House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was work.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved

That in relation to Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage;

and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite all hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so that the Chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in the question period.

As is the custom, as Chair I will give preference to opposition members, although I will recognize some government members.

The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, to help translate what you just read into the record, this is a time allocation. This is another effort by a government seemingly pathologically addicted to shutting down debate. It is closing off debate into the investigation of the F-35 fiasco. Later this afternoon we will likely see closure from the government on the union-busting tactics with respect to the CP Rail strike.

The government must justify why it is panicking and once again using such a brutal tool.

Is the economy in such a state that the government has to panic and pass such a bill?

I understand from previous experience that the government will not be moved by the words of the opposition or the words of the Canadian public who wonder why the government has grown so addicted to using measures like this one, more time allocation at all stages, in committee for any study, for any conversation and consultation with Canadians about critical legislation that will not just have an effect in the moment, but maybe even for a generation to come.

Therefore, I will use the words of the Prime Minister when he used to have principles with respect to this brutal tool:

We have closure today precisely because there is no deadline and there are no plans. Instead of having deadlines, plans and goals, we must insist on moving forward because the government is simply increasingly embarrassed by the state of the debate and it needs to move on.

We see it with respect to the government's so-called budget implementation act and the pipeline implementation act. We see it with respect to the investigation that we are attempting on behalf of Canadians on the F-35 purchase, which is increasingly a sordid series of mis-truths, half-truths and outright lies. The government needs to justify the use of this particular and most brutal form on our democratic values and on the ability of members of Parliament from all sides to do their jobs.

Can the government justify, in any measure, why today it is again shutting down debate, again shutting the door on Canadians and not listening to the democratic will of Canadians and allowing free and fair debate like the Conservative Party used to believe in before it came into power?

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

May 29th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I can. In fact, there is a very clear and compelling deadline that we are rapidly approaching which requires the rapid adoption of Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act.

In the last Parliament, the 40th Parliament, this place adopted then Bill C-11, the balanced refugee reform act, that included major revisions to Canada's asylum system which are scheduled to come into force by June 29, 2012.

Since that time, we have seen the growing problem of both human smuggling and a large and growing wave of unfounded asylum claims particularly coming from the European Union. Therefore, we have concluded that it is necessary to strengthen the asylum reforms and adopt measures to combat human smuggling. That is why we have had to delay the coming into force of the balanced refugee reform act from the last Parliament. To be blunt, we are not in a position to implement the new system contemplated in Bill C-11 in the 40th Parliament. If we do not adopt this legislation, if it does not receive royal assent by June 29 of this year, a new law will come into effect that the appropriate administrative agencies, such as the IRB, are not yet ready to put in place.

I would point out to my hon. colleague that this bill has received 13 days of debate, 47.5 hours of debate and 130 speeches at second reading and report stage. It had 15 committee meetings with over 43 hours of committee study and 109 witnesses. It was preceded in a previous Parliament by Bill C-49,, which had many similar provisions including 3 days of debate, 10 hours of debate and 30 speeches.

In fact, this bill and most of its provisions have received an enormous amount of debate and consideration both in this place and at committee. There is a deadline with a great deal of urgency that we adopt this by June 29.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Because I saw quite a number of members rise, I would ask the hon. members to make their questions and the minister's responses brief.

The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I listened to the minister with great interest as he tried to justify why yet again the government is bringing in draconian time allocation motions, stifling debate in this House.

If the Conservatives were interested in allowing more debate, they could save some House time by not bringing in bills like back-to-work legislation for the striking workers at CP. There are other ways that we could use valuable House time rather than denying people the basic right of free collective bargaining.

When the minister said that 130 members have participated in the debate, I wonder whether he could tell this House why he feels it is okay that the voices of the constituents represented by the 170 members in the House do not get to be heard on an issue that is of great concern to all Canadians and frankly an issue where the minister himself has benefited from extra time as he has had to amend his own bill because it was so flawed in the first instance. Debate in the House allows for that kind of reflection and for improvements to legislation. I would encourage the minister to continue to take advantage of that.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

I would honestly submit, Madam Speaker, that we have just heard the reason why occasionally provisions must be used to limit debate on bills in the House. The position of the hon. member opposite appears to be that every one of the 308 members should speak on every bill. I am not aware of a single Parliament in the democratic world where that is the normal practice because then nothing would ever get done. What she is really saying is that the rules should allow for endless filibusters.

