House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

March 15th, 2012 / 1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to speak to this important bill, Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act.

Every single day hundreds of thousands of people apply to immigrate to Canada. Who can blame them? After all, Canada is the best country in the world. These people fill out the paperwork and wait in line.

Unfortunately, every single year there are also thousands of people who choose not to fill out the paperwork. They choose not to wait in line with everyone else. Instead, they decide to jump the queue. They know that Canada's refugee system is broken and easily abused, so they choose to file bogus refugee claims in the hope that the lengthy processing times and endless appeals will result in their obtaining permanent residence in this country.

Immigrants to Canada, like myself, are very welcoming and fair, but we have no tolerance for people from safe countries who abuse our refugee system as a way to jump the queue and get into Canada without having to wait and follow the proper process like everyone else. We have no tolerance for those who take unfair advantage of our generosity.

Our government has listened to Canadians, including those in my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, who have told us very clearly they want us to put a stop to this abuse. This is exactly what we are doing with Bill C-31.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that the opposition NDP and Liberal members conveniently ignore the facts when they speak against Bill C-31. It is not surprising because the facts underscore the need for this important piece of legislation and undermine the opposition's criticism of it.

These are the facts. In 2011, Canada received 5,800 refugee claims from the European Union alone, a 14% increase from 2010. That means that a quarter of all refugee claims were from the democratic and human rights respecting European Union. That is more than Africa and Asia. Canada's top source for refugee claims was Hungary, an EU member state. In fact, in 2011, Canada received 4,400 refugee claims from Hungary alone. In comparison, Belgium received only 188, the U.S. only 47, France and Norway, only 33 each.

It is very telling that in 2010 Hungarian nationals made a total of 2,400 refugee claims around the world, 2,300 of which were made in Canada. That means only 100 refugee claims were made in all other countries around the world. Canada received 23 times more than all other countries combined.

What is more, in the past few years virtually all of these claims were abandoned, withdrawn or rejected. The majority of these claimants chose to abandon or withdraw their claims themselves, a clear sign they are not in need of Canada's protection. These claimants are, by definition, bogus.

Instead of travelling to neighbouring safe countries which are easy to reach, these claimants are making the trip all the way to Canada. Instead of seeing their claims to completion, these bogus claimants are abandoning their claims and heading back home.

There is a reason these bogus refugee claimants are targeting Canada. In fact, I have been told of an instance in which a CBSA officer asked someone who landed at the airport and claimed refugee status the reason for the claim. The response was, “Free income”. Well, it is not free. It is paid for by hard-working Canadian taxpayers. Canadian taxpayers pay upward of $170 million per year for these bogus refugees from the European Union. Taxpayers fund their welfare, education and health care.

Hard-working Canadian taxpayers are sick and tired of footing the bill for bogus refugee claimants who abuse the system at everyone else's expense. Too many tax dollars are spent on these bogus refugees.

It is not just the tax dollars that are being wasted that is of concern; it is also the severe impact these bogus claims are having on genuine refugees. Those who are truly in need of protection are waiting a long time to receive Canada's help because the system is being bogged down by these bogus refugee claimants. Fortunately, Bill C-31 would make Canada's refugee system faster and fairer.

Among other things, Bill C-31 would provide the authority for the minister to designate countries that are generally safe and democratic and respect human rights. Refugee claimants from these designated countries would have their claims expedited.

Under Canada's current asylum system, it takes on average more than 1,000 days to process a refugee claim. This is unacceptable. Under Bill C-31, refugee claims from generally non-refugee-producing countries, such as those in the European Union, would be processed in 45 days. Every single refugee claimant would continue to have his or her claim heard and decided on its merits by an independent immigration and refugee board.

Bill C-31 would also do away with endless levels of appeal that currently exist. All refugee claimants would still have the ability to apply for judicial review of a negative decision, as they do now, but the refugee claimants who come from countries that are considered generally safe would not get access to the refugee appeal division. In addition, the bill would enable more timely removal from Canada of failed refugee claimants.

