House of Commons Hansard #137 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

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech closely.

Once again, the government wants to create two classes of refugees. It wants to divide refugees into two groups.

The other message I got from my colleague's speech is that some countries of origin will be considered good and others will be considered bad. Here again, the government is categorizing things in a way that I find troubling and somewhat arbitrary.

What does my colleague have to say about this approach based on dividing people into two groups?

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

To the contrary, Mr. Speaker, and I wish the member had listened to the speech. It indicates how we treat those who come to this country is going to be enhanced. Refugees will actually have a better opportunity under this process to be determined whether they are true refugees and become permanent residents and Canadian citizens much quicker than under the current system.

I will add that the only class of importance that we have in this country is the class of becoming or being a Canadian citizen. That is what this bill is all about, the importance of acknowledging fairness in a process. Whether it be immigration or anything else that we are responsible for in this country, fairness is what Canadians expect and anticipate. It is why most Canadians support this piece of legislation. They understand it is fair to the refugees coming to our country who, if in fact they are true refugees, will be able to seek and be granted asylum here. Canadians understand that this process upon which one achieves refugee status is going to be fair for them as well.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, we worked long hours at committee, but we appreciated the couple of amendments that did mitigate the possible damage we saw within the bill. However, as I look at the legislation we already have in place, I wonder why need the proposed legislation.

In 2011, legislation that was praised by the minister of education, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, actually addressed the issues that the government says it is trying to address. In fact, Professor Audrey Macklin had this to say:

I think that the Balanced Refugee Reform Act seemed to address many of the legitimate policy objectives that the government seeks to attain under Bill C-31. What Bill C-31 adds to it are provisions that are unconstitutional, and from a policy perspective, I think, problematic and unlikely to achieve what they claim.

There are some significant concerns that the opposition has with the legislation, and not just in relation to this bill. One of the key areas of concern is where the Conservative government seems to be moving, and it is not toward parliamentary democracy. It is becoming very difficult for parliamentarians to debate key issues because more and more power is rested in the hands of ministers, and in this case, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. That is a very dangerous precedent. It is not a road we should go down.

We, as parliamentarians, get elected and the opposition has a critical role to play. The role of the opposition is to hold the government accountable and all members of parliament should be able debate legislation. However, in this legislation, more power is given to the minister. It is more power than the minister already has, which, by the way, is far more than any minister should have, regardless of political party. I am not speaking against the minister, but against the power that would be vested in any minister.

This power used to belong to an independent panel of experts, and the opposition agreed with that. We were in full agreement with that in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which had an independent panel of experts. It was a panel, independent of government, that would make the designations of so-called “safe countries”.

Here we are once again with the arrogance of the Conservative government. It is trying to put more and more power into the hands of its ministers to escape the scrutiny that any legislation or any changes to areas such as immigration deserve. We have considerable concern with this.

I think we have agreement, and even with members on the government side at committee stage, that none of us can guarantee that there is one country that is absolutely safe for all citizens. Even democratic countries have human rights violations and sometimes incidents that would fall under the legitimate UN resolutions to protect people from persecution.

For example, Mexico is a democratic country. However, we know that the LGBT community in Mexico comes under considerable persecution and that has been recognized with the number of asylum seekers accepted from Mexico.

Chantal Desloges, an immigration lawyer, had this to say:

I have major concerns that concentrating the power of the DCO list only within the ministry and not consulting a panel of experts is wrong, because it opens the system to major political influence.

In the previous incarnation of this bill, the DCO list was decided by a panel of experts, and as a professional, I would be comfortable with that. However, leaving that decision to the sole discretion of the ministry is not a good idea.

We are not making this stuff up. We have heard witness after witness say that the concentration of power in the hands of the minister was absolutely the wrong way to go.

When we look at the legislation, it also violates international conventions, to which Canada is signatory, by providing mechanisms for the government to indiscriminately designate and subsequently imprison bona fide refugees, including children, for up to one year.

Liberty is something we value. We will cases in Canada where asylum seekers who, as my colleague pointed out, do not come here on a cruise ship. They endanger their own lives because it is more dangerous for them to stay where they are. They come to our country to seek refuge. By the way, under a UN convention, to which we are a signatory, they are doing something that is perfectly legitimate. They are coming to our country to seek asylum.

Once those asylum seekers, if they should arrive by ship, are in our country in numbers of two or more, what will we do to them? Remember, these people are not escaping from affluent lifestyles. We are talking about people who might have been on the run for a long time and are willing to risk their lives and leave their loved ones behind to escape to find a safe haven.

What does a safe haven do for them? As soon as they land, we tell them that we will imprison them. I will use that word because we do not have enough detention centres. We heard witnesses testify that even, today, on any given day, some people end up in provincial jails. For example, British Columbia has no detention centres, so irregular refugees would be placed in a regular jail. Guess what? If they are 16 years of age or older, they will be placed in jail as well. I do not know about other members, but I know that when my son, who is now close to 30, was 16, I certainly did not think he was an adult. Sometimes I wonder about even now, but that is beside the point.

