House of Commons Hansard #108 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

6 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. minister’s speech. My concerns were not addressed.

One very important aspect that we have discussed quite often and that, unfortunately, has not been addressed satisfactorily is the question of designated foreign nationals in the context of a system of countries targeted as unsafe. The minister and the government are claiming that this approach in itself is going to combat this method of illegal immigration, but they are unable to show us how that might be done.

In the past, they used as their pretext examples of mass illegal immigration, including the arrival by boat of smugglers who exploited the good faith of people who wanted to immigrate to Canada. Then they hand us a bill like this, when a life sentence can already be imposed on people convicted of human smuggling under the existing legislation.

Given that we are unable to prevent this kind of immigration at present, probably because of a lack of resources, how can the minister guarantee to this House that this legislation will really resolve the situation if we do not have the resources to enforce it?

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question, but, frankly, I am not entirely sure I understood.

I can say that we are increasing prison sentences for human smugglers. For example, fines are imposed on the boat owners who help smuggle people into Canada.

The problem is that it is very difficult to apply Canadian law to the smugglers who live overseas. That is why we need to include deterrents in the bill for the potential clients of the smugglers. That is why we are proposing a five-year temporary residence period instead of permanent residence for immigrants who arrive here illegally and who are recognized as protected persons. We have to have deterrents for the clients in order to reduce the human smuggling market.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister is wrong on many points. When he makes reference to the most generous government in terms of immigration into the country, it is not this minister and not this government. If he does not have the facts I can provide him with a copy of the facts, which I would be more than happy to table. The most successful immigration program in recent history is the provincial nominee program which had nothing to do with the current minister or prime minister. It was a Jean Chrétien program. It is in fact the best, fastest growing immigration program.

I have a picture of the Minister of Immigration standing on a ship with the Prime Minister, at the time of the Ocean Lady and the Sun Sea, talking about how tough he is going to be on profiteers and human smugglers. In reality, this bill is going to do more damage and make double victims of legitimate refugees who come to our shore. He is making refugees victims again. This is a minister who has a power grab. It is this minister who wants to--

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please.

I know it has been two weeks, but I would just remind hon. members that the time allocated for questions and comments is limited and they may want to keep about one minute for a question, and a response is in order. Then more hon. members would have the opportunity to pose a question.

The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, here are some points of fact. The average number of permanent residents admitted from 1993 to 2005 under the previous government was 222,000. Since this government took office in 2006, we have admitted on average 254,000 permanent residents per year, the highest sustained level in Canadian history. With respect to the PN program to which the member referred, in 2005, 4,700 PNs were admitted to Manitoba and this year, 12,000. We have tripled the number of PNs going to Manitoba. We have increased the program overall nationally tenfold. We have increased those numbers.

Finally, why is it that the Liberal Party has not yet offered a single concrete or positive idea to deter human smugglers from putting people's lives at risk by targeting Canada as a place for their odious commerce?

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate with the hon. member for Mississauga South, I will let her know that I will have to interrupt her at 15 minutes after the hour as this is the time allocated today for government orders.

The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

April 23rd, 2012 / 6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have this brief opportunity to discuss Bill C-31 and how it proposes much needed reforms to secure our immigration system.

A number of my colleagues have spoken on this matter and illustrated a number of safeguards Bill C-31 contains to ensure that Canada will take a prudent and balanced approach to protecting the immigration system from abuse. Both the government and opposition parties have noted with pride that Canada has a long tradition of providing protection to those who are in need of it. With Canada accepting 1 out of every 10 refugee claims made in the world, it is very clear that the Canadian system is the most compassionate and generous in the world today. As a government, members on this side of the House have every intention of continuing to build on that great tradition.

Refugees who make honest claims and come to Canada because they truly need protection have nothing to fear. There will always be a place in Canada for them for as long as they need it. Canadians have given us a strong mandate to protect Canada's immigration system. We are acting on that mandate. We are creating a faster and fairer immigration system.