These improvements are just common sense. These measures would help prevent abuse of the system and would ensure that all of our refugee determination processes are as streamlined as possible. This would be accomplished without affecting the fairness of the system and without compromising any of Canada's international and domestic obligations with respect to refugees.

Bill C-31 would save Canadian taxpayers $1.65 billion over five years. It would result in genuine refugees receiving Canada's protection much sooner. Anyone who has the best interests of real refugees at heart should support this bill.

To maintain the support of Canadians for our generous immigration and refugee system, we must demonstrate that Canada has a fair, well-managed system that does not tolerate queue jumping. All of the reforms included in the bill are aimed to determine abuse of Canada's generous immigration and refugee system. With these measures, the integrity of Canada's immigration programs and the safety and security of all Canadians would be protected.

Bill C-31 would put a stop to bogus refugees, foreign criminals and human smugglers abusing our immigration system and receiving lucrative taxpayer-funded health care and social benefits. The bill sends a clear message to those who would abuse Canada's generous asylum system that if they are not in need of protection, they will be sent home quickly.

Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to protect Canada's immigration system and we are acting on our mandate. I urge all members to support this important piece of legislation and ensure its timely passage.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could respond to the concerns I have with a couple of provisions in the bill.

The first is the provision of the discretionary power to the minister to singularly designate the name of safe countries. Generally speaking, when dealing with a sensitive area like this, it is important to keep out “political factors”. That is in no way pointing fingers at any particular party that may have its preferences, but making sure that we have very clear criteria when making an important decision on the fate of somebody's life and liberty.

My second concern goes to the clause that would prohibit refugee claimants who had been incarcerated in their home country for more than 10 years. We are well aware of certain situations in some regimes where people are being incarcerated for rather inappropriate reasons and would not be incarcerated in our country through a proper open judicial review process. I wonder if the member thinks that is perhaps a little too hard-edged and that there should be some exceptions to the rule.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are dealing with very complicated issues here and in order to be fair both to refugees and to our own citizens, we have to act on the problems that exist. We cannot hide our heads in the sand and pretend there is no problem. There is a very serious problem of abuse of our generous refugee system which we are witnessing right now. We have to protect genuine refugees and our hard-working citizens who finance the system. There is no reason that we should offer our very generous system to anyone who claims to be a refugee without any basis for the claim.

As I indicated in my remarks, there are many people who come from safe countries. European Union countries generally are safe countries. Why would people come here and claim refugee status when there are safe countries in Europe?

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, could my friend from Mississauga East—Cooksville explain how the bill would help us to reduce costs to taxpayers? I cannot find any reference anywhere to cost estimates for the internment of up to a year of any refugees who arrive here by means of what is described as an irregular entry. Surely there has to be a cost for clothing and feeding people, for educating children between the ages of 16 and 18, and the basic maintenance of the internment facilities. Do we know what the cost is?

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Wladyslaw Lizon Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the internment of refugees is not something that happens every day. By having strong laws, we discourage people from the practice of hiring criminals to transport them here and then having to pay for the transportation for the rest of their lives.

I hope the hon. member opposite agrees that once people on a boat land in Canada, this country has a duty to ensure that the identities of the people on the boat are well established and that our country is protected.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Minister of Immigration's Bill C-31 looks a lot more like a monopoly on the power to make decisions than a way to improve refugees' quality of life.

Once again, the Conservatives' thirst for power, their lack of rigour and their refusal to listen are taking a toll on justice, respect and equality. This bill is the latest in a long line of bills that most stakeholders consider irresponsible, even senseless. Opponents include the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada, and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, to name but a few.

All of these opponents have indicated that this bill will make the system vulnerable to political considerations rather than ensure fair, independent and balanced decisions about who can be considered a refugee.

