House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of thoughts to share with members regarding this particular bill. I will give a bit of an overview.

We look at Canada as a great country that has all sorts of hope and opportunity and that is fairly well established around the world. Today, we have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 0.8% in terms of our overall immigrant population, which is roughly 260,000-plus immigrants every year, and a portion of those immigrants come to Canada as refugees. We had higher percentages during the 1990s when more immigrants came to our country on a per capita basis. However, all in all, Canada has provided opportunity and hope for citizens from around the world to come here and call Canada their new home.

“Refugees” is not a bad word. The government has done a disservice to refugees as a whole because of the way it is branding refugees as being dirty and not really contributing to the Canadian economy. That is what Canadians are picking up on because of the manner in which the government continues to talk about refugees.

What is even worse is that we often hear people use “refugee” and “immigrant” as one and the same. I can say that there is a great deal of concern with regard to trying to fix the system we have, but, all in all, the vast majority of Canadians are quite happy with the contributions of immigration policies from the past that have seen a good balance of immigrants and refugees come to our country.

Dealing with Bill C-4 and why it exists today causes a great deal of concern for many stakeholders who have worked with refugees over the years. I have had opportunities to have discussions with a number of refugees over the years. I believe I have an excellent appreciation of what it is that many refugees have to go through in order to arrive in Canada, ultimately settle and become contributing members of our society. We sell refugees short when we do not better educate the population as a whole in terms of the valuable contributions that refugees make to our nation. Instead, I have found that the government has made the decision to try to come across as talking tough on the crime and safety elements. It has kind of roped in the whole refugee aspect of it, which is most unfortunate.

There are ads that say that the Prime Minister has a plan to crack down on human smugglers and bogus claimants. There is an interesting picture, to which I have made reference, showing the Prime Minister and, what appears to be, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism standing on the back of the Ocean Lady. Members will be familiar with the Ocean Lady, the vessel that had 76 refugees on board.

It is interesting that the government seems to be determined to make refugees look as if they are bad. When we look at the number of refugees who have come in via boats, it is a small percentage of the overall number of immigrants, let alone the number of refugees that come to Canada. To try to put everyone in the same group and demonize refugees is just wrong.

I do not believe this is good legislation. I believe it establishes a second tier of refugee that is not healthy, that promotes and encourages some of the negative thinking and attitudes toward refugees that is out there. I believe the government has a role to encourage more tolerance and better education regarding issues surrounding refugees and so forth.

I was hoping to ask a couple of questions earlier when the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism spoke to Bill C-4. Usually members are afforded the opportunity to ask questions. However, the one question I was hoping to get an answer to concerns the boat on which he was standing side-by-side with the Prime Minister, the Ocean Lady. There were 76 individuals who claimed to be refugees. How many of those individuals are, in fact, settled today? It would have been wonderful to have heard a response from the minister. My understanding is that all of them had qualified for asylum here in Canada. That was a photo-op that the government used to tell Canadians that refugees are bad.

The feedback I get from the average person, because of the way in which the government has persistently attempted to make refugees look bad, is starting to have an impact, and it is not a pleasant impact. There is a percentage of Canadians who have very little tolerance toward refugees and, to a certain degree, immigrants. The government is feeding into that anger by taking the types of stands it is taking. It is a hatred.

I would caution the government in terms of the way in which it continues to move forward on this issue. If the government really wants to make a difference, if it really wants to have a more positive impact it should be focusing on how to bring refugees in and process them in a more timely fashion so that those who are legitimate can become a part of the Canadian economy. That would be something that would be wonderful to see from the government.

What was the minister talking about in his comments? He stated that the reason we have Bill C-4 is because of the profiteers, the profiteers being the human smugglers. That is the reason we have this bill. That is what the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism said just a few hours ago.

To what degree would this legislation penalizing the smugglers? The smugglers, generally speaking, are, as far as I am concerned, unethical individuals who base a dollar value on humans. They exploit tragedy. I and members of the Liberal Party have very little sympathy for these profiteers or human smugglers.

