House of Commons Hansard #205 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to take part in this important debate.

As I mentioned at report stage, the New Democrats wanted to work across party lines to ensure the speedy removal of serious non-citizen criminals. To that end, I introduced nine reasonable amendments to the bill at committee to curb the excessive powers of the minister and restore some due process. However, they were all rejected by the Conservative majority.

I will give some examples because it would be instructive for the House to hear exactly what we dealt with.

With one amendment in particular, we proposed to do two very different things to limit the overly broad ministerial power to declare a foreign national inadmissible based on public policy considerations.

First, we suggested taking the minister's own guidelines, which he presented to the immigration committee, and codify them in the legislation word for word. When the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration visited us on October 24, he even suggested this approach when he said, “the committee may recommend that we codify these guidelines in the bill”.

Second, and perhaps more important, the amendment introduced a new threshold for the exercise of this power. Specifically, the minister must have reason to believe that a foreign national would meet one of the listed requirements in the guidelines. Despite the minister suggesting this course of action, his Conservative MPs voted it down. We can see that they are not interested in working together to get a better result.

We also proposed as number of reasonable amendments to restore the ability of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to consider humanitarian and compassionate grounds. By rejecting these amendments, the best interests of children implicated in these cases will no longer be considered.

In its brief to the immigration committee, Amnesty International put its concerns this way:

Eliminating the possibility of humanitarian relief for these types of people runs afoul of international law. Denying individuals access to this process might result in them being sent to torture...or persecution.

The Canadian Council for Refugees pointed out that:

These inadmissibility sections...are extremely broad and catch people who have neither been charged with, nor convicted of, any crime, and who represent no security threat or danger to the public.

It is also worth pointing out that the TCRI, which represents 142 community organizations in Quebec that assist immigrants and refugees, submitted that:

—this complete exclusion of H and C considerations in these contexts is contrary to Canada's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which among other things provides protection of family rights and security of the person....it also violates Canada's obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child...

While we may agree that dangerous violent criminals should be removed from Canada as quickly as possible, we had hoped the Conservatives would also recognize that it was important to ensure the minister could still consider the protection of children in these cases. The amendments we moved would have helped dull one of the sharper and more mean-spirited edges of the bill.

The committee studying the bill heard a number of concerns about provisions in the bill that increased the penalty for inadmissibility for misrepresentation from two years to five years and precluded a foreign national from applying for permanent residency status in that period. In fact, many witnesses said that five years was overly punitive, especially when misrepresentation was made by inadvertent error.

In its submission, the Canadian Council for Refugees pointed out that a five-year inadmissibility was excessively harsh in cases of minor infractions when a person was acting under some form of duress. It offered two of many examples where this would be an unfair punishment: first, a woman who did not declare a husband or child because of social and family pressures, and sometimes fear; and second, an applicant who was not personally responsible for the misrepresentation because of an unscrupulous agent or even family member filling out the form for them.

It is the second case I find particularly troubling. I believe that we must make sure to punish those who are criminally misrepresenting themselves, not the victims of shady consultants.

While the CCR recommended that we simply delete this clause, once again, being the NDP, we proposed a moderate alternative. Our amendment created an exception for permanent residents and foreign nationals who are inadmissible for misrepresentation that is demonstrably unintentional. We thought that struck the right balance. Yet once again, there was no movement from the other side on this very reasonable change.

Much has been said in this House about the section in Bill C-43 that redefines serious criminality as a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least six months, which has the effect of precluding access to an appeal. I want to make it very clear to my colleagues across the way that our major concern with these provisions is that they limit due process for permanent Canadian residents, many of whom have been here their whole lives and know nothing about the culture or language of the country to which they would be deported.

With all of this in mind, I moved an amendment at committee stage to mitigate some of the worst effects of this clause. The amendment did two things, which I will address separately.

First, I made a modest proposal that we exempt conditional sentences from the terms of imprisonment, thereby ensuring that convictions that are not as serious as more egregious crimes, as is the case with conditional sentencing, are not caught by the provision. This was a suggestion made by the Canadian Bar Association and others during their testimony to the immigration committee.

In fact, the national president of the Canadian Somali Congress told the committee that we should definitely make an exception for a conditional sentence versus jail. In its current form, the bill does not do that. There could be a situation where a permanent resident, facing jail time, may be sentenced by a judge, in the community's interest, to a conditional sentence due to the fact that the person is gainfully employed. Because of the nature of conditional sentences, conditional sentences take longer to fulfill. Ironically, that would actually lead to the capture of this person with this legislation, because it would exceed six months.

The second thing this amendment was intended to do was restore access to appeal for those convicted of crimes outside of Canada or for those who have committed acts outside Canada. I believe it is the Immigration Appeal Division that is the appropriate body to properly evaluate these cases.

We know that in many countries, simply being a member of the opposition party can get an individual charged and convicted of a serious crime. Due process to evaluate these cases is essential in a free and democratic country like Canada, another moderate NDP proposal struck down by the Conservatives.

The go-it-alone, ignore-all-experts approach of this government was on full display as the Conservatives voted down all the official opposition's very reasonable amendments. New Democrats wanted to work across party lines to ensure the speedy removal of serious, non-citizen criminals. However, the Conservatives did not want it to work that way, and they did not work with us to make this legislation better.

Canadians want this Parliament to work together, and they want us to work together in the public interest. Unfortunately, Conservatives refused an opportunity to do just that.

Once again, before I hear speeches about how much my colleagues and I love criminals, love people who are engaged in all kinds of crime and want to protect the criminals, let me make it very clear. We were clear at committee and have been every time we have spoken in this House: We are committed to expediting the process of deportation of serious criminals who put Canada and Canadians at risk. However, we cannot stand by while due process is missing, while so much power is enshrined in the hands of a minister and while we stand in contravention of not only the UN but possibly of our own charter as well.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I find the last point hilarious, because the member criticizes me all the time for not using discretionary powers more often. I am constantly lobbied. Do people see the MPs who gather around me every day after question period? They are asking me to exercise ministerial discretion, positive discretion. They want positive discretion used by the minister for folks they would like to see enter the country, but they do not want me to use negative discretion to ensure that, for example, anti-Semites and people who provoke violent homophobia cannot enter the country if they are otherwise admissible. We are just looking for a balance between ministerial discretion positively and negatively exercised.

The member once again raises this canard about limiting access to the humanitarian and compassionate applications, but she never mentions for whom. We are talking about people who are inadmissible for human or international rights violations, under section 35, for serious criminality, under section 36, and for organized criminality, under section 37.

I have a point-blank question for the member for Surrey. Does she believe that members of the Mafia should be able to apply to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds? Does she believe that people like Léon Mugesera, who was responsible for inciting the Rwanda genocide, should get special humanitarian consideration, yes or no?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does have discretion, especially when we are looking at visa applications and things. Many of us go to him because we cannot understand the reason for rejection, in many cases, so we go to him for clarification.

What we are looking at in this piece of legislation is a concentration of power whereby the minister can deny entry to visit Canada to anybody based on public policy. Public policy pretty much captures the whole universe.

My respect for the minister rose when he came to committee, put out some principles, and said that he could live with them. He urged the committee to examine them and put them in at committee. Unfortunately, his colleagues did not even support him in that.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister started off his opening remarks, he talked about the families having an option. If a family member breaks the law, the whole family can leave the country. That is what he is implying.

The minister might want to think about what it is I am saying. Imagine a family of three or four that immigrates from country X to Canada. They have been living in Canada for 15 or more years. A child who was three years old at the time is now 19 or 20. That individual commits a serious crime and ultimately has to serve seven months in jail. That individual is going to be deported if he or she did not receive citizenship. The minister's answer seems to be that the family can still stick together. All they have to do, all of them, is move back to the country of origin as a family unit.

