Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

An Act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Elinor Caplan  Liberal


This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Attack on the United StatesGovernment Orders

September 17th, 2001 / 11:25 a.m.
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Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we are only six days from the morning of September 11, 2001, a new date which we all know will live on in infamy. On that day, in a few harrowing hours, the world was changed forever.

None of us will ever forget where we were in the moments we first heard that planes had struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but for many people, including hundreds of Canadians, that awful moment will never end. There will always be a missing daughter or son, husband or wife, or mother or father who will never return.

It is to the victims of these barbaric acts, to their families and to their loved ones that our hearts, our minds and our prayers must go first. We must let these families know, those who have suffered these losses, that we are with them, that this parliament is with them and that Canada is with them.

Last week's horrific attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania have shocked everyone in the civilized world. These mass hijackings and suicide attacks were more than a crime; they were barbaric acts of war. They were aimed straight at the heart of our society. I say society because these attacks were not aimed just at New York or even just at the United States. They were aimed at everyone in the world who believes in democracy and freedom. They were aimed at everything we hold dear here in Canada also.

Our first thoughts must turn to those who were lost in this horrific attack and to their grieving families: the passengers and crew of those airplanes, the men and women working in the office towers, the pedestrians below those towers, and the brave firefighters and police who rushed in only to be killed themselves. Our thoughts are with these brave souls. They died because they lived in freedom and freedom was targeted for attack.

The very next day following the awful attacks in New York, the people of New York, hurting and feeling great pain, returned to their jobs. Many opened their shops, some of which were covered in ashes, and with their hearts aching but their heads held high they said to a watching world “We are bruised but we will not be broken”.

Let us join them in that spirit to do what must be done to stop the forces of terror and tyranny and to keep open the doors of freedom and peace.

Our hearts go out to all our brave neighbours in the United States, that great beacon of hope and freedom to the world, our greatest ally and our closest friend. When Canada has needed it in the past the United States has been there for us. When the world has needed it, the United States has been there. Along with Canadians, the brave men and women of the United States crossed the Atlantic and Pacific in the second world war and stopped tyranny. Their determined valour was exceeded only by their friendship in the peace that followed.

Now is the time for Canada and Canadians to stand by our great friends and great allies as never before.

I want to thank the Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister for their words of solidarity toward the United States. During this crisis it is important that MPs from all parties put forward a united front. I will do that. Others will do that.

Today I know that every member of parliament from every party would call himself or herself a Canadian, an ally, a friend, not just a member of a particular party.

The Prime Minister has my full support as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States.

I would also like to pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians, from RCMP officers and customs agents to airport personnel, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and citizens who donated blood, who responded with such compassion and concern in this crisis. They have shown that Canadians will stand with the United States, our greatest friend and ally, in its hour of need.

On behalf of Canadians, the Prime Minister called for a national day of mourning last Friday. We deeply appreciated that opportunity to express our sorrow and show our unshakeable support for our American neighbours and for Canadians who suffered loss. In a great show of Canadian solidarity and support on Parliament Hill last Friday and in similar ceremonies across the country, Canadians sent that message. The only element missing from that ceremony was the acknowledgment, in this time of sorrow and heartbreak, of our Creator, because in the days ahead it is only with divine wisdom, grace and understanding that we shall overcome.

As we join with the people of the United States and especially with the families of the victims to remember the dead, let us now dedicate ourselves to protecting the living. The events of September 11 were not merely tragic, like a train wreck or an earthquake. They were evil, as the Prime Minister has said. We must make sure that this kind of evil shall not prevail.

President Bush has rightly called this struggle the first war of the 21st century. Make no mistake. The war on terrorism is not merely the moral equivalent of war, like a war on drugs or a war on poverty. This is a genuine war, which can only be won, as Sir Winston Churchill said of another long struggle, with blood, toil, tears and sweat. Canada, in invoking article 5 of the NATO charter, has joined with our allies in declaring that this attack on the United States is an attack on ourselves, the first such declaration in the 50 year history of NATO.

This is not just an American struggle, for the terrorist war is aimed not only at America nor is it being fought only in America. It is being fought throughout the world, including here in Canada. The suicide bombing of the World Trade Center is an attack on Canada as well. Terrorists have declared war on the entire free world and the entire free world must declare war on terrorism.

This is a war not with ghosts but with real people. Osama bin Laden has been publicly identified as the prime suspect behind these murderous acts. He has been sheltered, if not aided and abetted, and time will tell on that question, by the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. The free world must tell all states that no matter what their ideology, supporting or condoning terror against civilians will never, ever be tolerated.

However, while bin Laden's al-Qaeda movement or other radical groups from the Middle East may be guilty of these infamous acts, we know that the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Muslims here in Canada and around the world deplore and abhor these attacks as strongly as we do.

I have discussed this matter with my colleague, the member of parliament for Edmonton--Strathcona, whom I believe is the only Muslim member of the House. He has told me of the sensitivity of this issue in Canada's Muslim community at this difficult time. The true meaning of Islam is surrender to God. The religion of Salaam, or peace, is diametrically opposed to these kinds of evil acts. The Islamic beliefs in peace and brotherhood are among the elements which make our Canadian communities strong and caring places in which to live. At this hour of darkness, let us reach out in a special way to our peaceful Arab and Muslim friends and neighbours here in Canada and let us reject any backlash against the innocent even as we strive to bring the guilty to justice.

The true teachings of Islam are diametrically opposed to the terrorists' interpretations of them. I am therefore calling upon the public to reach out to our Arab and Muslim friends here in Canada and to reject all forms of discrimination toward innocent individuals.

Let us not allow the barbarism of a few extremists to taint an entire community or religion. There must indeed be justice, but only for those who are guilty.

Canadians do not dwell often on thoughts of war. We are thankful for having enjoyed a long season of peace. When we consider our role in the world, we are more likely to think of Canadians keeping peace than waging war.

Some in this country have already begun to say that talk of war is overblown and irresponsible and that we must instead address the root causes of terrorism. This is true. Root causes must be addressed, but it is sheer folly, let there be no mistake, when we say that the root cause of terrorism is the terrorists themselves. The hatred that moves them to massacre the innocent can never be negotiated with or reasoned with.

It is not a matter of shades of grey when it comes to these barbarous acts of evil. It is set in black and white. This is not a time for moral ambiguity. It is a moment of moral clarity. As Canadians, as subjects of this peaceable land, we did not seek this conflict, but however much we might tell ourselves that we are not targets, that we really are not involved and that this is not our war, the reality is that we cannot avoid it. As I said last week, there are no rearguard positions in the struggle against terrorism, only front lines. Canada is on the front line whether we want to be there or not. In the words of Prime Minister Blair:

People of all faiths and all democratic political persuasions have a common cause: to identify this machine of terror and dismantle it as swiftly as possible.

In the past when summoned to action in World War I when we were a nation of only some eight million people, 625,000 soldiers went into action from Canada. In World War II we again made a huge effort, especially in relation to the size of our population. As well, in Korea and in the gulf, Canada proved itself ready. We joined with our allies and did our share, sometimes at great cost.

Now it is no different. The war on terrorism will require real sacrifices and new priorities. Now we must face the difficult question of whether Canada is ready to face this new struggle. Canada is a free and democratic society. It is precisely because we are a free and democratic society with values and desires to protect our way of life that we cannot avoid the awful responsibility of joining the war on terrorism.

The form of democracy we are privileged to enjoy is the Westminster parliamentary system. In our historic form of democratic government it falls to the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to ask difficult and at times painful questions and to pose alternatives as to what the government should do.

In my address today and in the speeches from Alliance and other opposition members of parliament, we will pose important questions as to whether Canada is sufficiently prepared to face this challenge that has been thrust upon us. For several years the official opposition has consistently raised issues of border security, the integrity of our refugee identification system and the need for more resources for military, security and intelligence purposes. We have drawn attention to terrorist activity within Canada. In our view the government unfortunately has not always responded as fully as it should have to these concerns, but the world has changed since September 11, 2001, and what was an important if sometimes overlooked concern before September 11 has now become an absolute moral imperative since September 11.

Addressing these issues of national security must now become the single highest priority of the Parliament and the Government of Canada.

Today, the official opposition does not wish to rehash the past, to dredge up past mistakes by the government; instead we wish to propose concrete and constructive solutions for the future.

The official opposition does not want to fix blame. We want to fix the problem.

Today I would like to propose three important changes that would better equip the Canadian government to engage in its battle against terrorism.

First, we must equip ourselves with anti-terrorist legislation.

Second, we must ensure that we have secure borders and airports, by protecting ourselves against professional terrorists.

Third, we must provide our army, police and security intelligence service with the needed resources to engage in this battle as well as a clear mandate.

If Canada was inadequately prepared in some of these areas before September 11, the question before us now is how to respond adequately, now that we know we cannot avoid this fight.

In 1996, in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the United States brought in comprehensive anti-terrorism legislation in the form of the anti-terrorism and effective death penalty act signed by President Clinton. In Canada the interdepartmental intelligence policy group reviewed the U.S. legislation but concluded “that the need for such a scheme or its potential effectiveness could not be established”.

In 2000 the United Kingdom, which already had strong anti-terrorism legislation on its books to deal with the threat of the IRA, brought in new sweeping anti-terrorism legislation to deal with international terrorism operating within the U.K.

The official opposition has pointed to the British terrorism act 2000 as an example of the kind of effective legislation that we feel Canada needs to deal with the threat of terrorist groups operating within our borders.

Both the U.S. anti-terrorism act of 1996 and the British anti-terrorism act of 2000 took concrete steps to name and outlaw specific terrorist organizations operating within those countries and to ban any fundraising or other support activities on their behalf.

Yet in Canada the government has avoided the approach of naming and banning specific terrorist organizations and their front groups. This is a step that no longer can be put off.

Canada is a signatory to and indeed helped to draft the 1999 United Nations international convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism, which calls for a complete ban on all forms of fundraising for terrorist organizations. Unfortunately Canada has not ratified this convention and has not yet tabled legislation to give it force and effect.