Having said that, the impact of Bill C-4 would be far more profound on the refugees, not the smugglers, not the profiteers who the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism says that he is trying to hit and hurt with this particular legislation.

If the minister does not change the legislation, the real victim here will be the refugees because he has established that second tier. He says that we will now be able to hold off in recognizing someone. It could be four, five years before they would ultimately be able to sponsor a family member.

As a member of Parliament, I am sure all offices have communications with immigrants who are trying to sponsor family members from abroad, especially if it is a parent, but also brothers, sisters, siblings, nephews, nieces, and so forth. Do members know what the processing times for those today?

What we are saying is that based on the assumption, and it is a fair assumption, 99% of those who are arriving on the boats are in fact legitimate refugees who need asylum. It would have been nice if the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism were here to provide an answer himself.

The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism wants the power and the authority, which he would get through this legislation, to tell refugees that they cannot land in Canada for five years. We can just imagine leaving a country where we were being shot at, we were receiving death threats and so on, landing in Canada considering ourselves fortunate because we survived and then being told that our life was on hold. Yes, we made it to Canada but our life is on hold for maybe five years. After five years we may be able to sponsor our family. That would mean anywhere from nine months to twelve years. Considering the direction in which the government is going it would probably get closer to the latter.

Canada has a moral and legal obligation to accept refugees. We can imagine a 23-year-old man wondering when he would be able to see his wife and 6-year-old child.

I always thought that families were important here in Canada, that Canadians recognized the value of family. Do we see that value in this legislation? I would say no. The minister of immigration does not recognize the value of family and he wants to put it into law and wants us to pass it. Members need to look at what the minister is asking us to do. If the purpose is to target profiteers, then let us change the focus.

The minister himself, in addressing the legislation, said that the government was doing some other things in the background, working with other levels of government and that it has been very successful. He made reference to other boats that were prevented from leaving. Maybe the minister should invest more resources in that as opposed to bringing in legislation that is questionable at best. That would be a good direction for the minister to take.

I would suggest to all members, in particular, government members, that they hold their ministers accountable for the legislation they bring forward. Just because a minister brings in legislation does not mean that it is good legislation. If a minister brings in something and a little red flag, blue flag or orange flag goes up, we have a responsibility to look into it and hold that person accountable, just like I would have welcomed the opportunity to pose some specific questions to the minister of immigration on this legislation.

We do have an immigration standing committee. Even though I am somewhat new to the House of Commons, I am not overly impressed with the immigration standing committee because it does not allow for ongoing questions relating to the accountability of the individual who I believe is most important, and that is the minister of immigration.

There are so many issues facing immigration today and yet the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism would have us address a seriously flawed piece of legislation that would likely get defeated if it were brought to the Supreme Court. That is what he has us debating today. I can tell the House that there is a list of at least a dozen issues, maybe 20, that need to be addressed by the minister in his portfolio.

The minister made reference to the bill going to the immigration standing committee, which is great because that is part of the process. I still think we can strengthen the process by allowing critics and other members of Parliament to ask more specific questions of the minister, because. ultimately, we have the responsibility to think outside a political agenda. I have witnessed a political agenda in this particular bill and the agenda has more to do with hatred I would suggest, although I do not want to over-react. There was a bit of hesitation when I used the word “hatred”, so I will just rephrase it.

I am sure every member in this chamber would recognize that refugees contribute a great deal to our economy and they will continue to do that into the future. Overall, refugees have made a significant impact in our economy, our social fabric and who we are today as Canadians, as a country. I will acknowledge the fact that there is a small percentage of refugees that do create some problems and there are some individuals who will take advantage of potential refugees. Those ones upset me and many members all the time, and quite significantly.

