Evidence of meeting #25 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was security.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

5:15 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

I can't answer that. I'm not sure.

March 6th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Okay.

One of the concerns you raised in your opening remarks was the issue of security, which is what this study is all about. You stated that your view is that one of the most important tools we could use to ensure our security is to conduct more human intelligence--in other words, more interviews on the part of our public service of people who wish to come to Canada. At one point, prior to the 1990s, we did that for primary applicants.

If we're going to address the concerns you've raised, and we're going to do that by conducting a greater number of interviews of applicants—if not all—to Canada, it seems to me that there are two ways to go about doing this. One is to increase the resources of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to handle the record volumes of people arriving on our shores. Alternatively, we can adjust the levels of immigration and foreign workers in order to ensure that the department has the sufficient resources to do those in-person interviews. Or we could use a combination of both.

I just want to get your views on what you think is practical, and what you would recommend to the government as the right approach.

5:20 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

I agree that there are two ways of doing it, and maybe a third, which I think is being proposed now by the government, which is to let Canadian employers go abroad to do a lot of the selection.

I was the officer in charge in London in the 1970s, and many Canadian companies would come to England to recruit, particularly machine trades people: tool-makers, machinists, and lathe operators. The employers would interview them, recruit them, and promise them a job. We would give them a very cursory interview to make sure they didn't have a criminal record. If we were concerned—because we weren't really concerned much about security in England—we would refer them for security. But other than that, we processed them quite quickly, and got them here quickly because they had already been recruited by Westinghouse, Massey-Harris, or another firm.

I think the government is thinking of perhaps doing that in future. That's another method of doing it.

My own view is that we're taking too many people into Canada. I'm on the record as saying that. Why are we one of the few industrial countries in the world with 36 million people that has to rely on foreign labour to fill our jobs? That's inexcusable in a modern country. So yes, I would cut back on the numbers and get the quality.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

I have another question for you.

Over the last several decades the federal government has devolved significant responsibility for immigration to provincial governments. This started with the accord between Canada and Quebec. That was revised a number of times, but it's also now spread to the provinces. So one of the things I hear from people is that there is a concern that there are now dozens and dozens of different ways to get into Canada through federal or provincial programs, often with very different rules and very different processes in place.

Is it a concern to you at all that these myriad ways to enter Canada are creating a system so complex that it is more difficult for us to address the security side of immigration?

5:20 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

Absolutely. I entirely agree.

If you look at the 2010 annual figures, 17% of the 280,000 immigrants who came in were selected under the federal government's points system. That's 48,000 and some immigrants out of 280,000 were selected because they met the points. The rest were family accompanying the principal applicants; they were relatives sponsored by other relatives in Canada; they were almost 13,000 caregivers—would you believe it?—who came in; and 30,000 and some more from the provinces.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you.

5:20 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

They're not required to meet any selection criteria. The province chooses them.

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, sir.

Go ahead, Mr. Davies.

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Bissett, I was quite stunned by your testimony—I wrote it down as literally as I could—that none of the temporary foreign workers go through security or health checks.

5:25 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

Some do health. I said criminal and security.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

You know, of course, that under this government the use of temporary foreign workers has exploded. I think it's a fair comment. We issued 185,000 visas, or re-issuance of visas, to temporary foreign workers last year alone. It's been estimated that there are approximately half a million temporary foreign workers present in the country. Your testimony, sir, is that none of them have gone through criminal checks, and this government has let them into our country?

5:25 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

As far as I know, they don't have any criminal checks or security checks. If they're working in health-related occupations, they do have to have a health test.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

You were kind enough to say you were old enough to be blunt. And I'm young enough to be impertinent, so I'm going to put a couple of tough questions to you, if I may, just to probe some of these.

You referred to the fact that there were mosques in this country, and implied quite strongly that there are mosques that are preaching unacceptable messages. Can you tell us what mosques those are, sir?

5:25 p.m.

As an Individual

James Bissett

No, I can't tell you, but I get this from Muslim friends of mine who are in a position to know. I can name them, and I'm quite sure they could tell you the names of the mosques, and be willing to.

Salim Mansur, who is a professor at Western University, is one who is—

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Is your information second-hand about that? I just wondered if you had direct knowledge.

Second, you said there were some 40,000 Iranians who have entered our country from 2000 to 2009. Are you aware of any cases of Iranian terrorists in this country?