Bill C-16 which allows the government to strip charitable status from groups raising funds for terrorism is a first tentative step, but it falls short of an outright ban on terrorist fundraising.

Bill C-16, which is being debated in this parliament, would make it possible for certain groups financing terrorism to be stripped of their not for profit organization status.

This is a step in the right direction, but we are still a long way from having true anti-terrorist legislation that would ban the financing of terrorism in Canada and eliminate such groups from this country.

We know that terrorist groups such as Babbar Khalsa, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Irish Republican Army have all raised large amounts of money in Canada and continue to do so. Indeed in 1998 CSIS reported that there were some 50 terrorist groups operating in Canada. In testimony that year before a Senate committee, CSIS Director Ward Elcock said:

As only a partial list, individuals and groups here have had direct or indirect association with: the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, suicide bombings in Israel, assassinations in India, the murder of tourists in Egypt, the Al Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia and the bombing campaign of the Provisional IRA.

He went on to say that we cannot become, through inaction or otherwise, what might be called an unofficial state sponsor of terrorism. We cannot allow that to happen.

Giving the solicitor general and the CCRA the power to strip charitable status from these organizations and their front groups is not good enough. Governments must name these groups, define them, publicly outlaw them and ban all fundraising on their behalf.

The government should have the power to freeze and seize the assets of terrorist organizations and their front groups. We look forward to more input in this particular area of legislation and we look forward to the government response in this particular area. We must deal with this issue.

The second broad area I will address is the security of our borders and airports and how we can better screen people arriving in Canada to prevent possible terrorists from reaching Canada in the first place.

The security of Canada's borders and airports is a vital national and international security issue, but it is also a vital economic issue. Canada relies on a billion dollar a day flow of trade to and from the United States as a linchpin of our economy. Last week's airport and border shutdowns and delays will likely cost our economy tens of millions of dollars.

The fact that our two countries share the world's largest undefended border is not a right but a privilege. If we expect to maintain the kind of access to the United States and it to us that we have enjoyed in the past, we must now take steps to show our American neighbours that we are every bit as concerned as they are about maintaining security and preventing terrorism and organized crime.

We remember the threat posed to the Canadian economy by the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1997. It was only significant and hard lobbying by the Canadian embassy and others that won changes to the legislation to exempt the Canadian-U.S. border. Will that be the case after September 11, 2001? We must work in this regard with all diligence.

What kind of measures may be necessary to ensure security at our points of entry? Our critics in that area have been working diligently with security forces and others to help identify the things that must be done. We will consider the various ideas being brought forward and suggested, whether it is increased implementation of electronic passport screening or the idea of air marshals and other steps that must be taken to grant security on our airlines.

At our land borders Canada customs officers should be issued the right training and equipment to deal with the increased security that will be required there. Our critics in that area will bring forward specific items related to those areas.

There is no question that these steps and others will cost more money. The United States Congress has already authorized $40 billion in spending as simply a first instalment on clean up measures and anti-terrorist activities.

The official opposition will support new spending in these areas, even if it means going beyond certain current spending plans, as long as we are assured that other spending in low and falling priority areas is carefully pruned.

Most of these changes can be done through a reallocation of resources and an attack on wasteful spending. This type of scrutiny is difficult with a government which has refused to table a full budget, but that will be the subject of another day. We are focused on these issues. We are focused on solutions.

We also must look at tougher screening systems being put in place to keep people who pose security risks to Canadians and others from entering the country in the first place. For those currently in the refugee identification system who have not yet received landed status or citizenship we need better tracking to make sure we are able to locate possible security risks. To do that rapidly this should be an immediate priority. We need the resources and the will to do that.

We are known as a country which welcomes with open arms refugees who are seeking freedom and democracy. Unfortunately we are also known somewhat to be soft in not identifying and dealing rapidly with those who are a risk. Refugee claimants who break the law or people who enter this country illegally, especially where there are concerns about security risks, should be immediately detained or deported, not simply asked to check in at an Immigration Canada office once or twice or month.

We must take the proper steps in this regard. We need to do this and we need to do it with all diligence.

Bill C-11 which is currently before the House does not address many of these concerns. It represents in some ways a step backward from the previous Bill C-31 which died on the order paper before the last election. Bill C-11 should be amended to include broader measures to ensure the security and integrity of our refugee system and should be returned to the House.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has pointed out, the war against terrorism in which we are now engaged will be unlike other wars. The enemy is both at home and abroad. They do not take openly to the battlefield but hide in shadows. While this effort may involve conventional warfare against states who harbour or sponsor terrorist cells, we must recognize, as has been identified, that they are also present inside Canada and the United States.

Fighting the multi-headed monster of terrorism means attacking all its operations and doing it simultaneously. We will address in detail the area and concerns of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which has lost 28% of its personnel in the last decade. We will address the areas of the RCMP and its situations related to lost resources. Of course the largest infusion of resources will have to go to the beleaguered Canadian armed forces.

Over the last year the Canadian forces has declined from 90,000 to 55,000 personnel and is on track for further declines. This is a dereliction of our duty. We must support our armed forces and send that message to our NATO partners around the world.

Last week NATO invoked article 5 for the first time in its history. President Bush made it clear that he is building an international coalition to combat not only terrorist cells but their state sponsors. We must work with and be part of that coalition. Unfortunately the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has resorted to belligerent rhetoric about its support for Osama bin Laden rather than co-operating with the United States. The prospect of a conventional military campaign is not remote.

If and when the need arises for military action, the United States and NATO will expect Canada to provide a commitment. We must be willing and prepared to provide it. It is for this reason that I am asking the Prime Minister to be crystal clear regarding our commitment to the United States and NATO up to and including, if necessary, military involvement within our capacity to do so.

NATO is perhaps the most successful military and political alliance in history. Its decisions on military action are made with both care and deliberation. We are obliged to be part of that. Now more than ever Canada's voice and vote of commitment needs to be heard in the clearest of terms, both in the camps of our friends and the hidden dens of our enemies.

This weekend we have heard the menacing threats. We have heard warnings against freedom loving nations not to assist the United States in any military action. Our government must be clear. It is not the time to give any signal to the barbaric enemies of freedom and democracy that we will do anything less than stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends, the Americans and our NATO partners, in the face of this insidious threat.

This is not a time for half measures. It is not a time to bring forward previously announced initiatives and relabel them as anti-terrorist measures. There are some positive elements in current proposals like Bill C-16 and Bill C-11, but they do not go far enough. We must carry them forward. We must do everything that is within our power and will to do.

We will continue to bring forward constructive criticisms and suggestions. They will be put forward in a spirit of unity and solidarity with the Prime Minister and his cabinet as we enter this first war of the new century.

I hope the Prime Minister will accept these constructive criticisms and suggestions in the spirit in which they are given: for the furtherance of our common goal to defeat terrorism at home and abroad.

Over the next few weeks there will be times to discuss and debate whether we are moving fast enough or far enough in certain areas. There will be times to debate whether Canada could have or should have been more prepared. However today is a day to show unity and resolve.

We show unity in standing with our American neighbours, especially the families of the victims of these horrible attacks. We show unity in mourning our own Canadian dead. We show resolve in facing the enemy of international terrorism and announcing that terror in all its forms will not be allowed to stand.

Last week the world saw the face of evil. However good may yet be able to arise out of the evil if the citizens of the free countries of the world rise as one, say that this evil shall not stand, and work together to eliminate it from the earth.

In closing, I would like to say that I am proud to join with the government in supporting this motion. I trust it will be first of many actions we will take together as parliamentarians and as Canadians, united in this war against terrorism.

In these next days and weeks may God grant wisdom to our Prime Minister and to this parliament. God save our Queen. God keep our land glorious and free.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 5:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's speech was full of rhetoric but not much subject matter, which, coming from that member, is typical.

The leader of the official opposition as well as the official opposition's chief critic for immigration articulated the immigration policy of the Canadian Alliance very well.

Could the hon. member tell us about the other side of the bill which would not close the back door but in fact leave it quite open? I would like to ask the hon. member about the RCMP, which is allegedly, under the Liberal government's nose, probing 32 federal immigration employees for criminal offences at 21 Canadian embassies. Another 16 immigration staffers are allegedly facing internal investigation by department officials for alleged offences.

The RCMP are also assisting in a probe of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most of the individuals and families admitted to Canada from Kenyan refugee camps since 1995 have had to pay bribes to come to Canada. They are genuine refugees but they could not come through the front door.

Where in Bill C-11 can I find something that will counter and effectively control corruption and close the so-called back door? I do not see anything in Bill C-11 that would curtail corruption and bribery. Where is it?

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 4:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, first let me thank the member for Fundy—Royal for being very unselfish in sharing his time with me today.

I am very honoured to take part in the third reading of Bill C-11, the new immigration act. I have said to the House before that as a third generation immigrant to this country, I am very privileged to be here, and that includes the 44 other members in the House who are also Canadians by choice. I believe we are all very thankful that this country has taken us in.

Unfortunately we still have a long way to go. A new immigration bill is long overdue. The bill is called an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger. Unfortunately the contents of the bill do not reflect the title.

Also at this time I want to thank my deputy critic, the member for Blackstrap, for her due diligence and hard work as we travelled throughout the country seeking public information.

I also want to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, members from all sides of the House, for their tremendous co-operative spirit, which was demonstrated throughout all stages of Bill C-11. There is no doubt that we as a committee wanted what was best for this country in our attempt to write the immigration laws for the next decade.

I want to thank the capable chairman of the committee, the member for London North Centre, for his relatively non-partisan approach. I believe he has not forgotten that he, like I, immigrated to this country in the 1950s as a young child.

Also at this time I need to thank the clerks and the parliamentary support staff for all the hard work they displayed in keeping us organized and moving.

We have heard from all sides of the House about how important immigration is and how immigration built this country. Immigrants have been coming to Canada since the 1500s and they have shaped this country. Canadians from all walks of life can relate in some manner to the immigrants who came to Canada seeking a better life.

