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Liberal MP for Mount Royal (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 41.40% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014
With regard to the comments of Justice Minister Peter MacKay in the House on June 4, regarding a “compromise that occurred in the leaking of information around” the process of a Supreme Court appointment, and the statement of his spokesperson that “we are concerned about recent leaks from what was intended to be a confidential process, we are reviewing the process for future appointments” as quoted by the Toronto Star on June 3: (a) to what leaks do these comments refer; (b) when were these leaks discovered; (c) how were these leaks discovered; (d) how was the government informed of these leaks; (e) what measures were in place to prevent leaks; (f) how does the government define the “leaking of information”; (g) what meetings have occurred on the subject of these leaks, (i) on what dates, (ii) with whom present, (iii) with what goals, (iv) with what outcomes; (h) what materials, briefing notes, or other memos were created regarding these leaks and what are their dates of creation and file or reference numbers; (i) who developed the materials in (h); (j) do the “leaks” refer to an article by John Ivison of the National Post, dated May 1, regarding communications between the Chief Justice and Ministers of the Crown, or to material cited in that article; (k) do the “leaks” refer to an article by Laura Stone of Global News dated May 7 regarding communications between the Prime Minister’s Office and Marc Nadon suggesting Justice Nadon leave the Federal Court to rejoin the Quebec bar, or to material cited in that article; (l) do the “leaks” refer to an article by Sean Fine of the Globe and Mail dated May 23 regarding activities of the selection panel and names on government lists, or to material cited in that article; (m) if the answer to (j), (k), or (l) is negative, does the government dispute the veracity of the content referred to in the article referenced in the question; (n) what specific information has been leaked; (o) what is the extent and scope of the leak; (p) what are the consequences of the leak; (q) what meetings occurred regarding the articles referenced in (j), (k), and (l), (i) on what dates, (ii) who was present, (iii) what were the goals of the meeting, (iv) what was the outcome of the meeting; (r) what materials, briefing notes, or other memos were created regarding the articles in (j), (k), and (l) and what are their dates of creation and file or reference numbers; (s) from where did these leaks originate; (t) who had access to the information leaked; (u) what was done, if anything, to limit the dissemination of material once leaked; (v) were any news outlets contacted in an effort to limit the publication of leaked material; (w) were any journalists contacted to correct information in any story referencing a “leak”; (x) does the government’s conception of a leak include dissemination of information that is inaccurate; (y) what is the total number of leaks that occurred regarding the appointment process, and how was this number determined; (z) what steps has the government undertaken to investigate these leaks; (aa) have any meetings with the RCMP occurred regarding these leaks, (i) if yes, when and with whom, (ii) if not, why not; (bb) have any meetings with the Director of Public Prosecutions occurred regarding these leaks, (i) if yes, when and with whom, (ii) if not, why not; (cc) have any meetings with the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs occurred regarding these leaks, (i) if yes, when and with whom, (ii) if not, why not; (dd) what steps is the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs undertaking to investigate these leaks; (ee) what steps is the Department of Justice taking to investigate these leaks; (ff) what steps is the Minister taking to investigate these leaks; (gg) when is it expected that any investigation will be concluded; (hh) what penalties might be imposed if the sources of the leaks are found; (ii) what cost is expected to be incurred relative to any investigation into these leaks; (jj) what additional measures are being taken to ensure that more leaks do not occur; (kk) what steps were taken in the Prime Minister’s Office to investigate these leaks; (ll) what steps were taken in the Privy Council Office to investigate these leaks; (mm) what meetings or communications transpired between the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister or his office regarding these leaks; (nn) who is responsible for these leaks; (oo) who is being investigated for these leaks; (pp) what suspects have been identified; (qq) has any motive been determined and if so, what are the motives and how was this determined; (rr) is the government itself investigating these leaks or will a third party be involved; (ss) what steps will be taken to ensure independence in any investigation of these leaks; (tt) have any wiretaps or other judicial orders been sought in relation to an investigation into these leaks; (uu) does the government consider information as being leaked if its dissemination occurs in a form where it is protected by privilege, such as on the floor of the House of Commons; (vv) who was informed of the leaks, on what date, and by what means; (ww) what was the impact of these leaks on the existing Supreme Court appointment process; (xx) what is expected to be the impact of these leaks on any future Supreme Court appointment process; (yy) how was the determination in (xx) made, by whom, with what policy objectives in mind, and with what expectations relative to future conduct by the government in identifying a nominee to the Supreme Court of Canada; (zz) who is in charge of investigating these leaks; (aaa) will Parliament be informed of the results of any investigation and if so, when; (bbb) if no investigations are occurring, why not; (ccc) if no investigations are occurring, is this compatible with the government’s policy objectives that include being “tough on crime”; (ddd) what measures will be in place for a future Supreme Court appointments process to prevent such leaks; (eee) what confidential materials related to the appointment process were created and distributed; and (fff) were all materials in (eee) returned, (i) if yes, when, (ii) if no, what materials remain unreturned to the government?