House of Commons Hansard #180 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Question No. 128
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Bourassa
Québec

Liberal

Denis Coderre Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

With regard to the activities of the Canadian embassy in Tunis and Tunisian students who disappeared after their arrival in Canada:

(a) Most of these visitor visa applicants were full time students at the post-secondary level with adequate financial means to pay for a trip during their school holiday.

In order to ensure that this was a genuine visitor movement, the embassy established certain ground rules, such as the need for each applicant in these proposed tours to present the documentation requested and to attend any requested interviews.

A triage was performed on applications based on the criteria established; only applications of concern were interviewed. Other applications were waived the interview. In addition, measures were put in place to monitor compliance of returns to their country, Tunisia, by preceding groups before subsequent groups could be accepted.

(b) Media reports indicating that this was a student movement are inaccurate. In fact, this movement was a visitor movement comprised of primarily Tunisian student applicants visiting Canada as tourists in order to explore post-secondary educational opportunities in Quebec for the longer run. Thus, there was no need, nor possibility, to ask for acceptance letters or to verify registration.

(c) Information regarding the applicants’ financial situation formed part of the required documentation and was reviewed as part of the decision making process.

As all members of the first groups of visitors had returned to Tunisia without incident, the office streamlined the triage process to further reduce processing time. The profile of the new crop of applicants was similar to the first group, i.e. full time students at the post secondary level and with adequate financial means to pay for their trip.

(d) When Tunis received the first report from Dorval on July 31, 2000 indicating a problem with young Tunisian visitors arriving with limited funds and vague travel plans, the embassy responded immediately by cancelling the visas of travellers who had not yet departed Tunisia and re-examining applications which had not yet been finalized. The embassy also immediately terminated the service offered to this group of travel agencies.

There was no need to discipline staff. Any misrepresentation made on applications originated with the applicants or their travel agencies and not with staff members. Our review has confirmed that staff made a reasonable decision based on the information available at that time. They made immediate adjustments when information suggesting fraud surfaced.

(e) No. Employees of the embassy were not involved in the submission of these applications from the travel agencies. They processed the visitor applications as part of their normal responsibilities applying reasonable judgment for what was known at the time. Adjustments to their assessment were made within a matter of days when new information surfaced suggesting fraud. The system, which relies on check and balance and feedback, worked.

(f) The embassy in Tunisia considers all cases on an individual basis rather than as part of a group recommended by anyone. This is the procedure for all visitor applications; the visa office no longer receives applications submitted as group submissions. Interviews are conducted and documents are verified as required.

Closer scrutiny of visitor applications has been the norm since that time. All applicants, whether they have applied as part of a group or not, are assessed based on the merits of each individual case. This is reflected in the current refusal rate, which jumped from 13.77% in 2000 to 28.63% in 2001.

(g) In late July 2000 officers at CIC Dorval suspected that an illegal movement was occurring because visitors were arriving from Tunisia in groups of 10 to 20 individuals.

Effective July 31, 2000 the officers at CIC Dorval detained and referred for inquiry all Tunisian visitors who were not, in their opinion, genuine visitors within the meaning of section 19(1)(h) of the Immigration Act. CIC Dorval issued 40 report 20s between July 31 and August 6, 2000.

In order to monitor Tunisian visitors more closely, CIC Dorval also asked customs officers to refer all Tunisians for a secondary examination by Immigration officers.

On August 7, 2000 CIC Dorval ceased detaining Tunisian visitors and referring them for inquiry because the adjudicators in the adjudication division of the Immigration and Refugee Board had systematically freed and admitted as visitors the people who had been previously referred for inquiry. The adjudicators based their decisions on the fact that they considered these people to be genuine visitors. Having been admitted as visitors, the Tunisians were not subject to removal orders and therefore could not be deported.

The adjudication division of the Immigration and Refugee Board is an independent administrative tribunal.

Question No. 129
Routine Proceedings

May 1st, 2002 / 3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Lanark—Carleton, ON

What is the budget of the support fund allocated to the two national human resources development committees, and what is the mandate of both the support fund and the committees in question?

Question No. 129
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

On March 19, 2002 the hon. Minister of Human Resources Development, HRDC, announced the $24 million dollar support fund allocated over the next two years to official language minority communities across Canada under Labour Market Partnerships.

The creation of the National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resources Development and the National Human Resources Development Committee for the English Linguistic Minority is a tangible demonstration of the commitment made by the Government of Canada to help official language communities enhance their potential, accelerate their socioeconomic development, build their community capacity and make optimum use of their labour force.

This funding has been reviewed to ensure compliance with the administration of the Department's grant and contribution programs. This funding was provided for in the December 2001 federal budget and is therefore built into the existing financial framework.

Human Resources Development Canada, HRDC, will be working closely with the National Committee for Canadian Francophonie Human Resources Development and the National Human Resources Development Committee for the English Linguistic Minority to enable the committees to implement their strategic plans to promote human resources development, employability and capacity building in Canada’s linguistic minority communities. This funding complements the funding from existing programs at HRDC and other federal departments.

The support fund renewal is for a two year period in the amount of $12 million per year.

Question No. 129
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

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

Question No. 129
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The questions enumerated by the hon. parliamentary secretary have been answered. Is it agreed that the remaining questions be allowed to stand?

Question No. 129
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-32 in the name of the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest is acceptable to the government except for those documents which cannot be released pursuant to the Access to Information Act and the papers are tabled immediately.

Motion No. P-32

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all documentation including correspondence, memoranda, notes, minutes of meetings, reports, phone records, e-mails, and briefings pertaining to Lancaster Aviation and Airspares Network Inc. between the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed that Motion No. P-32 carry, subject to the reservations expressed by the hon. parliamentary secretary?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to be so kind as to call Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-33 in the name of the hon. member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore.

Motion No. P-33

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all documentation, including reports, minutes of meetings, notes, e-mail, memos and correspondence since 1994 within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans pertaining to the Tulsequah Chief Mine.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Insofar as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is concerned the Motion for the Production of Papers is deemed unacceptable due to the following practical considerations in responding to this motion:

One, the documentation since 1994 is voluminous and is housed in Ottawa at various current and archived files and other sources: Vancouver; Smithers, B.C. and White Horse, Yukon.

Two, the documentation would require an extraordinary length of time to compile given the various source locations and the need to apply access to information and privacy criteria, which means identifying legal opinions, papers dealing with international relations and possibly affecting future foreign relations, papers affecting federal-provincial relations and requiring consent of the province, and commercial and confidential mining process information provided by a third party. It is estimated that it would take approximately two to three months to compile this information and a further two to three months to have it reviewed by officials of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Justice.

Three, much of the federal documentation is readily available to the public on British Columbia's provincial website, www.eao.gov.bc.ca, and as part of the Canadian Environment Assessment Act public registry.

Four, almost all documentation is in English only and would require translation. The cost would be at least $30,000.

Five, likely this amount of effort toward addressing the motion could cause delay in co-ordinating the department's Canadian Environmental Assessment Act screening report since the same individuals could be involved in both exercises.

Given the excessive costs and the staff time required, we respectfully ask the hon. member to withdraw his present motion and submit a more specific request.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Sackville-Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore is not here to give an answer to the hon. parliamentary secretary at this time. Perhaps we could hold the matter over until he is able to be here to answer.

Is that agreeable to the parliamentary secretary?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Yes, Mr. Speaker, indeed it is.

Mr. Speaker, therefore I would ask that all of the Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed, including this one?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Yes.