Evidence of meeting #33 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

  • Martin Collacott  Spokeperson, Centre for Immigration Policy Reform
  • Peter Showler  Director, Refugee Forum, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
  • Noa Mendelsohn Aviv  Director, Equality Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Julie Taub  Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, As an Individual
  • Nathalie Des Rosiers  General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Toni Skarica  Crown Attorney, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario
  • Debbie Douglas  Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  • Francisco Rico-Martinez  Regional Director, Toronto, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

4:55 p.m.

Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, As an Individual

Julie Taub

Oh, absolutely. There's the Canadian experience class, skilled workers if there's a certain profession, and then there are the low-skilled workers. There are many ways to immigrate to Canada legitimately. I feel that too many people are using the refugee process as a parallel immigration process.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

I saw that you mentioned 28 days as sufficient time to fill out the initial paperwork.

5 p.m.

Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, As an Individual

Julie Taub

Yes. I've never missed a deadline among the hundreds and hundreds I've had—and we're not looking at 28 days here.

When somebody is leaving their country, they have that intention. They're leaving, they're fearing for their lives. If they come from certain countries, such as Rwanda, Somalia, Eritrea, often they come without paperwork. But we all know the conditions of those countries. We can't even expect them to get the necessary paperwork. Nobody will question a woman who is fleeing a forced marriage or genital mutilation, or who wants to protect her daughter from genital mutilation. The board doesn't require paperwork. The documentary evidence is more than sufficient.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

[Inaudible--Editor]

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, sir.

I'll just remind colleagues that this panel will end at 5:20.

Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

April 30th, 2012 / 5 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Des Rosiers, as you know, in 2007 the Supreme Court ruled in Charkaoui v. Canada that detention without review for 120 days breaches section 9, which is arbitrary detention, and paragraph 10(c), legal rights upon arrest or detention, of the charter.

Do you not think that this new regime, which imposes a delay more than three times as long as the one struck down in 2007, may also be ruled unconstitutional?

5 p.m.

General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Nathalie Des Rosiers

I think that was my submission, that on its face, 12 months without judicial review indeed contravenes what the Supreme Court said in 2007. There is no reason to justify this change. In my view, on its face it's going to be unconstitutional. Indeed, I think as parliamentarians it's not a good idea for you to pass statutes that are, on their face, unconstitutional in the theory that maybe nobody will challenge them, or the power will not be used. That's not appropriate: We owe it to the rule of law to have sections that comply with the charter. We also owe it to other countries around the world that look to us to have statutes that make sense, that are appropriate, and that do the right balancing between different interests to ensure that indeed they comply with the charter.

5 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you.

I have a question about mandatory detention. So a detention regime, as I keep calling it, for designated foreign nationals, as people will be called, provided by Bill C-31 has attracted considerable attention, because it is a violation of rights incompatible with the Canadian charter and, of course, with our international obligations.

What is your opinion on this, and what alternative would you recommend for dealing with mass migrant arrivals?

5 p.m.

General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Nathalie Des Rosiers

Certainly I think the current statute, the current way in which we deal with group arrivals, is not inappropriate. In the statute it does say, to the extent there's some difficulty in doing identity checks and so on, people can be detained for short periods of time, but at least there's a guarantee that indeed a judge is there to make sure the process works well.

We should value this, and we should value this profoundly, because that's what constitutional law is all about. That's the protection we all have, that if indeed we are found to be detained, we're not at the mercy, like this bill presents, or completely at the mercy of the minister deciding, “Oh, yes, these are exceptional circumstances and I decide that you can leave”, even if he or she does the right thing.

I think there is a symbolic flaw here. There's a symbolic flaw because it does say to people that in Canada you're completely at the mercy of the minister deciding what happens to you. That's not what we're all about. We're a society based on the rule of law, not on discretionary exercises at the whim of a minister.

So to me, I react by looking at this and saying, “Will I want this to be part of Canadian law books?”. No. I think there are some dangers in terms of the way it transforms our constitutional law, let alone all the problems it may pose for the individuals who are affected. That's serious enough, but there certainly are some problems in the way in which our constitutional law will be transformed.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

So my understanding is that the current system—

5:05 p.m.

General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

—we have actually works.

5:05 p.m.

General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Nathalie Des Rosiers

I think, certainly not in terms of.... There are some improvements that could be made. More people could be processed, and certainly you want to ensure that there is more speed in the system. I have no problem with some of the parts of it, but on this, I think there is absolutely no necessity for this mandatory detention for 12 months of people arriving in Canada—absolutely not.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

And then there's all of the power sitting in the one seat, that of the minister, which once again is, in your opinion...?

5:05 p.m.

General Counsel, Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Nathalie Des Rosiers

I think it is a flaw. I think it's against the nature of what we should expect in a parliamentary democracy.