The Globe and Mail editorial board has applauded Bill C-31. Listen to what it had to say:

[The] Immigration Minister...['s] refugee reforms, aimed at making the process more efficient and decisive, are generally good. If implemented, they will improve an unwieldy asylum program...

The legislation rightly focuses on weeding out claimants who are not genuine, and stemming the flow of asylum seekers from countries such as Mexico and Hungary that are democracies with respect for basic rights and freedoms....

Fast-tracking refugee claims from these countries, and ensuring failed claimants are promptly deported, is an excellent way to ensure Canada does not become a magnet for abuse. The bill will also implement biometric identification, such as fingerprints and photos, for people who apply for visitor's visas. This welcome change will guard against the use of false identities.

What I would like to see acknowledged by the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party is the fact that the system should have a mechanism in place that allows Canada to deal with refugee claimants who were not honest in their claims and gained permanent residency in our country through fraudulent means. The opposition MPs keep rising in the House and exclaiming that this rule is taking away people's rights. We are committed to preserving the place of people who are legitimately persecuted and make honest refugee claims. Canada will continue to protect these people. Their rights are not in question now and never will be.

The so-called rights in question, the rights that the NDP is trying to defend, must then belong to those who made fraudulent claims. This is patently absurd. It is not a right to defraud the Government of Canada. It is not a right to defraud Canadian taxpayers. It is not a right for refugee claimants to provide false information to the government to gain permanent residency in Canada and with it gain access to Canada's generous system of health and social benefits. The total savings to taxpayers as a result of this bill would be $1.65 billion over five years. If we do not pass this bill, then we will continue to pay up to $170 million per year for bogus EU claimants.

The NDP does not understand this approach and how it will save taxpayers money. Instead, the NDP approach to dealing with someone who manages to sneak by the system, who is able to swindle the system and Canadian taxpayers, is to do nothing. If it is found out that refugee claimants have cheated the system, the NDP wants to reward them by letting them stay in Canada and letting them claim social benefits at the expense of working families for even longer. This is wrong.

We are making sure that fraudulent refugee claimants do not get to benefit from their deception. The comments from NDP members suggest that they are intent on protecting people who cheat the system. The government is trying to close this loophole. Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland has even called the minister a loophole closer. He went on to say:

Finally someone recognized that the open wallet approach of the past, offering free education, free medicare, and a welfare cheque to anyone who touched Canadian soil making a refugee claim was not the right thing to do. So I'm glad to see today that finally, after several years, someone has the political courage to take the political risk of saying, if you're from a European country and you can land in London or Paris or Berlin, fill out paperwork, and legally live there, work there, pay taxes there, you shouldn’t be allowed to make a refugee claim in Canada. Buttress that with this reality check. Over 90 per cent, and in some years 95 per cent, of the target group, the Roma claimants, didn't even show up for their oral hearings. They rode on the taxpayer.

The government has said all along that Bill C-31 would make the immigration system faster and fairer. If members read the bill, they would know that is exactly what we are doing. Just as we are making the immigration system faster and fairer for legitimate refugee claimants who are truly in need of our protection because of persecution in their homeland, we are also making it more efficient to remove those refugee claimants who face no such persecution and those who have managed to cheat the refugee process.

Canadians do not want what the NDP wants, which is to let fraudulent refugee claimants stay in Canada. We must take action to crack down on the abuse of our generous immigration system. Our government is committed to strengthening the integrity of Canada's immigration system.

The protecting Canada's immigration system act would make our refugee system faster and fairer. This bill would put an end to foreign criminals, human smugglers and bogus refugees abusing our generous immigration system and receiving lucrative taxpayer-funded health and social benefits. At the same time, this bill would provide protection more quickly for those who are truly in need. Canada has always made a place for those who have needed our protection. I encourage everyone in this House to support this bill.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 6:15 p.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, March 12, 2012, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill now before the House.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #182