Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act

An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

Jason Kenney  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to limit the review mechanisms for certain foreign nationals and permanent residents who are inadmissible on such grounds as serious criminality. It also amends the Act to provide for the denial of temporary resident status to foreign nationals based on public policy considerations and provides for the entry into Canada of certain foreign nationals, including family members, who would otherwise be inadmissible. Finally, this enactment provides for the mandatory imposition of minimum conditions on permanent residents or foreign nationals who are the subject of a report on inadmissibility on grounds of security that is referred to the Immigration Division or a removal order for inadmissibility on grounds of security or who, on grounds of security, are named in a certificate that is referred to the Federal Court.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

Feb. 6, 2013 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Jan. 30, 2013 Passed That Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 32.
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 13, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 4 with the following: “interests, based on a balance of probabilities;”
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 9, be amended by replacing lines 12 to 15 on page 3 with the following: “— other than under section 34, 35 or 37 with respect to an adult foreign national — or who does not meet the requirements of this Act, and may, on request of a foreign national outside Canada — other than an adult foreign national”
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43, in Clause 6, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 20 on page 2 with the following: “may not seek to enter or remain in Canada as a”
Jan. 30, 2013 Failed That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
Jan. 30, 2013 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said Bill; and fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of report stage and of the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
Oct. 16, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

, seconded by the member for Richmond—Arthabaska, moved:

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-43, in Clause 38, be amended by adding after line 32 on page 16 the following:

“(3) Sections 5, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 25 and 26 cease to have effect at the end of the 15th sitting day of Parliament after December 31, 2015 unless and to the extent to which, before the end of that day, the application of any of those sections is extended by a resolution, passed by both Houses of Parliament, that any of those sections continue to be in force.”

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to take part in the important debate on Bill C-43. The headline of the Toronto Star editorial before Christmas says it about as succinctly as possible when it comes to this legislation. It sums it up: “Conservatives' bill to deport ‘foreign' criminals goes too far”.

As the editorial points out, “Criminals should do their time. No one disputes that”. Neither do I and neither do my New Democrat colleagues. In fact I think we can all agree that non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada should be dealt with quickly. The safety of our communities is paramount.

We said from the time this legislation was tabled that we were willing to work with the government to prevent non-citizens who commit serious crimes from abusing our appeals process, without trampling on their rights. We remain very concerned, however, that this Conservative bill would concentrate more arbitrary power in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism without any checks and balances.

With an eye towards compromise, I introduced nine reasonable NDP amendments to the bill at the committee stage to curb the excessive powers of the minister and restore some due process. Unfortunately, they were all rejected by the Conservative Party.

I was especially disappointed that the Conservatives rejected moderate NDP amendments to curb the excessive power the bill gives the minister. They even rejected an amendment that sought to codify into the legislation, word-for-word, the minister's own proposed guidelines for keeping people out of Canada on public policy considerations.

What became clear at committee stage was that New Democrats wanted to work across party lines to ensure the speedy removal of serious non-citizen criminals. But the Conservatives did not want to work with us to make the legislation better. Many witnesses and stakeholders from all sides told us that the real problem with serious criminals delaying deportation is that there is a lack of coordination and resources at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Numerous auditor generals' reports also confirmed this to be the case. In fact, even a Conservative witness, Mr. James Bisset, told the immigration committee that:

There simply aren't enough enforcement officers in the Canada Border Services Agency to track down some of these very serious cases. They do their best, but there are few resources devoted to that. In the past, the enforcement of immigration has not been something that has been vigorously pursued in the country.

Conservatives members often referenced the case of Clinton Gayle, a dangerous criminal who callously murdered a Toronto police officer, Todd Baylis, while awaiting deportation for other crimes.

However during a federal inquiry into the Clinton Gayle case, associate deputy minister Ian Glen stated, “Quite simply, the system failed”. As to why, he explained that the department's priority at the time was to target unsuccessful refugee claimants who were on the run rather than criminals, because that way the deportation numbers were higher. This is the real problem, and nothing in the legislation before us would address these concerns.

