Evidence of meeting #44 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 detention.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jennifer Irish  Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Matthew Oommen  Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Scott Nesbitt  Counsel, Canada Border Services Agency, Department of Justice
  • Nicole Lefebvre  Acting Director, Inland Enforcement, Programs Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
  • Allan Kagedan  Director, National Security Operations, Public Safety Canada

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Okay, we'll vote again. It's irregular, but we do things like that sometimes.

(Amendment negatived)

We now turn to LIB-21, Mr. Lamoureux.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, I would move that Bill C-31 in clause 25 be amended by adding after line 38 on page 13 the following:

(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to a designated foreign national who is accompanied by his or her child who is 18 years of age or younger.

Again, I would emphasize that the current system works, Mr. Chairperson. In essence, this motion, if passed, would help keep families together.

We heard from presenter after presenter how important it is to keep families together. I think the worst thing we could be telling a refugee who arrives with a 10-year-old child is that you, as the parent, are going to be going into a detention centre. We know that quite often it is a provincial jail. You can take your 10-year-old child with you or you can have your 10-year-old go into some form of child foster home or something of that nature. I think that would be a cruel decision to force a parent to make.

This amendment, if passed, would help deal with that particular issue. I would encourage all members to support this amendment.

(Amendment negatived)

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

What are you doing, Mr. Dykstra? Is this a point of order?

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

No. I thought you were asking whether I was speaking to Liberal amendment 21. I thought you were asking me if I was speaking to it, and I was not.

I actually want to move our amendment to clause 25. I'll read it out loud.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Just wait one moment, please.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

We have distributed it.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Well, I don't have it, but that's fine.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

That's fine. Go ahead. I'll wait.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Are you ready, Mr. Dykstra?

May 10th, 2012 / 10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Chair, I move that Bill C-31 in clause 25 be amended by (a) replacing lines 22 to 25 on page 13 with the following:

the reason for their continued detention within 14 days after the day on which that person is taken into detention or without delay afterward.

And then (b), Mr. Chair, replacing lines 30 to 34 on page 13 with the following:

detention on the expiry of six months following the conclusion of the previous review and may not do so before the expiry of that date.

Mr. Chair, we've gone through a number...well, not to mention the number of amendments, the vast array of presentations, discussions, feelings, perspectives, and beliefs on what the issue of detention should represent in terms of overview and review. It's our feeling, and I said at the outset of the Liberal and NDP amendments on clause 25, that we would in fact be moving amendments to this clause. We heard from everyone who witnessed and commented on the issue that there was in fact, or should be in fact, some form of review that would take place during that timeframe.

I think it's important to note that the new timeframe, in terms of an individual case for refugee status, is going to move much quicker than in the past. Mr. Menegakis has on several occasions gone through the timeframe and the length upon which decisions are delayed, do not come to a conclusion, and take over a thousand days to come to...much longer than the 12-month period we're talking about here. The new legislation will actually move that process forward in an expedited and fair way, both for those who would achieve refugee status and for the sake of those who do not achieve refugee status in that they do not have to wait months and years for a decision.

The fact that there is a 12-month detention period within the bill certainly doesn't speak to the timeframe upon which decisions will be rendered under the legislation, but having said that, there may be circumstances where individuals are detained for a period of over three or four months, and it could be up to a year.

The amendments I've moved to include within the bill this morning, Chair, I think—no, not I think; I believe and I know they have addressed the issues brought forward. There will now be a review within 14 days after the day the individual has been detained. Within 14 days, they will have the right to a review, and at the six months’ timeframe, if they are still in detention, which a vast majority will not be, but if they are they are then afforded another review.

I know that my colleagues on the other side of the House and on the other side of the table here this morning have indicated they would like a second or a third review to happen much quicker. That's their position.

The fact that we are offering up two reviews within that 12-month timeframe shows that the government not only has responded but, to be fair, has also listened to the concerns. We believe, Chair, that this will in fact solidify the issue pertaining to detention.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Ms. Sims, go ahead.

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Chair, I have an amendment. We don't have printed copies, so I'm going to beg indulgence. It's fairly straightforward, so I will read the amendment into the record.

I move that Bill C-311 in clause 25 be amended by replacing lines 22 to 25 on page 13 with the following:

the reasons for their continued detention within seven days

The rest of that sentence would stay the same. Then “six months” would be amended to “30 days”. After the word “review”, we would have a comma, and it would say:

and every 30 days thereafter.

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Does everyone understand the amendment to the amendment?

Ms. Sims, do you wish to speak on this?

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Yes, I would like to speak to it.

I want to acknowledge that the minister and my colleagues across the way certainly did listen and hear the concerns expressed by the myriad number of experts, as Mr. Dykstra said, whether they were advocacy groups, lawyers, or refugees themselves, who came forward and talked about the legalities of this and the concerns around detention.

Let me put it on the record: we are still against mandatory detention. We're still against the two-tier approach, but we are also here to try to mitigate this bill as far as we can, and to make it work. We did try a previous amendment in which we wanted a review done within 48 hours.

In light of the fact that the government feels that is not doable, and also the fact that our amendment was defeated, we are here with a compromise in the form of this subamendment, and we are now saying seven days. I think to have seven days for the initial review is very generous. And we're looking at people who are imprisoned; we're not talking about people who are walking around out there. I'm certainly hoping that my colleagues will be open to that.

The other is that after that initial review there should be reviews every 30 days, and once again, that's doable. We are not saying that everybody who comes to our shores by whichever means should just walk in without going through certain checks. We realize identification and security checks have to be done.

At the same time, we don't feel we should be welcoming asylum seekers—just because of their mode of arrival or because of the numbers they arrive in—by putting all of them in detention, in jail, for 14 days without their even getting a chance for review, and then six months after that...?

I think when we look at our rule of law and habeas corpus and various existing conventions, this is way over the top, and as much as I appreciate the move made by the government...I want to acknowledge that and get that on the record. At the same time, I feel it does not go far enough. One of the basic things we value is our liberty, and what we want for ourselves, we want for others. So to take away somebody's liberty for 14 days before they even get to find out what's going on and get a chance to present a case, I'm sure is not humane. It will also contravene many....

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not going to get into the legalese.

Also, six months after that...that's a long time. With the current system...I know I've heard my colleague say we need that 12 months. I want to remind all of us, we have more than 12 months now. Mr. Dykstra, I'm sure you know we still have people from the boat situation in custody; they haven't been released yet.

Our current legislation, including Bill C-11, covers a lot of the concerns we have, and I hope the government will look at this subamendment in the way it is meant. It is meant in good faith to make something work, and we also heard your concerns around the 48 hours, so we've gone to the seven days. We certainly hope you would support this.

It would be good to get unanimous support for an opposition amendment.

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

I admire you because you never give up.