The manner in which Canada welcomed these newcomers was not always friendly. In my brief intervention here I would like to quote from a book called Whence They Came: Deportation from Canada , written by Barbara Roberts. The foreword was written by Irving Abella in 1988 and I believe this is a good time to reflect on our history of immigration in Canada. Mr. Abella states:

Canada is a peculiar nation. Peopled by immigrants, it is a country, paradoxically, which hates immigration. Every single public opinion survey over the past fifty years indicates that most Canadians—including by the way, most immigrants themselves—do not want any substantial increase in the number of people admitted to this country. This attitude may surprise Canadians, but historically it should not.

It is one of our great national myths that Canada has a long history of welcoming refugees and dissidents, of always being in the forefront in accepting the world's oppressed and dispossessed, of being receptive and hospitable to wave after waves of immigrants.

We Canadians like to think that racism and bigotry are European or American in origin and play little part in our history, tradition or psyche. We see ours as a country of vast open spaces and limitless potential which has always been open and available to the proverbial huddled masses yearning to be free.

Yet as the recent history in Canadian literature has shown, the Canadian record is one of which we ought not be proud. Our treatment of our native people as well as our abysmal history in admitting blacks, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, and during the 1930s and 1940s Jews, should lay to rest the myth of our liberalism and enlightenment on matters of race and immigration.

Let us face facts For most of our history Canadian immigration laws were racist and exclusionary. We knew precisely what kind of people we wanted, and how to keep out those we didn't. Until the 1960s our immigration policies divided the world into two - the “preferred” races who were always welcome in Canada and the “non-preferred” who rarely were. The former were of British and European stock; the latter included almost everybody else.

The central problem of Canadian immigration policy is that for most of our history we did not have one. Since 1867 the country has had precisely four immigration acts. Nor has there ever been in Canada—neither now nor in the past—any clearly articulated national consensus about what immigration should be or what it would be. Except for one constant—its discriminatory aspects—our policies have had little consistency.

Even today when we look at 1% as the target, we still do not know why we use that as a target.

The integrity of Canada's immigration system is determined by processes that are used to determine who would be allowed to immigrate to Canada and under what conditions they would be allowed to reside in the country. It is essential that the checks and balances be in place to ensure that decisions are just, because no system can ever be perfect.

Enforcement of immigration laws can and does have severe consequences. It causes a separation of parents from children, spouses from one another and individuals from a country that was their home. To ensure that Canada has a balanced immigration system, Canadians need a process that is responsible, compassionate, equitable and fair.

Bill C-11 fails to preserve the process that is necessary for ensuring reliable and just decision making for immigrants and refugees to this country. The bill strips away the progress that Canada has made in creating review processes that help bring balance to our national immigration policy. Some of these come down to seemingly simple procedural issues but are critical for the administration of a fair and just immigration system.

The Canadian Alliance cannot support Bill C-11. It just goes against the values of being Canadian. I thank the member for Fundy—Royal for sharing his time with me.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 4:35 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, as we know, the twelve to eight split was unbalanced. Although we did not get what we wanted out of Bill C-11, there was goodwill on both sides of the House during the presentations from over 150 witnesses. The hon. members for Mississauga West and London North Centre provided very solid contributions.

I also wish to pay tribute to the Bloc Quebecois immigration critic, the member for Laval East, and to the New Democratic Party spokesperson and the member for Dauphin—Swan River, all of whom made an important contribution to consideration of this bill.

Our country was not built by a big Sussex, New Brunswick, or a big Lethbridge, Alberta, or even a big Winnipeg. We built it together. A very multicultural pluralistic society built one of the best nations in the world, one that is the envy of the world.

I am very proud of the Progressive Conservative background and our history of embracing immigration, which is an economic necessity to grow our vibrant society. We also embrace the welcoming of human diversity in a protection of refugees. Canada is one of the four countries in the world that accepts convention refugees. We should be applauded for that.

I would like to pay tribute to members such as the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester who was a member in the former prime minister, Brian Mulroney, government. Immigration rates tripled from about 88,000 to about 240,000 over the nine year regime of that government.

The Liberal Party of Canada has a very well-deserved history with respect to immigration. Look how it opened its arms to Canadians through the era of statesmen such as Wilfrid Laurier, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. That is the traditional position of immigration with the Liberal Party of Canada.

Looking at Bill C-11, it would seem that the Liberal Party of Canada is the most reticent among the political parties in the House to embrace massive immigration and to provide the necessary tools to protect refugees. Clearly there was a divergence of opinion between the member for Dauphin—Swan River and the Leader of the Opposition with respect to their speeches, but I will leave that issue aside.

In summary, we have some problems with the bill. There is a lack of entrenched appeal rights for permanent residents and sponsors. A clause in the bill specifies that a refugee may make only one claim per lifetime no matter how drastic the change in circumstance. We have a problem with the fact that the final appeal for a refugee is a mere paper appeal. We believe that refugee rights are human rights. We should determine if a person could be persecuted, or tortured or perhaps die by not granting refugee status. We should look that person square in the eyes when we make that determination, as opposed to a mere paper appeal.

The bill has been rushed through. We essentially have had closure on debate. We are fast-tracking the bill as we head back to our ridings for the summer months.

One initiative was taken and I want to compliment my colleagues on the opposition benches in particular. After hearing 150 witnesses from coast to coast and travelling this great country, we said we needed an opportunity to reflect on the information we had received. We needed to have a week to prepare our amendments. I put an amendment forth to force the government to move in that direction. However to the credit of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and her colleagues on the Liberal benches, they saw the wisdom of that particular motion as we headed to the latter days. In fact we were able to table some amendments that actually had a modest augmentation to the bill.

Essentially what we are looking at with respect to the legislation is an opportunity to have a pioneering piece of legislation, one of which Canadians can be proud, which would replace an outdated piece of legislation.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 4:15 p.m.
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Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak against Bill C-11, as I have done on behalf of the New Democratic Party throughout the entire legislative process dealing with this bill on immigration and refugee policy.

The bill was touted as constituting a major overhaul of the Immigration Act. It was supposed to be a long awaited replacement for a law that has been in place for more than 22 years. We all know that it replaces Bill C-31, which died on the order paper when the federal election was called, so the government had a second chance to get this right but refused. It had an opportunity to get up the courage and lead with some vision, but it failed miserably.

It is rare in my experience to deal with a government bill that is so seriously flawed as this one, so universally opposed as Bill C-11. Certainly I know that in our committee discussions there was universal opposition to the bill on the opposition benches. That was before today, before the leader of the Alliance Party rose in his place and appeared to be contradicting the good work, on many different levels, of the Alliance critic for immigration.

I hope the wisdom of the critic for the Alliance will prevail and that we will see a co-operative effort on this side of the House in continuing to apply pressure on the government to improve the bill and to think twice before allowing it to come to a vote today. I know that seems a bit far fetched, but the sentiments we heard from Canadians from coast to coast to coast were very clear and precise. Canadians do not want to see this kind of rigid, restrictive and punitive approach and are very disappointed in the Liberal government.

This is an area that is sensitive. We know that. We know, based on how immigration issues are raised in the House and the concern on the part of Canadians to ensure a balanced approach, there is a need for leadership by the government to help educate and inform Canadians about the need for immigration.

On a matter of such importance as immigration policy, population policy, which really is fundamental to the whole policy area, it is hard to imagine any government proceeding without considerable backing, without even qualified support from the opposition benches or without some community organization leaping to its defence. However, that is exactly what the government is doing. It is plowing ahead despite repeated concerns, suggestions and criticisms raised by Canadians, by individuals, immigration advocates, refugee sponsors, ethnocultural organizations and people who advocate and work in the field day in and day out.

It cannot be said that efforts were not made to improve the bill. It is not for the lack of trying that we end up in this position today with a bill that is virtually unchanged from the start of the process to the end. The committee worked hard. It has been acknowledged. Canadians worked hard. Throughout the committee process we heard from over 150 different groups from coast to coast to coast. Almost in unison they spoke against the bill.

We proposed hundreds of amendments at the committee level during clause by clause. There were over 80 amendments from the NDP alone. Yet with the exception of perhaps a handful of amendments, a few small changes, the bill remains flawed. It remains a document with many offensive and troubling aspects.

I want to make it clear that for the NDP, at least, this bill is problematic not because of one or two offensive clauses but because as a whole it goes in the wrong direction. I think this is the case for other opposition parties and it had been the case for the Alliance Party as well.

The bill is contrary to the very values that Canadians hold so near and dear. The bill as a whole, in all of its parts, is a disappointment. It is a lost opportunity and is regressive in many ways. Many have told us that bill would in some cases actually make the situation even worse. Imagine that. After all the consultations and the successive bills presented on this matter, it is not even possible to draw the conclusion from all groups involved, including experts and concerned citizens, that the bill is better than the present 22 year old law. That is what we are hearing.

Imagine a Liberal government bill being so roundly criticized not because it offends, with the exception of the Leader of the Opposition and a few others, the extremist elements of our society, the right wing elements or the conservative doctrine in the country, but because it violates fundamental principles in the areas of democratic rights, civil liberties and humanitarian ideals. That is astounding.

As so many told us throughout the whole process, the bill, when all is said and done, is un-Canadian and undemocratic and it is certainly un-Liberal. Liberal members in the House today should be ashamed for supporting this bill and for refusing to rise in their places and speak against this very regressive legislation.

Legislation in the immigration and refugee policy field should flow from our history, our traditions and the values of Canadians and it should be based on population needs. In terms of history, as many have said in the House, this country has been defined by the waves of immigration that have taken place over a long period of time.

We have all said in the House that except for Canada's aboriginal peoples all of us or our ancestors came from somewhere else. We are all immigrants and we value the fact that our society is diverse. We see Canada gaining strength from adversity in terms of our climate and our geography and also from our diversity in terms of the successive waves of immigration and the ethnocultural diversity of the country.

I think it is fair to say that Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world. It has certainly been stated that way by Gwynne Dyer, who wrote a wonderful piece in Canadian Geographic in the February 2001 issue, in which he said:

What is truly remarkable is the ethnic profile of the immigrants to Canada, which is unique in how closely it matches the global distribution of the human population...Canada, more than anywhere else, is truly becoming the world in one country.