Bill C-31 makes us fear the worst for refugees who have become permanent residents. It is also discriminatory and, as the Canadian Council for Refugees pointed out, it creates a two-tier refugee protection system. According to the council, strict, tight deadlines will put victims of sexual trauma and members of the LGBT community at a major disadvantage. These people often need time to open up and tell their story. Two weeks is not enough. But for the Conservative government, ignoring the needs of the most vulnerable is nothing new.

To think that barely 18 months ago, the Conservative minister congratulated his opposition colleagues on reaching an agreement on some amendments that would make the refugee system, and I quote, “faster and fairer”.

Now that the Conservatives have a majority, we can expect that measures that the Centre for Refugee Studies calls radical and draconian will be added to these fair amendments. While last year the minister agreed to a sensible compromise in a minority situation, he can now pass whatever legislation he pleases, no matter how undemocratic it is. This is serious and appalling.

No longer will it be left up to a panel of experts—as it should—to come up with a list of “safe countries”, from which the federal government does not think refugees usually come. In addition, no longer will it be possible for residents of those designated countries of origin to appeal their cases if their claims are rejected. This is a human rights violation. Unsuccessful claimants will have to wait one year before applying again on humanitarian grounds, during which time they can be sent back to their country, a country they tried to flee.

It is especially unfortunate that the government continues using terms like “bogus claimants”, terms that are extremely harmful.

While not every individual who files a refugee claim necessarily needs extreme protection, that does not make these refugee claimants “potential abusers”. These people may have very good reasons for leaving their country.

Refugees are some of the most vulnerable members of society and are, therefore, easy targets for attack as non-citizens in a foreign country. Denigrating labels, especially those given by the government, have a serious negative impact on the public's perception of refugees and non-citizens in general.

Canada is a model for the rest of the world. It is known for welcoming people who are fleeing persecution. This important asset is going to be lost because of a new proposal by this government that emphasizes speed and categorization, at the expense of fairness, justice and protecting individuals.

In our opinion, the government is pushing its mandate far too far. In many ways, Bill C-31 represents the unprecedented dismantling of Canada's refugee system. If we just take the example of Australia, which had to go back to a system similar to our current system, it is clear that the approach outlined in Bill C-31 does not work. The Conservatives would save Canadians a lot of time and money if they stopped navel gazing and starting using facts, expert studies, statistics and concrete examples to support their bills.

On average, 25,000 refugees have obtained permanent resident status every year of the past five years. Last year, the number was 24,700. After a waiting period of three years, it takes an average of 18 to 22 months before the person can apply for citizenship, which takes an average of 19 months.

It takes at least five to six years for a person to become a citizen, if the process goes quickly. This bill threatens the thousands of refugees admitted every year, not to mention those who have not yet applied.

The minister wants to pass this vague bill in September, when the former Bill C-11 has not even come into force. Why be in such a rush to pass, at all costs, a bungled bill that has such serious consequences for people's lives? What is more, clause 19 literally undermines Canada's commitment to refugees, makes a mockery of our commitment to the United Nations to grant permanent residence to refugees, and puts tens of thousands of refugees who have already been granted permanent resident status in Canada at risk of deportation.

Out of respect for Canada's commitment to the United Nations, refugees who have settled here permanently have and should always have the right to rebuild their lives, to work and to raise their families knowing that Canada is and will remain their permanent home.

This is one of the most positive characteristics of our country. Canada's promotion of rapid and permanent resettlement is an enormous advantage, just as much for all Canadians as for all refugees. Instead of living in uncertainty, refugees become active and productive members of our society. The feeling of security that accompanies permanent residence cannot be overestimated and should be a formality.

Canada's commitments to the UN are nevertheless clear: refugees who receive permanent resident status are entitled to rebuild their lives in the host country, to work and to have a family. They will not succeed in integrating into Canadian society if they are constantly under the threat of being sent back to the country they fled.