Do you think this is an appropriate answer coming from a minister? Do you feel that this legislation would lead to families being broken apart?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I presume that the hon. member for Winnipeg North is not asking the Chair that question. I would remind all hon. members to refer to one another by riding names.

The hon. member for Newton--North Delta.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, a serious concern we have with this legislation is the fact that right now, anybody who gets a sentence of even six months can be deported, even today, under the current legislation. However, that person has a right to appeal. Before they did not have the right to appeal after two years. Now the threshold has been dropped to six months. What is being taken away by the bill is the right to appeal for those who receive a sentence of six months to up to two years. We have serious concerns around that and the lack of due process.

Punishing the whole family does not seem like natural justice to me. We have to look at the impact on the whole family. Sometimes the family may not even be aware of some of the crimes being committed by the individual.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Before we resume debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, the Canada Post Corporation; the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, Foreign Investment; and the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, National Defence.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

February 6th, 2013 / 4:10 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me time to speak to this bill.

Last week, after introducing a bill notable for its repressive and primitive ideology, supporting its position with rare exceptions and rejecting the official opposition's amendments, the government imposed a time allocation motion to cut off debate on Bill C-43. This behaviour is unacceptable. Clearly, the government wanted to muzzle MPs who would have liked to talk about this bill.

I believe that it is our duty to condemn the government's attitude at all stages of the legislative process for Bill C-43. The government has been narrow-minded, its arguments demagogic, its ideology backward and its approach undemocratic.

Rather than listen to criticisms put forward by the official opposition, groups advocating for the rights of refugees, and immigration lawyers, the government chose to impose its will unilaterally at the expense of genuine democratic debate. The Conservatives are flouting the humanitarian tradition that has distinguished Canada for decades, choosing instead to undermine the principle of basic human rights.

We agree that non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada must be dealt with quickly. However, we are concerned about the fact that this bill gives the minister vast discretionary power without appropriate checks and balances.

This approach is all the more regrettable given that Bill C-43 will soon have serious negative consequences on many fronts. First, the number of deportations will rise sharply, and some of those deportations will be outrageous. The most striking example of this is the measure stating that offenders' family members may be affected by deportation policies. Many individuals will be deported to countries where they have no ties just because the government refuses to recognize that the proposed measures are excessive and will short-circuit the usual legal process.

It is also important to note that Bill C-43 substantially broadens the notion of serious criminality, now characterized as crime punishable by a sentence of six months or more, conditional or otherwise, regardless of whether the crime was violent. For example, a first offence punishable by a six-month conditional sentence—the offender will not actually spend time in jail—will still result in the deportation of the offender.

The minister will bring in a double punishment, accompanied by removal and no chance for appeal regarding the deportation, which goes against our judicial principles.

Furthermore, as Alex Neve from Amnesty International Canada said, the lack of relief mechanisms means that the circumstances will not be taken into account. This type of situation shows that Bill C-43 makes no sense.

Amy Casipullai, the senior policy and public education coordinator for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, said that the restrictions could affect more visible minorities because of the racial profiling certain police forces engage in. Not only will visible minorities be more likely to be arrested, but now, they and their families could also be removed without appeal, without any recourse. But the Conservatives chose to ignore this reality and instead accuse the witness of siding with criminals.

Similarly, a number of experts, including lawyer Jean Lash, have said that people with mental illnesses sometimes commit crimes as a result of their illness. Michael Bossin, a refugee lawyer, also argues that people with mental illnesses would face undue hardship if they were deported to a country where mental illness is often stigmatized.

Since refugees from war-torn countries are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress, it makes sense that people are concerned about how Bill C-43 will affect them. However, the Conservatives are stubbornly ignoring the reality on the ground and would rather disregard this aspect.

Other restrictions imposed by Bill C-43 make absolutely no sense. If people are prohibited from being accompanied to an interview with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, they are prevented from receiving advice and support throughout the process. This can clearly be a hardship for them.

Bill C-43 would also indiscriminately standardize the consequences of a misrepresentation. Whether or not a misrepresentation is deliberate, it results in a five-year inadmissibility.

All of the new discretionary powers granted to the minister, without any checks and balances, will create the potential for abuse.

We proposed an amendment to require the minister to be accountable and transparent regarding these discretionary powers. Unfortunately the Conservatives rejected this suggestion.

Based on public policy considerations, a concept that is not defined in the act, the minister will be able to label someone as a threat without any justification, without having to explain his decisions and, most importantly, without any checks and balances.

That is what happens with a bill that ignores criticisms, suggestions from the official opposition and comments from outside witnesses.

Bill C-43 will have disastrous results because of the significant flaws in the bill. It restricts the right of appeal without regard for the repercussions, curtails refugees' rights without consideration of our legal principles, expands the minister's discretionary power without any checks and balances and establishes a policy of mass deportation without consideration of the circumstances.

Instead of tackling the problems of serious criminality, the government is imposing a set of measures that will cause significant harm to individuals who do not deserve this type of treatment.

The Conservatives' determination to go it alone, to decide unilaterally and to avoid debate and discussion will have consequences. The first of these will be a defective policy whose flaws will surface quickly.

Bill C-43 is another stain on the Conservatives' immigration record.

The government's message is the following: the Conservatives will consider anyone who is not a bona fide Canadian to be a foreigner who cannot make a mistake. Even worse, not only can foreigners not make a mistake, but they will also be deported and, with this bill, their family can be booted out as well.

Canada has traditionally considered itself a country that welcomes immigrants and a leader in the protection of basic human rights.

The Conservatives are betraying this tradition by introducing a bill rooted in rhetoric that turns back the clock and makes unwarranted changes that will have serious consequences.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, when I hear this kind of speech, I have to wonder whether it was written by one of the NDP's young staff members who are part of the Québec solidaire party. That speech had an appallingly demagogic tone.

It is completely ridiculous to insinuate that this bill is regressive and that it goes against basic human rights.

Does the hon. member really believe that a war criminal, someone who has no respect for human rights, should be able to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds?

Did she speak about the victims of war criminals? Did she speak about the victims of the Rwandan genocide who complained to me that it took 21 years to deport Léon Mugesera, who was responsible for inciting it? Does she think it was reasonable for Mugesera, the person responsible for inciting the Rwandan genocide, to be able to submit two applications to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds?

I do not want a general answer. I think that the hon. member should provide a direct response.

Should Mr. Mugesera, who was responsible for inciting the Rwandan genocide, be able to invoke humanitarian and compassionate grounds?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, the minister should look into the meaning of demagogic. I think it applies more to him than to my speech.

Our democracies have evolved in terms of basic rights. In the absence of proof to the contrary, real democracies have always sought to ensure that everyone's basic human rights are respected.

Bill C-43 does not respect the basic human rights of individuals.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, from the numbers being provided by the minister and the parliamentary secretary over the last number weeks, we understand there are approximately 800 offences, serious crimes, being committed by permanent residents on average in any given year.

Does the member agree that there would be great deal of benefit if the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration got a report on those crimes by category? I ask because what we often hear is the extreme element. We do not necessarily know the proper context of those 800 crimes being committed. Does the member see any value in the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration looking into that?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government likes the headline effect. It exaggerates the significance of examples that are obviously exceptions. Bill C-43 is clearly the perfect way for the Conservatives to impose their ideology.

My colleague is absolutely right. Let us talk about facts, about solid evidence. It would be a good idea to analyze all of these different crimes and categorize them. That would provide more conclusive data on which to base an objective decision to implement this kind of bill.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address Bill C-43 this afternoon and to put on record what I believe is an important perspective.

