Madam Speaker, I am glad to join in the debate. This is an issue that has been supported by members of Parliament from all parties. One of the strongest proponents we have in the Liberal caucus is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport who wants to open up the process.
Who are we talking about? What is at issue here so Canadians can put this in proper perspective? We have six million Canadians in the country who were not born in Canada. My colleague, the critic of the New Democratic Party, has mentioned that he has a Kleenex box in his office for when he has those heart-rending cases that come to his office and he cannot assist them. That situation exists with all members of Parliament.
So people understand what we are talking about, I will use the example of a young couple in their early thirties with two young children who came to Canada from India. They came to my constituency office. They had just purchased a house and were working at jobs that did not pay a whole lot of money, but they were managing. The wife was diagnosed with brain cancer and she had a very short time to live. As her last wish, she applied to have her mother and sister come over from India for a visit. She died within a month, and the visas for those people were turned down.
Imagine a young family with no extended family in Canada. The wife, husband and the children were going through a very tragic time. What did she want for her last wish? It was for her mother and sister to come and visit her before she passed on. That is the issue about which we are talking. I mentioned that the issue has been raised by all members of Parliament.
Bill C-219, which was introduced in the House on March 17 by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River, spoke to this issue. The member for Surrey North had a motion on the issue. I look at the minutes of the parliamentary committee of December 2, 1998, Madam Speaker, when you spoke on opening up the visa process because too many people were rejected.
Let me conclude by saying that in 1993 we had a rejection rate of 12.9%. In 1997, according to officials, we had a rejection rate of 10%. In 2003, according to the notes from officials, we had a rejection rate of 21.4%, 143,058 people.
What is being proposed in the bill will not fix the system. It is not in its final form. However, I have listened to all the critics in this chamber. Let me make it clear to all members that the opposition combined on a committee has seven members, the government has five members. Therefore, the will of the House expressed by all the critics from the opposition parties is the majority will of the House.
There are many members on the Liberal side who have fought for some kind of improvement in the system which can be so heartless that it can deny the final wish of a young woman who is dying. That is in my riding. I also have a box of kleenex in my office and I have it particularly for cases like this. When the system fails, some Canadian gets hurt.
In terms of the justice system, a surety process is in place where provincial courts and other courts deal with this situation every day. It is time for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to start to come up with solutions that will serve Canadians.