Canada's legacy, Canada's history, is about that diversity. It is not just about the number of people who have come from so many different places. It is about how we treat and deal with one another in the context of being a mosaic. It is our tradition and our values that have shown the way. Canada is a model for the world in terms of respect for differences, for not imposing one view or one way of thinking or one way of life on our immigrants and the people who make up this country. Our way is one of easygoing acceptance, of generosity and tolerance and respect for differences. We do not impose some uniform identity on the immigrants who come to this country.

One would think, based on our history, traditions and values, that today we would be at a point of advancing openness and tolerance in the form of the bill before us.

That happened about 30 years ago. That was a significant part of our history. The government of the day under Pierre Elliott Trudeau actually looked at this as an important policy area that had to be addressed. We saw legislation introduced that allowed for the doors of our country to be opened up and for immigrants to come to this country from all over the world.

Here we are today in the year 2001, the start of the millennium, with the hope that we could build on that history and that tradition. Instead we are looking at probably one of the most restrictive and punitive pieces of legislation that parliament has seen in a long time. It is certainly out of character in terms of Canadians' expectations with respect to Liberals in this country.

Some of the recent developments illustrate what kind of situation we are dealing with. It is not just a regressive, restrictive, punitive law but also a fortress mentality that is deeply entrenched in the system. Although the minister is addressing this issue, we saw the treatment of Tinuola Akintade, the British citizen who received such rough treatment at an airport in this country, thus showing us that legitimate visitors are sometimes treated like criminal suspects in the country today.

We have also learned some lessons from the whole episode with respect to establishing honorary citizenship for Nelson Mandela. Although it is very important for the government to have taken this initiative, and we have supported it every step of the way, we certainly were appalled at the one or two Alliance members who objected to recognition for Nelson Mandela.

We are also galled by the decision of this government to make such an important statement at the same time that it is bringing in a bill that, if we were able to repeat history and he was seeking refuge from his particular circumstances, would have denied Nelson Mandela the ability to enter this country in the first place. As we have heard from many organizations and certainly from my colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre, who made this point repeatedly during the process pursuant to Bill C-31, Nelson Mandela would have been denied entry into this country because he would have fallen under the definition of being a terrorist.

This point was made so well recently in an article in the Globe and Mail written by Sharryn Aiken and Andrew Brouwer, who stated that for many individuals the provisions of Bill C-11 actually mean:

—that merely associating with known suspects, sympathizing with a national liberation struggle or doing some community organizing in Canada will be enough to get a person labeled “member of a terrorist organization,” if the cause in question happens to be on the government's informal...blacklist. By permitting such findings of guilt by association, the provisions violate international standards and principles of criminal law, bringing to mind some of the worst excesses of the McCarthy era.

The other important point in this debate is the need for this legislation to reflect population policy, for it to be based, to be founded, on our vision as a country in terms of numbers, in terms of where we want to go, how we want to grow and at what speed, and how we meet the needs of citizens in this nation.

Canada can no longer count on a steady stream of prospective immigrants knocking at our door seeking admission. We are just not competitive any more. We are not competitive because we have moved so far toward a very punitive, restrictive process.

The numbers say it all. We have heard so much from the minister about opening the front door. We have heard so much about trying to get our immigration and refugee population up to 1% of Canada's overall population.

If that were the case today we would be at about 300,000 new immigrants or newcomers to Canada. According to the latest statistics, we are not even close. The numbers are a little higher than they were in 1967 when a Liberal government opened the doors and brought in legislation at that time.

We are not making great progress toward meeting that minimal goal of 1% of our population. We are not meeting that goal in terms of immigrants or refugees. We are not contributing in a major way, as many Liberals have stood up in the House to suggest, for Canada to be a home for displaced persons and people in need of protection. We are told over and over again how Canada is a model in terms of refugees, yet when it comes down to the actual numbers, for the last year for which we have statistics, we are at about 25,000 refugees. I do not think that is something to brag about. It certainly points to the possibilities for more openness when it comes to both immigrants and refugees.

We are a large country. We have the second largest land mass in the world. With only a little more than 30 million people, we can do better than this in opening our doors to people who want to come to Canada. We have to do better if we are really serious about renewing ourselves as a population and ensuring that we continue to meet the economic and social needs of Canadians.

We heard from many groups that made that point, especially people from Manitoba such as the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and the Citizenship Council of Manitoba. Both organizations have said time and time again that our demographics show that we are both aging and we are not having enough offspring to replace our current population. This was a point made by the minister today.

Then the question is what is the action to deal with that situation, and why have we not taken more steps to open our doors? Is this what Canadians want? What affect will this have on our social and economic well-being? Can we survive as a nation if we cannot be competitive because of a stagnant population? Is this truly the kind of vision we have of Canada in terms of the global community?

The point of all the presentations we have heard was to base our policy on history, values, traditions and on population needs. We have failed to do that through this bill. We have lost an important opportunity.

What the government is really doing with this bill is protecting Canada from the world instead of uniting and re-uniting families and building a nation. It seems to me that the bill is predicated on that fortress mentality of keeping out the bad guys and protecting Canadians from negative elements in the world. The bill fails to do what is fundamental to the task at hand, which is to ensure that we allow families to be re-united and that we build the country on the basis of the contributions that each individual and each family make, just as our ancestors did, and that in the process we build and unite this country.

What we are doing in the bill is the worst possible thing of all. We are responding to an anti-immigration sentiment that is a very small part of public opinion these days and declining with every day that passes. There is a pandering to prejudices tone in this bill that does in fact lead to xenophobia and racism. That is the last thing this place should be about. This is the last thing the government would want to do I would hope.

We are debating a bill that is keeping people out instead of re-uniting families and building a nation. We tried very hard to expand the definition of family class. We proposed adding grandparents, brothers and sisters. It was a tie vote until the chair had to break the tie and kept with Liberal policy, which was unfortunate.

Equally unfortunate is the fact that the government refuses to look at the whole restrictive approach to visitors visas which is probably cause for the greatest number of concerns and cases that MPs hear in our constituency offices.

The bill refuses to deal with the head tax which does restrict immigrants from less developed and poorer countries around the world. It is discriminatory because of the head tax. We tried very hard to get that deleted.

It falls short in dealing with the whole issue of foreign credentials and ensuring that we recognize people with training, skills and education from other countries. It fails to, as we tried to do, eliminate and replace the live-in caregiver program, which is so repugnant in the treatment of women and the perpetuation of the notion of women being cheap slave labour. It denies people the right to pursue their democratic rights for appeals to the courts. We heard that over and over again. It does not live up to our international conventions on refugees and torture. It is a disappointment on many fronts.

I would like to conclude with one sentence that asks the question: In this world of globalization and rapid technology, does this have to mean harmonization and homogenization or would it not be better to ensure that the strength and the spirit of individual communities and ethnocultural populations is supported, enhanced and able to contribute to the strength of this country?

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 4 p.m.
See context


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, Canada and Quebec are havens. The Immigration Act should enshrine this welcome in a fair and equitable manner so as to respond as humanely as possible to the needs of new arrivals, be they immigrants or refugees, in accordance with international conventions and the values held by Canadians and Quebecers.

However, the anchor point for Bill C-11 is the harsh treatment accorded illegal immigrants. Much of the bill focuses on the closing of the door on potential immigrants, through the consolidation of measures intended to prevent fraud, reveal false declarations and abuse and deny criminals and people representing security risks access to the country.

Initially, it would appear from the bill that Canada has been invaded by criminals of all sorts; in a word, the door is open too wide. Not only is there a need for a bolt, but for an impenetrable alarm system as well.

The Bloc Quebecois does not agree with this position. While it is important, indeed vital, to prevent criminals, especially those in organized crime or who have committed crimes against humanity, from entering the country, we must remember that these individuals represent a minuscule fraction of the people immigrating to Canada. To do otherwise is to reinforce the prejudice against refugees and immigrants.

I will quote to you, if I may, Madam Speaker, from an open letter from the Centre justice et foi de Montréal on Bill C-11:

Bill C-11 was introduced in an essentially negative and defensive light: campaign against the snakeheads, major increase in penalties, increased powers of detention, reinforced interception measures abroad, reduced possibilities of appeal or review.

In our opinion, this represents a serious and dual perversion of the entire Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. First of all, it is situating immigration—an asset to society, a plus, even a demographic necessity in the case of Canada—in a reverse perspective, as a threat from which we must protect ourselves. Also, it is displacing the function of protecting those in need—the refugees included in the title—to protecting Canadians from the potential risk or abuse connected with these new arrivals.

...The logic of repression is everywhere, without escape and without end, and even if officially only certain immigrants and refugees are targeted, it will end up spilling over inevitably to all immigrants and all refugees.

That, in my opinion, is a very good summary of the general feeling of almost all individuals and organizations we met with during the committee hearings.

Yesterday the House awarded honourary citizenship to Nelson Mandela. No one can ignore the paradox and irony of the contrast between yesterday's Motion No. 379 and today's bill.

If the new legislation had been in effect 40 years ago and Nelson Mandela had sought asylum in Canada, as a member of an organization for the subversion by force of any government, to use the wording of clause 34, he would have been inadmissible. He would have been sent back to South Africa and there is a good chance that he would not have ended up the Nobel Laureate we now know.

During the committee review of the bill, the Bloc Quebecois introduced an amendment to paragraph 34( b ), so that only those who engage in or instigate the subversion by force of a democratically elected government be inadmissible. It seemed logical that the government should support this amendment. I do not have to tell members what the government's answer was. True to itself, it rejected the amendment.

The process for appointing board members is another major component of this bill. The bill does not include any changes to the appointment process. However, for several years, the Bloc Quebecois has been criticizing the Liberals for constantly making political appointments to the commission. It is essential to set up a transparent appointment process that will ensure full impartiality and a selection based on the qualifications and professional experience of the candidates, and not, as is often the case, on their political connections.