What became clear from witness testimony into Bill C-43 is that this is not a silver bullet when it comes to public safety. We believe that the priority of the government needs to be addressing the lack of training, resources and integration of information and monitoring technologies with the responsible public service agencies.

Unfortunately, exactly the opposite is happening under the Conservative government. The 2012 budget plan announced cuts of $143 million to the Canada Border Services Agency. These reckless cuts are going to have an impact on the safety and efficiency of our borders.

The Conservatives saying this will not have an impact on our front line services is simply wishful thinking. We know that 325 jobs on the front line of border crossings across the country will be cut; intelligence branch of the CBSA has been hard hit, losing 100 positions; and 19 sniffer dog units are being slashed due to budget reductions. This is outrageous and no way to keep Canadians safe from foreign criminals who will now have an easier time getting across our borders.

Canadians want us to stop criminals and terrorists before they arrive in Canada. However, Conservative cuts will mean that Canadian officials will have to try to do the best they can with less.

As I have mentioned, the official opposition's primary concern with this legislation is the arbitrary power it gives the minister. In fact, it seems as if the Minister of Immigration has not seen a problem that cannot be solved by giving him more power. The concern about the overly broad powers to keep people out of Canada on public policy considerations was perhaps best articulated by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in its brief on Bill C-43 to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration:

This vague provision, imbues the Minister with an unacceptable level of discretion in deciding who may be blocked from entering Canada, and politicizes this process.

Even the minister seemed to acknowledge, when he visited the immigration committee, that limits to his power were needed. On October 24 of last year he presented us a set of guidelines, and we took him at his word that he was serious when he said, “the committee may recommend that we codify these guidelines in the bill”. When New Democrats, in good faith, moved to do just that, every single government member rejected it—another modest amendment defeated by the uncompromising majority.

This bill also seeks to limit appeals based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Amnesty International told the committee studying this bill that this section runs afoul of international law and that denying individuals access to this process might result in their being sent to torture or persecution.

New Democrats do not believe that the minister should be relieved of the obligation to consider humanitarian and compassionate circumstances, including the best interests of children. We moved reasonable amendments to restore the minister's ability to consider these factors, with a caveat that the minister has reasonable grounds to believe it is justified. Again that was voted down by the other side.

New Democrats also sought to curb some of the harsher provisions that redefine serious criminality and strip permanent Canadian residents of due process rights. Consider a piece in the Ottawa Citizen a few months ago, called “Canada's new exiles”, which details the case of a young Somali man being deported to Mogadishu, one of the most violent and dangerous places on earth, despite having no connection to that troubled city. The piece goes on to point out, as many of our witnesses did, that:

It is not uncommon for immigrants and refugees who arrive as children to assume they are citizens, or never put their mind to the question until the government moves to deport them.

Actually, I had such a conversation with a taxi driver just the other day, who was shocked that he was not a citizen.

Finally, I must articulate to the House what I feel is the most egregious element of the legislation before us. It is a public relations stunt. There is no evidence that criminality is more prevalent among visitors or permanent Canadian residents. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There is little evidence to show that the provisions in this legislation will make Canadian communities any safer. Yet again we find the Conservative government offering solutions to problems that do not exist at the expense of addressing ones that do.

New Democrats know that the vast majority of newcomers to Canada are law-abiding people who want to build better lives for themselves and their families. I hope that as a Parliament we can move and spend more effort making sure they are treated fairly, have the resources they need and can be reunited with their families. On this side of the House we believe that the minister should focus less on press conferences that negatively portray newcomers and, instead, work with the Minister of Public Safety to make sure border and law enforcement officials have the resources they need to keep us safe from criminals of all backgrounds.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, is it not interesting that in 10 minutes the member opposite completely avoided the central premise of the bill, the central proposal, which is to bar a time-consuming appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board for serious convicted foreign criminals?

First of all, the hon. member keeps referring to non-citizens. There is no such term in Canadian law. I do not know who she is talking about. Presumably she is speaking of foreign nationals who have been convicted by a Canadian criminal court of what is deemed a serious crime under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act—that is to say, with a penal sentence of six months or more.