First and foremost, if the minister genuinely wanted to get rid of foreign criminals or permanent residents who were committing all these crimes, I believe there is a lot more the minister could have done other than just bring in the legislation. We in the Liberal Party do believe that permanent residents who commit serious crimes should be deported, and it should be done in a timely fashion. We do believe that. We are not, to quote some government members, supporting criminals staying in Canada indefinitely. At the end of the day, we believe that there needs to be consequences. It is not too much to ask people who are coming to Canada to behave in a good fashion. A vast majority of permanent residents have done that.

The Liberal Party, in its time in government, generously opened the doors to immigrants from around the world and advocated for responsible behaviour in Canada, and we will continue to do so.

The bill goes back to June of last year in the dying days of the session. The Minister of Immigration had a big press conference and he had all sorts of PowerPoint slides. The minister spared no cost on this. He wanted to make a powerful statement, which all Canadians needed to know, that the government is committed to the faster removal of foreign criminals. He loved the headline and he wanted every media outlet to report that fact.

Many experts, many different stakeholders have said the bill is so far-reaching that the minister has gone overboard. In reality, that is really what has happened. He has gone a little overboard. If the minister really wanted to do Canadians and all residents a favour, maybe he should invest a little more in our border services and in resources for immigration.

I asked him how many foreign nationals do we have in Canada today who are not here legally who are committing crimes. I applaud the Minister of Immigration. He gave a somewhat honest answer. He recognized that he did not know. He has been the minister for six years and he does not know. Crime is a really important agenda item for the government, apparently. Yet he has no idea how many foreign nationals are in Canada today, let alone the fact that he does not even know how many of those foreign nationals are committing crimes. Why? Because he is more focused on the bigger picture, the big headline.

That might be good possibly for future leadership bids, but in terms of serving Canadians, I would suggest that there is a lot more that the Minister of Immigration could have done to deal with this issue, which is important to Canadians and all residents who live here and call Canada their home. The minister could have adequately resourced our services so that the people who commit these hideous and serious crimes could be deported in a more timely fashion. That is what we expected from the Minister of Immigration.

We have a number of concerns about Bill C-43. One of them is using public policy to deny entry. The minister said, “It is okay. Trust me. I can determine what refugees are irregular arrivals”. Members will remember that piece of legislation. The minister wanted that power. This is the minister who said, “It is okay. I can determine what country in the world is a safe country”, even though we had other legislation that passed that said it should be dealt with by an advisory board made up of professionals, people who have expertise in a wide variety of issues such as human rights.

Now we have the minister, once again, wanting more power. He wants to be able to, through public policy, decide who should not be able to come to the country. One could say maybe that is just the Liberal Party talking and being critical of the minister but, no, all we have to do is look at what was said in the citizenship and immigration committee.

In committee Barb Jackman, a constitutional lawyer, said:

I have no doubt that the public policy grounds will lead to denying people admission on the basis of speech.

There were other individuals. This is a quote from the testimony of Michael Greene from the Canadian Bar Association on the same topic:

We believe this power is unlimited, unaccountable, un-Canadian, and unnecessary. It doesn't have a place in a free and democratic society that cherishes civil liberties and fundamental freedoms.

This is not the Liberal Party saying this, and contrary to what the minister likes to say, which is that these lawyers are all lefties, social activists and so forth, these are people who are committed enough to share their ideas and their thoughts when they recognize that the government has gone overboard and who take the time to come and make a presentation to our committee. We should appreciate that.

There are other issues. Misrepresentation is now increased, from two years to five years, in terms of when a person would actually be able to reapply for immigration purposes to come to Canada. Again, the minister says that if people are filling out the application, by God, they should be honest, and if they are honest, they do not have a problem. Therefore, why would someone oppose increasing the time penalty from two years to five years when someone has been dishonest?

I am sure that the minister is aware of things such as unintentional or innocent misrepresentation. I am sure the minister is aware of bad immigration lawyers and employment agencies that provide misinformation. It is not always the applicant who might be at fault.

