Evidence of meeting #45 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 chair.

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
  • Monique Frison  Director, Identity Management and Information Sharing, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Allan Kagedan  Director, National Security Operations, Public Safety Canada

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Yes. Good luck hearing it.

I just want to say I've chaired a few committee meetings, and some of them have been very contentious. Members on all sides have been very courteous to each other. It has been a pleasure chairing this committee.

I want to thank the members of the department who came to advise us. I want to thank the clerks and the analysts who helped us throughout the hearings. I want to thank the translators. I'm sorry that sometimes we went too fast. Thank you to the officials.

Is there anyone else I should be thanking?

It has been a pleasure. Congratulations. I know the opposition has indicated it's not pleased with the bill.That's the way it is. I'm sure there will be spirited debate in the House for third reading. Thank you very much.

Mr. Dykstra is next, and then Ms. Sims.

May 10th, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Thank you, Chair. I appreciate all your comments and the thanks you passed around. I won't repeat them, other than, on behalf of the government, to endorse them. I certainly agree, and we agree with all the comments you've made.

I remember that the ending of Bill C-11 and the result of the vote was a little different from what it was today, but I do want to say, as I said throughout our time of going through clause-by-clause—I may not have mentioned this during the witness phase—that I do believe in our process. I do believe in the system.

Every time I have been involved, since I've been elected federally, in moving legislation forward, second reading.... Many folks out there don't know the process we use to pass a piece of federal legislation, but the process we use is one that does have checks and balances. It has checks and balances whether we have it from a minority government perspective or whether we have it from a majority government perspective, and although those checks and balances may be a little bit different when you put the two against each other, the fact is that we came into this process, from a government perspective, listening and potentially making amendments. The outcome of what we see in Bill C-31 is from amendments that we believe came forward based on advice, based on legal opinions, and based on the opposition's perspective on this.

I am proud of the fact that we, as a government, as a committee, and as members of this committee, actually moved this forward understanding that no one can say that the 29 hours—close to 30 hours—of time we spent listening to witnesses and the additional countless hours we spent over the last couple of days moving through this bill have not been useful in making it a better piece of legislation.

Whether or not at the end of the day you support that piece of legislation is not nearly as important as the fact that the process we have in the Canadian parliamentary system actually works. It's proven through this piece of legislation that citizenship and immigration can and does work. I truly believe this is a better bill today than it was before it came to committee, and I will be certainly making those comments and statements at third reading.

This may not have the coming together of all the critics and the minister in the middle of the House of Commons shaking hands after third reading, but it certainly has us being able to look across the table and understand that the process we have gone through over the last number of weeks is one in which we have listened and we have worked with each other.

On the chair's comments with respect to how we've respected each other through this process, it's too bad people in the public say that question period is symbolic and that that treatment of each other is what the federal Parliament is all about. If you were to watch what happened here at committee—nobody would want to watch all of these countless hours—the fact is that we worked very well together.

It's a compliment to Ms. Sims, who jumped into this literally with the fire at her feet, based on the fact that she got the position less than 48 hours before we started clause-by-clause. My congratulations to her for a job well done on behalf of the official opposition.

Also Mr. Lamoureux, because he is a House leader, wasn't able to attend all of our meetings with respect to witnesses, but, Kevin, I can assure you that even when you're not here, your presence is heard.

Thank you very much.

I also want to thank my colleagues, who may not have said a lot here over the last couple of days, but they have repeated on a regular basis that this is a committee that we thoroughly enjoy sitting on. We have not only learned a great deal, but we feel we're having a pretty strong input into the process here in Ottawa.

Thank you very much.

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Ms. Sims.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I also want to echo your thanks to the officials, to the staff, to the clerks, to our interpreters, and I would say to all of our staff, who have been absolute champions throughout this in supporting us. I would also acknowledge the work and the sincerity that all the MPs have put into the process. I do want to acknowledge the baby steps that have been taken by the government side and the response you made once you heard the concerns.

I also want to acknowledge and thank—I know they are not in the room right now, but I'm sure they are in spirit—all the witnesses. No matter which one of us requested them to come here, they belong to all of us. All the witnesses, who came out of their way, some of them travelled across the country, came and shared their passion and their advocacy with us. We also heard the first-hand stories of some refugees—and I think that takes a lot of courage—on how they've taken up the battle to be advocates for others because they know the kinds of struggles they went through themselves.

I believe in process. I absolutely believe that there is a way to work together respectfully. You can be really hard on the issues and go after the issues really, really hard, but at the same time I believe that all of us do want to try to make things work.

It's in light of this that I'm going to make my final request of my colleague, Mr. Dykstra. I know my motion was ruled out of order and I was not able to discuss it, but I am really putting forward a very strong case that we in this committee make it a top priority next week to start discussing the elements of the budget that are directly impacted or directly have anything to do with immigration.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Actually, the motion was defeated.

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Yes, the motion was defeated.

I'm an optimist. That's why I remained a teacher all these years. You have to be an optimist to be a teacher. I would say that there are good reasons for that, because when we're looking at our immigration policy, we want to do it in a very deliberative manner. I'm just worried that we won't have the time we need in the House, buried in 400-plus pages. I'm not a budget specialist, but I'm certainly trying to learn as much as I can about immigration. I think it would be difficult for all of us to discuss everything.

I do want to thank Mr. Dykstra. He's been very respectful, we've worked well together, and I look forward to working together in such a convivial manner in the future. In future, he will vote for my amendments and he will make it unanimous.

Thank you.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Mr. Lamoureux.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Being a man of few words, what do you say when both of my colleagues make reference to the very kind words in terms of the proceedings? One of the things that I really admire and respect is how individuals understand and appreciate the roles we play. We have those two halves, if I can put it that way. When we're in our role, we have that hat on, and when we're outside that role, we continue on as good people and treat people with respect.

I appreciate the comments that were put on the record. I share with you the gratitude, and I just want to say thank you to all those who were involved, including our personal staff to the people who make this happen.

With that said, I'll leave it at that. Thank you.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

This meeting is adjourned.