Why does the hon. member believe that an individual like Jackie Tran, a Vietnamese gangster who was running a drug gang in Calgary that killed several people, should have been able to delay his deportation from Canada for several years by constantly appealing his removal order to the IRB, and in fact managed to delay his removal for six years? Does she not agree with me and, I suspect, virtually all of her constituents that Jackie Tran should have been on a plane the moment his sentence was over?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, we think everybody should get due process. In bringing up these cases that are unique, real and very harmful, what I want to point out is that the bill does very little to address cases like that. Those are already covered by the current legislation we have in place.

What we are concerned about is that the bill goes too far. When we look at the fact that the minister can exclude people from coming into Canada for public policy reasons that are there at a whim, I think that should get Canadians' serious consideration.

When we think about enforcement and the lack of resources at our borders, that should make Canadians wake up and say that is where we need enforcement.

For us, this legislation goes too far and captures those it was not meant to capture.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Immigration is very selective in the way in which he puts things. He says “foreign criminals”. What he is really talking about is 1.5 million plus people who call Canada their home, their permanent residence. That is one thing we need to recognize.

The other thing we need to recognize is that the minister likes to refer to extreme cases. What about the individual who has been living in Canada for 10, 12 or 14 years, graduates from high school and goes with his buddies to the United States and maybe uses false identification in order to get some alcohol served to him? That is the type of individual who the minister would deport. That is the type of individual the minister likes to use as an example, the extremes.

My question to the member is this. Does she believe that the minister is doing a disservice to Canadians by using extreme examples and bringing in legislation so that the public thinks the government is getting tough on foreign criminals, as the minister likes to label it?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have to think, when people are granted permanent residency and they come to live in Canada, that we have done our due diligence. Once they come here, then there are certain responsibilities we have as a society as well.

Imagine the case of someone who arrives here with family at the age of one. The family has lived here for quite a number of years but has not applied for Canadian citizenship because they assumed that after a certain number of years they would actually become citizens without going through a process. We have had some of those cases. What is really egregious in this bill is that, if that young man should commit a crime at the age of 19 and receive a minimum sentence of six months, he could be deported without an appeal.

Whenever we talk about foreign criminals we forget that we are talking about families who call Canada their home. We absolutely want to make sure that serious criminals are not in the country. However, we have to have a process that is fair and transparent.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with every single point just made by the immigration critic for the official opposition. However, I also believe that if I had been asked the question, which I imagine the Minister of Immigration may ask me, do I not believe that foreign criminals who have committed serious crimes in Canada should not be able to continue to stay here much longer after the deportation order, I would agree with him.

How can I agree with both of them? The essence of my amendments goes to the problem that we have with this legislation, which is that the legislation goes too far. It is overly broad, overly harsh and creates an unlimited discretion that we have not seen in previous immigration acts, allowing the minister, for instance, to deny permanent residency. Thus, someone who is not already in Canada could be denied the chance to come to Canada for a very vague and undefined purpose of public policy reasons.

While I was not a member of the committee, we reviewed the testimony that was given at committee, and the amendments I am putting forward today are drawn from the evidence given at that committee by the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers.

I am particularly grateful to Professor Donald Galloway of the University of Victoria for his help in preparing these amendments. He is one of the founders of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and recently stood for election in Victoria as a Green Party candidate. I am indebted to him for his help.

What we have with this legislation is a public relations title, the faster removal of foreign criminals act. However, it goes beyond that. The bill would affect people who are not accused or convicted of criminality. It would affect people who are relatives of those who have been deemed inadmissible. For instance, an excellent example of where the bill fails to achieve the proper balance is on the subject of misrepresentation. Under Bill C-43, if someone is found guilty of misrepresentation on their application to come to Canada they are barred for five years. There is no distinction made between deliberate fraud or misrepresentation and the kinds of errors that occur through faulty language skills, such as inadvertent, unintentional misrepresentations.

In the brief time I have been a member of Parliament, I have been exposed to so many immigration cases on behalf of my constituents. I have seen fact sets that I simply would not have imagined occur, but they occur with great regularity. I have Canadian citizens whose child was born in the U.S. and who have come back together and have never got around to sorting out the child's citizenship. These children, for all intents and purposes, are Canadian. However, under Bill C-43, if they run afoul of the law and are convicted of something with a six-month sentence they are going to be inadmissible for further application.