The image and the message that the government sends out to the public are not positive when it comes to refugees, and I cited two specific examples. When we have the Prime Minister standing on the back of a boat saying that we are after the human smugglers and brings in legislation of this nature, many Canadians, and members can go and canvass their own constituents, are of the opinion that people who came in on that boat should be shipped back to the country of origin, whether they are legitimate or not. That is because the government of the day has fuelled that sentiment and given that impression either directly or indirectly. Tell me how that is a healthy thing for government to be doing.

I would suggest that there are things we can do, that we have to recognize the importance of the rule of law, that we have to ensure that individual refugees are provided the opportunity to appear and allow for a judge or appeal board to provide a decision in as quick a fashion as possible.

The reason I talk a lot about the process is because if we want to move forward and continue to be a country that can provide hope and opportunities, we need to recognize there are things that government can do to improve the system. We are spending too much time on things that I believe are hurtful. If we want to spend time on improving the system, the biggest recommendation I can give on the whole refugee file is to provide the resources necessary to ensure we have a process that is more timely and that is fair. Whether they are children or adults, whatever gender and whatever part of the world they are coming from, we need to ensure there is a sense of fairness to the process and it is done in a timely way. The quicker it is done, the sooner legitimate refugees will be able to settle and contribute to our communities and for those who are not legitimate, then the sooner they are out of Canada.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, we have heard some pretty outlandish statements by the member opposite. In the member's presentation, he has made Canada appear as somewhat of a pariah on the international stage for this bill and what we plan to do, throwing innocent refugees at the mercy of preventative detention. I would contest those statements.

Would the member like to comment on the fact that this legislation brings us in line with the UN protocol against smuggling of immigrants by land, sea and air which, among other things, requires states to criminalize migrant smuggling?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I believe when the Minister of Immigration gave indication as to the primary reason for the bill, it was all about smugglers and the profiteers. In trying to address the legislation, my emphasis was more so on the refugees and the way in which the legislation would have a negative impact on legitimate refugees to the degree in which it would make the refugees the victims, not the profiteers. I do not understand how members believe that the bill would have that desired impact that the government talks about with regard to the profiteers.

There are other ways of doing it so that we do not have to penalize legitimate refugees who are fleeing countries where, if they remained, they might lose their lives.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the hon. member for Winnipeg North. We are really struggling here with the notion that there is a queue for refugees.

I used to practise in immigration law. I had a lot of refugee claimants. In fact, they mostly were ship-jumpers in Halifax. They would take their one chance to get away from a repressive regime.

I say with some humour, in the hopes of waking up other members around the House, that at one point my colleagues in my law firm said I knew how to say “Hi, sailor” in 27 languages.

However, there is no queue for refugees. Refugees show up with the clothes on their backs. They are trying to get away from a repressive regime. When I have raised this point with the Minister of Immigration, and I have heard it from government members today, it has been said that there is a queue and they just go to a United Nations refugee camp and wait there.

I would like to ask the hon. member for Winnipeg North this question. The claim by the government that there is such a thing as a queue for refugees will be at the heart of the public relations campaign to defend an indefensible bill. We have to really explain to people that the UN High Commission for Refugees is a voluntarily-funded branch of the United Nations. It does not have the capacity to provide places for people, like waiting rooms around the world, in refugee camps. That is not the route refugees take. They show up here, they ask to be assessed and they ask for their rights to be respected.

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
Routine Proceedings

5 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting this way. I am sure the member will get the appropriate answer.

I would like to table at this time, in both official languages, the 2008-09 and 2009-10 annual reports of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, as well as the Government of Canada's response to these reports.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Winnipeg North with his response.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we recognize that international law guarantees that people who fear persecution have the right to seek asylum in another country. That is in international law. I do not think anything should change on that.

To talk about jumping the queue, again, is just to try to politicize the issue so the government can try to give the impression that people will be done wrong by if it allows boats to come to Canada, whether they have legitimate refugee claims or not. When the government says that they are jumping the queue and when we know full well that in the vast majority of the cases these are legitimate refugees who are seeking asylum is just wrong. Again, when we take a look at international law, there is no queue-jumping. When the lives of people are at risk, people will take the opportunity when the opportunity comes forward. We all need to, and should, appreciate that.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would assert that Vancouver Kingsway is one of the most multicultural ridings in the country. We have a very vibrant and growing Vietnamese community. I dare say that one would be hard pressed to find a Vietnamese family that did not have a family member or knew someone who escaped Vietnam when South Vietnam fell after a long and protracted civil war.

