Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act

An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Jason Kenney  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now 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 limit the review mechanisms for certain foreign nationals and permanent residents who are inadmissible on such grounds as serious criminality. It also amends the Act to provide for the denial of temporary resident status to foreign nationals based on public policy considerations and provides for the entry into Canada of certain foreign nationals, including family members, who would otherwise be inadmissible. Finally, this enactment provides for the mandatory imposition of minimum conditions on permanent residents or foreign nationals who are the subject of a report on inadmissibility on grounds of security that is referred to the Immigration Division or a removal order for inadmissibility on grounds of security or who, on grounds of security, are named in a certificate that is referred to the Federal Court.

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.

Votes

  • Feb. 6, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Passed That Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 32.
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 13, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 4 with the following: “interests, based on a balance of probabilities;”
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 9, be amended by replacing lines 12 to 15 on page 3 with the following: “— other than under section 34, 35 or 37 with respect to an adult foreign national — or who does not meet the requirements of this Act, and may, on request of a foreign national outside Canada — other than an adult foreign national”
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 20 on page 2 with the following: “may not seek to enter or remain in Canada as a”
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
  • Jan. 30, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said Bill; and fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of report stage and of the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
  • Oct. 16, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:25 p.m.
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Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

moved that Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for giving me one last opportunity to talk about Bill C-43, an important bill that will enable us to keep our communities safer.

This bill was part of the Conservative Party's election platform during the most recent election. It will improve our immigration system by speeding up removal of foreign criminals.

I have already had a chance to summarize the essence, the key features of this bill. However, during recent debates in the House, some MPs have raised some concerns about the bill and have criticized it. I would like to use my 20 minutes to respond to all of those concerns and criticisms.

Rather than reviewing the bill in the way I did at second reading and at report stage, I think it would be more profitable for the House if I respond to individual criticisms made by members in the debate, particularly at report stage in the House.

First, I will go through the points that I have heard raised in no particular order. One of the criticisms suggested that the bill will divide families, causing emotional and financial damage, especially for children whose parents would be removed from the country as a result of the bill.

I remind members that under the current provisions of the Immigration Act, a foreign national who is given a custodial sentence by a Canadian criminal court of six months or longer is criminally inadmissible to Canada and a deportation order is issued for them. They have lost the right, the privilege, of living in Canada by virtue of their serious criminal activity and the finding of a Canadian court in that respect. That was not a decision made by the government, by law-abiding citizens or by the Minister of Immigration. The decision to commit a serious criminal act is the decision of the criminal, who must be held responsible for his act.

When Canada has opened the doors of generosity and opportunity to a foreign national, essentially all we ask to maintain that privilege in perpetuity is that they live in Canada for two out of five years as a permanent resident or become a citizen or simply do not commit a serious criminal act. To suggest that the government would somehow be responsible for “dividing family members” if a serious foreign criminal is removed is perverse. The decision to become inadmissible, to be deported, is a decision the criminal has taken by virtue of his act, a decision that has been confirmed following due process by a Canadian court of law.

Should that permanent resident being removed following deportation have family members in Canada, they are not required to stay here. They are welcome to go back to their country. The notion that Canada is dividing a family is absurd. There is a certain, I would call it, soft bigotry implicit in the attitude that people can only stay in Canada and they cannot go back to any other country in the world with their family members. How condescending to suggest that people cannot pursue fulfilling lives in other countries around the world. I reject that categorically. I say that if people commit serious crimes, they have lost the privilege of staying in Canada as a permanent resident.

Second, we hear from members of the opposition, and this is one of the more hysterical arguments from the member for Winnipeg North, that the government is somehow characterizing hundreds of thousands of permanent residents as criminals with the bill, when the exact inverse is true. The vast majority of immigrants whom we welcome as permanent residents are law-abiding people, who would never dream of committing a serious crime and who expect that those who do should lose the privilege of staying in Canada.

As a government, every year on average we admit 257,000 permanent residents. It is the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history and the highest per capita levels of immigration in the developed world, adding almost 0.8% to our population per year. That is 260,000 permanent residents.