We could see families ripped apart through this legislation. The piece that is missing is the ability to take into account all of the circumstances. One size does not fit all. This legislation makes no distinction, for instance, between conditional sentences, which are given out in the community, usually for lesser offences, and sentences that apply to someone being jailed.

For me personally, and not speaking on behalf of all the organizations that submitted concerns to the committee, the most egregious part of the bill is proposed section 22.1 of the act, because it will give the minister of citizenship and immigration the right to deny temporary resident status for up to three years for what are described as “public policy considerations”. These are not defined. In other words, the public policy considerations are not tied to the public relations title of the bill, the faster removal of foreign criminals act. A public policy consideration could be unlimited, given that it is a matter of the minister's discretion. If there is a public policy that we do not want foreign funded radicals opposing pipelines in Canada, I submit that that would be a class of person that a less reasonable Minister of Citizenship and Immigration than the current one would use in the future to bar people from coming to Canada on a whim.

This goes against the grain of everything this country is about, that we as a country have been enriched by accepting and bringing in a wide range of citizens and residents from all around the world. However, this bill would allow children, for instance, who have been here for their whole lives to be deported for relatively minor offences, without access to appeal. This is simply against what Canada and Canadian citizens want. If it were more properly balanced, I do not think anyone on this side of the House would have a problem with it.

The bill states that those falling under section 34, that is, people who are inadmissible on grounds of security, or on the grounds of human or international rights violations under section 35, or on the grounds of organized criminality under section 37, can no longer apply for compassionate, humanitarian consideration. This would be overly broad. As I mentioned, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta has put forward a number of the kinds of circumstances where we would not, in the normal course of things, imagine that Canada would sweep up people, deport them and deprive them of their opportunity for an appeal.

Those of us on this side of the House who want to see the bill amended want it amended so that it would actually focus the minister's responsibilities and those of law enforcement on the removal of those people who are a legitimate threat to peace and security, people who actually fall under the category of criminality, who have been convicted of offences involving crimes of violence.

This legislation does not have any of those caveats that would allow law enforcement agencies, immigration and citizenship agents, and the minister to make a decision, with compassionate and humanitarian Canadian values at play, that we not uproot a person, a child or teenager, who has lived in this country virtually all their life. He or she may not yet have their citizenship. They are permanent residents or are temporary residents. The permanent residents category is very large in this country for people who have literally been here all their lives, except for perhaps the first six months or two years of life. This legislation does not take into account any of those circumstances in deciding if people can be deported, and they will not have access to ministerial discretion and further appeal.

I mentioned earlier that it would deem people inadmissible if they are related to someone else deemed inadmissible. Family members who want to come to Canada for a visit and who have committed no crime can, under Bill C-43, be told that they cannot come to Canada, even though the inadmissible family member is not travelling with them.

This does not seem to fit any public policy rationale. It appears to exclude people through association. Moreover, given that other family members may be residing in Canada, it would only serve to further punish a family that has already had a family member ruled inadmissible and been removed.

If a person released from detention is subject to inadmissibility on grounds of security, they could be released on condition. Essentially, inadmissibility on security grounds could speak to a whole range of reasons. These are not necessarily identified in this legislation, that is, in what way the person is a security danger.

The mandatory conditions do not really need to be added to the bill because we already have adequate measures under existing legislation to deal with most of the circumstances that would be of concern to Canadians.

In closing, I would ask the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism whether he is not willing, even at this late date, to consider that the bill may be overly broad. I will not say that the bill's purposes are public relations, because I think there will be circumstances in which Canadians will be glad to see some of the provisions of the bill. However, surely, even at this late date, at report stage, we could take on board some amendments in line with the recommendation of so many expert witnesses to ensure that Bill C-43 speaks to Canadian values, speaks to the rule of law and our traditions that people have a right to be heard, that their side of the story gets to be heard. These traditions and rule of law go back to the earliest history of our western civilization. They go back to Magna Carta and we should not ignore them.

