House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Mega-Quarry Development
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by a number of people from my riding.

The petitioners wish to draw the attention of all members of Parliament to the proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon Township in Dufferin County, Ontario. It would be the largest open-pit quarry in Canada at over 900 hectares, or 2,300 acres. The proposed mega-quarry would delve more than 60 metres, or 200 feet, deep, which is well below the water table. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten the headwaters of the Nottawasaga, Grand and Saugeen watershed systems and the Mad, Noisy, Pine and Boyne river sub-watersheds, consequently, detrimentally and permanently affecting the aquifers in the area of the proposed mega-quarry. The proposed mega-quarry would put at risk the drinking water of over one million Canadians. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten freshwater fish species, particularly in the Pine River, and would further harm freshwater fish species and their regeneration affecting Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. The proposed mega-quarry would remove from production some of Ontario's best farmland. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten the Grand and Nottawasaga river watersheds, including various freshwater fish species. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten local flora and fauna, including species at risk like the bobolink, a small endangered blackbird. The proposed mega-quarry would initially see 150 truckloads of aggregates leaving the quarry per hour heading south, and 150 empty truckloads returning to the quarry, and other trucks transporting 52 tonnes of explosives to the quarry per day on local roadways not designed to carry such traffic.

Based on the proposed mega-quarry application, there are distinct issues relating to the use of water operations based on NAFTA considerations, which may have a very substantially negative financial implication federally and provincially.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the proposed Highland Companies' mega-quarry development.

Mega-Quarry Development
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I would remind hon. members that it is the practice not to read the entire petition but just to provide a brief summary thereof.

Canadian Wheat Board
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I bring to the House a petition from Manitobans concerned the Canadian Wheat Board.

As it was pointed out clearly yesterday, tens of thousands of prairie wheat farmers have sent a very strong message to the Conservative government that they do not want the Canadian Wheat Board to be dismantled. This is what this petition is about.

I would ask the government to respond to this petition.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

September 20th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from September 19 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

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The last time the bill was before the House, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta had eight minutes left in debate.

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

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to continue with the points I was making yesterday. Once again I want to express my concern that this piece of legislation is being presented under public safety when the bill actually deals with immigration and citizenship. This is a real issue. Since when have we as Canadians seen the arrival of immigrants in this country as a public safety issue? I urge the government to send this bill to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration as it goes through its committee stage.

Yesterday I mentioned very briefly the impact this legislation would have on families. We as Canadians pride ourselves on being compassionate and caring. The world looks to Canada to be compassionate and caring. People across the world choose to make Canada their home. I am a first generation immigrant. I came from England. I chose Canada to be my home. One of the reasons I chose Canada is its inclusivity and acceptance of people from around the world.

This legislation is going in the wrong direction. The legislation sends the wrong message to refugees. There are people who have spent years in war-torn territories running for their lives, separated from their families, not knowing where they will get their next meal. Some people do not even know where they are going to sleep the next night, whether they will wake up in the morning, or how many of their loved ones they will lose.

The legislation tells refugees that when they arrive in Canada it will take up to a year to examine their designations. During that time they will be in isolation and given a special designation for which the criteria are not clear at all. A lot of power seems to be vested in the minister and there seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors in that we do not know the criteria. Once they have been designated they will not get to apply for permanent residence for five or six years.

This means the individuals who arrive here, who have already been torn from their families and have suffered enough, would not get travel documents. They would be able to work, but they would not have any rights. They would not have permanent residence. We would throw their lives into further turmoil and uncertainty for five or six years. They would not know if the families they left behind would ever be able to join them. They would not have the needed mental relief in knowing they have arrived in a safe haven. We must think about what that must feel like.

Imagine, for example, a young woman with two children who arrives here but her husband and two other kids are still back in Somalia. For six or seven years she cannot apply for permanent residence or for her family to join her. What are we saying to her? We are saying that we are going to provide her with this vacuum for five or six years, but she does not have any of the rights. She cannot apply for permanent residence. By the way, permanent residence does not take place the day someone applies for it. It takes time as well. Imagine the amount of time she will have to wait until the rest of her family can join her. It could take 10 to 15 years, depending on how we do the math.

Surely that is not the kind of image of Canada that we want to project to the world. We want the rest of the world to see us as compassionate and caring.