Since the bill provides that the decisions will be made by a single member, it is even more critical that decision makers all be extremely competent. Unfortunately, the amendments that we proposed in this respect were rejected. Yet, the government did not have to look very far. It could have looked at the appointment process for Quebec's administrative tribunals.

A brief was presented to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration by two lawyers and a psychiatrist. The Bloc Quebecois endorsed the proposed changes. By presenting them, we felt we would solve the problem of the political appointments of members by proposing the use of objective criteria guaranteeing the competence and independence of members. But the Liberal Party does not want this. It prefers to continue to appoint members in a totally arbitrary fashion, thus significantly reducing the moral and legal authority of these administrative tribunals. How dare the government toy in this way with the life, safety and freedom of these applicants?

Board members have an important responsibility, and it is no exaggeration to say that they have the power of life and death over those appearing before them.

Early this year, a bad assessment had tragic consequences. Everyone remembers the tragic situation in which the federal government placed Haroun M'Barek, a Tunisian who requested refugee status but was sent back to his country of origin, even though all signs were that he might be tortured there, which was in fact what happened. Too late, Canada recognized its mistake. In this case, the Bloc Quebecois' pressure on the government certainly played a role in Canada's interceding for Mr. M'Barek, but it would have been better if Canada had not had to intervene and Mr. M'Barek had been recognized as a political refugee.

The Bloc Quebecois finds regrettable the hard line taken by the government in introducing this bill and the accompanying public announcements. Through its approach to this issue, we believe that the government, which seems to be trying to reassure the Canadian right, is reinforcing prejudices towards refugees and immigrants. It is thus encouraging division and heightening xenophobic and racist sentiments in society.

In recent years, the Bloc Quebecois has frequently argued that the Canadian system for granting refugee status should include two essential characteristics: it must be prompt and fair towards the person rightfully seeking asylum, and it must dissuade those who clog the system with unfounded applications.

The slowness of the claims process is the cause of unacceptable human tragedies and puts people and families in extremely difficult situations. Is it acceptable that, at the end of December 1999, in Montreal alone, over 7,000 individuals seeking asylum were still awaiting a hearing?

I should mention that, although the bill proposes changes to claims for refugee status, nowhere does Ottawa agree to assume the administrative costs. If the government is so sure the measures proposed in the bill are effective, it should agree to assume the cost of them until the persons involved have been declared refugees and obtained permanent residence or left the country.

In February, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia criticized the federal government's handling of the movement of asylum seekers, demanded major remedial action be taken and called for the federal government, which is solely responsible for the refugee determination process, to assume all the costs of it.

We must remember that it costs Quebec alone over $100 million a year to look after persons awaiting a federal decision by the IRB.

In closing, I would like to express to you a concern over the Canada-Quebec accord. The importance of this agreement lies in the fact that Quebec, aware of its responsibilities to protect French, can and must promote francophone immigration. It is no secret to anyone that the English language minority in Quebec is part of the vast anglophone majority in North America.

Quebec's anglophone minority can absolutely not compare itself to French language minorities in the rest of Canada. We are obviously concerned, and so is the Quebec government, by paragraph 3(3)( e ) of Bill C-11, which reads as follows:

3.(3)( e ) supports the commitment of the Government of Canada to enhance the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada;

Could it be that this paragraph challenges what had been agreed to in the 1991 Canada-Quebec accord relating to immigration and temporary admission of aliens?

In her presentation on this amendment, the hon. member for Saint-Lambert indicated on behalf of the government that the purpose of this added provision was to ensure that the spirit of the Official Languages Act would be respected, and to help Canada's official minority communities, and to reflect the spirit of the report of the Commissioner of Official Languages, who hopes that the Official Languages Act will be acknowledged in one way or another in every bill.

Indeed, the Official Languages Act stipulates that:

The government is committed to enhancing the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and supporting and assisting their development. It is also committed to fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

The anglophone minority in Quebec cannot, however, flourish at the expense of the francophone majority, which is far more threatened and hemmed in on all sides by a North American anglophone tide.

The 1991 Canada-Quebec accord introduced a new and important objective for Quebec, to preserve the demographic weight of Quebec within Canada and to ensure the harmonious integration of immigrants into that society.

This addition to the Canada Immigration Act might also be in contravention of the spirit of Bill 101, which sets out criteria giving precedence to immigration by persons with a knowledge of French.

There is a consensus within the population of Quebec to the effect that it is imperative to ensure the survival of the French fact in North America. Need I remind hon. members that only 2% of the population of North America is francophone?

This threat to the survival of French was noted by UNESCO in 1999, when it judged that Quebec was entitled by law to restrict access to English schools because this was an appropriate way of preserving the French fact in Quebec. Even the Canadian ambassador to UNESCO stated in his argument:

In the specific demographic context of Quebec, the precarious situation of francophones and the preservation of their cultural identity in North America, and more specifically in Canada, required a legislative intervention tailored to their unique situation.

Could it be that wishing to support and assist “the development of minority official languages communities in Canada” and enhance “the vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada” within the framework of immigration legislation could have the direct effect in Quebec of favouring the English-speaking minority in Quebec to the long term detriment of the very existence of the French-speaking minority in Canada?

Since 1951, Statistics Canada figures have shown a constant decrease in the size of Canada's French-speaking population.

It will therefore be important for the Government of Canada to enforce clauses 8 and 9 of this bill so as not to threaten Canada's French-speaking minority, most of whom reside in Quebec.

In closing, I cannot help regretting that the third reading of Bill C-11 has been rushed through in under two hours. This shows a complete lack of respect for the people of Canada and of Quebec. It also shows a lack of respect for those men and women who dream of coming and building a better future in Quebec.

I hope that the bill can be amended in the near future so that it meets the real needs of the public.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Madam Speaker, I rise to participate in the third reading debate of Bill C-11, the act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or endangered.

I appreciate the initiatives and the efforts of members from all parties to actually improve this legislation and the hard work they have done on this committee. At the risk of sounding partisan, I especially appreciate the hard work of the Canadian Alliance MPs who had considerable input on this.

The bill would replace the 25 year old Immigration Act of 1976. There are some much needed changes in the bill but unfortunately it has a series of serious flaws.

Immigration to Canada should be simple. Either one meets the criteria to enter Canada or one does not. The legislation should be clear, transparent, comprehensive, precise, democratic, accountable, efficient, effective, enforceable, easy to interpret and helpful to legitimate immigrants, while maintaining the integrity and security of Canada and Canadians.

Let me make it very clear that the Canadian Alliance will pursue a policy of open and transparent immigration. The nation is strong because at one time either ourselves, our ancestors, our parents or grandparents all immigrated here. Even many of our aboriginal peoples, anthropologists tell us, at one time found their way across the Bering Sea to what we now know as North America. We all immigrated here at some time. The strength of our nation will continue with a good and sound immigration policy.

The legislation may be well intended but the outcome may unfortunately not serve its stated purpose. Lack of clarity, prudence and real enforcement behind the legislation may ultimately cause more troubles than the legislation that it purports to replace. There is far too much reliance to interpret 89 pages of regulations that are in the legislation. Much of what is in the regulations should in fact be in the legislation itself.

Regulations really give the minister the option of running the department any way he or she sees fit. That is not accountability in government, but the present government is not known for its accountability. The Liberal government has a habit of governing by regulation and not by legislation. Regulations cannot be debated in the House of Commons and so in a way it is governing through the back door. It not only makes legislation undemocratic but makes it complex, opaque and difficult to understand.

The Canadian Alliance attempted to have amendments passed that would have made the legislation effective and workable but the Liberals refused to co-operate. Most of the amendments presented at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration by the Canadian Alliance member were rejected by the Liberal dominated committee. There was no true freedom for members on the government's side to vote and support common sense amendments to the legislation.

There is a history of the government not accepting most of the opposition's amendments to any bill. A government should be open to amendments that make sense. It does not weaken the government in the eyes of the public. It strengthens it when the government shows that openness. We on this side are open to pointing out times when the government does that which is good. We point that out and we give it credit. We think correspondingly it should respond to amendments from the opposition that make sense and would improve the legislation.

There are many examples where the government did not seem capable, certainly not willing, to do this. For example, in Bill C-7, the youth criminal justice act, the Liberals refused to accept amendments from the opposition and eventually passed yet another ineffective piece of legislation.

We all know that on Bill C-15 the government refused to accept an opposition suggestion to split provisions that would protect children from Internet predators, which we all support. It would have split the bill into other pieces of legislation which we were willing to debate separately, but the government was not. The official opposition had a number of suggestions for improvement that we wish the government had incorporated into the bill.

As a general principle we have suggested that the minister should establish an ombudsman to receive complaints from Canadians on all matters pertaining to immigration. The ombudsman would report annually to the House of Commons. We feel that was a valid proposal, one that would not hurt the government but strengthen it. It seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Ministers should consult with municipalities. Wherever I go across the country, and as members of the Canadian Alliance visit with mayors and municipalities, we see the need for a consultation process with the federal government with respect to resettlement for immigrants and integration programs where applicable. The municipalities have to bear not only the responsibility but the cost of this, and there needs to be consultation with the federal government. A Canadian Alliance government would do that.

The government should encourage open and accountable discussions between a variety of agencies, as well as the provinces and non-government immigration organizations. In this bill the government has missed the opportunity to truly strengthen and have a vibrant immigration policy. Our party would work with the provinces for policies on the settlement of immigrants.

The Canadian Alliance supports the current immigration levels but we would like to see immigrants in the jobs that they were trained to do. We would like Canada to attract the best and the brightest from around the world, not just those who wish to come here so we can fulfil a quota but those whose skills correspond to the needs of our economy.

Physicians and nurses are not on the list of occupational needs required by Canada despite acute shortages in those professions. This is an obvious deficiency in the bill. Even if a doctor or a nurse were to immigrate to Canada, he or she might not be allowed to work in his or her field of endeavour for up to two years or until the minister granted a work permit. Whether they are doctors or nurses, qualified immigrants should be able to find work in an expedient way in the occupations in which they were trained. They should not have to work below the level of their qualification.