Canada is a land of refuge and I am grateful, for if it had not been, I would not be here today. My parents came here in the wave of boat people after the Vietnam War, which enabled a number of new Canadians to take refuge here. In certain cases, this change might expose them to potentially violent reprisals if they go back to their country of origin.

Determining refugee status is complex and difficult. It is not easy to decide whether a person needs protection or not. On the other hand, for refugees, the need for protection at all times is simple, but critical. For Canadians, the question is simple: are we going to make sure that refugees are not going back to persecution? It seems to me that the answer should be simple.

In summary, what the Conservative government wants is the discretionary and automatic power to remove at any time a person who was granted refugee status in Canada and who then received permanent resident status. This is what I vehemently oppose, on behalf of all refugees, like my parents and my brothers, who flee their country, risking their lives, without identification and who hope, no matter what happens to them, to find a safe haven and live with dignity in a country to which they will contribute on a social, cultural or economic level. These people want to go on living with their heads held high, and they have human rights that must be respected.

Bill C-31 does not target criminals or human traffickers or those who would take advantage of refugees. We worked on the old bill C-11; there are many points that need another look. I am therefore asking the Conservative government to go back to the drawing board with this bill.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I see once again that the NDP does not understand Bill C-31.

The changes that the bill will make to the asylum system will not alter the fact that all asylum seekers from all countries, by means of all types of immigration, including smuggling, will have an oral hearing before the independent decision-makers of the Immigration and Refugee Board. That exceeds our obligations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN convention on refugees. Our legal and moral obligation is clear: we have an obligation of non-refoulement of people who have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their ethnicity, nationality, political views, and so forth.

We are not changing or weakening our obligation of non-refoulement of bona fide refugees. However, by the same token, we are trying to prevent waves of well-organized, bogus or fraudulent refugee claims, often by people from democratic and liberal countries.

Is the NDP not at all concerned about the abuse of Canada's generosity by bogus refugee claimants from democratic and safe countries?

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, maybe he takes us for fools, but his claim that Bill C-31 does not make any major changes to the measures in Bill C-11 is completely false.

For a moment or two, he should put himself in the position of a refugee, a person who is trying to escape his country, perhaps because he faces persecution, and who arrives here by boat, on foot or in a group.

This bill places several discretionary powers in the hands of the minister. It gives the minister three main discretionary powers. The first is the power to designate safe countries of origin. In many situations, even in developed countries, people can be persecuted and subjected to sexual violence. The previous speaker talked about sexual persecution of gay people.

The minister can also designate as an irregular arrival the arrival of a group of persons, which is completely arbitrary, and can impose conditions on a designated asylum claim. In addition, the minister can incarcerate individuals whose eligibility is unknown because they do not have any documentation. People who flee serious situations because they fear for their lives might not think to bring the proper documentation.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have already cited the specific example of a refugee becoming a victim once again.

Imagine someone leaving his or her country to come here maybe because of the possibility otherwise of being tortured or put to death. Because the minister wants the power to say that the refugee is an irregular, it will mean their detention for up to 12 months. After the person is released, it will be another five years before he or she can sponsor their spouse or a child. Therefore, if a 25-year old makes it to Canada, he or she will be 30 years old before being able to sponsor someone. It will then take even more time to go through the sponsorship process. That refugee's five-year old child could be end up being 14 or 15 years old before they see their parent again.

I wonder if the member could comment on that.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Liberal member for his question.

The immigration process that people have to go through upon arrival in Canada is already very long and difficult. People will now risk being imprisoned for one year, which can cause many mental health problems. Moreover, it will be even more difficult for people to wait to be reunited with their families after going through the whole process.

I do not know whether members on the other side of the House could just think about all this, but this bill will have a lot of negative impact on people's lives, and that has to change.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

North Vancouver
B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and for Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I rise to lend my support to Bill C-31, Protecting Canada's Immigration System act. I am going to focus my remarks on how the proposed legislation would change our existing laws in respect of the crime of human smuggling. Before talking about the proposed reforms, it is important to contextualize this issue.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says that human smuggling puts the lives of those smuggled at risk. Clearly it does, as evidenced by the tragic deaths of countless smuggled migrants around the world every year. It is important to remember that such occurrences are not restricted to smuggling by sea. Every year, people die as a result of smuggling operations by transport containers, as well as on the high seas. It says this crime is on the rise. In fact, just a few weeks ago, international media reported that a massive human smuggling ring had been organizing a trip for several hundred migrants from Togo to Canada. Fortunately, this ring was discovered and dismantled. However, this is clear evidence that human smugglers are making plans for Canada as we speak. Canada remains a prime target.

Benjamin Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, says that maritime migrant smuggling is the deadliest form of illegal international travel and its illicit proceeds fuel criminality. Canada is an attractive destination for migrant smugglers and these new measures send a strong message that our country is no longer open for business to these criminals. He says that it is shocking to hear apologists from migrant smugglers portraying these criminals as providing a service for illegal migrants seeking to enter Canada. He also says that migrant smugglers have been linked to organized crime, human trafficking and terrorist organizations. They care nothing for the wellbeing of those they transport in perilous and often deadly vessels.

While it is difficult to precisely estimate the extent of smuggling, there is some information. According to the United Nations Development Programme, in 2009 there were an estimated 50 million irregular migrants in the world. A significant number are believed to have turned to smugglers to assist them across international borders. It is also believed that the number of persons who are turning to smugglers to help them enter other countries continues to increase.

The United Nations Development Programme says that smugglers continually change their tactics to keep one step ahead of authorities. As countries around the world work together to respond to the practices of smugglers, these criminals adapt. Corruption among state actors has become an important tool in the smugglers' arsenal and provides additional impetus for ensuring that all countries, including Canada, step up their efforts to respond.

It is important to remember that migrant smuggling is big business, generating million upon millions of dollars for transnational organized crime every year. Interpol has said that compared to other types of transnational organized crime, human smugglers benefit from weak legislation and low risk of detection, arrest and prosecution. Logically then, Canada needs strong legislation that gives authorities the tools to detect, arrest and prosecute human smugglers.

While it is true that we already have a robust criminal law framework in place to respond to human smuggling, we must continue to build on that. That is why Bill C-31 is proposing important amendments in this area.

Allow me to highlight those provisions within the bill that relate to cracking down on human smuggling. Currently, when faced with an incident of human smuggling, authorities must prove the accused knew that the smuggled person did not have the documents needed to enter Canada. While this is certainly one manifestation of this crime, it is not the only way it can be committed. For example, sometimes smuggled persons may be brought into Canada in a way that evades contact with immigration authorities. In other words, the smuggler agrees to help the person smuggled enter the country clandestinely. The proposed amendments would more clearly capture this behaviour. It would do this by broadening the offence to enable prosecution where there is evidence that the accused knew that the persons smuggled were in contravention of any requirement under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This would provide additional ways to establish that the smuggling offence had occurred.

The second way the existing smuggling offence would be broadened is by making clear that the prosecutor could show that the accused was reckless as to whether the smuggled person would be entering Canada in contravention of the requirements under IRPA.

Recklessness is a well-known and accepted form of subjective fault in criminal law. It means, in this context, that the accused was aware that there was a significant risk that the smuggled persons would be entering Canada in contravention of the IRPA, and in the face of this fact proceeded nevertheless.

This additional element would provide further assistance to police and prosecutors who must respond to such conduct. Migrant smuggling is a reprehensible crime. It undermines the integrity of our immigration system. It puts the lives of those smuggled at risk. It lines the pockets of organized crime, which in turn better enables such groups to engage in other criminal activity, the effects of which can be far-reaching. It also has an effect on the public's perception of immigrants and immigration.

For all of these reasons, we must state in unequivocal terms that such criminal actions must be strongly denounced and deterred. That is why Bill C-31 proposes mandatory minimum penalties for anyone convicted of human smuggling. It is clear that the penalties proposed target only the most harmful manifestations of this crime.