However, in the legislation, the minister does not care about that. He is prepared to ignore that issue completely and say that it doesn't matter. He doesn't care why it might have appeared on the form. That person will have to wait five years because of something that they might not have even been aware of and, for all intents and purposes, they thought they were being completely honest and straightforward on the application. However, there is no extra consideration whatsoever being given to that. It is a mindset. This is something where the Conservatives and the Liberals really differ.

Liberals believe in immigration in the true sense of the word. We believe that immigration is what has helped build our country to what it is today. We do not believe that if people land in Canada they have to become citizens or they are not good citizens of our land. The current government believes that if people land in Canada and have been here for three years, they had better be getting their citizenship or they plant a seed of doubt in terms of why they would not be getting their citizenship, that they are not as good as the rest of us for not getting their citizenship. If we listen to the rhetoric and the many comments that come from the minister, one can easily draw that sort of a conclusion.

I raised the issue in terms of children and the issue of family breakup. I must have hit a chord because the minister began his comments with it. We have families that immigrate to Canada every day, families of three, four, five and larger. I found the minister's response amazing. He said that if one member of a family commits a crime, it is not a problem. Their family does not have to stay in Canada. They can all leave Canada because that one person has to leave.

There is no evaluation or true sense of compassion in terms of what the circumstances behind the crime or the action were. Truth be known, it is not as black and white as many would like to think it is. I sat on a justice committee. That is why I said before that I believe in consequences for all crimes, period, whether they are committed by Canadians or permanent residents. I believe there needs to be consequences for crime, and I believe also that all my caucus colleagues support that.

Where the Liberals differ is that we are a little more sympathetic to the understanding of situations. That is why, for example, we believe it is appropriate to let judges have some judicial discretion. That is something in which we have a little more faith, the importance of an independent judicial system. However, the government does not recognize that at all. It is straightforward.

This was interesting. I cited three examples and the hon. member only made reference to two of the examples when we talked about youth crime. One of the crimes I mentioned was a 20-year-old with six pots of marijuana. On occasions I have explained in the House that, yes, those are for trafficking purposes. That is nothing new. The hon. member's comment was that the bill only relates to trafficking. Fine. I have acknowledged that in the past.

Does the minister not think there are 18-year-olds trafficking marijuana in high schools? Do I have news for the minister. It is there. It is real. It is happening today, not only by people who immigrated when they were two-year-olds but by people who were born in Canada. I will tell the hon. member something else. At times young people make some stupid decisions. If a person were in Canada since they were a one-year-old and they are now 20 years old and they get caught doing something stupid, is that justification for deporting that person in all cases? I would argue that it is not, not in all cases. The minister would ultimately argue, yes.

By my saying what I just said, the minister will say the Liberal Party supports people who sexually molest seniors, and I believe he tried to imply it. That is absolute rubbish, but that is one example the minister gave. The reality is that the minister is prepared to see a 20-year-old deported to a country he or she has never known, even though that person was a one-year-old when they came to Canada, because they had six pots of marijuana growing and attempted to sell it to some buddies.

Before one starts throwing stones, one needs to reflect on their own human behaviour.

At the end of the day the other example the minister gave was about using false identification. As opposed to hearing it from me, let me read exactly what was said in committee. I would ask the minister to really listen to this. I quote:

Using a false or fraudulent document is an offence under section 368 of the Criminal Code and carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years. A 20-year-old permanent resident who is convicted of using fake identification to get into a bar while visiting the United States is inadmissible under IRPA because of a foreign conviction.

It doesn't matter that the U.S. court punished him with only a $200 fine. Paragraph 36(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act does not require any particular sentence, only a foreign conviction.

This is coming from someone who represented the Canadian Bar, dealing with immigration work in the past, a presenter to the committee. The minister says that we have to do our homework. Part of the homework is listening to what people have to say when they come to the committee. I am just repeating something said before committee, and if one follows that example through, I think it would surprise a lot of people.

