House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was reform.

Topics

Order In Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table in both official languages a number of order in council appointments which were made by the government. Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 110(1), these are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees, the list of which is attached.

1997 Immigration Plan
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the 1997 Immigration Plan.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

October 29th, 1996 / 10 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's response to 14 petitions.

Immigration
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, it is a legal requirement that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration rise in this House and table an annual plan on the immigration levels. This is a responsibility which I welcome this morning.

The 1997 immigration plan is a tangible example of this government's pro-immigration philosophy. This government, and the Canadians that it serves, recognizes the importance of promoting immigration as an instrument of positive social and economic development. I would ask all the members of the House to not lose sight of what they represent when they look at the numbers I will be tabling today.

Immigration policy is not about charts and graphs. Every number in every column represents a human being with dreams and fears and hopes. When you skim down the columns, think of the people in your neighbourhood. Your friends. Your colleagues. People in this House. Chances are they-or their parents or grandparents-were immigrants.

We should never lose sight of the human face of immigration. Our government does not, and it is reflected in our policies. This is demonstrated in the 1997 plan I am tabling today.

We are clearly attracting the economic immigrants we need to strengthen our economy. We are also bringing in skilled workers to meet specific labour market needs. At the same time we remain committed to family reunification and the realization of Canada's humanitarian mission.

Immigration is obviously a front and centre policy issue in this country. Immigration programs have a profound impact on all aspects of life in Canada. This is true now and it has been true for over 130 years.

Even before Canada existed as a country, people recognized that immigration was the key to building the Canadian society. Unifying the British North American colonies was seen as a good way of attracting the farmers and labourers needed to kickstart the young economy.

The visionaries who met in Charlottetown to create this country knew that immigration was the key to unlocking our potential. Immigration was a cornerstone of the national policy of Sir John A. Macdonald.

Immigrants helped fuel the engine of Canadian growth. They worked in the factories of Toronto and Montreal; they tilled the land; they helped develop the Atlantic fisheries.

Laurier predicted that the 20th century would belong to Canada. He knew at that time that immigration would be a key to realizing this goal so he entrusted Sir Clifford Sifton to bring immigrants to open the west. Sifton did just that. Under his direction, waves of immigrants from across Europe made the leap of faith and came to this country. Their dreams and determination helped shape our destiny.

More recently during the Pearson and Trudeau administrations, immigration was perceived as a way of not only strengthening our country economically, but also of bringing new ideas and new perspectives to Canada. Immigration policies in the 1960s and 1970s helped shape Canada into the multicultural and multi-ethnic country we enjoy today.

Immigration has served Canadians very well and it continues to do so. Immigration will be an important component in guaranteeing our future development.

Our government is following a clear direction. Two years ago the Canadian government produced a 10-year strategic framework that committed us to building an immigration program that is fair, sustainable, affordable and based on partnerships. The 1997 immigration plan represents our ongoing commitment to achieving those goals. That is why we have chosen to call the document "Staying the Course".

We have a very good plan which has set a reasoned path. In 1994 we set a strategic course which we are following now. That is what good and responsible government is all about. As hon. members can see from the numbers, we are attaining the levels which were laid out last year. This means just over 200,000 people will come to this country in 1996.

I would like to announce that the 1997 plan calls for the same level of immigration next year, between 195,000 and 220,000 people. I cannot stress enough that this is not a quota. We do not set quotas in Canada. These numbers are targets. We do not and will not close the door on immigrants if we happen to hit the top level.

I would like to announce that the 1997 plan calls for the same level of immigration next year: between 195,000 and 220,000, including 27,000 for the province of Quebec. But I cannot stress enough: this is not a quota. We do not set quotas in Canada.

These numbers are targets. We do not-and will not-close the door on immigrants if we happen to hit the top level. These are not arbitrary numbers. They were developed in a fair and reasoned way, based on a variety of factors, such as Canada's needs, and our ability to integrate newcomers. The result is the numbers you see before you today.

