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 countries.

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

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

I'm going to touch base very quickly on a question asked by Ms. Groguhé from the NDP. She started to say that we're violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the UN Refugee Convention, but in fact that's not the case. Under Bill C-31, we're still complying with all the regulations within the charter and the United Nations Refugee Convention.

Could you comment on that very quickly?

9:35 a.m.

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

Les Linklater

I think it is important to underline that Bill C-31 will continue to ensure that Canada upholds its domestic and international obligations towards people seeking protection. The principle of non-refoulement is, first and foremost, part of our analysis of the various provisions of this legislation. No one will be returned to a country where they face the risk of persecution or torture. They will receive Canada's protection if it's determined that they do require it.

What is different about Bill C-31 is that we will be able to move individuals through the system much more quickly than has been the case, to ensure that those who need our protection are given it much more quickly.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, Mr. Linklater.

Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

April 30th, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'm going to follow up on Minister Kenney's comments from his last appearance. He says that detention and a five-year ban on permanent residency or family reunification are not penalties, and that they're merely not granting privileges to certain claimants.

Punishment is different from withholding privileges. Why does the minister say that it's not punishment when it is manifestly harmful to refugee claimants and intended, in the minister's words, to deter asylum seekers from arriving in groups? Do any of you want to comment?

Mr. Linklater.

9:35 a.m.

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

Les Linklater

The notion of permanent residence in Canada comes down to the according of a privilege by the government and by the country. Individuals who need Canada's protection under Bill C-31, as I just explained, will continue to receive that protection. I think the minister is right in saying that these new provisions under C-31 will probably strike a cord with individuals who are contemplating participating in a smuggling venture if they understand what the consequences could be to them in terms of their family situation, while ensuring that the penalties for the smugglers are enhanced to also try to further deter those types of networks.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Why does he say that it's a privilege to not be detained when non-discriminatory mobility and liberty rights are enshrined in the Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child? Once again, it's going back to people coming in groups.

9:40 a.m.

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

Les Linklater

I think, as Mr. Hill explained, the grounds for detention are not going to change with Bill C-31. Individuals will be subject to detention if there are issues related to establishing their identity, if they pose a risk to Canada or Canadians through criminality or security, or if they pose a flight risk. I think it's important to underline that individuals, who may be part of a designated mass arrival, if they are able to help cooperate with CBSA and the RCMP to establish their identity and they don't pose a risk to the public, would be released from detention.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Okay.

I'm going to switch gears a little then because we're getting the same answer. In the bill, are you aware that clause 19 could throw into question the permanent residency of thousands of people in Canada, and if that was not the intent of the clause, how will you enforce this provision?

9:40 a.m.

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

Les Linklater

I think as the minister said when he appeared on Thursday, the intention is certainly not to leave this prospect of individuals losing permanent resident status if their country conditions change over time.

The minister also said he was open to constructive input around potential amendments to clarify that provision, because certainly, it's not the intent that individuals would be punished due to circumstances that are beyond their control.

What Clause 19 is really about is ensuring that those individuals who, after receiving protected person status and/or permanent resident status in Canada, then return of their own volition to their country of alleged persecution are responsible, themselves, for essentially spurning the protection status that Canada has provided them.

That's the intention of clause 19. It's certainly not to be a punishment for individuals who, after having been in Canada for a number of years, see the conditions in their country of origin change to a point where they can travel back freely, as Canadian permanent residents or citizens.

Certainly there is an openness to look at clarifying that clause.

9:40 a.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

It seems a little odd to me. I came to this country as a permanent resident and for people to come as asylum-seekers and be granted permanent residency to start a life and then if the conditions in their home country change, they're expected to leave. I don't understand how that could be fair. Could you comment on that?

9:40 a.m.

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

Les Linklater

I think as the minister and I have both stated before the committee that if there is an opportunity to clarify the intent of clause 19 through clause-by-clause, the government would be happy to look at further clarification to ensure that this type of situation doesn't occur for individuals who have permanent resident status.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you.

Mr. Opitz, you have about two minutes.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Quickly, and I think it's for Mr. MacDonald, how can we share information critical to determining who a person is, or what their status is, if we don't have effective information-sharing agreements with other countries? Can you comment on that? If we didn't have any proper procedures in place to share information, what would the impacts be?

9:40 a.m.

Director General, National Security Operations Directorate, Public Safety Canada

Michael MacDonald

We need to have the proper channels and tightly prescribed limits on where you can share, what type of information you can share, and with whom you can share. The sharing of information in a CBSA, law enforcement, or security context is extremely crucial to efforts, but it must also be very carefully crafted, monitored, and done with utmost seriousness.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

I'm going to turn to the RCMP, because I don't want to leave you out of this.

That says colonel to me, but it's staff inspector, right?