I brought up three issues. The one that the minister did not make reference to was a 20-year old taking his camera or cellphone into a movie theatre, recording some cool show he has just seen and then showing it in any way. Well, he is out of luck if he does not have his citizenship, even though he may have been here since he was one or two years old.

The point is that the government, in bringing forward this legislation, has gone too far and over-reached. We in the Liberal Party recognize the need to ensure that permanent residents who commit serious crimes should be deported. We believe that it should be done relatively quickly. There are ways that the government could be far more effective, if it genuinely wants to make our communities safer places to be. I cited that point at the very beginning, and I think it is an appropriate way to close.

If the government wants to prevent crimes from taking place in the first place, if it wants to deport those who are here illegally and who should not have been here in the first place, not because they committed a crime but because they have over-stayed, and if it wants to deport permanent residents who have committed serious crimes, the best thing it could do would be to invest in immigration services that facilitate that. The government could invest in our border services. If the government were prepared to do that, then it would be far more effective in making our communities safer places.

There are many other things that people should be reflecting on before this bill comes to a vote. I would suggest that the government did not listen to the types of amendment that we brought forward, some serious amendments, at committee.

I appreciate the fact that one of those amendments was modified by the government, where the minister uses his ability to deny access and would be obligated to submit that in a yearly report. At the very least, the House would then know when and how often the minister used that ability. We were hoping that the amendment would pass the way we suggested it, but I am glad that the government did recognize that particular Liberal amendment and made some modifications. However, for the most part, with that one exception, many other amendments that could really have improved the legislation were not passed.

As a final thought, I do believe that we need to look at a country like France that recognizes children who immigrate there as being more a part of their society, because of their age when they immigrated. Here I could give the example of someone in a tragic situation who had immigrated as a child and through a horrific accident became a foster child, which, no doubt, has happened in the past.

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I know that we are discussing Bill C-43, but I was fascinated to hear the member speak about the fact that the minister should understand that the trafficking of marijuana is taking place in high schools all over the country, despite the fact he is from a party that believes we should spend a lot of time legalizing marijuana.

I am not quite sure where he was going with that, but subject to that, he does continue to recite three or four examples while never providing a concrete example of a situation he is suggesting could happen and has actually happened. He has never come forward. He ties together everything that he thinks will work into some sort of proposal without actually coming up with any evidence.

However, the member mentioned having spent time listening to witnesses who presented at committee. I thought it would be good to ask him what he thought of what one of the witnesses at committee, Sharon Rosenfeldt, the chair of Victims of Violence, said:

As an organization that works with victims of violent crimes and their families, we applaud this proposed change. We feel that streamlining the deportation of convicted criminals from Canada will make our country safer. Limiting access to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Immigration Appeal Division, and thus reducing the amount of time that convicted criminals may spend in Canada, is an important proactive step in ensuring the safety of all Canadians.

We were all at committee and heard that witness. The member for Winnipeg North is saying that we should be listening. What does he think of the comments by Ms. Rosenfeldt?

Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to think I am exceptionally sensitive to victims of crime. It does not matter whether the person is an immigrant, a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen, when a crime is committed there needs to be a consequence.

To get a better appreciation of that, I would encourage all members of Parliament to talk with victims of crime. Doing that helps all us to better appreciate what it is to be a victim. That is one of the reasons I say that we should be preventing some of these crimes from happening.

One of the things we can do with Citizenship and Immigration to do just that is to start looking at the number of people here in Canada who do not have legal status. Here we are not talking about hundreds of people, but thousands. A percentage of those people are, no doubt, committing crimes, but this is something that the government has done absolutely nothing about. I suspect there are many victims' advocates who would say to the Government of Canada: “Shame on you for not dealing with that particular issue”. We should be dealing with it and the best way to do that is by dealing with resource issue in regard to border controls and immigration services.