However, over the past five years we see on average about 800 permanent residents per year who commit serious violent crimes that carry penal sentences of six months or more. In 2010, it was 849; in 2009, 1,086; in 2011, 564. It is about 800 on average. That is a tiny fraction of a per cent of the number of permanent residents in Canada. At any given time we have about 700,000 to 800,000 permanent residents, so about one-tenth of a per cent actually commit serious crimes. Therefore, to suggest that the bill has a general application to all or most permanent residents is perverse. To the contrary, it focuses only on the tiny minority who commit serious crimes.

Let me then follow up on the argument of the opposition that the bar for the accelerated removal of foreign criminals is too low. I am told by the member for Winnipeg North that if a teenager is caught growing six marijuana plants he or she would be removed from Canada. That is ridiculous. The relevant criminal offence is possession of narcotics with the intention of trafficking. The member also gave the bizarre hypothetical scenario that a foreign teenager travelling to the United States and acquiring illegal ID to buy a drink at a bar when he or she is under age would somehow be deported from Canada.

I will say this. I was an opposition critic and I know it is difficult. There is a lot of legislation and it is often complex material. However, I at least made an effort to familiarize myself with the bills that I was responsible for debating. I would read the bill and the relevant research notes. I would commend that practice to the member for Winnipeg North. He might find his interventions in the debate taken somewhat more seriously if he actually bothered to read the legislation, because section 24 of C-43 states:

For the purpose of subsection (1), serious criminality must be with respect to a crime that was punished in Canada by a term of imprisonment of at least six months or that is described in paragraph 36....

It states “punished in Canada”. Being arrested for a misdemeanour in the United States, such as buying alcohol under age as a minor, is not being punished in Canada and it is certainly not punishable in Canada by a term of six months or more.

I do not know why the member and the Liberal Party in particular keep diminishing the severity of the crimes that would be affected by the six-month bar in Bill C-43, which by the way already exists in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as the benchmark for serious criminality leading to a deportation order. In 2010-11, custodial sentences were imposed in about one-third of guilty adult criminal court cases completed, similar to the proportion seen over the past decade. In 2010-11, the majority, 86%, of all sentences to custody were relatively short, at six months or less. Only about 10% of custodial sentences were sentenced to a period of six months to two years less a day, and 4% received a sentence of two or more years.

The crimes that would be affected by the bill by removing the IAD appeal, which is used as a delay tactic for deportation, would be those sentenced to six months or two years less a day, that is, 10% of custodial sentences. Again, only 33% of criminal convictions lead to a custodial sentence. We are talking about 10% of the most serious crimes committed in Canada. In fact, it is even less than that. It is the 10% of those that get custodial sentences, so we are talking about the most serious crimes.

The opposition keeps trying to pretend that the benchmark is low, but in fact in the real criminal justice world, the sorts of crimes that are committed by foreign nationals that we are seeking to address in the bill include: assault with a weapon, carrying a sentence of 13 months in jail in one case, two years less a day in another; the possession of a schedule 1 substance for the purposes of trafficking, two years less a day; sexual assault, 18 months in jail in one case; break and enter, including possession of tools for breaking and entering and theft, 13 months; robbery, 18 months in jail; multiple counts of forgery, et cetera.

We are talking about serious crimes and I have repeatedly referenced the cases of Vietnamese gangster, Jackie Tran; the Guyanese criminal, Patrick De Florimonte; the Romanian fraudster responsible for forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud, Gheorghe Capra; Cesar Guzman from Peru, who sexually assaulted a senior citizen. The Liberals would allow that man to still access an IAD appeal and delay his removal by four years. Then there is the case of the assault with a weapon, drug possession, drug trafficking and failure to comply with court orders of Jeyachandran Balasubramaniam, who managed to delay his deportation for seven years.

Canadians do not think that is acceptable. To the Liberals, sexually assaulting a senior apparently is not a serious crime. That is explicitly their position on the bill, that it is not a serious crime and that a foreign national who has raped a senior citizen should be able to delay his deportation. We respectfully disagree. We suggest that the moment the penal sentence is done, in this case that of Mr. Guzman, the person should be taken in a paddy wagon from prison to the plane and removed from Canada because they have lost the right to be here.

The opposition also says that the bill strips due process away from the accused. Again, that could only be said by people who have not read the bill. The people affected by losing the IAD appeal in the bill have already received all of the natural justice and due process available in the Canadian criminal justice system, fully compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They have an appeal right. They can appeal their criminal conviction. They can appeal their penal sentence. All we are saying is that once Canada's fair criminal justice system has decided they are a serious criminal, they should not be able to appeal their deportation order because they have abused the privilege of staying in Canada.