When it comes to families, we support the expedient reunification of family members. The bill purports to help family reunification, but without the proper enforcement and the staff to handle the changes proposed in the bill, the line-ups of people waiting in the system may be even longer. The system may become further clogged, which is not the way to reunite families.

In order for people to have their spouses or fiancés immigrate to Canada, they must be financially responsible for them for up to five years. That means the spouse or the fiancé is not allowed to work in Canada until his or her application is processed.

A real case in point is when a Canadian marries an American. They both work in the high tech industry and they wish to return to Canada. The American spouse can be sponsored but will not be allowed to work even though the need and the demand is here. He or she can apply for independent status but will not be able to work for up to a year while the application is being processed. These kinds of discriminatory provisions should be removed.

I might add that the discriminatory right of landing fee, also called the head tax, is not a signal to families that we want to see them reunited. The costs are shamefully high, especially to low income families wanting to reunite their families. That is inappropriate and we are opposed to that.

Bill C-11 is also a direct attack in some ways on legitimate refugees. We support and reaffirm our policy of taking in our share of genuine refugees. However paragraph 3(2)(d) states that Canada is:

—to offer safe haven to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, as well as those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment;

This translates into meaning that every criminal or otherwise undesirable entering Canada who claims to be a refugee would be under Canadian protection from extradition to another country if there was reason to believe they would be under threat of any harm. The list of undesirables includes international terrorists, murderers, members of organized crime, sex offenders and child abusers.

The key changes include referring refugees to the Immigration and Refugee Board within three working days. What is key here is the processing time of a claim would still remain at 90 days. There is no improvement whatsoever and that is unacceptable.

The unnecessary appeal processes need to be curtailed. The onion layer effect of appeals actually causes more problems than it attempts to solve. The definition of a refugee needs to be clearly defined. Most Canadians know what a true refugee is. We support doing our part to help those who are truly in need, but keeping them clogged in the system is not helping them, especially when they are found not to be genuine refugees and are deported. Their lives are ruined after so many months and years in the system.

The bill would also give refugees, as well as refugee applicants, full charter protection. If for any reason someone is either denied access to Canada or refused refugee status, that person would be entitled to an appeal. It also means refugees would be given full rights as if they were citizens of Canada, appealing possibly all the way up to the supreme court. No other country in the world does this.

It has been reported recently that some 15,000 individuals facing deportation warrants are missing and Canadian authorities have no idea where they are. The government's record for tracking landed immigrants is abysmal. We do not keep exit reports on those who depart and this is something that needs to be addressed. There are 89 pages of regulations and the government does not have the ability to keep track of exit reports.

The Canadian Alliance, along with most Canadians, supports the deportation of undesirable individuals without question or delay in cases of criminal activity or non-compliance with the Immigration Act.

Bill C-11 would completely strip the minister of his or her right to deport those who have either broken the law or have come to Canada to escape the law. The Supreme Court of Canada ruling in Minister of Justice v Burns and Rafay, which came down on February 15, applies to those individuals who face the threat to their person if deported from Canada.

According to the ruling, all convicted or charged criminals can now seek asylum in Canada and the minister has no visible authority to deport them. There is nothing in the legislation to address this supreme court ruling. This is a grave deficiency and the minister will not address it.

The bill would allow for so-called front-end security screening but it would only apply to refugees, which in some cases is a physical impossibility. Front-end screening would not apply to applicants in general.

The bill promises to deliver better enforcement of security measures for both refugee and immigrant applications but there is no plan of action set out in the bill to explain how this would work. It appears that it would be at the whim of those who administer the program.

No one should be allowed to enter Canada without proper security checks as to his or her risk to the country. All persons entering Canada should be subject to a security check at all ports of entry. All persons entering and leaving Canada should be recorded as deemed to have entered or left Canada.

Shortage of staff and inadequate training create a security risk. This was evidenced by Mr. Lai Changxing, the accused kingpin smuggler who landed in Canada through queue jumping, who was not detected by the visa officer by even a simple background check. This is just not acceptable.

In relation to human smugglers, the government should send a strong message to these individuals who exploit and prey on vulnerable people. Our actions should be stronger than words. We need tougher laws and the will to implement them by levying longer jail sentences and higher fines. All vehicles, be they ships, aircraft or automobiles, used in the illegal transportation of human cargo should be immediately seized and impounded for at least one year.

There is no penalty for knowingly submitting a false application for immigration to Canada. Individuals may submit as many fraudulent applications as they like. A mechanism needs to be put in place that would prevent repeat fraudulent application submissions. The bill contains no deterrent from repetitious and fraudulent applications. This will continue to cause endless paperwork for visa officers.

Bill C-11, regardless of its intentions, does not deliver what it is promising without better enforcement, accountability and management. There is no action plan in the legislation to achieve these results. The good points in the bill are unfortunately outweighed by its flaws, flaws which we in the opposition parties have identified. We have proposed amendments to improve the bill but they have been rejected.

Unless the Liberal government is willing to entertain amendments to strengthen and improve the bill, I cannot support it. We want to support a good, transparent, open policy of immigration in this country, but the bill will not do it.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2001 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Thornhill Ontario


Elinor Caplan LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

moved that Bill C-11, an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand before the House today to introduce third reading of Bill C-11, the immigration and refugee protection act.

We have all worked hard and fruitfully to bring the bill to this stage. As members know, Bill C-11 is the product of extensive consultation and dialogue. For the past four years we have spoken and exchanged views with the provinces, the territories, non-governmental groups, the legal profession, law enforcement agencies and interested Canadians.

Before we crafted the bill we consulted with committee, not once but twice, and have made many adjustments along the way. A number of ideas and clarifications suggested by the standing committee have been incorporated into the bill and I thank the members of the standing committee for their efforts.

The extensive period of consultation to clarify the policy intent of Bill C-11 has improved the bill and has provided us with new legislation for which we can all be proud.

My goal as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is and has always been to ensure we have legislation for the new millennium that will give us the tools we need to curb abuse while encouraging increased immigration to Canada. We want faster but fair decisions for refugee claimants. The bill would help us achieve these objectives.

Bill C-11 would give Canadians the balanced approach they asked for. It would ensure openness to those who would contribute to Canada and our collective future and ensure tough penalties for those who would abuse our generosity.

I want to be clear. The bill would not be tough on the immigrants and refugees who built this country in the past or who would help us build it in the future. However, it would be tough on criminals, terrorists and those who are threats to our security in Canada.

I assure all members of the House and all Canadians that everyone will receive due process, fair treatment and the protection of our charter of rights and freedoms.

Canadians have told us clearly that it takes too long for us to do many of the things we do. They have told us that it takes too long to remove those who are not welcome in Canada.

The bill would give us a clear, responsible and balanced new law that would help us continue to build the country. In particular, it would allow us to say no faster so we could say yes more often to the immigrants and refugees Canada will need to continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.

I again remind and assure the House and all Canadians that even as we say no faster to those who are not welcome in Canada, we would ensure there is full respect for due process and for the laws of Canada of which we are so proud.

As I mentioned before, this is framework legislation. It would enshrine rights, key policies and key principles. It would provide our immigration program with the flexibility needed to manage in an increasingly complex and continually changing environment. It would enshrine our agreements with the provinces which recognize immigration as an area of shared jurisdiction.

Our shared work on the bill has extended to proposals for the regulations that would support it. Work on the regulations is already underway and, as committee members know, the results are posted and updated on a regular basis on our website.

I want everyone to know the website address in case interested Canadians would like to visit it and get the most up to date information. Visitors to can receive all the information about the legislation and other programs and policies of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Information can be viewed on the website by members of parliament, non-governmental groups, the legal profession and anyone who has an interest in the evolving proposals for the regulations concerning immigration and refugee determination.

I think members will agree that the process is, has been and will continue to be a transparent one. Following a suggestion made at the standing committee, proposed regulations would be tabled in both Houses of parliament as part of the normal pre-consultation phase before they are finalized. This would underline the transparency of the process and ensure parliamentarians an important role.

The regulations would include a strengthened program for overseas refugee resettlement, an expanded family class and new selection criteria to attract more skilled and adaptable independent immigrants. They would also include an in-Canada landing class for temporary workers, foreign students and spouses who are already established in Canada and wish to stay.

It is important to state clearly for the record that the great majority of immigrants and refugees who come to Canada come here legally. They respect our laws and we welcome them. At the front door there is a big welcome mat as we say to those who come to Canada “Respect our laws. You are welcome. We need you. We want you here and we welcome you”.

They come here to make a contribution. They make an important contribution to our society, our economy and our communities. Refugees and immigrants built this country and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

Canadians want a new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that respects our laws and traditions and, above all, continues our tradition of welcoming newcomers. We must continue the humanitarian traditions of openness and compassion that have made this country so proud. Bill C-11 and its accompanying regulations would do just that.

Many who participated in the development of the bill deserve recognition and acknowledgement at this time. I acknowledge the important contribution of my parliamentary secretary, the member for Gatineau. I thank him for his support and hard work in bringing the bill to this stage.

I also acknowledge the important work of all members of the standing committee, particularly the members of the Liberal caucus who engaged in consultations in the very early developmental stages. All members of the House were welcome to participate and did so at the standing committee with the kind of thoughtfulness that is very important.

I also thank members of the opposition. I know the member opposite is surprised to hear that because he was a little concerned that I was too partisan in my remarks. I thank the members of the opposition parties who asked very thoughtful questions. Even though I was surprised by some of the positions they took, I believe the hard work of all members of the House helped produce a bill which should be supported by all members of committee and of the House.

I am aware that what happened at the very end of the committee process was quite collegial. I was surprised to hear that the bill might not be supported by everyone in the House who participated because it deserves their support.

I also acknowledge the officials in my department, led very ably by the assistant deputy minister of policy, Joan Atkinson. I think anyone who participated at the standing committee or who reads Hansard will agree with me that she gave clear and detailed explanations of very complex and often difficult policy implications and objectives. She answered all questions from all members thoughtfully and articulately and has put on the record for future consideration the bill's policy intent.