I draw your attention to our 1993 campaign promise laid out on page 87 of the Red Book: "We need to target immigration levels of approximately 1 per cent of the population", considering, "our ability to absorb and settle immigrants".

The Liberal government's 1997 immigration plan is in line with this commitment. I know that many of you might find it difficult to wade through the numbers and graphs in the document. Allow me to draw your attention to a few key points.

In Citizenship and Immigration Canada's ten year strategy, we stated our intention to put a greater emphasis on attracting economic immigrants. This is a move which Canadians whole-heartedly endorse. We heard this time and time again during the nation wide consultations in 1994.

Business professionals and skilled workers bring expertise and entrepreneurial strength which is important to our economy. They have the skills to integrate quickly and contribute to the community. They make a vital contribution to our standard of living and our lives.

I think that the data and studies speak for themselves. Immigrant investors injected nearly $606 million in investment capital into our country last year. Current studies show that immigrants account for about half of Canada's labour force growth. This contribution is expected to increase as we move into the 21st century.

We have all heard people say that immigrants take jobs away from Canadians. That is one myth that must be laid to rest. Evidence suggests the contrary. Immigrants create at least as many jobs as they take. Immigrants and newcomers also enhance Canada's ability to expand into global markets and to build trade links throughout the world.

The value of these connections can be seen in the success of the Prime Minister's Team Canada missions. Many of the participants in these initiatives have been recent immigrants. Their connections and familiarity with international business practices have been invaluable. We are selecting the men and women who have the best potential to contribute to Canada's long term growth.

I am happy to say that we are already seeing an increase in the numbers of immigrants to this country who come in under the economic designation. In fact, the number of economic immigrants exceeded our expectations. The 1997 plan anticipates that these levels will be maintained.

But we are not just looking at the economic bottom line. Immigration is not-nor will it ever be-simply about dollars and cents with this government. There are other issues which must come into play. We are talking about future citizens of our country-not units on a balance sheet.

We need to recognize the importance of factors such as family reunification when we address immigration policy. The bonds of family are very important to Canadians. The support and love which family members give is an essential part of life. I think that our commitment to family reunification speaks volumes about what kind of society we are. It shows what kind of heart and soul unite us together.

I know that all Canadians can sympathize with the woman in Toronto who wants to be brought together with her husband in New Delhi. Or the son in Red Deer who wants to be joined by his father in Manila. That is why we offer priority processing to facilitate the reunion of Canadian families. We want to eliminate unnecessary anxiety.

I know that many of you will look at the numbers and ask why there has been a gradual decline in the family class component. There are several factors that account for this, including the modification of the definition of family in our regulations in 1992 and the somewhat tough economic times.

Whatever the reason for the declining numbers, I do not believe they are a cause for alarm. We should remember that family members accompanying independent immigrants are included in the economic category.

I strongly believe that we need to keep our family class commitments in mind when drafting policies. For instance, as many will know, I am looking at various options to strengthen sponsorship regulations. Some people have asked why it seems to be taking so long. It is simple really. We want to get it right. The stakes are very high and we will not be rushed.

We want to make sure that whatever regulations we develop will be fair and effective. I also want to make sure that they will not have an undue effect on numbers within the family class category. This is important to me personally and it is important to all Canadians.

I would like to turn to another very important subject to Canadians, a subject that shows what kind of a country we are. I am speaking about our record in resettling refugees. We have always taken our international responsibilities very seriously. Canada prides itself on being a good citizen in the international community. Part of this is a commitment to respond to people in need.

Since World War II this country has helped to resettle over 700,000 refugees. We have provided a safe haven in a world of hunger, war and instability. I am proud of our accomplishments. I know Canadians are behind me when I say that we will continue to do what we can to offer a helping hand to those most in need.

Right now the government is working closely with non-governmental organizations to develop strategies which will allow us to continue to meet our humanitarian commitments.