The member for Winnipeg North keeps suggesting that one case we raised, that of Clinton Gayle, is not relevant to the bill. Clinton Gayle was a Jamaican criminal, a repeat criminal, who, after years of avoiding deportation, murdered Toronto police constable Todd Baylis and shot another police officer.

Let me be clear: On November 6, 1989, Clinton Gayle was convicted of the offence of possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking. He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years less one day. Those are the kinds of sentences that have led to the IAD appeals. Often courts have given sentences of two years less a day specifically to give access to IAD appeals. Indeed, Mr. Gayle used that loophole and on March 1, 1991, the deportation order was filed against him and on that same day he filed an appeal against the decision. It took 16 months, until June 29, 1992, for the Immigration Appeal Division of the IRB to dismiss the appeal of his deportation order.

It is true that after 1992, through incompetence on the part of law enforcement agencies, he was not removed. He ought to have been removed. However, here is the point. If Bill C-43 had been in place back in 1991-1992, the paddy wagon would have gone to the prison on the last day of Mr. Gayle's custodial sentence, put him in the back and taken him to Lester B. Pearson Airport and put him on a plane back to Jamaica. He would never have been allowed to get out on our streets in the first place and Todd Baylis would be alive today.

Yes, he ought to have been removed in 1992, but he never should have been able to delay his deportation in the first place. That is the point. That is why the Canadian Association of Police supports Bill C-43. It is why the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police endorses the faster removal of foreign criminals act.

It is also why victim advocacy groups support this bill.

Here is a lovely one from the opposition. We heard them quote Amnesty International and the Canadian Bar Association expressing concern that the bill would no longer allow access to applications for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds for people who have been found to be involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, serious human rights violations and organized criminality.

We are so generous, some would say generous to a fault, in our country that even many of these people have had access to our asylum system and that all of them benefit from what is called a pre-removal risk assessment prior to being removed. Everyone, even the most objectionable terrorists and organized criminals, gets some form of independent legal assessment on whether or not they would face risk if returned to the country of their nationality. That is how we discharge our responsibility under the convention against torture, the 1951 refugee convention and, indeed, the Charter of Rights.

We have an obligation not to remove foreigners whose safety could be at risk if they are deported.

We have a process for this. However, the humanitarian and compassionate process is in addition to the pre-removal risk assessment and in addition to the asylum process.

Only the NDP and Liberals could suggest that a member of the mafia, that someone involved in serious human rights violations--

Consider Léon Mugesera, a Rwandan national responsible for genocide in his country. According to our legal system and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Mr. Mugesera was one of the people responsible for inciting the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan civilians 20 years ago. It took us 21 years to deport Léon Mugesera.

I believe that one of the reasons for the delay is that he applied for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds twice. Léon Mugesera showed no humanitarian compassion toward victims of the Rwandan genocide. In my opinion, Canada is in no way obliged to provide special consideration on humanitarian grounds to a person who has committed genocide.

Quite frankly, I encourage the opposition parties to reconsider their foolhardy opposition to the bill, because if they do not, I look forward to letting Canadians know at the next election about the position they have taken.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, those were interesting remarks from the minister. Many things come to mind, and I will be able to expand on those when I have the opportunity to address the bill.

There is no doubt that the Liberal Party has been very clear about individuals who are permanent residents and who commit crimes of the nature the minister has made reference to. We, too, want to see these individuals deported. Serious crimes should be taken seriously. I have also advocated, and will continue to do so, that there needs to be a consequence to all crimes committed.

The minister gets really focused on issues to try to generate the media that he seeks out on a daily, if not weekly, basis. I want to ask the minister a question. We have foreign nationals who are in Canada without status. In the past I have asked how many of those foreign nationals in Canada do not have status and the minister does not know. Many of those foreign nationals without status actually commit crimes.

What action has the minister taken in the last six years to deal specifically with the number of foreign nationals in Canada who do not have status and who commit crimes? What action has the minister taken with regard to those people?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, foreign nationals whether they have status or not in Canada are affected by the same provisions for inadmissibility and deportation as exist, whether they are permanent residents or out of status.