In talking to people in my community, I noted that many of those people left Vietnam by boat and in fact paid people to assist them to leave. Had this legislation been in force in any of the surrounding countries to Vietnam, they would have been treated as criminals as would the people who aided them. They would all have been considered to be in violation of legislation.

The proposed act, section 117, says:

No person shall organize, induce, aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons knowing that, or being reckless as to whether, their coming into Canada is or would be in contravention of this Act.

It is this proposed section that has many church groups and refugee organizations nervous that if they organize or aid someone to come to Canada, they may be in violation of the act. It could simply be by not having valid travel documents to be put in violation of the act and they may be subject to being in violation.

Could my hon. colleague comment on the advisability of such a section in the legislation?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is why I make the reference to try to personalize this. If people understand and have an appreciation of why we have refugees coming to Canada on an annual basis or if they talk to people who came to Canada under that classification, whether it was 1 year or 30 years ago, they would get a better appreciation as to the actual situation.

I believe the vast majority, maybe even all the stakeholders, the people who are having to deal with the issue of refugees, would not support this legislation. If it were good legislation, one would think it would get support from stakeholders. I look to the Minister of Immigration to provide us with the list of stakeholders. I would be interested in knowing those stakeholders that say this is good legislation and bring it forward. In terms of numbers, we know a lot do not support it.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, this question is more for clarification.

I think I heard my hon. colleague say that 99% of those who came on the Sun Sea were legitimate refugees. I may be misinformed, but my understanding is that there have not been any hearings yet. How can he say that 99% of those have actually been proven to be legitimate refugees? If I misunderstood him, I would like him to clarify this with the House.

The other thing I find unfortunate in his comments is the implication that on this side of the House there is somehow a lack of compassion. I can say without any question that many of my colleagues in this room have personally cared for refugees in their homes and are part of churches who sponsor refugees regularly. I would ask him to be careful in his insinuation about the lack of compassion.

We are simply trying to ensure that we have a fair process that does not penalize those who really deserve to be treated as refugees.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will address the member's latter comments first.

I do not question that many members in the Conservative caucus have a caring heart and attitude toward refugees. That is why I said one should not make the assumption that when a minister introduces a bill that it is a good bill. Even backbenchers have a role to play in ensuring that legislation is good. However, I suggest this legislation is not good. On the stakeholders, Conservatives may talk about it in caucus and so forth to better debate that particular issue.

However, I was referring to the Ocean Lady. My understanding is that of the 76 refugees none of them have been detained. This was one of the questions I wanted to ask the minister about and that was what I made reference to. I was referring to the Ocean Lady. I am not too sure about the other one.

I have to be careful in terms of what I say, but it was implied to me that it was at least 99%. As there were 76 refugees, I am assuming they were all released from the Ocean Lady. I look forward to the Minister of Immigration actually providing the information in regard to that.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly sad that Canadians must once again stand to oppose this morally repugnant bill. Immediately I would like to remind the House that the people who stand to be criminalized by this bill, indeed the people who are already victimized as they languish in Canadian detention centres under inhumane conditions for excessive lengths of time, are children, women, victims of torture, abuse and rape, and victims of the kind of poverty that entirely eradicates an individual's inalienable right to self-determination and autonomy.

Already at any given point in time, Canada is holding around 450 non-status migrants in detention centres and maximum security prisons. Dozens of these people at any given time are children. Charges have never been laid against them and they have no idea when they will be released or if they will be deported.

Canada does not jail children unless they are seeking asylum. We do not jail people for years when they have never been charged with a crime, unless they are seeking asylum. We do not jail people without providing access to legal counsel, unless they are seeking asylum. We do not categorically bar prisoners from seeking bail, unless of course they are seeking asylum. We do no jail the traumatized victims of political conflict, abuse, and poverty, unless they are seeking asylum.

