House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was human.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

January 31st, 2008 / 1:30 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your ruling on this. Mistakes happen everywhere.

Therefore, under motions, pursuant to Standing Order 56.1, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, on any day that Bill C-3 is under consideration, the House shall sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment and shall not be adjourned before such proceedings have been completed except pursuant to a motion to adjourn proposed by a minister of the Crown.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Would those members who object to the motion please rise in their places.

And fewer than 25 members having risen:

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

There being less than 25 members having risen in their places, I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Speaker's Ruling
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

There are 12 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-3. Motions Nos. 1 to 12 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 through 12 to the House.

Motions in Amendment
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 3.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-3 be amended by deleting Clause 12.

Motions in Amendment
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we in the House are giving consideration to the bill before us, which is to address the Supreme Court ruling regarding the issue of security certificates. To quickly recap, security certificates themselves, or a process not unlike what we have had over the last few years, have been in place in Canada for some period of time, dating back to at least 1977.

Here is the situation in its most basic form. About 95 million people visit this country every year. The vast majority of those who decide to stay contribute in a very positive way. Approximately 260,000 of those are people who want to stay here. The vast majority of those people add greatly to the strength and stature of our nation. They bring their skills, values, beliefs, hopes and dreams for the future. Our country is strengthened by that and made a better place. But among the people who come here every year, there will always be a few who should be deemed inadmissible because they are a threat to our country.

Our country has a very generous system for people to appeal a notice of inadmissibility. The process of appeal can take quite a period of time. There are a number of different levels at which a person can appeal. What does a government do?

Any government's first responsibility should be the safety and security of its citizens. There are some people who arrive on our shores who are identified by intelligence agencies, because of information the agencies have, as possible terrorists or who have strong terrorist affiliations. They may be active members of an organized crime organization. They could be serious present and imminent threats to our own people. When people are told they are inadmissible and have to return to their countries of origin, they begin the appeal process, which can take years.

Actually, most people who decide to appeal a particular notice of inadmissibility or an order which does not allow them to come in are not security risks. They may have other issues, but they are not security risks. However, from time to time there are individuals who are deemed to be so dangerous and such a risk to our own citizens that we cannot contemplate allowing them to move around the country at will for possibly a number of years while they appeal the order to be removed. Therefore, a system of detaining them was put in place whereby a certificate would be signed.

The security agencies themselves, and in many cases it is our own intelligence service, will present to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in confidence the reasons a person should be declared dangerous. They will ask that a certificate be signed. The person would then be detained while appealing his or her status.

It does not stop there. That security certificate has to go before a judge to make sure that it complies with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the vast framework of other guarantees and rights that are available to individuals. When a judge grants it, the security certificate comes into play and the person can be detained. If the individual's appeal process takes a year, two years or three years, the person is detained in a detention facility.

The interesting thing about the nature of that detention is that detainees are allowed to leave the facility any time they want, if they choose to go back to their countries of origin. Some choose not to do that for some obvious reasons.

This whole process was challenged and validated at a number of levels right up to the Federal Court of Appeal and found to be constitutional, until last February 2007 when the security certificate process was challenged. The Supreme Court, although not saying the entire process was unconstitutional, pointed out a couple of areas that had to be strengthened if the process was going to remain in place.

That is what we have done. We have taken the time not just legislatively but to consult with a variety of individuals, groups and organizations across the country to deal with the two areas mentioned by the Supreme Court.

The first is the notion of having a special advocate dedicated to the interests of the person being detained. That person can already have his or her own counsel, and in most cases already does. The special advocate has special powers to review all the confidential classified information that the intelligence services have brought forward against the person declaring him or her to be dangerous. That obviously is information which cannot be made public because it has to do with our national security. It has to do with people who work for our intelligence services and how they acquire certain information. That information does at least have to be seen in confidence by a judge.

Now we have arranged in the legislation for a special advocate with powers to see the classified information, for the ability to talk to the person who is being detained. There is still the provision that once they have seen all this classified information to do with national security, they cannot discuss that with the person being detained.