For children under the age of 16, we were absolutely pleased when we first heard the minister say that accommodations would be made for them. However, when I heard what that accommodation was, I thought, what kind of choice was that. The accommodation is that the parents will have a choice. They can give their child up to provincial agencies or they can keep them with them in prison.

If they are escaping from the kind of life-and-death situations that we have heard about, stories of rape and other horrible situations, then we are telling them that they can give their children to absolute strangers or they can keep them in prison with them. That is absolutely not a choice. It is a shameful way for us to treat arrivals into our country.

I want to expand on this a bit. The NDP, the official opposition, was absolutely clear. We know that when people arrive, we need to have identification. We also tried to move amendments that once the checks had been done and they were not considered a threat to the country, they would be released. We did not get that. For up to a year, these people will be kept in a prison, and once again we have to trust the minister may do this.

If we have learned anything, we should learn from the experiences of others. In testimony from Australia, we heard the kind of emotional and financial costs and also the long-term costs to society to which this kind of a detainment could lead. We cannot ignore the experiences of other countries.

Being a teacher, I am always very hopeful that we will learn from mistakes made by others. I am pleading that we do not make the same mistakes and then end up with social costs to our communities. It is very difficult to feel welcomed and then to get engaged in nation-building and to really be productive in their community when the first thing people face is prison for up to a year. It is not a way to treat children. Also, as members know, there are other costs to the health care system as well.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have eight and a half minutes to conclude her speech after question period.

Ride to Conquer Cancer
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend I, along with thousands of other Canadians, will participate in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer to raise money for cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Princess Margaret Hospital is one of the top five cancer research hospitals in the world.

Over the course of two days, we will ride in excess of 220 kilometres. In 2011, 11,000 riders participated and raised over $43 million. In five years of existence, the ride has become Canada's perennial cycling event and has been its most successful fundraiser.

This year, I will ride in honour of my father and my mother, both of whom passed away from cancer. As my own family proves, two Canadians in five will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

I encourage all Canadians to get involved in their communities to raise money for cancer research.

Children on the Hill Daycare
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the one and only place on Parliament Hill where manners, politeness and respect for colleagues remains the norm. Where is that?

It is the Children on the Hill daycare. For 30 years, the dedicated staff at Children on the Hill have served our community on Parliament Hill. The children frequently walk the halls of power on the Hill. They share their toys and respect their nap time. Many of them have come to Centre Block today to mark this special day.

Let me congratulate the Children on the Hill daycare on their 30th anniversary, and thank the child care workers and directors for all their hard work over the years.

The children in Children on the Hill daycare do not refer to each other as “kids” but as “friends”. Let us take a lesson from them. It is an important lesson for us all. Let us look up to them.

Emergency Response
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I express my sincere congratulations to a young girl in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Nine-year-old Rebecca Baas responded with maturity beyond her age when she called 911 and directed responders to her father, who was injured on their farm. Rebecca showed great courage that day, and she deserves our admiration.

I would also like to congratulate our local firefighters, who volunteer their time to provide 911 training to the students in my riding. They give our youth, including Rebecca, knowledge and confidence to properly respond in an emergency situation.

One example is the Russell Fire Department's annual fire safety checklist program, which encourages children to bring fire safety messages home and complete related tasks with their families.

In conclusion, I express my sincere congratulations to our local hero, Rebecca Baas. She is a hero not only to her family but also to her community and to me as well. We are all proud of Rebecca.

Saint-Léonard FC
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 6, 2012, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural game of Saint-Léonard FC, a new soccer team in the new semi-professional Quebec Premier Soccer League.

This game between Saint-Léonard FC, from the Bourassa regional soccer association, and the team from Blainville impressed spectators with its high level of play. This new team will offer high-level soccer to the people of Saint-Léonard and the eastern part of the island. At the same time, the creation of this league will be a huge source of inspiration for our young players across the province, who will probably dream of playing like their idols.

I would like to personally thank Angelo Scarano, president of Saint-Léonard FC, for his work that will benefit everyone in Saint-Léonard and the entire province. Congratulations to Victor Montagliani, the new president of the Canadian Soccer Association, who also attended the game. I would also like to wish the best of luck to the team's head coach, Andrea Di Pietrantonio, and the assistant coach, Mike Vitulano, who will lead our team to many victories.

Best of luck to Saint-Léonard FC. I wish all soccer fans a good season.

Republic of the Philippines Independence Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House on one of the most significant dates in the history of the Philippines, its Independence Day.

The nation's independence from Spanish rule is dated from June 12, 1898, and it is a nation that I am happy to say has had a great relationship with Canada.

Canada has been very fortunate to have such a large number of people in our Filipino diaspora. They have made great contributions in building our nation. The single largest number of immigrants to Canada is from the Philippines. They take positions such as caregivers and nurses and enhance the lives of Canada's aging population.