Canada is guilty of doing all of this already. The use and misuse of maximum security detention centres to imprison those seeking refugee status is a blight on this nation's integrity. The bill before us today will make this travesty infinitely worse. Among its many problems, Bill C-4 states that anyone arbitrarily labelled as a designated claimant, for reasons left to the discretion of the minister, will be mandatorily detained on arrival in a detention centre or prison and will not have their case reviewed for one full year. Once again, a remind the House that this does include children.

It is incumbent upon the House to consider the health and safety of individuals when we look at a bill that commits people to imprisonment. Health is rarely considered in immigration policy, but study after study from around the globe is proving that immigration detention strategies are creating significant health concerns. A study from the Centre for Population Mental Health Research that was published in the Public Library of Science journal finds that the rate of mental disorder among populations held in detention centres are substantially higher than those of people held in community settings. Not surprisingly, children in particular show evidence of severe mental health impairment. Rates of suicide and self-harm are at a level comparable to or higher than that among prison populations.

There is a strong correlation between the mental health of refugees and the length of time spent in detention. When finally released from detention they will almost always suffer from prolonged mental health impairment due to the trauma suffered while they were detained. These detention centres, like the centre for the prevention of immigration in Laval, where upwards of a hundred individuals, including children, are being held at any given time, or like the maximum security prison in Rivière-des-Prairies where refugee claimants make up one-third of the prison population while they have not been charged with any crime or convicted of any crime, are very often the site of human rights violations and abuse. The migrants held at these detention centres are routinely denied access to any health services, especially mental health services.

Are members here today prepared to assume responsibility for endangering the lives of these people by neglecting their health? When they are eventually assessed, so many of their claims are proved to be legitimate. The government is punishing innocent people. The Conservative members of the House wish to punish more innocent people with harsher mandatory imprisonment for longer periods of time.

According to his own discretion, this bill will allow the minister to retroactively wrench a whole family or part of a family out of their community where they are waiting to hear about their refugee status. In other cases, they may already have refugee status. They will be taken under this law and thrown into detention. Family members would be forceably separated. Children would be forceably removed from their parents despite the fact that their parents have not been accused of being unfit, if their case has never come to court or if they have been flagged by child protection agents. The lasting anguish inflicted by separating a parent from a child or a child from a parent would be, and already is, guilt on the head of the government.

The Canada Border Services Agency jailed 14,362 people from 2008 to 2009 for immigration reasons at the cost of $45 million of taxpayers' money. Under Bill C-4, with the minister's new power to arbitrarily define any migrant as a human smuggler, these numbers are sure to increase.

The government must make the definition of “designated claimant” clear and transparent. At this point, according to this bill, the minister would have the absolute power to label any group of refugees as designated claimants for largely arbitrary reasons that he will not disclose. Once labelled, a refugee would be subject to the litany of unfair regulations set out by this bill. The discriminatory nature of this arbitrary designation would create two classes of refugees in Canada. This is a clear violation of section 15 of the charter that states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, even refugees and migrants. It is crucial to the integrity of our charter that all persons are afforded the protection of basic human rights under our law, including those without status.

It is the obligation of the House to not pass legislation that is in violation of our charter. Not only is this bill in violation of our charter, it is also in violation of the United Nations' protocol relating to the status of refugees and our own Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

We have to recognize that jailing people on Canadian soil in an effort to stop them from fleeing persecution and poverty from wherever they come is completely nonsensical. The bill intentionally and maliciously refuses to draw a distinction between those who are committing the crime of human smuggling and those who are victims of the crime of human smuggling themselves. It is true that people are trafficked to this country under false pretenses and are abused, raped and kidnapped as a result of the human trafficking industry. However, enforcing the same punitive measures against the victims and the criminals themselves is the very definition of the word “insanity”.