Extreme examples can be used by the minister. I will also put forward the example of a child who has been in this country virtually all of his or her life. To remove that child without access to humanitarian or compassionate grounds would go too far.

Surely some of these amendments could be accepted by the Privy Council side of the House.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her constant due diligence. I know it is a particular challenge to effectively be an independent member and yet participate in an informed way in debates on virtually all bills in the House. We all admire her for that even if I do not agree with the substance of her intervention here.

We did consider opposition amendments. The member does not have an opportunity to sit at every committee. However, had she been at the immigration committee during its consideration of Bill C-43, she would have heard a huge number of witnesses supporting the bill in its various aspects.

Let me just address a couple of the points my colleague raised. One was the inadmissibility of family members. In one respect the bill would make it easier for family members of people who are currently inadmissible to come into Canada. If one of the family members is medically inadmissible, currently all members of the family cannot come into Canada. We would end that broad reach of inadmissibility through an amendment in the bill, because we do not think family members should be penalized because of the sickness of one of them.

However, what we are seeking to do on the restrictive side is to render inadmissible family members of those foreign nationals who have committed human or international rights violations or been involved in organized criminality. The member says there is no public policy rationale for this, but in point of fact there is.

In the last Parliament the government was hammered by the opposition for allowing the admission into Canada of close family members of the former Tunisian dictator, Belhassen Trabelsi. There is a reasonable expectation that close family members of a dictator or a mafioso, for example, have profited or benefited from, and are certainly conscious of, the crimes that have been committed. This is one example of where there is a very sound public policy rationale to make sure that the wives and children of dictators, major human rights violators and mafiosi, do not come into Canada. Would the member not agree that is a reasonable public policy?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, again the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has picked the extreme examples, but the terms of this legislation are going to catch quite a lot of other people.

The disallowing of family members visiting the country is overly broad, particularly without giving them the opportunity to establish why they should be considered admissible for a family visit. We know that one person's dictator one day is someone else's best friend the next. I am not suggesting that we want dictators allowed into this country, but many Canadian businesses were doing a lot of business with Colonel Gadhafi and helping out his family members.

I am not suggesting that we open up our immigration system to family members of dictators, but organized criminality as a class, and particularly some of the language that is used here, is overly broad and would not apply to the Colonel Gadhafis of this world or the Trebelsi of this world, but to family members who might have a very clear reason to visit Canada and who should not be deemed inadmissible because another family member has been deemed so.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the Conservatives, it would appear to me that they believe that we have no law in this country to stop mafioso or war criminals or international gangbangers coming to Canada, believing that Canada is a place these people have been able to come to. My understanding of our Criminal Code is that we do have laws for that.

Why does my hon. colleague think the Conservatives are hiding behind dictators and war criminals and not addressing the issue--

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the poor man over there is nearly hysterical. I would ask my hon. colleague to help calm him down so that we can address the fact that we are also talking about the Conservatives getting a big net so they can scoop up a whole manner of people who have done very small things, and then the Conservatives will get to crow to their base.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to presume to imagine the motives of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration nor of his caucus, but I do think this bill goes too far. Every single public policy expert, every single organization that analyzes the impact of laws on our country, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees, organizations that function on a public policy basis, all find this legislation as going too far.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on Bill C-43 and the amendments that are being proposed at this stage.

It is important to recognize that throughout the committee process we listened to a wide variety of presenters, experts and different types of stakeholders. At the end of the day numerous amendments were brought forward. There was a great sense of disappointment from the Liberal Party and, I believe, the other opposition members as well, in regard to the government's refusal to recognize that it has gone too far.

I have had the opportunity outside Ottawa to talk about Bill C-43 and to express the general concerns we have, including the attitude that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the government have toward immigrants. It is not an immigrant friendly government. Going forward we will see the true colours of this Reform-Conservative party unfold, as we have witnessed first-hand in terms of some of the changes that the government has made to immigration programming, the delays a person experiences in being able to acquire citizenship, and in general the manner in which the government portrays refugees in a very negative way. We are now seeing the very negative connotation of 1.5 million-plus permanent residents being labelled as foreigners.

