Evidence of meeting #39 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 children.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

I would disagree with you. But if it has happened then that is an issue for the IRB to deal with. It's not an issue of legislation. So I take your concern, but it isn't in fact part of what this bill is about. It's an issue that you have with respect to individual IRB judges who may or may not have made a mistake with respect to the individual file—

4:35 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

Yes, I understand. Our argument is that it's going to become much easier for IRB members to make these mistakes, because people are going to be arriving without having disclosed what they need to disclose at the beginning, and we have seen people returned quite literally to their deaths because they have not said in the early parts of their claim that they were gay, or lesbian, or trans, and then this has come up later, and then this creates a credibility problem. The courts have disciplined IRB members around—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

I don't have much time. My purpose wasn't to get into an argument with you. It was to clarify that your issue has little or nothing to do with this legislation and more to do with the process that's in place now—a process that we need to repair.

The second point that you made is that the process takes far too long, and the only solution to that process is to hire more IRB representatives to solve these, because you call it a process.

That is, in fact, not the case. The problem we have is that the number of applications that have come into the country that are actually false, and not true. That's part of the reason we're trying to address it through this legislation. Hungary, Mexico, before we had the visa implemented in that country—those are the issues we face.

There's a volume issue, based on how broken our system is now, that has an impact. So that will change with this legislation.

The second point is that we're going to eliminate all the barriers in the appeal process so that people whose claims are truly denied, and should be truly denied, do not clog up an appeal system that doesn't allow those who are true refugees to be able to use that system.

While I don't doubt that you have some issues to deal with, the point is that this legislation is actually going to help you a great deal more than the current system we have. I think, taking another look at this, you'll understand that it's extremely good legislation from the perspective that you're bringing forward to the table.

4:35 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

With all due respect, there has not been a gender analysis done on Bill C-31. Our on-the-ground experience suggests that no, it will not be helpful. Our people will be affected.

The Auditor General has identified the source of the backlog as the lack of resourcing of the IRB—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

—which has been addressed.

4:35 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

We have already seen an increase, without the Balanced Refugee Reform Act being implemented.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

It looks as if we're just going to agree to disagree, which is fine. I think it's important. That concern went into this exact issue you're raising, when we prepared the legislation, just to note that.

4:35 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

We've suggested alternative mechanisms in our brief that would address our concerns, and I hope you'll give those some attention.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, Mr. Dykstra.

Monsieur Giguère.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Of course, I'd like to thank our witnesses for sharing this information with us.

Ms. Jordan, a good number of countries around the world currently include sanctions against homosexuality in their criminal code. Some legally tolerate what they call crimes of honour committed against members of the homosexual community.

If you are open to it, I would like to give you my five minutes. Tell us how many of these countries—countries that have a democratically elected government and a legal system but that still apply criminal sanctions and still tolerate crimes of honour toward homosexuals—could be declared safe under Bill C-31.

4:35 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

Thank you for this time.

It's important to recognize the complexity of homophobic and transphobic persecution that exists in the world today. There is a myriad of countries—right now, 76 hold official criminal sanctions, even when criminal sanctions don't exist. Things such as public health laws, morality laws, and religious laws disproportionately affect transgendered, lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people.

We have also seen an increase in what I would call “scapegoating” of our people who are tied to nationalist movements in countries. The situation in Uganda is a very good example. It is essentially a witch hunt. People are not able to leave their homes. Your example, Monsieur, of the honour crimes is another excellent example.

Transphobic and homophobic persecution is often perpetrated by family members, with the complicity of the state. The state allows this to go on and does not implement the safety measures needed, or people cannot access the safety measures needed in order to be safe in their own countries, and because of that, are forced to leave.

I can think of an example of a woman from one of the Middle Eastern countries. I won't name it in order to protect her confidentiality, but she was seen with a girlfriend. It was her classmates who turned her in to the religious police. The religious police then imprisoned her. She was kept in prison, tortured and sexually assaulted, and prepared for her execution once a month for a period of six months until she could be released, because her parents were able to pay a bribe. She was able to exit her country only because her parents had the resources to help her leave. Canada has become a place of refuge for her.

I'm going to give the floor to you.

4:40 p.m.

Founder and Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Christine Morrissey

I think at the moment the most obvious country that is problematic for people in our community is Mexico because the situation in Mexico has deteriorated in relation to drugs and the drug war, and the cartels. Our perspective is that if police are not able to take care of their citizens, they're not going to bother about lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual people. Marta, the example we gave earlier, made a refugee claim and she was denied because she was from Mexico. She had the option to make an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, so she's still here.

There's this other piece that if the country is on a list and the person comes from that country, the person doesn't get a second chance. It's true that people do fall through the cracks. As Mr. Deakin-Macey said earlier, some of the things are in the details. We haven't seen the details that are connected to this legislation. While we hear things such as it's going to be particular countries, we also heard Mr. Amble say that countries where governments persecute their own people are also countries that grow terrorist movements, or opposition movements. That for us is problematic because the people who are most vulnerable in those situations aren't the people who are being persecuted on sexual orientation and gender identity. So even from those countries, there's a problem.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you.

I'm afraid our time has come to an end. Ms. Morrissey, Ms. Jordan, Mr. Deakin-Macey, Mr. Amble, I thank you on behalf of the committee for participating and providing your comments to assist us with this bill. Thank you very much.

This meeting will suspend.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

We will reconvene for panel two. We have two witnesses. From Action Réfugiés Montréal, we have Glynis Williams, who is the executive director. Good afternoon to you. Jenny Jeanes is the program coordinator. Thank you for coming.

We also have Canadian Paediatric Society. Richard Stanwick is the president-elect. Congratulations on being elected.

May 3rd, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.

Dr. Richard Stanwick President Elect, Canadian Paediatric Society

Thank you. It's a bit of the same passion as the people in this room, but certainly not the same scale.