Earlier today, the member for St. Catharines excused this exact lapse of logic by saying that the human smugglers of the ships disguise themselves as those who are being smuggled. That is absurd. If a criminal wears a disguise while committing a crime, it does not give us reason to change our laws to erase the distinction between the criminals and the victims. Under any circumstance, that proposition is laughable. However, for some reason that line of thinking is tolerated when we speak of the plight of refugees in Canada.

The member for St. Catharines also pointed out that Canadians do not wish to share their health care services with those seeking asylum and who do not yet have status. I would like to state that I am one woman who would be perfectly happy to share the privilege of public health care with those who are most needy and vulnerable.

In December 2009, Jan Szamko died in an immigration centre in Canada after being denied medical aid. In December 1995, Mike Akhinen died from medical neglect at the detention centre in Mississauga known as Celebrity Inn. These are just two cases of neglect that resulted in death. Instances of non-status Canadians being denied medical attention is extremely common and this bill would make it 100% legal.

Refugees come to Canada with legitimate claims, fleeing the worst conditions imaginable. We have a moral obligation to help them. Would the Conservative members of the House be willing to look individuals in the face when they are desperate and ill and deny them a doctor? That is inhumane and I refuse to believe that Canadians are inhumane. I refuse to believe that we are as illogical as this bill. When my colleagues from the government speak endlessly on behalf of what Canadians want them to do, I would like to remind them that the majority of Canadians did not vote for them and they do not necessarily share the same values. I am proud to represent some of the many Canadians who did not vote for them and who do not support this bill.

This bill reduces smuggled human refugees to goods being illegally brought into this country. The government thinks that by raising the duty or the tariffs on the commodity will discourage this trade out of existence. Refugees are not cattle. They are not softwood lumber. They are human beings and human smuggling is not a commodity trade. Maybe we could compare it to a service. Even if we were to follow this line of logic through to its conclusion, we could assume that if this bill were to come into effect it would force human smugglers to raise the price of the service that they provide to refugees in response to the increased tariffs we are now imposing on them. Clearly, it does not make any sense.

Some of the members of the opposition have already spoken about history and historical precedent. I believe it is important to look to history before we act as a nation. Let us look to another time when human beings were treated like commodities to be levied. Imagine how history would regard us if we jailed the refugees coming through the Underground Railroad into Canada during the time of American slavery. I guarantee this bill would bring the same kind of shame on Canada. We would live to regret it.

Beyond the fact that the bill is morally repugnant for all of the reasons I have enumerated in this speech, it is not what it purports to be. How would the news that Canada has new tough-on-smuggling laws ever reach those who are actually fleeing to Canada by these means? How will the victims of poverty and persecution who come to Canada seeking asylum get the news that we just passed some tough new inhumane refugee laws?

The only way this legislation will ever be effective is if the government delivers leaflets around the world explaining our new laws. The bill clearly is not aimed at reducing human smuggling. It is targeting Canadian voters by making them feel like the threat of illegal immigration is greater than it actually is.

I join members of the opposition in opposing the bill. It not only creates an arbitrary process but indeed is discriminatory against the most vulnerable citizens of this world.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is with regard to the doors being open to legitimate refugees while safeguarding the integrity of our borders. Bill C-4 ensures that criminals looking to play our system and those looking to jump the queue are sent a strong message. Canadians will not tolerate this abuse of our generosity.

I call on the NDP to support the bill and stand with real victims of human smuggling and law-abiding Canadians.

I am curious to know what the definition of "maximum security" is in the hon. member's mind because to me it means something like Millhaven or Kingston Penitentiary. Could the hon. member please give us her definition of what "maximum security" really is?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not the point. It is that we would be jailing people who have come here looking for safety. The government is not making a distinction between those who are committing acts of human smuggling and those who desperately need to leave their countries in order to be safe. That will not be a deterrent to those looking for safety. Rather, it will cause mass amounts of physical and mental health issues. That makes no sense if we look at the situations of the people who are coming to this country looking for help.