Evidence of meeting #32 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 refugee.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Les Linklater  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Peter Hill  Director General, Post-Border Programs, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Jennifer Irish  Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Michael MacDonald  Director General, National Security Operations Directorate, Public Safety Canada
  • Alexandre Roger  Procedural Clerk, House of Commons
  • Joe Oliver  Director General, Border Integrity, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Marie Estabrooks  Manager, Biometrics Policy (programs and projects), Emerging Border Programs, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Chuck Walker  Director General, Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Alain Desruisseaux  Director General, Admissibility Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Sean Rehaag  Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and Representative, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights - University of Toronto
  • Audrey Macklin  Representative, Professor, Faculty of Law and School for Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights - University of Toronto
  • Barbara Jackman  Lawyer, As an Individual

9:20 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

I would like to know what you think about the idea of imposing a delay on this committee that was set up so it can act and make a decision as quickly as possible, rather than completely taking away its responsibility for designating countries safe.

9:20 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

The current bill sets out that certain factors included in the regulations will be taken into account with respect to the trigger of an assessment of conditions relating to countries that could be designated by the minister. It's the minister who does it, while it was based on a recommendation from the committee in the previous bill.

As for maintaining some flexibility and the work of the departments involved in the refugee protection process, we think that, based on the information available, we will be able to make recommendations to the minister more quickly on the designation of countries and that there will not be immediate decisions based on the legislative criteria. An aspect of qualitative analysis will be added to the quantitative factors.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees highlighted the importance of adopting a mechanism that would make it possible to revise the list of safe countries in order to respond to the gradual or sudden changes that arise in a given country. Could you please explain the planned procedure for reviewing, updating and issuing designations by departmental order?

9:25 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

I'll ask Ms. Irish to explain to you how it will work.

9:25 a.m.

Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Jennifer Irish

The UNHCR indicates that you can have a designated country of origin process as long as it's based on verifiable and objective information. It does recognize that one consequence of designation can be expedited processing.

In order to meet the criteria as outlined by the UNHCR, we have set up a system that involves two stages. The first is to hit a quantitative trigger. We will set that trigger by ministerial order to be a 75% rejection rate or higher, or a 60% abandonment rate or higher. There will be no requirement for there to be a certain volume of claims coming in.

For fewer than 30 claims, there will be a separate test. Basically, it will be a checklist of verifiable qualities associated with the country, including its ability to have basic democratic freedoms, freely operating NGOs, and an independent judiciary. Once those triggers are hit, there is an analysis. The analysis includes the system of government and also the ability of the state to provide recourse and basic human rights. That will be done by an interdepartmental panel. That panel will be getting information from independent actors, including the UNHCR. That's how we will meet the test provided by the UNHCR in its recommendations.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Would it be possible to provide the committee with the information you are referring to?

9:25 a.m.

Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Jennifer Irish

Yes, of course.

9:25 a.m.

Alexandre Roger Procedural Clerk, House of Commons

It would have to be sent in writing.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Would you send that to the clerk, please?

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

In the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the legislator made it possible to hold the refugee claimant on limited grounds, particularly to verify the person's identity while complying with Canadian legislation on detention in Canada. In Bill C-31, we are introducing provisions that seem to depart from the act and the charter.

I'd like to know what you think about this and what these new provisions are based on.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

We're over time. You're going to have to answer that in another round, I'm afraid.

Mr. Weston.

April 30th, 2012 / 9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'd like to thank our witnesses for being here today.

There is a lot of speculation when an analysis like this is begun. We just heard Ms. Sims speculate that the number of individuals in detention will increase if Bill C-31 is passed.

Mr. Linklater, is it possible that the number of detained individuals will decrease because the rest of the world will know that Canada does not admit people who are not true refugees?

9:25 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

I'll start, and Mr. Hill will finish.

The impact of unexpected arrivals on detention services is difficult to predict. For instance, when the two boats arrived in British Columbia, we didn't know how many people were on board, what condition they were in, if they had identification documents and if it would be difficult to establish their identity. If there are other arrivals like this, it would obviously have an impact on detention services. Right now, it's the agency that will resolve the situation with the provincial authorities to ensure that they can receive these people.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Linklater, you suggested that there is a global information network and that everyone is talking about the possibility of coming to Canada. If the regulations are more reasonable and more specific, is it possible that this network will spread the news?

9:30 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Les Linklater

The provisions of the bill will have an impact on the applications for refugee status. The fact that we are planning more serious penalties for human smuggling will have an impact on the smugglers' networks. People will rethink their intent to cross the Pacific if they are fully aware that the smugglers themselves will be imprisoned and punished more severely or differently.

For those who choose to make the decision to come to Canada through an irregular arrival, the fact that there will be conditional status for those who do need Canada's protection, I think, will also have an impact on behaviour. If people understand that, as the minister said on Thursday, they won't be able to reunite with close family members for a period of five years, they may look to reconsider their decision to be smuggled or to take part in these types of mass arrivals.