I congratulate the Filipino community in Don Valley East, and I invite all members to come and celebrate Independence Day with the ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Leslie Gatan, in room 256-S on June 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Okill Stuart
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the dedication, self-sacrifice, humanity, warmth and commitment to other people's freedom demonstrated by Okill Stuart, who, I am proud to say, lives in my riding. He is one of the brave Canadians who risked his life for the freedom of others.

Mr. Stuart, a pillar of the Saint-Lambert community, fought as part of the Normandy invasion.

In 1946, after returning to Canada, he founded a charitable organization to help those less fortunate in his community and on the south shore of Montreal. Mr. Stuart also contributed to the founding of Canada's war museum in Normandy and the corresponding museum in Ottawa. He is involved in many organizations in my riding and is a founding member of the Saint-Lambert curling club.

These are just some of the reasons the entire community of Saint-Lambert, myself included, is so proud of Okill Stuart.

Here is hoping that his example will serve to inspire many future generations of Canadians.

Republic of the Philippines Independence Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, mabuhay.

This upcoming Tuesday, June 12, marks the 114th anniversary of the Philippines' independence. In celebration of this great occasion, this weekend Canadians of Filipino decent will be gathering across the country. One such celebration will be taking place in my riding of North Vancouver.

This event, organized by the Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts and Culture Exposition Society, is one of the biggest Filipino Independence Day celebrations in Canada.

Every year thousands of people descend on Waterfront Park at the foot of the north shore to take in all things Filipino. With music, dancing and fabulous food, this event brings together the entire community and showcases the wonderful heritage of the Philippines.

More than celebrating Philippine independence, this weekend lets us celebrate the many contributions the Filipino community makes to Canada. I am looking forward to joining in the celebrations.

[Member spoke in Filipino as follows:]

Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan.

Parks and Recreation Month
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize June as Parks and Recreation Month in Canada.

Parks and recreation opportunities are essential for strengthening and maintaining a healthy community, and the positive impacts are evident. Recreation brings people together, encourages safe, clean neighbourhoods and creates a livelier atmosphere.

Parks and recreation facilities also help to improve images, social and economic status and enhance the area's desirability.

Recreation gives individuals of all ages good opportunities to be actively involved. This in turn helps them to learn positive lessons about responsibility and respect for others and gives them the chance to give back to their communities.

In my riding of Oshawa, Lakeview Park is a popular area and a favourite of my constituents.

I salute the parks and recreation community leaders across Canada for the dedication they provide to ensuring all Canadians have access to quality and affordable parks and recreation opportunities.

I encourage everyone to celebrate park month by enjoying our outdoors and parking themselves in a park.

Festivals in Brome—Missisquoi
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, festival season is starting up across the country, and my riding is no exception. Many festivals will be held between now and September all around Brome—Missisquoi.

The Lake Champlain bike day is being held this Saturday. Country music lovers have the first-ever Bromont Country Blues festival to look forward to, and, to round out the month of June, we have the Bromont air show.

This year is also the centennial of the beautiful community of Pike River.

The Potton multicultural festival will be a fun-filled day for people of all ages. The 34th International Crossing of Lake Memphremagog will take place at the end of July and beginning of August.

Finally, the summer season will close with the Magog-Orford wine and harvest festival in early September.

I am inviting everyone to come to the Eastern Townships. Once people go there, they never want to leave.

Have a good summer and enjoy the festivals.

Ducks Unlimited Canada
Statements By Members

June 8th, 2012 / 11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 2013 Ducks Unlimited Canada will celebrate 75 years of conservation excellence, and I would like to congratulate it on this upcoming milestone.

Ducks Unlimited has worked with government on conservation programs for 25 years and has delivered measurable results, conserving millions of acres of Canadian wetlands while preserving outdoor and hunting traditions. It is also a key partner in the highly successful North American waterfowl management plan, which helped fund thousands of projects to preserve over 25 million acres across North America.

Some of the most important waterfowl migration habitats are located in southern Ontario along the Great Lakes, and the efforts of Ducks Unlimited volunteers in Ontario are appreciated in the Niagara region.

Ducks Unlimited is also part of the government's new hunting and angling advisory panel, which will help ensure our government continues to make decisions based on sound scientific advice.

Our government believes in both economic growth and environmental protection and looks forward to working with Ducks Unlimited to preserve the environment for future generations.

It is about the economy and it is about the environment. Ducks Unlimited is helping us get it right.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people, I rise to speak about the massive educational deficit that is an obstacle to transforming the unequal relationship between first nations and wider Canadian society.

Two ongoing efforts merit attention. Each focuses on tackling gaps in knowledge of non-aboriginal Canadians. One effort is that of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools. Its interim report calls for comprehensive public awareness efforts on the part of the federal government. A second effort is the Third World Canada Tour this coming November. This joint initiative of the first nation community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and filmmaker Andrée Cazabon will engage Canadians on the challenges first nations communities face and work toward building deeper understanding through peer-based education.

I hope these two efforts signal the beginning of a paradigm shift in how we think about Canadian education and I hope we as parliamentarians can be part of that shift.