Let me be clear. I have been around this place for 15 years. This has, by any measure, received an extraordinary amount of debate, far more than normal for even contentious bills: 13 days of debate at second reading and report stage, 47.5 hours, 130 speeches and enormous lengthy consideration at committee. The government accepted amendments put forward by the opposition, demonstrating its good faith. What opposition members are really saying is not that they think this is a pre-emptory imposition of time allocation but, rather, they oppose the bill and never want to allow it to come to a vote because they know that the will of Canadians will be reflected in a vote adopting these sensible measures to rebalance our broken asylum system.

We have a commitment to Canadians to keep our word, to fix the broken asylum system and to combat human smuggling, and that is what we will do.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. minister for his clarifications. We are all well aware that the bill has a time limit stemming from legislation passed in the previous Parliament. I would like to ask why time allocation in this instance must be rushed to such an extent that we will not have a proper discussion in this place of amendments that are now properly before the House. There should be the opportunity for members to speak to their own amendments in relation to Bill C-31.

I want to thank the hon. minister for being more flexible and willing to take on changes to this legislation and other legislation in the 41st Parliament, but there is more that should be done on this bill before we are finished with it.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's evident concern and the fact that she takes the deliberative legislative process very seriously.

I would submit to her that there is a deadline of June 29. There has been an enormous amount of debate. To address her question, the reason why there will be more limited debate on report stage for consideration of amendments in this place is, I would argue, because there was so much debate at second reading and so much consideration at committee, which had 15 meetings, over 43 hours of study, heard from 109 witnesses and considered dozens of amendments.

I know the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands is at a disadvantage because, as an independent member, she does not have a seat on committees. For her that is an unfortunate reality of the rules of this place. I can assure her that many of the amendments that she intends to propose at report stage were considered by the committee following its exhaustive study clause by clause. These ideas have been given full consideration.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, the minister mentioned that a similar bill was studied in a previous Parliament. There was agreement among the parties that the bill would have been passed quickly had it been introduced in the same Parliament.

However, this is not the first time we have been told that it is urgent that we pass a bill quickly. Nevertheless, if the government knew this, and it controls the agenda, why did the government not make this bill a priority so that we could debate it fully and in its entirety? Why was this bill not given more priority?

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, that is a reasonable question. The government did give priority to Bill C-31. Since the bill was introduced in the House, we have spent more hours debating this bill than almost any other bill. We made it a priority to send the bill to committee.

As I just mentioned, the bill has been debated for 13 days or 47.5 hours. Members have given 130 speeches on this matter, which is a lot. There have also been questions and comments after almost every speech. The bill was studied in detail in committee.

I must point out that the government made the substantial amendments suggested by the committee. The government agreed to the amendments proposed by the opposition.

Quite frankly, I believe that this is an example of a process that works very well when it comes to the proceedings and the opposition interests.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, time allocation is a practice of the government no matter what the legislation. Every time I hear it being introduced I have to wonder what exactly the government is trying to hide.

Clearly, MPs have questions with respect to this particular piece of legislation. We are here representing constituents. We are here representing their concerns. How is it the government can determine how much time is sufficient when we have questions of importance that need to be answered? Here we go again with time allocation on a piece of legislation that is of crucial importance to this country, and yet the government is introducing time allocation, preventing MPs from expressing the views of their constituents in the manner in which we have been asked to do.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, that question is just complete nonsense. The reality is that every member has had an opportunity to speak repeatedly on this bill. First of all, many of the elements of Bill C-31 were debated in the previous Parliament under the heading of Bill C-49. Second, in the earlier part of this Parliament most of the provisions of the bill were debated in the form of Bill C-4.

Altogether in this Parliament there have been 47.5 hours of debate, 130 speeches, meaning 130 MPs have spoken to the bill, and 43 hours of committee study. If there are any questions that have not been posed, or any views that have not been expressed during those almost 50 hours of House debate and over 40 hours of committee debate, I would really like to know what they are. I do not know who has been asleep at the switch.

I can say that I have followed this debate very closely. I have been in the House for almost every single hour of debate, and I do not hear new questions or new points of view. I just hear the same speeches being regurgitated over and over again. Eventually we must act in order to meet the deadline of June 29 and to keep our commitment to Canadians to fix the broken asylum system.

Bill C-31—Time allocation motion
Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Scarborough Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, several NDP MPs, including the past NDP immigration critic and the current NDP immigration critic, have said they support the goals of this bill which include providing protection more quickly to genuine refugees while allowing us to remove criminals and bogus refugees much faster.

Can the minister please tell the House why he thinks the NDP has chosen to oppose a bill that would lead to a faster and fairer refugee system, and which includes reforms that the NDP members themselves agree are much needed?