First, we have substantially increased resources to the Canada Border Services Agency by some 800 the number of front-line CBSA officers. They are the people responsible for removing foreign national criminals, for example, from Canada. As a result of the increase in those resources, we have seen the number of removals go from about 13,000 to over 16,000. There has been a huge increase in the number of removals, including of convicted foreign criminals, be they out of status or with permanent residency.

Second, the member is quite right, and I grant him this point, to criticize the government for not knowing how many out of status foreign nationals are present in Canada, which is precisely why we are now moving forward with the introduction of an exit information system. It should have been done a long time ago. It should have been done years ago, I grant that. It should have been done under the previous Liberal government, but it was not.

We are getting that right. We will now know how many foreign nationals are illegally in Canada and therefore will be able to remove them much more efficiently.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the House that we supported the bill at first reading so that it would be sent to committee. I would also like to state that the NDP will never be in favour of keeping serious criminals who are not Canadian citizens in Canada.

That said, I would still like to talk about the minister's discretionary powers. The bill releases the minister from the responsibility of considering, on humanitarian grounds, any children who would be affected by potential deportation.

What can the minister tell us about how the best interests of children will be served by this bill?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know who in the NDP research section is responsible for this myth, but the bill does not address the removal of minors.

Perhaps what she meant to say is that after this bill is passed, we would not accept applications on humanitarian grounds from war criminals, those involved in genocide or members of the Mafia. Perhaps she is worried about their children.

All I can say is that in our system, a child's best interests are always considered. Once this bill is passed, we will not accept applications on humanitarian grounds from the worst criminals in the world.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to my constituents in Mississauga East—Cooksville, the riding I proudly represent here. It is a very diverse riding. There are a lot of new immigrants who are very hard-working and law-abiding.

I have heard some criticism of the bill from them, but not the type of criticism members have heard from the opposition during the debate. Many people actually think the bill is too lenient, that it does not go far enough.

I would like to ask the minister for his opinion on that.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is certainly the bulk of criticism I have heard, particularly in my work with Canada's cultural and immigrant communities.

I cannot say how many fora, round tables, discussions, public meetings, interviews and open line calls I have been on. There have been hundreds where these kinds of issues have come up. Almost without exception, I have heard from people who chose Canada as their home an attitude of no tolerance toward those who have come here and committed crimes.

Frankly, I admit the bill has been criticized by a number of people for not taking a sufficiently robust approach toward the accelerated removal of foreign criminals. We are seeking to maintain a balance.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned that if permanent residents committed a crime that received more than six months or more as punishment in Canada, the government wanted to deport them, but it was not supporting families, that the rest of the family had a choice to stay here or leave the country.

As an example, if children are brought into our country when they are three years old, they grow up here, spend their entire lives in Canada and because of their home country or because of their understanding, assume they are a naturalized citizen. Then they have their own children. Therefore, their children are Canadian citizens and grow up in our country as citizens. Then the original children, who are still a permanent residents, are now being deported. Is the government now saying that those children, who are Canadian citizens, have the choice to leave the country if they want to or they can go live in another country?

The original people are now being sent to another country, which is not home for them. They do not know anything about that country. They grew up in the country, lived as Canadians, but did not take out citizenship. Is that fair?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, what is not fair is committing a serious crime and expecting there will not be consequences for it. What is not fair is victimizing Canadians, sometimes repeatedly, and violating the privilege of one's residency.

Under Canadian law, there are, and always have been, two categories of nationals under immigration law. They are either Canadian citizens or foreign nationals. Foreign nationals who obtain permanent residency can remain in Canada in perpetuity as long as they are residents here for two out of five years and do not commit a serious crime.

The question from the opposition implies that the government should somehow create a third category. We should somehow automatically grant citizenship to people who do not even bother to apply for it, who may not qualify for it.

If that is the position of the NDP members, I invite them to put forward a bill proposing to do just that. I suspect it would not get much support.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 3:55 p.m.
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NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to take part in this important debate.

As I mentioned at report stage, the New Democrats wanted to work across party lines to ensure the speedy removal of serious non-citizen criminals. To that end, I introduced nine reasonable amendments to the bill at committee to curb the excessive powers of the minister and restore some due process. However, they were all rejected by the Conservative majority.

I will give some examples because it would be instructive for the House to hear exactly what we dealt with.

With one amendment in particular, we proposed to do two very different things to limit the overly broad ministerial power to declare a foreign national inadmissible based on public policy considerations.

First, we suggested taking the minister's own guidelines, which he presented to the immigration committee, and codify them in the legislation word for word. When the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration visited us on October 24, he even suggested this approach when he said, “the committee may recommend that we codify these guidelines in the bill”.

Second, and perhaps more important, the amendment introduced a new threshold for the exercise of this power. Specifically, the minister must have reason to believe that a foreign national would meet one of the listed requirements in the guidelines. Despite the minister suggesting this course of action, his Conservative MPs voted it down. We can see that they are not interested in working together to get a better result.

We also proposed as number of reasonable amendments to restore the ability of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to consider humanitarian and compassionate grounds. By rejecting these amendments, the best interests of children implicated in these cases will no longer be considered.

In its brief to the immigration committee, Amnesty International put its concerns this way:

Eliminating the possibility of humanitarian relief for these types of people runs afoul of international law. Denying individuals access to this process might result in them being sent to torture...or persecution.

The Canadian Council for Refugees pointed out that:

These inadmissibility sections...are extremely broad and catch people who have neither been charged with, nor convicted of, any crime, and who represent no security threat or danger to the public.

It is also worth pointing out that the TCRI, which represents 142 community organizations in Quebec that assist immigrants and refugees, submitted that:

—this complete exclusion of H and C considerations in these contexts is contrary to Canada's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which among other things provides protection of family rights and security of the person....it also violates Canada's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child...

While we may agree that dangerous violent criminals should be removed from Canada as quickly as possible, we had hoped the Conservatives would also recognize that it was important to ensure the minister could still consider the protection of children in these cases. The amendments we moved would have helped dull one of the sharper and more mean-spirited edges of the bill.

The committee studying the bill heard a number of concerns about provisions in the bill that increased the penalty for inadmissibility for misrepresentation from two years to five years and precluded a foreign national from applying for permanent residency status in that period. In fact, many witnesses said that five years was overly punitive, especially when misrepresentation was made by inadvertent error.

In its submission, the Canadian Council for Refugees pointed out that a five-year inadmissibility was excessively harsh in cases of minor infractions when a person was acting under some form of duress. It offered two of many examples where this would be an unfair punishment: first, a woman who did not declare a husband or child because of social and family pressures, and sometimes fear; and second, an applicant who was not personally responsible for the misrepresentation because of an unscrupulous agent or even family member filling out the form for them.

It is the second case I find particularly troubling. I believe that we must make sure to punish those who are criminally misrepresenting themselves, not the victims of shady consultants.

While the CCR recommended that we simply delete this clause, once again, being the NDP, we proposed a moderate alternative. Our amendment created an exception for permanent residents and foreign nationals who are inadmissible for misrepresentation that is demonstrably unintentional. We thought that struck the right balance. Yet once again, there was no movement from the other side on this very reasonable change.

Much has been said in this House about the section in Bill C-43 that redefines serious criminality as a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least six months, which has the effect of precluding access to an appeal. I want to make it very clear to my colleagues across the way that our major concern with these provisions is that they limit due process for permanent Canadian residents, many of whom have been here their whole lives and know nothing about the culture or language of the country to which they would be deported.

With all of this in mind, I moved an amendment at committee stage to mitigate some of the worst effects of this clause. The amendment did two things, which I will address separately.

First, I made a modest proposal that we exempt conditional sentences from the terms of imprisonment, thereby ensuring that convictions that are not as serious as more egregious crimes, as is the case with conditional sentencing, are not caught by the provision. This was a suggestion made by the Canadian Bar Association and others during their testimony to the immigration committee.

In fact, the national president of the Canadian Somali Congress told the committee that we should definitely make an exception for a conditional sentence versus jail. In its current form, the bill does not do that. There could be a situation where a permanent resident, facing jail time, may be sentenced by a judge, in the community's interest, to a conditional sentence due to the fact that the person is gainfully employed. Because of the nature of conditional sentences, conditional sentences take longer to fulfill. Ironically, that would actually lead to the capture of this person with this legislation, because it would exceed six months.

The second thing this amendment was intended to do was restore access to appeal for those convicted of crimes outside of Canada or for those who have committed acts outside Canada. I believe it is the Immigration Appeal Division that is the appropriate body to properly evaluate these cases.

We know that in many countries, simply being a member of the opposition party can get an individual charged and convicted of a serious crime. Due process to evaluate these cases is essential in a free and democratic country like Canada, another moderate NDP proposal struck down by the Conservatives.

The go-it-alone, ignore-all-experts approach of this government was on full display as the Conservatives voted down all the official opposition's very reasonable amendments. New Democrats wanted to work across party lines to ensure the speedy removal of serious, non-citizen criminals. However, the Conservatives did not want it to work that way, and they did not work with us to make this legislation better.

Canadians want this Parliament to work together, and they want us to work together in the public interest. Unfortunately, Conservatives refused an opportunity to do just that.

Once again, before I hear speeches about how much my colleagues and I love criminals, love people who are engaged in all kinds of crime and want to protect the criminals, let me make it very clear. We were clear at committee and have been every time we have spoken in this House: We are committed to expediting the process of deportation of serious criminals who put Canada and Canadians at risk. However, we cannot stand by while due process is missing, while so much power is enshrined in the hands of a minister and while we stand in contravention of not only the UN but possibly of our own charter as well.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:05 p.m.
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Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I find the last point hilarious, because the member criticizes me all the time for not using discretionary powers more often. I am constantly lobbied. Do people see the MPs who gather around me every day after question period? They are asking me to exercise ministerial discretion, positive discretion. They want positive discretion used by the minister for folks they would like to see enter the country, but they do not want me to use negative discretion to ensure that, for example, anti-Semites and people who provoke violent homophobia cannot enter the country if they are otherwise admissible. We are just looking for a balance between ministerial discretion positively and negatively exercised.

The member once again raises this canard about limiting access to the humanitarian and compassionate applications, but she never mentions for whom. We are talking about people who are inadmissible for human or international rights violations, under section 35, for serious criminality, under section 36, and for organized criminality, under section 37.

I have a point-blank question for the member for Surrey. Does she believe that members of the Mafia should be able to apply to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds? Does she believe that people like Léon Mugesera, who was responsible for inciting the Rwanda genocide, should get special humanitarian consideration, yes or no?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does have discretion, especially when we are looking at visa applications and things. Many of us go to him because we cannot understand the reason for rejection, in many cases, so we go to him for clarification.

What we are looking at in this piece of legislation is a concentration of power whereby the minister can deny entry to visit Canada to anybody based on public policy. Public policy pretty much captures the whole universe.

My respect for the minister rose when he came to committee, put out some principles, and said that he could live with them. He urged the committee to examine them and put them in at committee. Unfortunately, his colleagues did not even support him in that.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister started off his opening remarks, he talked about the families having an option. If a family member breaks the law, the whole family can leave the country. That is what he is implying.

The minister might want to think about what it is I am saying. Imagine a family of three or four that immigrates from country X to Canada. They have been living in Canada for 15 or more years. A child who was three years old at the time is now 19 or 20. That individual commits a serious crime and ultimately has to serve seven months in jail. That individual is going to be deported if he or she did not receive citizenship. The minister's answer seems to be that the family can still stick together. All they have to do, all of them, is move back to the country of origin as a family unit.

Do you think this is an appropriate answer coming from a minister? Do you feel that this legislation would lead to families being broken apart?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, a serious concern we have with this legislation is the fact that right now, anybody who gets a sentence of even six months can be deported, even today, under the current legislation. However, that person has a right to appeal. Before they did not have the right to appeal after two years. Now the threshold has been dropped to six months. What is being taken away by the bill is the right to appeal for those who receive a sentence of six months to up to two years. We have serious concerns around that and the lack of due process.

Punishing the whole family does not seem like natural justice to me. We have to look at the impact on the whole family. Sometimes the family may not even be aware of some of the crimes being committed by the individual.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me time to speak to this bill.

Last week, after introducing a bill notable for its repressive and primitive ideology, supporting its position with rare exceptions and rejecting the official opposition's amendments, the government imposed a time allocation motion to cut off debate on Bill C-43. This behaviour is unacceptable. Clearly, the government wanted to muzzle MPs who would have liked to talk about this bill.

I believe that it is our duty to condemn the government's attitude at all stages of the legislative process for Bill C-43. The government has been narrow-minded, its arguments demagogic, its ideology backward and its approach undemocratic.