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014
With respect to the appointment of Justice Clément Gascon to the Supreme Court of Canada: (a) by what process was Justice Gascon identified and selected for appointment; (b) what was the role of the Department of Justice; (c) what was the role of the Minister of Justice; (d) what was the role of the Prime Minister; (e) what was the role of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs; (f) were any other ministers involved and if so what were their roles; (g) with whom did the government consult and when did these consultations occur; (h) what was the role of Parliament; (i) why was no ad hoc committee convened to meet Justice Gascon prior to his appointment; (j) what specific considerations were taken with respect to (i); (k) who made the ultimate decision with respect to (i); (l) has the government abolished the ad hoc committee process for reviewing Supreme Court nominees; (m) if the ad hoc committee meeting for new Supreme Court nominees has not been abolished, why did it not occur with Justice Gascon prior to his appointment; (n) will Justice Gascon appear before Parliament at any point relative to his appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada; (o) what specific criteria were established by which candidates were evaluated in the process by which Justice Gascon was selected; (p) how did Justice Gascon meet the criteria in (o); (q) why was Justice Gascon selected; (r) was preserving gender parity on the Supreme Court of Canada a goal of the process that resulted in the appointment of Justice Gascon; (s) what consideration was preserving gender parity on the Supreme Court of Canada in the process that resulted in the appointment of Justice Gascon; (t) in what ways does Justice Gascon’s appointment preserve gender parity on the Supreme Court of Canada; (u) in what ways does Justice Gascon’s appointment enhance diversity on the Supreme Court of Canada; (v) what particular areas of expertise were identified in the process that resulted in Gascon’s appointment; (w) how were the areas in (v) developed; (x) what is known of Justice Gascon’s expertise in the areas identified in (v); (y) what Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada were consulted with respect to Justice Gascon’s appointment; (z) did consultation with the Chief Justice occur regarding Justice Gascon; (aa) is consultation with Chief Justice a normal practice in the course of selecting a nominee for the Supreme Court of Canada; (bb) what role is served by consulting with the Chief Justice or, if no such consultation occurred in this instance, what policy reasons justify excluding the Chief Justice from consultations; (cc) would there have been time for Parliamentarians to meet Justice Gascon prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court; (dd) with which parliamentarians did Justice Gascon meet prior to his appointment; (ee) what committees reviewed Justice Gascon’s candidacy prior to his appointment; (ff) was Justice Gascon identified in the process that resulted in the nomination of Justice Nadon; (gg) at what stages of the process was Justice Gascon’s eligibility for appointment assessed and by whom; (hh) does the answer in (gg) reflect any new process or procedure; (ii) with respect to Justice Minister Peter Mackay’s statement as reported by CTV on May 28 that “Our list and their list are being examined in concert to find a common name,” was the name of Justice Gascon common to both lists; (jj) how was the “our” list to which Minister MacKay referred developed; (kk) how many names were on “our” list; (ll) what went into selecting the names on “our” list and who was involved in this process; (mm) was the “our” list to which Minister MacKay referred developed through the process announced by previous Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on June 11, 2013 and if not, why not; (nn) with respect to the “their list” of which the Minister spoke, who developed this list and when was it provided to the government; (oo) did the government solicit in any way “their list”; (pp) how was “their list” assessed, by whom, and on what dates; (qq) how many names were on “their list”; (rr) what individuals were involved in the process that “examined in concert to find a common name” the lists referred to by the Minister; (ss) how long did the process in (mm) require and when did it terminate; (tt) were any outside legal opinions sought with respect to Justice Gascon’s appointment, why or why not; (uu) what was the cost of Justice Gascon’s appointment and what is the breakdown of these costs; (vv) if any of the answers to these questions are subject to solicitor-client privilege, who is the solicitor and the client for the particular question; (ww) who