For example, last year we responded to an urgent appeal from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help resettle refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Canada committed to resettling a minimum of 500 refugees in this country. We developed the 3/9 project to do this, a partnership between the Canadian government and community groups. I am proud to say that at the conclusion of the program, Canada resettled over 1,000 people. This is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together.

I am happy to report that last year we met and even exceeded our refugee resettlement targets.

The document I am tabling today is a success story. It shows that we set goals and achieve them. As I have mentioned, we hit our global immigration targets.

In 1996, slightly more than 200,000 people will choose Canada as their adoptive home. We believe that it will be the same for 1997. We also achieved our refugee resettlement predictions. We are clearly continuing to move forward with a positive vision of immigration.

In conclusion, Canada has a dynamic immigration program.

This is crucial because immigration is going to become more and more important in the coming decades. Immigration has helped shape our past.

We are what we are because of generations of immigrants. Immigration will continue to shape our destiny as we look to the 21st century and beyond. That is why we must stay the course.

Immigration
Routine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the speech by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. There is nothing new in what she says. The levels set by the government for 1997 are about the same as for this year.

There are, however, a couple of changes. Economic immigrants take up far more of the total: 60 per cent of immigration. Canada will take in between 82,000 and 90,000 skilled workers and between 20,000 and 30,000 business persons. This, I feel, is a good decision, but one that was made at the expense of the family reunification program.

The family reunification program, which involves spouses, fiancés, parents and grandparents, will account for only 35 per cent of immigration to Canada. Until the Liberals came into power, the family class and the economic class were almost equal. This is no longer the case. In all, there will be a total of between 168,900 and

187,700 new immigrants. With the refugees, that makes a total of between 195,000 and 220,000 newcomers to Canada in 1997.

The minister does not, however, mention that some 80,000 people leave Canada each year. The positive balance will, therefore, range between 115,000 and 140,000 new people in Canada.

There is one other comment I would like to make. The government had created the category of provincial or territorial nominee. Last year, the objective for these persons to be nominated by the provinces or territories was set at 1,000. The number for next year will be the same. I have some questions, and the minister is not giving us any answers. Is this new category a failure? Are the provinces not interested in taking part in this program? The Bloc Quebecois believes that provinces ought to play a far greater role in immigration, a far more active role, because immigration is a jurisdiction shared between the federal and provincial governments.

The minister does not indicate where these new immigrants will be coming from, either. As at present, two-thirds of the new immigrants will come from Asia, particularly Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The rest will come particularly from the former Yugoslavia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Pakistan.

When I asked departmental employees this morning, they were unable to tell me how many new immigrants are expected from Latin America.

There are no figures because the numbers have shrunk and are so small that Latin American countries do not rank among countries that provide high levels of immigration. In my opinion, Canada should make a special effort to attract more immigrants from Latin America, as we approach continental economic integration.

NAFTA will be expanded to create a broad economic zone from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, involving the mobility of capital, investment, services and goods. As far as mobility of individuals is concerned, however, problems on our own continent are increasing, and Canada is not very generous to Latin America as far as immigration is concerned.

Africa has the same problem. Today, 42 per cent of the world's refugees come from Africa, this out of a total of 25 million. We see what is happening today in Africa, but the minister remains silent on these tragic events.

However, I do want to point out that the Bloc Quebecois agrees in principle with the target figures proposed by the minister for 1997, although the government is still far removed from the objective set in the red book, which proposed annual immigration levels equivalent to 1 per cent of the population of Canada.

I am critical of the fact that the minister has considerably reduced the family component. There has been a major reduction in this class, which goes against the promises made by the Liberal Party in its red book, where family reunification was one of their priorities. That is not the case. I closely followed the proceedings of the convention of the Liberal Party of Canada on the weekend. They said their record was very positive: 78 per cent of their promises had been kept.

The government's policy is a dismal failure as far as family reunification is concerned. Last year's target figures, which were much higher, were not met.

Under the Conservative government, about 250,000 new immigrants were admitted to Canada annually, but this year, the real figure will be less than 200,000. It is expected that next year, the real figures will also be well below the target figures.