I hope all members of the House will agree with me that Assistant Deputy Minister Joan Atkinson did an outstanding job of not only defending the bill but ensuring that all members of the standing committee understood the policy intent and implications of the legislation. I also thank all presenters who came before the standing committee and all who sent in detailed briefs.

I also acknowledge the many individuals and groups who met with me personally. All that consultation, input and advice has resulted in an excellent piece of legislation that will stand the test of time.

Many individuals check our website regularly. Many do not. Those who have an interest in citizenship and immigration and in the important work we do should know they are always welcome to contact members of parliament on both sides of the House. They can contact the department or the website, and the questions they have will be answered as quickly as possible. We want to ensure that people know and understand why we have the policies we have, what their intent is and how we go about implementing them in a way which is consistent with our Canadian values and in a way which has become a model for the world.

When I visit our visa posts around the world and meet with officials from countries with which we have bilateral relations, they all ask me about our open and transparent approach to immigration in Canada. They are interested in our new point system. They are interested in the fact that everything is on the Internet and that people are encouraged and welcome to apply. They are envious of our record of independent adjudication at the Immigration and Refugee Board. They are interested in the fact that we have an arm's length IRB with three divisions, one of which sorts out refugee claimants. We know that even though Canada has a different approach than other countries, at the end of the day many countries in the western world ultimately have the same approval rates that Canada has. There are different mechanisms and ways of getting there but we know, and I know this because I have met bilaterally with world leaders, that at the end of the day following due process, the difference for Canada is we make those decisions sooner in a transparent and arm's length way. We give people access to judicial review. We make sure that all risk conditions are considered. We give them landed status and encourage those who are in genuine need of protection to get on with their lives in Canada as quickly as possible, to integrate in our society and feel welcomed.

We know that there are some people who come to us who are not in genuine need of protection. The challenge for the IRB is to make those decisions and then tell those people who are not at risk of leaving Canada, who are inadmissible to Canada or who are not in genuine need of our protection that they must leave Canada. That is always difficult.

We can understand why people want to come to Canada. We are proud of the fact that for the seventh year in a row the United Nations has declared Canada as the best country in the world in to live. One important parts of our immigration program is family reunification and our commitment to do that.

This bill, as I said in my remarks before committee, strengthens our commitment to family reunification, both for immigrants and for refugees. By leaving the application open for a year, we will encourage refugees' families to reunite more quickly. By having an in-Canada landing class for spouses, we will encourage husbands, wives and partners to be together and have status in Canada as quickly as possible.

We know there are many challenges that face us but, after almost two years as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I want to state clearly to the House the confidence that I have in my officials around the world at the visa posts. They do their very best to make good decisions, to make decisions that are important for Canada because it is about nation building. They are the ones who interview the applicants. Those immigration officers on the frontline are the ones who make a decision as to whether an interview is needed at all. They do this in the face of significant challenges. We know that they often see documents that are not real. We know that since the photocopier was developed we are seeing an increase in fraudulent documents. That poses a great challenge.

That is why in this legislation we have made an inadmissibility category, that if persons present fraudulent documents to Canada they will be inadmissible to Canada for a period of two years. That is supposed to be a deterrent because we want people to respect our laws. We want people to come to Canada, obey our laws, do it the right way and come through the front door where there is a big welcome mat.

However, the door that we want to close is the back door to serious criminals, to terrorists, to those who pose a risk to Canada, to failed refugee claimants and to those who are not in genuine need of our protection. At that back door there is a deportation order waiting.

Canada has one of the best records of removals of any country in the world. Last year over 8,600 people were removed from this country. Of those removals one-third, over 1,700, were those who were criminally inadmissible to this country. However the other two-thirds were failed refugee claimants, people who had overstayed visitor's visas and those who had no status in Canada, no right to remain in Canada.

It is important for us to know that if we are going to open that front door wider, to reunite families, to welcome the refugees, to encourage applications from around the world, to bring the immigrants here that we will need to continue to grow and prosper, we must give Canadians the confidence that we are able to say we want our laws respected. We will treat them fairly but we want them to obey our laws. We want them to come in the front door, not to try to sneak in the back door.

As difficult as it is for us to tell people that it is time to leave Canada, we know it is an important part of the integrity of the immigration program.

My department has two mandates that are reflected in the bill. That is why I say the bill is balanced. The priority for my department is to bring in the people Canada needs, to reunite families and to welcome those refugees who are in genuine need of our protection. However, my department also has an enforcement mandate to ensure that our laws have integrity and that those people who have no right to remain in Canada are stopped from coming. That is called interdiction.

We have a network of immigration control officers around the world who do their very best in often difficult circumstances and with people who are not often telling them the truth when they try to come to Canada surreptitiously. Our immigration control officers, we call them ICOs, are the frontline to try to prevent access to Canada by those who have no right to come here. However, because we have the largest undefended border in the world and are dealing with human judgments, we know that people are sometimes able to come into Canada. Then it is important that the enforcement side of the department does its job.

When I say Bill C-11 is balanced, that is what I mean. It is balanced with a tilt to welcoming and encouraging those people to who we will need in the future to come to Canada. We are a small country with just a 30 million population.

We know about the dependency ratio. By the year 2010 there will be five people working for every one person retired. By the year 2020 there will be only three people working for every one person retired. That poses a great challenge for the government and for all of Canada. Why? Because we are not having enough babies.

I jokingly can say I have done my part. I have four children and six grandchildren. I look around the House of Commons and I do not think I can count on everyone here to go out and start producing the people we will need, although I can hear some members opposite say they have done their part as well.

The reality is that we need people in every region of the country. We need people in the urban and rural best kept secrets of Canada, the small and medium sized cities. We have to tell the world of the wonderful communities ready to welcome immigrants and refugees because they want them to succeed and buy homes. They want them to succeed and pay taxes that will support our public education and health systems. We need them to bring their families because it is families that build communities.

There are some who would suggest that the family class does not contribute, but I would say they are wrong. The family class, the parents, grandparents and dependent children who come together to create families and communities and contribute today but also in the future to the building of the country, is the reason why family reunification is such an important cornerstone of our immigration policy.

As I conclude my remarks on Bill C-11, I want to assure the House that it is an extremely important piece of legislation because it sets the framework for the immigration program for the new millennium. We know the world has changed since the last piece of immigration legislation was adopted by parliament almost 25 years ago. We know we are in a different world. We know there are all kinds of communications, not only the kind of communication available through the Internet, telephones and fax machines, but the kind of communication that is available by getting on an airplane and travelling around the world.

I visited Pier 21 in Halifax. I know it has special meaning for Madam Speaker and for the over 40 members of the House who came to Canada as immigrants, often as children, and many of whom arrived at Pier 21. That historical museum, that monument to the immigration, tells us the story of how this country has changed. It has changed in many ways because of the contribution of those people who came to Pier 21, but it has also changed because of our environment, a global world where people are on the move. That is the challenge for all of us in Canada.

Bill C-11 responds to that challenge. It is a thoughtful, reasoned approached, a bill that balances the duel mandate of my department. That bill is worthy and deserving of support of all members of the House. It is my hope that I will be pleasantly surprised and that we will see support from the opposition parties who were instrumental when assisting at committee, but then walked out the door and started to advocate for greater rights and longer processing.

One thing this piece of legislation does is attempts to streamline so we can make decisions more quickly when it comes to refugee determination and faster but fairer processing for refugee applications. We also want to be able to remove people more quickly.

Some amendments from the opposition party which would have made it more difficult to remove those people who posed a risk to Canada or those people who had committed heinous and serious crimes disturbed me. We have a tradition in this country that only Canadian citizens have the right to remain in Canada. Even Canadian citizens can be extradited if they commit a serious crime in another country and that country succeeds in making an extradition application. That is done through the Department of Justice. Everyone is assured due process.

Those people who are not Canadian citizens, who come to Canada, commit a serious crime, who pose a threat to the safety and security of our country should, in my view, be removed as quickly as possible. I was disappointed that that view was not shared by members of the opposition party. That surprised me. I think if their constituents knew that, they would insist that they support the government's goal of trying to remove those who have committed serious crimes and who are a threat to Canadian society as quickly as possible.

The vote we will have this afternoon will be for third reading of Bill C-11. I appreciate the opportunity to participate. As minister, I have seen first reading, second reading, full debate at committee and all consultations.

I would like to acknowledge and thank my predecessor for the important work she did in conducting the consultations that led to the development of the bill. It was the foundation of those important consultations over a period of four years which led to the development of the bill.

It is my hope that when we have the vote this afternoon, Bill C-11, which is so worthy and deserving of support, will receive unanimous support by all members of the House.

Nelson MandelaPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2001 / 3:40 p.m.
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Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a very great honour for me to take part in this historic debate today. I would like to thank the hon. member for Markham for his leadership in introducing this motion.

Last week, I had the honour of seconding the motion when it was made but unfortunately not passed.

It is a great honour to be here today to join with the leader of my party in paying tribute to an extraordinary citizen, not just a citizen of South Africa, but a citizen of the world and hopefully soon to be an honorary citizen of Canada. Canada would indeed be the first nation to recognize Nelson Mandela as an honorary citizen. I think it is appropriate that we take that historic step.

I am proud that my colleagues in the New Democratic Party in this and previous parliaments, and indeed before the founding of the NDP in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, worked tirelessly along with people in the church movement, the labour movement, social movements and in many other movements in solidarity with the struggle against apartheid.

I would also like to acknowledge the contribution made by the former prime minister, Prime Minister Mulroney, as well as Prime Minister Diefenbaker, in helping to free Nelson Mandela.

I recall, as I am sure all members who witnessed it would, watching television on the 11th of February in 1990 as Nelson Mandela took those historic steps out of prison. I also had the privilege, along with the Deputy Prime Minister and others, of meeting Nelson Mandela when he came to Canada later that year. He has dedicated his life to justice and to ending the scourge of racism and institutionalized racism. His biography A Long Walk to Freedom tells his incredible story.