By creating two levels of refugees and denying appeals in that first year we are saying that we are prepared to break conventions governing the rights of refugees and the rights of children. That concerns me as a Canadian. I know Canadians right across this country will be concerned about that.

We pride ourselves on our family values. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming nation. I urge this House not to support this bill because we would be sending a message to the world that we are becoming a much colder, less caring nation when we see legislation such as this bill going through.

Let us see who is opposed to this legislation. There is the Canadian Council for Refugees. I talked to some of my constituents. When I phoned them they said, “This is ridiculous. It is not a problem.” If we are worrying about smugglers, we already have a life sentence for smugglers. In Canada that is the highest penalty that can be given.

This is actually more punishment for people who have already suffered atrocities and difficulties that most of us in this chamber cannot even imagine.

As a counsellor I had the privilege of working with children who arrived here as refugees after spending years in detention camps or in very unsafe and volatile living conditions. Dealing with those children is extremely challenging. Now we are leaving those same children in a vacuum for five, six or seven years, maybe even longer.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is opposed to this legislation, as is Amnesty International. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has taken a position, as have the Canadian Bar Association and the Centre for Refugee Studies. What keeps coming up over and over again is that this bill is a draconian piece of legislation.

I urge all members to look at what it is we are trying to address. If we are trying to address the smugglers, let us focus on enforcement, provide extra resources and go after the smugglers. Let us not punish people who have already been victimized.

Let us all put ourselves in the position of a refugee. Let us imagine how we would feel reaching a safe haven called Canada and then being faced with detention and uncertainty.

I ask members to please defeat this bill.

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

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising some of the very serious concerns that we in the NDP have about this bill.

I would like to ask the hon. member about another issue we have heard a lot about from people. Certainly as members of Parliament we deal with the process of appeals for humanitarian and compassionate applications. This is something we all are quite familiar with. It is an underpinning of the fairness of Canada's immigration and citizenship system.

Under this bill we know that designated persons would not be able to make such an application for five years. It is certainly removing a provision that normally has been part of the system, and has been there as a safeguard to ensure that legitimate applications based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds can come forward.

I would ask the member to comment on that. Also, does she think this bill is removing an element that has been very much a part of our system of evaluating applications and that compassionate and humanitarian grounds are very legitimate?

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

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, as Canadians we pride ourselves on fair, open and transparent processes. However, this legislation would establish a process whereby those who are designated would not have access to the appeal process. That is absolutely wrong. It goes against the very fabric of who we are as Canadians. It violates some international conventions on the rights of refugees. To detain refugees for a year as they await designation without access to an appeal process is disturbing and very un-Canadian. Is the first lesson we want to teach those who arrive here from volatile and dangerous conditions or war-torn countries that a world-respected country like Canada will not offer them an appeal process?

The fundamental problem with this legislation which purports to address human smuggling is that it does not address human smuggling. Human smuggling will continue. The only way to stop it is not by punishing the victims who have already suffered enough, but by providing funding and additional resources to enforcement agencies to allow enforcement officers to do their job.

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

10:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I checked yesterday's information because I am baffled by the government saying that as a developed, industrialized country we have provided more support for refugees than any other industrialized country. According to the minister, we will be accepting 14,000 refugees next year. However, according to Amnesty International's website, Germany and the United States each provides support for one-quarter of a million refugees.

I am baffled by this claim and I wonder if the member has any further information about it.

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

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I will certainly be examining those figures more closely. This legislation is not about how many refugees will come to this country. Rather, it is about how we will treat those who land on our soil. Once again I want to focus on who we are as Canadians and how we wish to treat those people who have suffered through war, persecution and very difficult environments. We can all use numbers to confuse, but as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to ask ourselves from a humanitarian point of view what the bill is attempting to address.

Smugglers do not live on the boats or planes that transport refugees here. They are probably living very comfortable lives. This bill would not reduce the amount of money they charge people for transportation. Rather, it would lead to further persecution of victims. Let us enforce the excellent legislation and laws presently in place to target smugglers. We do not need this law against smugglers.

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

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Madam Speaker, we all know where our hearts are on many of these issues and I share many of the thoughts and comments of the hon. member.

Coming back to what the bill should do, which is to deal with those involved in human smuggling, I would like to hear the member's suggestions and comments on what is required in order to discourage human smuggling and, most importantly, what kind of actions we should be taking.