The minister said in her speech, and I agree with her on this point, that we should never lose sight of the human aspect of immigration. However the immigration tax imposed by the federal government in the 1995 budget is certainly not indicative of a policy that is open and fair to all aspirant immigrants.

The fact that each individual has to pay $975 to obtain permanent residence in Canada is a major hurdle for immigrants from developing countries. I realize that at this last convention some Liberals tabled a resolution to eliminate this tax. I also realize that some members, even Liberal members, as yet do not agree with this discriminatory tax, which goes against the government's family reunification program.

This tax is even more irritating when applied to refugees. Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed very serious reservations about this refugee tax. I think it goes against the spirit of the Geneva convention, which is aimed at protecting persecuted people, victims of conflicts, and so on.

I must also point out that this tax is a significant source of revenue for the government, bringing in over $250 million a year. With the other fees immigrants must pay to have their files reviewed, obtain work permits, etc., the Department of Citizenship and Immigration's total revenues exceed $400 million a year, while its overall annual budget is only $600 million.

I would like to say a few words on the issue of refugees and displaced persons. The situation is tragic. In addition to the 23 million refugees I just referred to, there are over 100 million people displaced from one country to another or within their own countries as a result of wars, persecutions, natural disasters, racial or religious troubles, ethnic intolerance, political repression, poverty, and human rights violations.

I think that, without exceeding the general goals set by the minister today, we could make an additional effort for world refugees, especially women and children, who make up 80 per cent of all refugees and persecuted people.

I was very affected by the horrific scenes in Zaire we recently saw on television. In the Goma region alone, 200,000 refugees have gathered in the past few days. With its 214,000 refugees, the new Mugumpa refugee camp is the biggest in the world.

Again, as the Bloc Quebecois did yesterday, I call on the government to help these hundreds of thousands of sick people without drinking water or the basic means to survive.

Even though the war in Bosnia is over, there is still a problem. Some people have returned to Bosnia, but the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees tells us it is still too early. Some are so traumatized by the war that they cannot return to Bosnia right away.

There are problems in Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, the Sudan, etc. But it is mainly what is happening in Zaire that should concern the Canadian people. We must provide humanitarian assistance to the African continent. We need special programs to deal with the human tragedies facing Zaire and other African nations.

Under the Canada-Quebec agreement, Quebec set its levels at 27,000 new immigrants for the year 1997. I must point out that Quebec is the most generous province for refugees. In 1995 alone, Quebec welcomed 12,019 asylum seekers, compared to 11,546 for Ontario, the most populous province in Canada. Quebec welcomes 47 per cent of refugee claimants, compared to 45 per cent only for Ontario.

The minister makes no mention of it. In their recruiting campaign, Canada and the Canadian government should promote francophone immigration in Quebec. Quebec is the only French-speaking country, the only French-speaking nation, the only French-speaking state in America and, as such, it has to protect its French-speaking immigration. Quebec believes that it is enriched economically, socially and culturally through immigration.

I would like to mention in passing a survey published today in La Presse , which indicates that the people of Quebec are quite open to immigration. A survey released yesterday by Quebec immigration minister André Boisclair shows that two Quebecers out of three are receptive to cultural diversity and pleased with the number of immigrants coming here every year.

Quebecers are very tolerant, I have always said so, and they do not display any signs of xenophobia toward the minorities. This survey tells us that 67 per cent of Quebecers are receptive to cultural diversity; 56 per cent believe that immigration promotes economic development; and 72 per cent regard immigrants as contributing to the province's cultural richness. Also, 64 per cent of Quebecers, or 11 per cent more than in 1992, believe that immigrants work hard to fit into Quebec society.

Here is what this very serious survey conducted in April says. It shows how open Quebecers are, contrary to what some members have been saying, members of the Reform Party in particular and also members of the Liberal Party.

I agree, as I have just said, with the minister that the positive aspects of immigration should be emphasized. Immigrants make a substantial economic, cultural, social and political contribution. I notice that the minister did not address either, unfortunately, the hostility perceived today in Canadian society toward immigrants and more particularly refugees.

Contrary to a certain statements, immigrants contribute more than they receive. They do not tend to use social services as much as people who were born in Canada. The crime rate is lower among them than among people of Canadian stock. This needs to be repeated in this House, and it is the minister's responsibility to educate the Canadian public on the enormous contribution made by immigrants and refugees as well, since most refugees are young and highly educated individuals fleeing persecution and looking for a better life for themselves, their families and their children. They come to Canada with all this energy they have. They are prepared to contribute to economic growth and to employment development.

I will conclude with a few comments on the IRB. Time and time again the minister has said that the IRB is an independent tribunal, but in Bill C-49 before us, she is giving herself the power to remove the IRB chairperson at any time. Under the current legislation, the chairperson may be removed only after five years, coinciding with the end of his or her mandate. With this new legislation, she would be authorized to dismiss the chairperson after a year or two, then renew his or her mandate, chose someone else, and so on. For these reasons and others, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-49.

Immigration
Routine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, almost a year ago the previous Minister of Citizenship and Immigration rose in the House to announce the 1996 immigration levels. At that time he painted a very rosy picture of Canada's immigration situation.

This year the current minister paints a similarly rosy picture and says that this government will be staying the course. However, there are very serious problems with Canada's immigration system.

The minister is aware of her own department's surveys which show that over 60 per cent of Canadians have little faith in this government's immigration policy. Why do Liberal immigration ministers stand in the House and tell the country how wonderful things are when they know that there are major problems with our immigration system?

It is so typical of this government to put forth its don't worry, be happy philosophy instead of dealing with today's reality. The reality is our immigration system is in need of repair. The reality is that if Canadians are to regain their confidence and give their support to immigration, the government must act now to make the necessary changes.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is the type of immigrants Canada is accepting. Last year the previous minister of immigration stated that he wanted to see the percentage of economic immigrants and their families increased to 50 per cent of the total. However, to be precise, we must remember that the principal immigrant, that is the individual who actually qualifies under the point system, made up only 37 per cent of the economic class. This year, while the number of economic immigrants is higher, the percentage of principals in that total has dropped to only 25 per cent, which means that there are no more economic immigrants than there were two years ago. It is just that they are bringing more dependants with them.

This still means that Canada chooses only about 14 per cent of the newcomers to this country each year. Or, to express it in other terms, when we include the dependants of economic immigrants with a family class immigrant that means that over 85 per cent of all immigrants to Canada are dependant immigrants.

The ability of Canada to select immigrants based on their potential to contribute to our economy must increase beyond the current 14 per cent.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has reviewed a number of studies that have shown that economic immigrants have had a positive economic benefit for Canada. The statistics are there. The average incomes of these immigrants are 40 per cent higher than those of average Canadians.

In addition, over the last 10 years the immigrant investor program has attracted more than 13,000 business people who have invested over $2.5 billion to the Canadian economy. These investments have created over 17,000 jobs. This is the positive side of immigration and must be promoted.

However, there is a downside even to the economic immigrant portion of Canada's immigration plan. This past January my community of Surrey was faced with a tragedy of one such investor immigrant who killed his mother, his wife and two of his three children before killing himself. It was later determined that this individual who committed the horrendous act was over $200 million in debt in his native Taiwan. Despite the fact that this individual's financial woes were publicly known throughout Taiwan, he was able to immigrate to Canada on the basis of a $350,000 investment. Immigration officials apparently were unconcerned about the other financial situation.

While this may be the most tragic example of the investor plan going astray, there are other cases that raise even greater concerns. On May 25, 1992 Canada admitted Lee Chau-Ping and her family as investor immigrants, as she was supposedly putting money into a fast food chicken franchise in northern Saskatchewan. In reality, Lee Chau-Ping never made it past Vancouver as she continued to run her other more lucrative business of trafficking in illicit drugs.

Despite being under investigation by the royal Hong Kong police since 1986, Canadian immigration still accepted Lee as an investor immigrant. This case caused a Hong Kong crown prosecutor to make this statement: "Canadian immigration is very much a laughing stock of criminals and Canada is being used by criminals such as drug traffickers as a soft spot for the entry of drugs into North America and as an exit point for the laundering of funds".

If there is one thing this government should be concerned about it is its investors program and the likelihood that it will be used as a money laundering scheme. It is a concern of academics who specialize in immigration matters and it is especially a concern for law enforcement officials.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet with members of the co-ordinated law enforcement unit in Vancouver. This unit contains members of the RCMP and other municipal police forces in the greater Vancouver area and specializes in organized crime.

These members informed me that the investor immigrant program is an absolutely wonderful way for organized crime to launder money, for once these investors cash in their investment no bank in the world is going to question large deposits that came from the Canadian government. I hope that this government is not so desperate for money that it would close its eyes to funds earned by criminal activity.

Notwithstanding these concerns, it is apparent that Canada has reaped the economic benefits from the independent class immigrant. Unfortunately, it has been equally apparent that when it comes to immigrants under the family class sponsorship breakdowns have caused Canadian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Nobody argues with the validity of family class unification. It is a valid reason for immigration. But the underpinning basis of family reunification is that such immigration is not to have an adverse economic impact on the country. In cases of family reunification the sponsor makes a 10 year commitment to provide for the immigrant.

In the past there did not seem to be any great effort to enforce these obligations. In 1993 a survey by the department found that 14 per cent of sponsorships were in default, costing the taxpayers some $700 million in social services.

This government likes to claim that it has made improvements in getting sponsors to honour their commitments. However, last year the previous minister made a big deal about setting higher financial requirements to ensure that sponsorships were honoured. And under this minister that announcement has gone where most Liberal promises have gone, absolutely nowhere, which means that this government will continue to ignore defaulted sponsorships.

Most sponsors and family class immigrants are honest people, but there are some who abuse the system. My constituency office became aware of a situation where a woman was trying to sponsor her fourth immigrant husband in four years. It is situations like this that create a great deal of cynicism among the general public about the validity of family reunification programs. Is the program there to reunite loved ones or is it there for some Canadians to earn a quick buck by marrying foreigners so they can enter the country?

Finally, we come to the area of refugees. This year the government is suggesting that Canada will accept between 26,000 and 32,000 refugees. Canada has long had a reputation as being a compassionate country that accepts its fair share of refugees.

The majority of Canadians have no problem with our accepting of genuine refugees who have been displaced from their homeland by war or other domestic disputes. However, the majority of Canadians also have a great deal of problems with a system that allows bogus refugees to remain in our country for years.

The minister herself experienced some of these scams this past summer when she observed the process firsthand at some of our points of entry. The minister was surprised when the immigration officer had to admit the Ukrainian refugee claimant who stated that his claim was not based on a well founded fear of government persecution but rather on the fact that he was afraid of his neighbour. The minister then observed a Chilean refugee claimant who admitted that his claim was based on the fact that he could not find work in his native Chile.

If this is the type of criteria that refugee claims are being based on, then Canada itself is home to millions of potential refugees.

It is precisely these types of ridiculous claims that have brought the whole refugee process into disrepute. We now have the trend where people come to Canada, claim refugee status here and then get smuggled into the United States.

We are being viewed around the world as a consolation prize by people smugglers. They might not get their clients into the United States but, at worst, their clients will be accepted in Canada. That is the problem with our refugee system. It rewards dishonesty and criminality.

Last April a Hong Kong man was stopped at the Vancouver international airport and was found to be carrying four additional passports to his own. Sure enough, the other individuals from the same flight were claiming refugee status at the same time. These four claimants paid the agent thousands of dollars to get to Vancouver. The presence of these four refugee claimants in Vancouver is going to cost the Canadian taxpayer thousands of dollars.