An addition has been made to the legislation, clause 85.2(c), which would allow the advocate to appeal to the judge for any other type of special power that he or she deems necessary to complete the work and properly protect the interests of the person being detained. It is a catch-all phrase to cover unanticipated circumstances that may come up.

The special advocate can also challenge the witnesses, the intelligence officers and the information itself.

Broadly speaking, we believe the special advocacy provision has been addressed and will give significantly increased protection to the rights of the detained individual.

The other area of concern to the Supreme Court justice was the length of time of detention without a possible review. Presently, if a person who is being detained is a permanent resident, he or she can have a review of that order within 48 hours and then automatically every six months. Until recently, foreign nationals could have a single review 120 days from the time the certificate was put in place. We have changed that to allow them to have the same footing as permanent residents. They can have that certificate reviewed every 48 hours and then every six months. We believe we have addressed that.

We have also looked at another clause called the privative clause. This is in the IRPA itself. As it exists now, that clause limits the amount of judicial review on a case like this. We have removed that to give even greater breadth.

There is a difference between criminal proceedings and immigration proceedings. In a criminal proceeding, a person has broken the law and proceedings start so that can be proven in a court of law. The person can be not just charged but convicted and in fact detained in a penitentiary, in the jail system, for punitive reasons and for rehabilitative reasons. That is entirely different from an immigration review process, which is done simply to determine and protect the safety and security of our citizens.

Those are the main elements of the bill before us. I would encourage all colleagues to set aside partisanship to realize that the security certificates have been proven not to threaten the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians. As a matter of fact, the security certificate cannot even be applied against a Canadian citizen. It can only be used on foreign nationals or those who are not Canadian citizens.

Further to that, since 2001, with about a quarter of a million people a year coming into our country, these certificates have only been applied in six particular cases, or it could be argued that it is seven cases. They have been applied in literally a handful of cases. This is where a judge has agreed, not just with me as public safety minister and public safety ministers before me but also with the intelligence information, that the persons who are deemed to need detention have either significant terrorist affiliations or are significantly involved or deemed to be involved with violent possibly international criminal organizations. These are people who are deemed to be so dangerous, with the necessary documentation provided to satisfy a judge, that they should not be allowed to be in our country. This provision has not been applied in a haphazard fashion. It has been done very carefully.

If we do not have these in place and pass the bill, the security certificate system will collapse. The Supreme Court gave us a year to do this. The year is almost up. I believe we have honoured the declarations of the Supreme Court and at the same time we have balanced individual rights and freedoms along with security interests.

Our country will be safer because of the security certificate provisions being in place, but our country and our citizens will be somewhat at risk if the system is allowed to collapse.

I ask members, especially those opposite, in a non-partisan way to consider the important nature of the provisions that we have attained today and to pass this bill.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago we had a vote in this House where Standing Order 56.1 was used and 25 members were required to stand in order to defeat a motion by the government to continue the debate on Bill C-3. In actual fact, if you look at Standing Order 56.1(1)(a), it is quite clear and I quote:

In relation to any routine motion for the presentation of which unanimous consent is required and has been denied, a Minister of the Crown may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker propose the said question to the House.

At that time we were not in routine proceedings. We had passed routine proceedings in the second vote. I believe that had the government wanted to go back and have that vote taken again, it would have required a motion to return to routine proceedings, a unanimous consent decision, and then if the government so chose, we would have returned to routine proceedings and it could have moved the motion.

I believe that the vote that we took under Standing Order 56.1 should not have been allowed under Standing Order 56.1 because we were actually not in routine proceedings. I believe that this vote should not be allowed to stand. If the government chooses to return to that point, it can try to do that, but that vote was not valid in this House because we were not in routine proceedings and therefore, Standing Order 56.1 could not be used.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the point of view of the House leader for the New Democratic Party, but as you know because there were some consultations between the Chair and myself prior to your decision to retake that vote, they were unusual circumstances in the sense that it would negate the need for unanimous consent of the chamber to return to routine proceedings.

Mr. Speaker, I fully support your decision to recognize that an unfortunate error had been made and that you made the decision as the Chair, having the decision earlier that you believed that 15 members was all that was necessary to stand. It was in doubt as to whether there were 25 or not because we had not counted that far, as you yourself stated, that you made the decision to simply retake that vote. I think it was the right decision and I believe it should stand.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the government whip, an unusual situation is his opinion and he is certainly entitled to it, but an unusual situation does not negate the use of the rules in this House. Otherwise how would we ever operate?

I think my point is very valid, that just because there is a discussion between the government whip and the Speaker where an agreement is made that we can just have this vote again does not negate the Standing Orders and the rules we have in this House.

Clearly, Standing Order 56.1 cannot be used unless it is in routine proceedings. We were not in routine proceedings. So whatever the member on the government side thinks, that is his opinion, fine and dandy, but we are using the rules of this House. That is how he rose in the first place. I believe that there is an inconsistency here and a contradiction and that the vote is invalid.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, obviously I do not want to prolong this into a debate and I am sure neither do you. First, I point out that the hon. member, if she was going to dispute that vote, she should have done it at the time, and not waited until we were into the debate and then raise this issue. She had the opportunity to raise it. Second, it is very unfortunate, I will be kind and use that term, to challenge the Chair. The Chair made a decision. We on this side of the House want to stand by that decision and support your decision.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the record, I was sitting behind the member for Vancouver East, the NDP House leader. She very clearly called “point of order” a number of times. She was trying to raise that objection even as the whip from the government side was trying to move the House in a way that very clearly the Standing Orders do not permit, according to the House leader. I am here as a witness that the House leader for the NDP, the member for Vancouver East, very clearly called “point of order” a number of times.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak in this debate. It is very important because we are establishing a precedent.

It seems very clear to me that, pursuant to Standing Order 56.1 of the Annotated Standing Orders of the House of Commons, page 209, this type of government motion can only be put under Routine Proceedings, under the heading “Motions”. It states:

In relation to any routine motion for the presentation of which unanimous consent is required and has been denied, a Minister of the Crown may request during Routine Proceedings that the Speaker propose the said question to the House.

Pursuant to Standing Order 56.1(2):

The question on any such motion shall be put forthwith, without debate or amendment.

Pursuant to Standing Order 56.1(3):

When the Speaker puts the question on such a motion, he or she shall ask those who object to rise in their places. If twenty-five or more Members then rise, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn; otherwise, the motion shall have been adopted.

It clearly states “during Routine Proceedings” under the heading “Motions”. We were no longer there.

In my opinion, the point made by the House Leader of the New Democratic Party is valid. We would be creating a precedent that would allow a minister of the government to make a motion at any time during a debate and if there were not 25 members of the opposition present to oppose it, the motion would be adopted.

In my opinion, this decision should be reviewed. I am counting on your judgment, which is not only practical but eminently fair, to correct the situation.

Use of Standing Order 56.1
Points of Order
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I thank hon. members for their interventions on this matter. I want to reiterate that, notwithstanding the sometimes persuasive powers of the government whip, I have never been one to be pushed around by the government whip in any of his incarnations.

What I decided to do was on the basis that the Chair had made a mistake. It was not that the House had made a mistake, but that the Chair had made a mistake and had been in possession of the wrong documents and therefore the procedure relevant to Standing Order 56.1 had not happened in the appropriate way. To seek the unanimous consent of the House, of course, would have been to create a situation in which the correction of the error would have been impossible. It was the decision of the Chair.

I will take these matters under advisement and discuss it with the Speaker, but for now the decision certainly stands. I reiterate that it was a decision of the Chair in an attempt to correct a mistake that had been made here, and it was corrected with the intention of giving the House the opportunity to express itself in the way that Standing Order 56.1 actually requires.

We will move to questions and comments on the speech of the hon. Minister of Public Safety, with the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.