Evidence of meeting #37 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

  • Carole Dahan  Barrister and Solicitor, As an Individual
  • Andrew Brouwer  Barrister and Solicitor, As an Individual
  • Imre Helyes  First Counsellor, Head of Consular Section, Embassy of the Republic of Hungary
  • James Milner  Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Carleton University, As an Individual
  • Chantal Desloges  Senior Lawyer, Chantal Desloges Professional Corporation
  • Mary Crock  Professor of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, As an Individual

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

I'm glad I had an opportunity to tell you that, because perhaps I will change your view.

Thank you so much for being with us.

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) Jinny Sims

Thank you very much for your statement.

Now we have Mr. Opitz for five minutes.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'm going to actually carry on where Mr. Menegakis left off. I have to say, ma'am—and I do welcome you here and thank you—that I find your views to be incredibly cynical. It kind of leaves me with an apocalyptic view of Australia, because I don't think things are that bad. I certainly don't believe that we're doing this to satisfy constituents; I know I'm certainly not. This is the right way for our country to go.

I'm a product of immigrants who came here after the Second World War. I grew up in an immigrant area. I understand a lot of those issues. Many of those were refugees, in their day, at the time.

We do have a right, first of all, to defend our borders, to make sure that the people we want to come to this country come here. We are a compassionate country. We welcome refugees, especially if they're legitimate refugees. We do have a number, a huge number, who are bogus refugees. As I think Mr. Menegakis mentioned, about 95% of those claims get abandoned. And we did have an official from the Hungarian government here today talking to us about that, and he had some interesting things to say.

There are a lot of security risks—and that's a lot of my background—and on these ships we have had security risks. We have had war criminals. In a lot of those events, people of that nature tend to hide in groups and try to slip in that way. But this also lends itself to trafficking and smuggling incidents. Sometimes both sort of morph into one another. People are smuggled in, but oftentimes they are then required, once they make it to Canadian shores, to pay these guys back somehow. There are invisible chains placed on them, as there are for people who are trafficked for more nefarious things, like prostitution, drugs, and other things. We also have an obligation to those people reaching our shores to make sure they are protected if we can identify them.

The tension here is to hold people to ensure that we know who we're letting out into the Canadian public. You wouldn't let somebody into your door, into your house, in with your family, without exactly knowing who they are. That same principle applies to our countrymen. We're not going to allow people to enter Canadian public life and integrate before we are absolutely 100% sure who they are and that they pose no threat or risk to the Canadian populace. That is a responsibility that we have as a responsible government, to make sure our citizens are safe.

Eventually, once claims are proven and approved, people do get to come into this country. They do get to live within their communities. They do get to integrate and build lives. And we depend on that. We're talking a lot about refugees, but immigration is an important part of our country. We need it. We are a massive land mass and we need the people. We have jobs and areas in this country that need to be filled.

We have very important programs with our provincial partners in the provincial nominee programs and with other stakeholders that are helping us, including employers, to look at how we can better manage the immigration system to bring in people, get them to this country very quickly, get them to their jobs very quickly too, so that they're not floating and they can become productive very quickly. That is a huge satisfier to those people coming to this country.

We're improving that system all the way along, including foreign credentials recognition. We don't want doctors, engineers, and nuclear physicists driving taxi cabs. We want to make sure that when they come to this country they are contributing very heavily within their own trade. We want to make that fair, so they can get Canadian accreditation and get into those jobs and trades here.

That's largely—

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

A point of order—

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) Jinny Sims

By my Blackberry it is 6:26.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Not to take the last 34 seconds away from the member, but I do have a point of order.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) Jinny Sims

We have stopped the clock.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Yes, on a point of order, Madam Chair, I appreciate the fact that our witnesses are from Australia. My understanding of the committee process is that when we get witnesses coming before us, we afford them the opportunity to answer questions that might be posed. It sounds like we've been getting more of a seven-minute lecture, because the government side doesn't seem to—

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) Jinny Sims

The chair is going to rule that we're going to proceed. Mr. Opitz has the floor. It's his five minutes, and he can use those five minutes as long as he's respectful toward the rest of us.

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

I am, Madam Chair. You are all my colleagues and my friends. We're all trying to do a job here.

I did want to ensure that Madam Crock understood our views on this side of the table as to what our motivations are to helping to improve this system, to make it fairer, much more humane, much kinder to people coming to this country. At the end of the day, that is what we want to do. This has been a compassionate, generous country, and we will carry on in that tradition.

I think my time's up.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) Jinny Sims

Thank you very much.

We're going to go to Monsieur Giguère.

May 2nd, 2012 / 6:25 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Thank you very much.

Presently in Australia do you preserve the concept of habeas corpus inside your immigration law?

6:25 p.m.

Prof. Mary Crock

Yes and no. We still have mandatory detention. Children are not supposed to be detained, but they are. We still have the concept of habeas corpus, yes.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Here is a second important question. If you preserve in your constitution...and there are differences between your immigration law and your constitution. Does your constitution declare your immigration law ultra vires, or do you have important legal contestation?

6:25 p.m.

Prof. Mary Crock

Yes. I should explain that Australia does not have a bill of rights. Our constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus in that sense. In fact, we have one of the only high courts in the world that has ruled that it is permissible to detain non-citizens for the term of their natural life. There is nothing under Australian constitutional law that prevents it. Perhaps that's the question you were asking. We are quite different from Canada in that respect.