When we finally catch one of these people smugglers red handed, what do they get? One day in jail as a sentence. Won't that teach these people smugglers not to mess around with Canada? These guys must be laughing all the way to the bank.

As bad as the situation was, there are even worse things that take place. In July Dennis Garcia escaped from a Montana prison where he was serving a 20 year sentence for viciously assaulting a female store owner. The judge who sentenced Garcia also designated him to be a dangerous offender. When Garcia was arrested near the border of British Columbia, everyone should have been happy that this dangerous individual had finally been captured.

Unfortunately, that is not the way things work with the government refugee program. Instead of being immediately returned to the United States to finish his sentence, Garcia was sent to Vancouver and brought before an immigration adjudicator. Garcia claimed refugee status and, lo and behold, he was released pending his hearing; that is right, an escaped dangerous offender was released because he claimed refugee status.

Did Garcia show up for his hearing? Of course not. He is an escaped fugitive. Garcia is dangerous but not stupid. That is a label that is reserved for our refugee laws that allow such a travesty to happen.

As long as this government allows cases like Garcia to occur, the Canadian public will have little faith in our refugee program, much to the detriment of those genuine refugees who truly deserve our protection.

This country was built on immigration, which makes it all the more ironic that so many Canadians have so little faith in today's system.

The system needs to be made fairer. Perhaps the minister could start this fairness by renegotiating the Canada-Quebec accord. This accord gives Quebec a flat rate of $90 million a year for settlement funds. That is approximately one-third of the total amount that the federal government spends. Is Quebec receiving a third of the immigrants to Canada? Actually, the number of immigrants that Quebec is receiving continues to drop.

When the accord was first signed in 1991, Quebec received 22 per cent of all immigrants to Canada. Last year that figure dropped to 13 per cent and this year Quebec, which gets to set its own numbers, will be taking in almost 10 per cent fewer immigrants. Even those numbers are deceptive. By the Quebec government's own numbers, between 70 and 80 per cent of investor immigrants to that province have left Quebec for other destinations in Canada.

Yet despite these numbers, Quebec continues to receive over 33 per cent of the settlement funds, which means that the two provinces that receive the bulk of Canadian immigrants, Ontario and British Columbia, receive a significantly smaller amount for each newcomer they accept.

The current system is not fair and must be amended so that this government funds every immigrant and refugee at the same rate no matter what province they settle in. That is what Canadians are looking for in our immigration system: fairness. They want a system where everyone is treated in a fair and honest manner as quickly as possible. They want a system where dishonesty and criminality are not rewarded. Once the Canadian government can accomplish these goals, I am sure that Canadians will once again have confidence in our immigration system and will support it.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

George S. Rideout Moncton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Thursday, October 3, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-41, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act, the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Canadian Shipping Act, and your committee has agreed to report it with amendments.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today on behalf of the constituents of Simcoe Centre.

The first petition requests that Parliament pass legislation to strengthen the Young Offenders Act including publishing the names of young offenders, lowering the age of application and transferring serious offenders to adult court.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

The second group of petitioners are requesting that the Government of Canada not amend federal legislation to include the undefined phrase of sexual orientation. The petitioners are troubled about not defining the phrase of sexual orientation. They have a legitimate concern that such a broad term could include all kinds of sexual behaviour.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the final petition concerns age of consent laws. The petitioners ask that Parliament set the age of consent at 18 years to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. Q-75 will be answered today.

Question No. 75-

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

With regard to the reinstatement of Indian status under Bill C-31 passed in 1985, from 1985 until 1995, ( a ) how many income tax returns have been reassessed, ( b ) how much income tax has been refunded, ( c ) for which year(s) did each tax return apply, ( d ) what was the total amount of each refund and ( e ) from which government department or agency was the refund money provided?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

London West
Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Since Revenue Canada has no way to identify the clients who were affected by the passage of Bill C-31, an act to amend the Indian Act, the department is unable to provide numbers with respect to any applicable refunds or reassessments.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Fundy Royal, NB

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?