When I think of the amendments at this stage, they are nowhere near as extensive as they could have been had the minister been open to receiving amendments and allowing committee members on the government side to support what I believe were good, solid amendments to the bill by the Liberals and other opposition members. We listened to a number of presenters at committee. I want to comment on a couple of amendments.

Motion No. 25 is a transitional provision that would make the bill retroactive. It would be simply unfair to have Bill C-43 apply to those who commit offences before the bill actually comes into force.

Richard Kurland is an immigration lawyer who comes before the citizenship and immigration committee as a witness on a regular basis. He said:

Imposing, with retroactive effect, the penalty of removal from Canada is incompatible with some of the tenets of our criminal justice system. The sentencing judge did not have the opportunity at the time of sentencing to deal with the individuals, so, ironically, rather than expedite the removal of criminals from Canada, it may well retard that effort, given the legal issues that are raised by the issue of retroactivity.

The Canadian Bar Association stated on that particular point:

The retroactive application of Bill C-43 has the potential to create significant unfairness. Bill C-43’s transitional provisions would deny appeal rights even if the offence or conviction in question was before the amendments, unless the case has been referred to the Immigration Division before the provisions come into force. The timing of the referral is not an equitable basis on which to decide who ought to be stripped of appeal rights. In the course of sentencing, criminal courts take a holistic view of an offender’s circumstances and the consequences of the sentence imposed. The loss of a right to appeal a deportation order is an important and valid consideration for a sentencing court. The retroactive nature of the provisions is particularly harsh for individuals who have received a longer sentence on the basis that they would be allowed to serve their sentences in the community under conditional sentence orders.

Throughout the process, we heard very striking presentations which pointed out many of the mistakes in Bill C-43. It is a flawed piece of legislation. It the minister wanted to do the House a favour, I would suggest that he would seriously look at putting this bill on hold. At the very least, maybe he could allow for a new bill to be brought in to deal with the issues the government chose to ignore at committee. The mistakes are fairly extensive, and that is just referring to the motions that are before us, not to mention the different amendments that were brought forward at committee which we were not able to reintroduce at report stage.

Specifically dealing with other motions, we could talk about deleting clause 8 which would allow for the use of public policy considerations to deny entry. We do not support the minister's ability to determine based on “public policy considerations” an individual's inadmissibility.

If we listen to what the witnesses had to say, Barbara Jackman, a constitutional lawyer stated, “I have no doubt that the public policy grounds will lead to denying people admission on the basis of speech.”

Michael Greene from the Canadian Bar Association stated:

We believe this power is unlimited, unaccountable, un-Canadian, and unnecessary. It doesn't have a place in a free and democratic society that cherishes civil liberties and fundamental freedoms. It's wrong to say that the minister is currently powerless. We have nine different inadmissibilities to Canada. We also have hate crime laws and anti-terrorism laws that specifically target people who promote violence against vulnerable groups in society. People with track records or an intention to engage in hateful rhetoric in Canada are inadmissible under existing immigration laws.

Motion No. 7 would delete clause 9. This clause in Bill C-43 would remove the H and C access for those inadmissible under sections 34, 35 and 37. Again, we do not support the restricted access to humanitarian and compassionate grounds for applications as the process itself does not delay deportation. Witnesses testified that sections 34, 35 and 37 are broadly interpreted by courts. Individuals who may get caught by sections 34, 35 and 37 should be given access to humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Again, individuals like Barb Jackman stated:

What you don't understand, or what I think you need to understand, in terms of that legislation is that for persons for whom there are reasonable grounds to believe they were members of a terrorist organization, or at some point in their youth they may have been involved in street gangs or something like that, and they have grown up and left it behind them, it leaves them without any remedy whatsoever on humanitarian grounds. That is not a piecemeal change to the legislation. That is a fundamental change to our immigration history. From the time we got legislation in 1910 there has always been a broad discretion on the part of the minister or a body like the immigration appeal division to allow people to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds in recognition of the fact that hard and fast rules don't fit with the fact that people are human beings. This legislation will mean that for the first time ever there will be classes of people who don't get any kind of discretion, who don't have access to any kind of discretion, who won't have anybody looking at their case. That is so out of keeping with our humanitarian tradition in terms of the way our legislation has always been structured.

