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

6:15 p.m.

Mary Crock

Yes.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Could you please briefly expand on that?

6:15 p.m.

Mary Crock

There are international laws and the laws of the land, the charters.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Absolutely.

6:15 p.m.

Mary Crock

Detentions are forbidden. Detaining a person has to be justified.

This is terrible.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Very well.

You have also expressed concern about the fact that nothing was in place to ensure that children stay with their parents. Is that correct?

6:15 p.m.

Mary Crock

Yes, that's right.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Could you comment on that and provide us with some examples of the ensuing consequences, please?

6:15 p.m.

Mary Crock

There are so many stories like that in Australia. Very young children have been damaged, permanently perhaps, because of detention and being separated from their parents. A great deal of literature has been written about that.

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Very well.

Even after the legislation was passed in Australia, the number of asylum seekers continued to increase. What are the reasons for the Australian legislation failing in that respect?

6:15 p.m.

NDP

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

Madame Groguhé, your time is up.

Mrs. Crock, your French is truly amazing. The fact that I had this piece in my ear really helped. I really want to commend you for your French.

Now we're going to move on to our next—

6:15 p.m.

Prof. Mary Crock

Could I just say very quickly—

6:15 p.m.

NDP

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

Unfortunately, we have very tight timelines, and I have other parliamentarians who have been very patiently awaiting their turns.

We're now going to go to Mr. Menegakis.

You have five minutes.

May 2nd, 2012 / 6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to welcome you, Ms. Crock and Mr. Ghezelbash.

I had a series of questions for you, Ms. Crock, but before I do that, I want to preface it by making a couple of comments. I was a little taken aback by some of your commentary as to the motivation our government has in introducing this legislation, particularly living so far away from our beautiful country here in Canada, and you're there in your beautiful country of Australia. Certainly, I believe you need some more information so that you can be better informed.

You commented that the reason we're proposing this bill is simply to tell the Canadian people that we are doing something. There are some realities that we're dealing with here as a government, I'm sure not dissimilar to some of those that you are experiencing in your country of Australia.

Currently, it takes 1,038 days to finalize a refugee claim. These are people who come into the country—I'm talking about the legitimate people—from their own country, where they faced persecution, torture, and possible death, and it takes 1,038 days for their refugee claim to be processed. With the measures in this legislation, that can be reduced to as low as 45 days from designated countries, or 216 days for all other claimants. Surely, you will understand, as we all do, that spending 20% of the time in the system before your application is finalized and you are welcomed into our country is a lot better than spending 1,038 days. That is a big concern of ours.

We also have a phenomenon where about 95% of the claimants come from European Union countries. We're talking about democratically elected European Union countries; there are 27 of them. If somebody has a problem in their country, you would think their first choice would be one of the other 26 around them. But they come to Canada, and yet 95% of them abandon their refugee claim after they've made it and they've received all of the very generous benefits that our country provides for them. That abandonment and clogging up the system costs our country $170 million a year.

I might add that perhaps a bigger cost than that, if we want to look at the compassionate and human side of this equation, which is really our motivation in looking at this, is that legitimate people, who have a bona fide reason to escape their country of origin, are left waiting in the system because our law says that every single one of those applicants needs to be looked at on an individual basis. It's clogging up our system.

The parliamentary secretary to the minister of immigration, Mr. Dykstra, mentioned two ships that came here illegally, the Sun Sea and the Ocean Lady. After the due diligence was done, it was found that 23 people on those two ships posed security risks for our country, and another 18 people had perpetrated war crimes in their country of origin. This is from the legal authorities of our nation. They were found to be risks. That's a total of 41 people. I am sure that you, as law-abiding citizens in Australia, can surely understand that you would not want people who are security risks or had perpetrated war crimes elsewhere living in your neighbourhoods, living around your children, living around your families.

The motivation for this legislation goes a little further, and perhaps to the core of what every government's responsibility initially is, and that's to provide safety and security for its citizens. Certainly, we cannot allow people into our country without detaining them and not even having had the opportunity to ascertain the validity of their claim of refuge and whether or not they can pose a security risk to law-abiding Canadians.

These are the real motivations behind our legislation, and the legislation—

6:20 p.m.

NDP

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

Sorry, Mr. Menegakis, but your time is up.