from the Government of Quebec was consulted on Gascon’s appointment, on what dates, and by whom; (xx) when were the Chief Justice of Quebec and the Chief Justice of the Quebec Superior Court consulted on Gascon’s appointment and by whom; (yy) who from the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec, and the Barreau de Montréal were consulted on Gascon’s appointment and by whom; (zz) what academics were consulted, by whom and on what dates; (aaa) what victims’ rights groups were consulted, by whom, and on what dates; (bbb) what aboriginal groups were consulted, by whom, and on what dates; (ccc) what women’s groups were consulted, by who, and on what dates; (ddd) whereas in the past candidates have been first nominated and then appointed, was Justice Gascon ever nominated prior to his appointment by the government, and if so, when did this occur, if not why not; (eee) what changes to the process have been identified or completed through this appointment; (fff) what factors were considered relative to the timing of this appointment; (ggg) who decided the timing of the appointment announcement and in consultation with whom; (hhh) what benefits were derived from appointing Justice Gascon prior to a Parliamentary ad hoc hearing; (iii) what benefits were derived from appointing Justice Gascon prior to the end of the scheduled Parliamentary sitting; (jjj) why was the appointment announced while Parliament was still sitting but without an ad hoc hearing; and (kkk) why was the appointment announced so far in advance of the Court’s fall session; and (lll) is it anticipated the same appointment process will be used for the next vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014
With regard to disclosures by telecom and Internet providers (“providers”) of subscriber information: (a) what government agencies and departments request such data; (b) how many such requests have been made in the past five years, broken down by year and requestor; (c) from what providers has the government made requests in the last year; (d) from what providers has the government made requests in the past five years; (e) what is the breakdown of requests by agency and provider in (d); (f) how many individuals have had their subscriber data given to the government in the past five years, broken down by year; (g) what limits exist on what data or information the government can request from providers; (h) what limits exist on what data or information providers can supply; (i) in what ways are persons notified that their data has been requested; (j) in what ways are persons notified that their data has been provided; (k) are there any restrictions on how often the government is allowed to request data from providers generally and, if so, what are they; (l) are there any restrictions on how often the government is allowed to request data from providers relative to a specific user and, if so, what are these; (m) what are the restrictions, if any, to the amount or type of data providers may access in responding to a government request; (n) what sort of information may providers furnish about subscribers without a court order; (o) what does subscriber information entail; (p) what does the government seek when it requests subscriber information; (q) are there any restrictions on when a provider may inform its customers that a government agency has requested data; (r) have any of the government policies that pertain to requests for an access to subscriber data changed in the past five years and, if so, how; (s) how much money did the government spend on data requests, broken down by year, expense type, and the agency incurring the expense, for the past five years; (t) how much money did the government spend on storing and retaining data, broken down by year, expense type, and the agency incurring the expense, for the past five years; (u) how much money did the government spend assessing received data, broken down by year, expense type, and the agency incurring the expense, for the past five years; (v) how much money did the government spend to act upon received data, broken down by year, expense type, and the agency incurring the expense, for the past five years; (w) how often did the disclosure of data lead to action by the government; (x) for calendar year 2013, how many persons were charged with offences under an Act of Parliament where the government had requested subscriber data; (y) for what purposes does the government request subscriber data; (z) what evidence of their concern, if any, must government agencies have for requests for data on grounds of (i) child exploitation, (ii) terrorism, (iii) national security, (iv) foreign intelligence; (aa) what are the definitions and criteria established by the government relative to the enumerated categories in (z); (bb) how often are requests made relative to the enumerated categories in (z); (cc) what grounds other than those enumerated categories in (z) has the government identified as warranting subscriber data requests; (dd) what avenues exist for Canadians to contest governmental demands for access to data sent over communication devices; (ee) what avenues exist for providers to refuse a government request in this regard; (ff) broken down by requesting entity, what is the process by which a data request is made; (gg) in instances where Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has “incidentally” captured Canadians’ personal information, are there any protocols on what is done with that information; (hh) with respect to (gg), are there any restrictions on how long CSEC or another agency may keep the ‘incidentally’ captured data or on what they may do with it and, if so, what are these; (ii) of the data received by the government, how often and in what ways has it proved useful in ensuring the safety of Canadian citizens; (jj) of Canadians whose data was requested, how much data was provided with respect to (i) usage, (ii) geolocation of device (broken down between real-time and historical), (iii) call detail records (as obtained by number recorders or by disclosure of stored data), (iv) text message content, (v) voicemail, (vi) cell tower logs, (vii) real-time interception of communications, (viii) transmission data, (ix) other data requests; (kk) with respect to the categories in (jj), does the government request all such data in every case; (ll) how does the government determine what data to seek in each case, by what process and criteria, and with what reviews; (mm) with respect to the categories in (jj), does the government not request data with respect to any of them and if not, why not; (nn) with respect to the information types in (jj), which government agencies made such requests in the past five years, and what records are made of the requests; (oo) what records are stored with respect to data requests; (pp) how is the data received stored and for how long; (qq) who or what has access to obtained data; (rr) what is the average amount of time for which government requests data from law enforcement with respect to a specific individual; (ss) how quickly are providers required to respond regarding their ability to provide each type of data provided; (tt) how quickly must providers respond to government requests; (uu) in the past three years did the government provide money or any other form of compensation, including tax breaks, in exchange for information being provided to government agencies, and, if so, what were these; (vv) in what ways has the government consulted with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure that data requests comply with privacy law; (ww) with what experts has the government consulted regarding requests for subscriber data; (xx) what protocols are in place to ensure that privacy rights are respected in this process; and (yy) how often has the government met with providers to discuss data requests, and when was the most recent such meeting?
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns September 15th, 2014
With regard to the management and publication of material related to judicial appointments: (a) what is the policy of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada with respect to posting information pertaining to candidates; (b) in what way is the nomination material archived; (c) is the material on the website the same as in the binder provided to MPs and, if not, how do they differ; (d) when materials are removed from the website, (i) who keeps copies, (ii), who is provided a copy, (iii) how can this material be accessed, (iv) by whom can it be accessed, (v) how long is it kept; (e) are the materials from the website provided to the Supreme Court of Canada, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what conditions relating to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (f) are the materials from the website provided to the Library of Parliament, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what understating relative to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (g) are the materials from the website provided to the Department of Justice, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what conditions relating to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (h) are the materials from the website provided to the Minister of Justice, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what conditions relating to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (i) are the materials from the website provided to the Prime Minister’s Office, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what understating relative to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (j) are the materials from the website provided to Library and Archives Canada and, if so, (i) by whom, (ii) to whom, (iii) on what date, (iv) with what conditions relating to their retention, (v) if not, why not; (k) how many binders were prepared relative to Mr. Justice Marc Nadon’s appointment and where are these binders now; (l) how many binders were prepared relative to Mr. Justice Wagner’s appointment and where are these binders now; (m) in what way and through what processes can previous binders be consulted by (i) parliamentarians, (ii) the public, (iii) the media, (iv) legal scholars; (n) for how long does the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada retain all information relative to judicial appointment cycles and what are its policies on both retention of these materials and access to them; (o) with respect to the inclusion of publications, seminars and lectures in Mr. Justice’s Wagner’s materials, why is no such material included in Mr. Justice Nadon’s materials and whose decision was this; (p) with respect to the statement made in the government’s response to written question Q-239, that “ (bb)(i) The material requested in the latest appointment process does not differ materially from those requested for the appointment of Justice Wagner” and “(iv) The wording was substantially the same”, what is the difference between “materially” and “substantially” insofar as case law areas are concerned; (q) do the uses of “materially” and “substantially” mean that the wording was not exactly the same; (r) were Justices Wagner and Justice Nadon asked for the same exact materials and same areas of cases law and, if not, why not; (s) do the types of materials sought from candidates change between appointment cycles, (i) if so, why, (ii) who makes this determination; (t) do the types of material sought from candidates for Quebec seats change between appointment cycles, (i) if so, why, (ii) how is this determined; (u) with what bodies did the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada consult in developing a retention and access policy relative to materials associated with a judicial appointment; (v) why is candidate information on the website for the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada only temporarily online and how was this policy developed; (w) were any briefing documents, presentations, or memos prepared for ministers or their staff, from 2006 to present, regarding Supreme Court Appointments and, for each, what is the (i) date, (ii) title or subject-matters, (iii) department, commission, or agency’s internal tracking number; (x) do members of the Selection Panel have access to the materials developed or used in an appointment process after the appointment has been made; (y) does the Minister of Justice or Prime Minister have access to the materials developed or used in an appointment process after the appointment has been made; (z) does an appointed justice have any access to the materials developed or used in the process after the appointment has been made; (aa) does any person consulted in the process of an appointment have any access to materials or records developed or used in the process at any time; (bb) what materials were developed or used in the most recent appointment process; (cc) what records of meetings or other items exist relative to the most recent appointment process, (i) by what means can they be accessed, (ii) by whom; and (dd) does the Minister of Justice or Prime Minister have any access to materials not accessible to other persons and, if so, what materials, and by virtue of what process or policy?
Justice June 18th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, after a second disputed judicial appointment, the minister and the Prime Minister are raising suspicions about the possibility that Justice Mainville will be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Not only could that appointment contravene the court's decision in the Nadon case, but it would prolong the under-representation of women on the highest court.
Therefore, with so many high-calibre Quebec judges, what is the minister doing to ensure that the process to replace Justice Lebel will be open, transparent, responsible and participatory?
Petitions June 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition from residents of my riding calling for the removal of any public monument in the name of a person who has advocated or promoted genocide as defined by the Criminal Code.
In particular, the petitioners draw the attention of the House to the statue in my riding of Queen Isabella of Spain, who oversaw the iniquitous Spanish Inquisition, which included the expulsion of all Jews from Spain on pain of death and the forced conversion of those who remained also on pain of death.
The petitioners urge the House to consider legislation preventing the memorialization of persons who have committed deplorable acts such as these and to ensure we do not glorify those responsible for dark chapters in our--
Criminal Code June 6th, 2014
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-610, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and introduce this legislation, which amends the Criminal Code's provisions on animal cruelty. In particular, it creates a new offence of inadequate and negligent care of animals. The bill establishes an offence for anyone who negligently causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal or bird, or, being the owner, wilfully or recklessly abandons it or fails to provide suitable and adequate food, water, air, shelter, and care for it. It also punishes those who negligently injure an animal or bird while it is being conveyed.
As hon. members know, Canada's animal cruelty laws are woefully out of date. They have not been updated since the 1890s. In my view, this bill represents an important step toward modernizing the law, although I realize more will be done.
Given the order of precedence, I realize this bill may not see debate before I leave Parliament. I would thus invite the government to consider adopting this legislation as its own and to introduce long-overdue animal cruelty reforms so that Canada's laws respect and protect animals against actions that show disregard or contempt for their security and well-being.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, not only would it make it more difficult to access citizenship, it would make it more difficult to keep citizenship.
I am unable to understand how such a piece of legislation that is so seriously constitutionally flawed could have been introduced to this chamber to begin with. I cannot understand how the legislative advice the minister received with regard to the requirements of constitutional compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms regarding any proposed legislation could have passed constitutional muster.
Perhaps I should not be surprised. There is a record of introducing legislation that has been not only constitutionally suspect but constitutionally challenged. Again and again the courts in this country have pronounced the legislation unconstitutional. Effectively, it should not have been introduced to begin with.
The government should not be introducing yet another constitutionally flawed bill, imposing litigation, in effect, at taxpayers' expense, which at the end of the day will result, yet again, in another court pronouncement that this legislation is unconstitutional, putting our whole citizenship legislation in flux and uncertainty.
Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the clauses that could lead to an abuse of discretionary power. It is one of the many abuses mentioned in my presentation.
What concerns me—and it must be pointed out—is the problem of constitutional issues. In this bill, many clauses are basically unconstitutional and make it possible to abuse the rule of law, the fundamental principle of equality before the law, and the principles of right of mobility and multiculturalism, which are enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These are fundamental and constitutional principles.
For this reason, and for all the other reasons, we must reject the bill.
Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-24, the strengthening Canadian citizenship act. While I support the objective of clarifying the test for residency and also the approach with regard to the retroactive restoration of citizenship for additional lost Canadians, I have serious concerns with respect to the bill's principles and policies as a whole. I submit it will not strengthen, but in fact prejudice, Canadian citizenship, and in particular undermine the fundamental principles of Canadian law and policy that have long underpinned our citizenship regime.
There are too many problematic and constitutionally suspect aspects of this bill to address all of them in my allotted time. Accordingly, I would invite members who are considering voting in support of this legislation to consult, among other resources, the comprehensive and persuasive briefs of the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, submissions of constitutional experts, and others, who have identified the serious flaws in this bill while making the case for its rejection.
I will focus primarily on those proposed yet seriously problematic reforms to the Citizenship Act that would fundamentally alter the concept of Canadian citizenship, ultimately resulting in the creation of two unequal classes of Canadians. Indeed, Bill C-24 marks the unprecedented introduction of citizenship tiers for the first time in Canadian history. Not only would this bill make it more difficult to obtain citizenship, it would make it easier for the government to revoke it.
Specifically, Bill C-24 provides that an applicant seeking citizenship must intend to reside in Canada upon obtaining citizenship. This provision would ultimately empower the minister to revoke citizenship from naturalized Canadians based on a finding that they initially misrepresented their intent to reside in Canada. As a result, naturalized Canadians who, for example, engage in extensive international travel for legitimate reasons, such as to visit family or engage in work abroad, would be left in a state of standing uncertainty as to whether their international travel would provide the government with the basis for citizenship revocation on the grounds that they misrepresented their intent when making their initial citizenship applications.
Simply put, it is both wrong and unconstitutional to place this heightened and unequal burden on naturalized Canadians. Indeed, whether this threat is acted upon, the result would be a chilling effect on the mobility rights of naturalized Canadians, thereby creating two unequal classes of citizens under the law: naturalized Canadians for whom international travel may provide a basis for citizenship revocation, and Canadian-born citizens who may travel freely.
New immigrants to Canada are active members of our society. They pay taxes and contribute positively to our nation's economy. Indeed, I am extremely proud to be able to represent one of the most ethnically diverse ridings in the country, the rainbow riding, or comté arc-en-ciel de Mont-Royal. I myself have been witness to how a reasonable and respectful immigration system treats new Canadians as full and equal Canadians, and contributes positively to the community and the perception of Canadian society as constituting a multicultural mosaic. Indeed, section 27 of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms refers to multiculturalism as a constitutional norm.
Simply put, there is no societal or governmental interest achieved in creating an arbitrary distinction and disparate impact and burden on mobility rights between birthright Canadians and new immigrants who have come here lawfully to better their own lives, and who in turn strengthen the fabric of our nation. Indeed, approaching immigration and integration in such a derisive and discriminatory matter is at odds with Canada's long history of being a welcoming and inclusive nation.
Critics such as the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers have argued that the “intent to reside” requirement will provide “broad discretion to a citizenship officer to speculate on the future intentions of a citizenship applicant and deny citizenship based on an alleged lack” of future intent to reside. While the government certainly has the right to restrict immigration, it should do so directly and with clear and express justification, and not based on fear, stigma, speculation, or prejudice.