Angus Grant, another immigration lawyer, stated:

--the parameters for finding someone inadmissible under sections 34, 35 and 37 are extremely broad. Whereas in criminal law there is the requirement that to find someone guilty we have to establish that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in immigration law we don't even have to find that they have done an act on a balance of probabilities, in other words, a 50% plus 1% chance that the person committed an act that is proscribed by the IRPA. All we have to show is that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an individual committed an act or was a member of a group that committed an act that is proscribed by the bill.

There is so much more that I could talk about. There were stakeholders and individuals who brought to the table a great deal of background, education and real life experience. They have asked the Conservative government to make changes to Bill C-43 so that we could have better immigration law in Canada. However, the government has chosen to ignore the many amendments, which I believe has ultimately led to the bill that we have before us today being fundamentally flawed.

We appeal to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to do the right thing and start looking seriously at voting in favour of amendments so that we can minimize the flaws in this piece of legislation.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, first, I would sincerely like to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North for his forthright opposition to the bill, because nothing could more clearly demonstrate how far removed the Liberal Party has become from the common sense of Canadians on matters of immigration and national security than his opposition.

The member quoted from a wide array of left-wing immigration lawyers who have a stake in the broken status quo. They are the folks who make the appeals.

It is interesting. We have immigration lawyers who, funnily enough, he did not quote, who have done some of these appeals and who agree with the bill. He should know one of them, Reis Pagtakhan, who ran against him for his nomination. He said that the bill deserves support in the “provision that eliminates the right of permanent residents to appeal removals to the immigration appeal division for sentences of six months or more in prison. While some”--like some of the far left lawyers he quoted from, like Barbara Jackman--“argue that this would unfairly penalize long-term permanent residents who may be deported for their actions, what is missed in this argument is that the permanent residents who face deportation are criminals. It should be stated that these individuals are not alleged criminals; they are not accused; they are not innocent. They have been convicted of a crime in a court of law”.

Similarly, Julie Taub said:

I have represented those who have been found to be criminally inadmissible to Canada, and I have gone to the Immigration Appeal Division to get a stay of removal for them, successfully in almost all cases.... Unfortunately, the majority of the clients I have represented reoffend or they breach their conditions.... I listen to their heart-felt apologies and promises, but time and time again they reoffend and they breach the conditions.... I really support this bill because criminals remain in Canada who are not Canadian, and it's almost impossible to deport them.

Why did the member not listen at committee to the victims of violence, to the crime victims organizations, to the immigrant organizations, to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, to the Canadian Police Association, all of whom endorsed this bill? Why did he disregard their pleas for us to deport serious convicted foreign criminals more quickly?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 10:55 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister's question is flawed on many points.

First and foremost, I would suggest to the minister that I listened to far more hours of debate at the immigration committee than he did to all of the different stakeholders who came before the committee.

Second, his information is flawed. Reis Pagtakhan, the individual he referred to and whom he actually quoted, did not run against me in the nomination. He was a good supporter of mine, but he did not run against me in the nomination.

If he wants me to quote Reis Pagtakhan, because after all he quoted Reis Pagtakhan, I will provide a quote that he gave at committee. Had the minister been there maybe he would have been able to reflect on this particular quote.

In relation to clause 8 and the minister's grab for more power, Reis Pagtakhan stated:

This section is troubling in that the ministerial discretion opens up the possibility of decisions being made without clearer criteria. Canadians are entitled to know what actions could cause a person to be barred from coming to Canada.

That is why I say that just because the minister has said something it does not mean that it is true. Quite often it is not true. That is one of the issues we have to address.

At the end of the day we want to see immigration policy that is well thought out and immigration policy that makes sense. Had the minister actually listened to what was being said at the citizenship and immigration committee, the bill would not be in its current form because amendments would have been passed at the committee stage that would have made the legislation better for all Canadians.