I had the privilege in 1994 of joining in the official Canadian delegation to witness the first free and democratic elections in South Africa. What an extraordinary experience it was. I was with the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

I will never forget one occasion as we witnessed the voting in a small village outside East London. A young man came up to the voting station with an elderly woman in a wheelbarrow. He indicated that he had been pushing this woman, his mother, for many kilometres. They had come down from the mountains. I asked him what drove him to take this incredible step. She pulled out a rumpled piece of paper, and it was a photograph of Nelson Mandela. She said “I've waited my whole life to vote for this man”.

That is the kind of inspiration that he provided not only to his own people but to people around the world. Indeed, last August my partner Max and I had the privilege of travelling to South Africa and visiting the prison just outside Cape Town on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 long years. We saw the rock quarry where he was forced to break rocks and we saw his tiny prison cell.

We had the opportunity to meet with some of his fellow prisoners. What an incredible story they had to tell, a story of courage and of vision. What an inspiration to people around the world, that spirit of reconciliation, the spirit of forgiveness and healing, as my leader said, after 27 years.

Last week Nelson Mandela was described by the member for Calgary West and indeed by the House leader for the official opposition as a communist and a terrorist. As for communists, Nelson Mandela himself has acknowledged that the South African Communist Party played an extraordinary role in the struggle against apartheid as indeed did the government and people of Cuba and Fidel Castro, so we take no lessons on that at all.

In closing, I would also like to point out the irony to which my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois referred, that there are provisions in Bill C-11 which would have kept Nelson Mandela out of Canada. This is unacceptable.

In closing, I want to say again on behalf of all of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party what an honour it is to recognize this outstanding citizen of South Africa, of the world and, hopefully soon, of Canada with the highest honour our country can bestow, the honorary citizenship of Canada.

Nelson MandelaPrivate Members' Business

June 12th, 2001 / 3:35 p.m.
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Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased, as the Bloc Quebecois critic for citizenship and immigration, to speak today to Motion No. 379 tabled by the member for Markham to award honorary Canadian citizenship to a great hero of democracy, Nelson Mandela.

To date, only one person has been given this honour: Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of people from Nazi death camps during the second world war.

I cannot ignore the symbolism of this motion a few hours before passage at third reading of Bill C-11, an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger.

Nelson Mandela is an example for those who lead the fight for democracy in the world.

In 1944, he joined the African National Congress, the ANC. In 1948, the National Party won the election in South Africa. Its platform was unequivocal “The Black man in his place”. From then on, the policy of apartheid got tougher and introduced one of the most racist and undemocratic regimes in modern history.

Nelson Mandela was once asked when he decided to fight for freedom. He replied:

I cannot say exactly when I became politically active, when I knew that I would spend my life fighting for freedom. Being an African in South Africa means that we are politically active from the moment we are born, whether we know it or not. African children are born in hospitals reserved for Africans; they go home in buses reserved for Africans; they live in neighbourhoods reserved for Africans and they go to schools reserved for Africans, that is if they go at all. When they grow up, they can only get jobs that are reserved for Africans, rent houses in townships reserved for Africans, travel in trains reserved for Africans—

—I never had a defining moment, a revelation, a moment of truth. It was the accumulation of thousands of insults, humiliations and forgotten moments that led me to revolt, that gave me the desire to fight a regime that held my people captive.

In June 1955, the ANC adopted the charter of freedom which, in addition to criticizing apartheid, proposed the creation of a democratic and non-racial South Africa. At the end of that same year, Nelson Mandela was arrested for high treason, an offence punishable by death. He and 91 other ANC members were put on trial, a trial that was to end with their acquittal in 1961.

In June 1961, the ANC decided to take up arms to fight apartheid by setting up an organization known as the “spear of the nation” and led by Nelson Mandela.

In August 1963, Nelson Mandela was again arrested and charged with treason, conspiracy and sabotage. He was to come out of prison only 27 years later.

In 1991, Nelson Mandela became president of the ANC. His negotiations with the president of South Africa ended the racist system of apartheid. In South Africa's first free election in 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected president, a position he held until 1999.

By making him an honorary citizen, parliament is paying tribute to the exceptional contribution this man has made to democracy and, through him, to the rightful struggle of those throughout the world who are fighting for democracy and equality.

However how can we ignore the paradox of Motion No. 379 and Bill C-11? Tomorrow, the act respecting immigration to Canada will make a future Nelson Mandela an undesirable citizen in Canada. If Bill C-11 had been in effect 40 years ago and Nelson Mandela had sought asylum in Canada, as a member of an organization for the subversion by force of any government, to use the wording of clause 34, he would have been inadmissible. He would have been sent back to South Africa and accordingly to prison.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I thank the member for Markham for his initiative. Democracy and the equality of all citizens are the paramount values in our society, but democracy is all the more precious for being fragile. We are all responsible for keeping it alive. Many have given their lives for this ideal. Charles de Montesquieu, an 18th century philosopher, wrote “To love democracy is to love equality”.

Nelson Mandela will remain one of the strongest symbols of democracy in the 20th century. May his life be an inspiration for our democracy.

World Refugee DayStatements By Members

June 12th, 2001 / 2:05 p.m.
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Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 20 the world will celebrate the first ever World Refugee Day. The theme this year is respect, respect for the rights of refugees worldwide and for the contributions they make to our societies.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the 1951 refugee convention, born out of the horrors of World War II and the will of the international community never to witness them again. Fifty years later, the convention still remains a necessity today. Millions of people are living in refugee camps under difficult conditions or are trapped within the borders of their home countries unable to escape the horrors of conflict or persecution.

We owe it on this day to ensure our laws enshrine the values of justice and fairness for all refugees and we can start by bringing Bill C-11 in line with our international human rights obligations.

Let us honour the first World Refugee Day by strengthening our commitment to refugee protection and welcoming those who come here in search of the freedom and security we take for granted.

Business Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 8th, 2001 / 12:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by some members to clarify the business statement, given the time of year, and perhaps I could take a moment to give an updated business statement, particularly for the benefit of all House leaders.

Assuming that the debate on Bill C-25 is completed at third reading and Bill C-24 is completed at report stage later today, the business for Monday would be as follows: Bill S-11, respecting business corporations; Bill S-3, respecting motor vehicles; Bill S-16, respecting money laundering. I understand those three bills are perhaps briefer than others. We would follow this with the third reading stage of Bill C-24, regarding organized crime, which I know is of considerable interest to many members. If any time is left it would be taken up on Bill C-11, respecting immigration, and Bill C-6, respecting bulk water.

On Tuesday, of course, it will be a supply day. It is my intention at the present time to call any unfinished business for Wednesday and the debate on the modernization committee report.

Sir John A. Macdonald Day And The Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

June 7th, 2001 / 7:05 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Madam Speaker, the question I asked of the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration was about why Canada continues to harbour the criminal elements of the world.

Canadians have read in the newspapers throughout these last few years about the illegal criminals entering the country. Canadians are asking why are we allowing these criminals to enter the country?

Canadians have also heard names like Gaetano Amodeo and Lai Changxing. In fact they have become household names in the country over the last few years. We have put a lot of effort into protecting these criminals who enter the country. While we do this, we put other Canadian citizens at risk. We put Canadian visitors at risk. An example is the Sklarzyk family who was recently deported back to Poland. Who is looking after their rights? Who is looking after the rights of Serge Kisluk? This gentleman passed away just recently.

I would like to quote Marsha Skrypuch from a newspaper article. She is a children's author and met Kisluk while researching a novel about a girl whose grandfather was accused of war crimes. She said that she was appalled at the process that had been used to condemn Mr. Kisluk. She stated:

These are 50-year-old cases, and evidence won't hold up in a criminal court, so they use the immigration rules instead. The reality is that there just isn't enough evidence. Innocent people get hurt. You end up with a bunch of little old men trying to defend themselves against the state.

Who is defending his rights? Who is defending the rights of people like Oberlander and Odynsky? How many criminals are there in Canada? I do not think anyone knows. What we do know is that there are at least 15,000 warrants out for people who are in the country who should not be here. They should have left a long time ago.

We are letting too many criminals through the front door. Why? Because the front door is wide open. The Canadian Alliance has said for a long time that there should be necessary screens put in place to screen out the undesirables so they do not enter the country. Certainly with technology that should not be an impossible task. In fact the standing committee recommended that in its last report to the minister.

In closing, I would say that Canadians support an open immigration policy but not at the expense of national security. The minister, as the auditor general has said in his report, can improve the system without Bill C-11. In fact Bill C-11 would do very little. It would basically penalize the legal migrants and refugees to this country. So instead of just talking about doing the job, I would only hope that the immigration minister would walk the talk.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

June 7th, 2001 / 3:05 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, pursuant to an order made earlier, the House will conclude third reading of Bill C-28, the Parliament of Canada Act amendments. Tomorrow we will deal with third reading of Bill C-25, the Farm Credit Corporation amendments, as well as report stage of Bill C-24 with respect to organized crime. Those are the only bills I expect to deal with tomorrow.

On Monday we will then consider third reading of Bill C-24 regarding organized crime, then Bill S-16, the money laundering bill, followed by Bill C-11, the Immigration Act amendments, Bill S-11 respecting business corporations, Bill S-3 respecting motor vehicles and Bill C-6 respecting bulk water.

On Tuesday we shall deal with an allotted day for the consideration of main estimates at the end of the day. There has been consultations among political parties, and I would hope to take a few minutes on Tuesday to debate and hopefully receive the consent of everyone for a motion regarding Mr. Mandela.

Later next week, we will deal with any bills listed that are not yet complete, as well as the report of the modernization committee. I will consult my colleagues, the House leaders of official parties regarding business for Wednesday and the days beyond, should there be such dates. This ends my report.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

June 7th, 2001 / 2:50 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, the government's new immigration Bill C-11 has been described as seriously flawed, draconian and even un-Canadian. Most of the 154 witnesses before the immigration committee said the bill strips the rights of permanent residents and does not provide for the protection of refugees.

The committee chair from London North Centre said at clause by clause:

It's lucky I don't have to vote...when they start to sound more Liberal than we do, I get a little concerned.

Why is the Liberal Party of Pearson, Laurier and Trudeau so unwilling to entrench the rights of permanent residents and properly protect refugees in Canada?