Apart from the discriminatory effect of this bill that I have described, the legislation is also objectionable on the grounds that it would make Canadian citizenship impractical, if not entirely inaccessible, for many who would otherwise contribute positively to our country, and in particular to our economy.
Moreover, not only would this bill negatively impact permanent residents and naturalized Canadians, it would also establish new grounds for revoking citizenship for all Canadians, including those born here, subject only to a vaguely worded requirement that revocation not conflict “with any international human rights instrument regarding statelessness to which Canada is signatory”.
As the Canadian Bar Association explains:
Citizens who may be subject to citizenship revocation include those born in Canada who are presumed to be able to claim citizenship in another state through one of their parents....
Not only would this approach raise a whole set of interpretative challenges for the courts, it would enable the government to change the substance of this restriction by unilaterally withdrawing from a treaty without consulting Parliament. All of this, of course, ignores the glaring constitutional questions posed by this bill in general, and this specific flawed provision in particular.
I will remind the House of the wording of one of the foundational sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 6(1). It says:
Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
There is no exception in the charter. Section 6(1) does not distinguish between naturalized, dual, or Canadian-born citizens, as would Bill C-24.
While I regret the seeming presumptiveness of reading from the charter to hon. members in this place when we all have obligation to uphold, protect, and defend it, given the bill we are debating and the interventions in debate thus far, it does seem possible that some members in this place may not be as familiar as they should be with this and other charter provisions.
Indeed, one must wonder how it is possible that this bill is before us at all with no report of its charter non-compliance, given the requirements of section 4(1) of the Department of Justice Act that the minister review government bills for consistency with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and table a report of inconsistency, if such is found. Entrenched charter rights, in particular mobility rights under section 6, due process rights under section 7, and equality rights under section 15, are engaged by this bill and would likely be infringed.
Similarly, cases could be made that provisions of Bill C-24 would also infringe on sections 11 and 12 charter rights as well, let alone section 27, to which I have otherwise referred.
This is but a brief snapshot of why these charter rights are engaged and infringed. Whereas principles of fundamental justice include the basic entitlement to procedural fairness, the punishment of exile as it would be applied to Canadian citizens in this legislation could also infringe section 7 of the charter.
In another example, the new grounds for revocation, which would apply only to a class of Canadians deemed to be dual citizens under this bill, would violate the principle of equal citizenship and draw an impermissible distinction based on the enumerated ground of national origin, under section 15 of the charter. Time will prohibit me from elaborating further in this regard.
It is clear that this legislation should have been rejected, even by the government's own alleged standards of review as set forth in its court documents to the effect that the government considers a bill as being charter compliant unless its likelihood of withstanding a charter-based challenge is only 5% or less.
It does not take a constitutional expert to see that this bill is seriously constitutionally suspect, even allowing for the government's particularly low threshold. Therefore, I must take this opportunity to ask why, in light of the government's recent legislative record of constitutionally suspect provisions, it would today seek to pass yet another bill that would trigger expensive, time-consuming, and foreseeable litigation, which would ultimately be struck down in part, if not full. Even more troubling perhaps, it would put the Canadian citizenship regime in a state of flux and uncertainty.
I have only touched on the particulars of this fundamentally flawed and constitutionally suspect legislation.
I wish to emphasize that tiered citizenship as contemplated by this bill is both unethical and unconstitutional. I see no reason why the government should be seeking to restrict immigration to Canada. I would therefore put the question directly to the members to this place. Is there any reason, let alone a compelling one, to make it more difficult for law-abiding applicants to achieve citizenship? Is it the case that we have decided that diversity no longer represents a societal virtue and Canadian value? Is it the case that multiculturalism is no longer a constitutional norm?
The government has yet to justify the primary legislative changes accomplished through the bill in any compelling, let alone constitutional, manner, and its advancement will only continue to create stigma and prejudicial fallout for new immigrants.
For these reasons, I would urge all members to join me in affirming respect for Canadians, respect for the charter, respect for the foundational principle of equality, and respect for multiculturalism and to therefore oppose Bill C-24 and uphold the rule of law.