Rather than listen to criticisms put forward by the official opposition, groups advocating for the rights of refugees, and immigration lawyers, the government chose to impose its will unilaterally at the expense of genuine democratic debate. The Conservatives are flouting the humanitarian tradition that has distinguished Canada for decades, choosing instead to undermine the principle of basic human rights.

We agree that non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada must be dealt with quickly. However, we are concerned about the fact that this bill gives the minister vast discretionary power without appropriate checks and balances.

This approach is all the more regrettable given that Bill C-43 will soon have serious negative consequences on many fronts. First, the number of deportations will rise sharply, and some of those deportations will be outrageous. The most striking example of this is the measure stating that offenders' family members may be affected by deportation policies. Many individuals will be deported to countries where they have no ties just because the government refuses to recognize that the proposed measures are excessive and will short-circuit the usual legal process.

It is also important to note that Bill C-43 substantially broadens the notion of serious criminality, now characterized as crime punishable by a sentence of six months or more, conditional or otherwise, regardless of whether the crime was violent. For example, a first offence punishable by a six-month conditional sentence—the offender will not actually spend time in jail—will still result in the deportation of the offender.

The minister will bring in a double punishment, accompanied by removal and no chance for appeal regarding the deportation, which goes against our judicial principles.

Furthermore, as Alex Neve from Amnesty International Canada said, the lack of relief mechanisms means that the circumstances will not be taken into account. This type of situation shows that Bill C-43 makes no sense.

Amy Casipullai, the senior policy and public education coordinator for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, said that the restrictions could affect more visible minorities because of the racial profiling certain police forces engage in. Not only will visible minorities be more likely to be arrested, but now, they and their families could also be removed without appeal, without any recourse. But the Conservatives chose to ignore this reality and instead accuse the witness of siding with criminals.

Similarly, a number of experts, including lawyer Jean Lash, have said that people with mental illnesses sometimes commit crimes as a result of their illness. Michael Bossin, a refugee lawyer, also argues that people with mental illnesses would face undue hardship if they were deported to a country where mental illness is often stigmatized.

Since refugees from war-torn countries are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress, it makes sense that people are concerned about how Bill C-43 will affect them. However, the Conservatives are stubbornly ignoring the reality on the ground and would rather disregard this aspect.

Other restrictions imposed by Bill C-43 make absolutely no sense. If people are prohibited from being accompanied to an interview with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, they are prevented from receiving advice and support throughout the process. This can clearly be a hardship for them.

Bill C-43 would also indiscriminately standardize the consequences of a misrepresentation. Whether or not a misrepresentation is deliberate, it results in a five-year inadmissibility.

All of the new discretionary powers granted to the minister, without any checks and balances, will create the potential for abuse.

We proposed an amendment to require the minister to be accountable and transparent regarding these discretionary powers. Unfortunately the Conservatives rejected this suggestion.

Based on public policy considerations, a concept that is not defined in the act, the minister will be able to label someone as a threat without any justification, without having to explain his decisions and, most importantly, without any checks and balances.

That is what happens with a bill that ignores criticisms, suggestions from the official opposition and comments from outside witnesses.

Bill C-43 will have disastrous results because of the significant flaws in the bill. It restricts the right of appeal without regard for the repercussions, curtails refugees' rights without consideration of our legal principles, expands the minister's discretionary power without any checks and balances and establishes a policy of mass deportation without consideration of the circumstances.

Instead of tackling the problems of serious criminality, the government is imposing a set of measures that will cause significant harm to individuals who do not deserve this type of treatment.

The Conservatives' determination to go it alone, to decide unilaterally and to avoid debate and discussion will have consequences. The first of these will be a defective policy whose flaws will surface quickly.

Bill C-43 is another stain on the Conservatives' immigration record.

The government's message is the following: the Conservatives will consider anyone who is not a bona fide Canadian to be a foreigner who cannot make a mistake. Even worse, not only can foreigners not make a mistake, but they will also be deported and, with this bill, their family can be booted out as well.

Canada has traditionally considered itself a country that welcomes immigrants and a leader in the protection of basic human rights.

The Conservatives are betraying this tradition by introducing a bill rooted in rhetoric that turns back the clock and makes unwarranted changes that will have serious consequences.