They would not apply in all cases. The most serious mandatory penalties would be reserved for the most serious instances. Some might suggest that these mandatory penalties are inappropriate and would not do anything to deter this crime. I strongly disagree and would reiterate that these penalties are about more than just deterrence. They are a reflection of our belief that such conduct is utterly unacceptable and must be condemned and punished in the clearest of terms, particularly when the conduct in question is linked to organized crime or terrorism, or where the lives of those smuggled are in danger.

I believe that Canadians would agree that in such cases, such penalties properly reflect the gravity of the crime. It is important to note that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is not the only piece of legislation that this bill would strengthen.

The bill also proposes higher penalties for violations of the Marine Transportation Security Act. For example, if individuals refused to obey a ministerial directive to leave Canadian waters or if they misled or lied to officials, they could be slapped with fines of up to $200,000 and or a prison sentence. If they were caught again, they would be looking at fines of up to $500,000. This would send the right message and ensure a more complete response to this crime.

Bill C-31 would be an important next step in our fight against smuggling. It is important to note, however, that it is not the only step we are taking. I am aware of the significant efforts being pursued by the government around the world to respond to this crime, including through the work of the Prime Minister's special advisor on migrant smuggling.

Taken together, we are moving forward in the right direction to ensure that smugglers think twice before they try to ply their trade here in Canada. I urge all my hon. colleagues to join with me in supporting Bill C-31.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite a question.

Everyone agrees that we must do more to crack down on human smugglers.

The problem with Bill C-31 is that it does not crack down on the smugglers; rather, it causes problems for the victims, the refugees. It is refugees who will be imprisoned and who may then have to pay the price. These people risk their lives, and all they want is to leave their country and to make sure that they and their families are safe.

Even if stricter laws were to put these people in imprisoned, if they had to do it all over again, they would. You can ask any refugee who has left his country because of fear of reprisal or persecution. Refugees will still want to leave their country, whether it be by boat, plane or any other means. They will do anything to leave. Yet, they are the ones who are going to be imprisoned.

Bill C-31 does not target the right people and does not solve the problems.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has long been a refuge for legitimate refugees, for people who are being persecuted in other countries.

The purpose of this bill is to make sure that those legitimate refugees get protected as quickly as possible. Under the current system, refugees wait many years before they can finally have their claim heard. This bill would speed up that process by making sure that those who do not have legitimate claims could not clog up the system for years to come. We are here to protect those legitimate refugees who seek protection here in Canada.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe there is anyone here who would support human smugglers and the types of horrific things they do for money in order to smuggle people into Canada or into any nation. I can assure the member that is the case.

As I have made reference to before, we take great exception to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism standing up on the back of a ship, the Ocean Lady, with the Prime Minister to try to portray a message about refugees across Canada and to try to label them. That was the case with the Ocean Lady and the Sun Sea. That is the reason we have this legislation before us today. Of all those refugees who came to Canada on those two ships, can the member indicate if one of them has been deemed a criminal or terrorist in any fashion whatsoever? That is the premise. It would be nice to hear from the member what the status is of those refugees.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, this particular bill is designed to deter the human smugglers, to go after those criminals who are putting other people's lives at risk by trying to bring them here in ships where they could get sick, where they could die. That has happened in many cases. This bill is designed to go after those who are putting other people's lives at risk and who are taking advantage of our system.

We have a great, fair system in this country. It is designed to protect those who need protection most. It is not designed to be clogged for years by false claims from people who do not need the protection they are claiming. We have people coming from the European Union, from Hungary which is determined to be a fairly safe country. They are coming here in record numbers to claim refugee status. Ninety-six per cent of those who claimed refugee status abandoned those claims. There is definitely something wrong with a system that allows 96% of those claimants to make those claims under false pretenses. That is what we are here to stop.