills are shameful.

With the government putting these people in jail and telling them, when they hide somewhere and are caught, that they will not be entitled to bring over their loved ones for five years, even though they are refugees, we wonder about the new foreign policy. The hon. member who spoke before me listed all the prohibitions. Under this new policy, Canada is telling people to stay home, it is no longer going to help them, and it is cutting off international aid. Canada is closing more and more embassies, which are a reflection of how we live in Canada.

Canada's foreign policy is to cut international aid, and it is becoming more and more right-leaning. Canada is closing more and more embassies and becoming increasingly militarized. It is telling refugees that if they dare come here by boat with more than 50 people aboard, when they reach their destination, they will be shot, or almost.

This bill flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We need to secure our borders, but there needs to be an appropriate balance between security, openness, welcome and diversity. In Quebec, we understand that. If Canada wants to adopt this type of policy, then so be it, but as long as we are here in the House, we will vote vigorously against such policies.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, at the very start, the member mentioned that this was his country. I was interested to hear that because the member comes from a party of separatists, people who want to divide Canadians. What really attracted me to that was the statement that he took pride in this being his country and this being his law, whether he agreed to it or not. I respect the man for that. It certainly makes me quite happy to hear a separatist on that side of the House refer to Canada as his country and his law.

I do understand the member's position and, quite frankly, if one were to look at this part in isolation one could have that perspective. The member clearly understands that Canada is the number one country in the world and that people from every part of the world want to come to Canada. They see the quality of life here, which is the best in the world.

However, with a queue of five billion people, who decides on who gets through first? Is it the refugees or is it the people who have been playing by the rules, are in lineups and who want to be Canadian and want to take pride in being Canadian. Who are the people the member thinks should jump the line?

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned a few things, but I want to focus my response on the beginning of his question. Yes. I am here and over 50% of the people in the Hochelaga riding voted for the Bloc candidate. This is not the first time. They have been voting for the Bloc for 16 years. Yes, I pay taxes in Quebec and Canada and, as long as we are here and as long as Quebec decides to be a part of this country, we will have the right and obligation to be here. Everyone knows that our objective is to achieve sovereignty for Quebec in a democratic fashion.

I have one hope and that is to be the last member for Hochelaga in this House because we, the Bloc Québécois, want to build a country with which we can identify. We simply cannot identify with this bill. We cannot relate at all to the type of country they want to build. We want to build ourselves a nation and no one other than Quebeckers will tell us how to do it.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my fellow member if he thinks that this bill could result in exactly the same situation that occurred when 900 Jewish people arrived on the S.S. St. Louis and were denied entry into Canada. At that time, Canada, as well as other countries, said that a country should be built for these people because we did not want them here.

With a law like the one that is currently being prepared, does Canada intend to build countries for all the immigrants and refugees that it does not want and will it send them away? We know what happened with the Jews: they were killed.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

November 29th, 2010 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I urge you to never confuse the member for Brome—Missisquoi with the member for Outremont. It is embarrassing.

This weekend, there was a symposium in Montreal, and I remember one phrase in particular. People in Quebec often refer to themselves as tightly knit, but now that immigrants have come to Quebec, we tend to talk about being tightly woven, with new strands from elsewhere. People are learning to live together. That is how Quebec will be going forward.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I think you should apologize to the member for Brome—Missisquoi.