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 / 11 a.m.
See context

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the consideration of all members, particularly those of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, for their review of this important legislation, Bill C-43. We have already heard about the number of the amendments proposed to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other statutes proposed here, although I believe there has been a number of mischaracterizations of the bill.

The bill seeks to do three things primarily. First is to make it easier for the government to remove dangerous foreign criminals from our country. These are convicted serious foreign criminals. Second is to make it harder for those who may pose a risk to Canada to enter the country in the first place. Third is to remove barriers for genuine visitors who want to come to Canada.

There is a number of provisions, the most prominent of which would be the elimination of access to the Immigration Appeal Division for foreign nationals who have been convicted by a Canadian criminal court of what IRPA currently deems “a serious crime”, that is to say a crime which has resulted in a penal sentence of six months or more.

On this point, there has been a lot of obfuscation from the opposition members who have suggested that we will lower the bar for defining what constitutes a serious crime in immigration law. That is completely inaccurate. In 2002, when Parliament adopted the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, it decided in its wisdom, under the leadership of a former Liberal government, to define “serious criminality” under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as a crime that had resulted in a penal sentence of six months or more. That is the law and we would not change the law in that respect. We hear all sorts of completely bizarre, risible scenarios from the opposition about how this would be applied.

The member for Winnipeg North just imagined that Canadians who bought alcohol when they were not of the age of majority in the United States would get a six-month penal sentence in Canada. I do not know what planet he is living on, but that is not an offence in Canada at all and it is certainly not a criminal offence that carries a six-month penal sentence.

We have heard from opposition members that poor, innocent young Canadians who just happen to have six marijuana plans will be caught by police and they will be thrown out of the country pre-emptively because of this. Again, it is an effort by the opposition members to mislead. The criminal offence to which they refer is possession of a substantial amount of narcotics, in that case six marijuana plants, with the intention of trafficking.

Why did Parliament impose a mandatory minimum sentence for possession of six plants with intention for trafficking? It is precisely because that is how the organized drug gangs operate. They get a bunch of people to cultivate relatively small numbers of plants so that in the past if they were caught, they would not have faced a serious penal sanction. Parliament decided to render that a serious crime with a mandatory minimum prison sentence for trafficking drugs to kids. However, anyone who knows anything about actual sentencing practices will realize that a six-month penal sentence is, according to Parliament, quite appropriately a sentence that carries a penal sanction of six months or more.

The opposition members constantly try to diminish the gravity of these offences, but they do not seem to recognize that these offences create victims in Canada. That is why Sharon Rosenfeldt of the Victims of Violence has said:

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

Similarly, the Canadian Police Association has said that it:

—welcomes the introduction of [this bill]...particularly with respect to the enhanced prohibitions against those who have committed serious crimes abroad from coming to Canada....This legislation will help us by streamlining the procedures necessary to remove individuals who remain at-risk to re-offend.

Similarly, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police said that it:

—supports the efforts of [this bill] to provide for a more expeditious removal from Canada of foreigners who are convicted of committing serious crimes against Canadians. As well, we support measures to prevent those with a history of committing criminal offenses, or who pose a risk to our society, from entering Canada. The Act will help to make Canadians and those who legitimately enter Canada safer.

Let the record be clear that the opposition is disregarding the voices of victims' rights organizations, our police and those who are charged with keeping our society safe. What the government seeks to do is when foreign nationals have received a serious criminal sentence of six months or more, the CBSA will then issue a removal order against them, an exclusion order, deeming them inadmissible to stay in Canada. They will no longer be able to appeal that to the Immigration Appeals Division as a result of the bill.

In the past, by appealing to the IAD of the Immigration and Refugee Board, that would typically gain foreign criminals about nine months for that appeal to be heard. If that appeal was refused, they would then appeal that negative decision to the Federal Court. Occasionally they would then be able to further appeal the negative decision by the Federal Court to the Federal Court of Appeals. That takes serious convicted foreign criminals, who have already benefited from due process, including the presumption of innocence in our criminal system, and allows them to delay their deportation for, in that case, two to three years.

That is how Canada ends up with people like Jackie Tran, whom I mentioned before, who was running a Vietnamese drug gang in Calgary. The gang was responsible for the deaths of several people. Like most capos in organized criminal groups, this fellow was too smart to actually pull the trigger, as far as we know. Instead he had other henchmen do that for him. There is no doubt he was in charge. The problem was the police were only able to get him on relatively minor offences, like assault with a weapon, drug trafficking, drug possession and failure to comply with court orders. Because of the current provision in IRPA, which allowed him to appeal his removal order to the IAD for sentences of two years less a day, he managed to delay his removal by six years.

Patrick De Florimonte, a Guyanese national, was found guilty of several criminal offences.

Charges included assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, uttering threats, multiple counts of theft, drug possession, drug trafficking and failure to comply with court orders. He managed to use these loopholes. which we would close, to delay removal by four and a half years.

Then there is the case of Gheorghe Capra, who had over 60 convictions of fraud, forgery, conspiracy to commit fraud, obstructing a police officer, failure to comply with court orders. Again, because those sentences were all less than two years, he managed to appeal those and delay deportation for five years. He reoffended and created new victims.

I honestly cannot imagine why any member of this place would want to allow someone like Mr. Capra, who has no right to be in Canada, is not a Canadian citizen and lost through his own volition the privilege of staying in Canada through his criminal recidivism, to continue to delay his removal from Canada and claim new victims.

For example, there is the case of Mr. Jeyachandran Balasubramanium, who was convicted of assault with a weapon, drug possession, drug trafficking and failure to comply with court orders. Again, through the same procedures we would close, he managed to delay his removal for seven years.

That clearly demonstrates why the provisions to limit appeals to the IAD are so broadly supported.

Let me address a couple of the other points in the short time available to me. The member from Winnipeg talked about how terrible it was that we would close access to humanitarian and compassionate consideration for certain people. What he failed to mention was that the people we would exclude from H and C consideration would be those who had been found by our legal system to be inadmissible on security grounds for human and international rights violations and for organized criminality.

I will give the House one example. Léon Mugesera was one of the members responsible for inciting the Rwandan genocide that led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. He got to Canada.

When it was learned that he was involved in the genocide, efforts were made to have him deported from Canada, but he delayed his removal by nearly 20 years. I do not think that the vast majority of Canadians feel that a man involved in genocide should have his application considered on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. This man had no compassion and did not consider the humanity of the victims in the Rwandan genocide.

And that is why we are supporting this bill.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for going over this legislation, which the opposition still believes is too overarching. As I said earlier, we tried to present very reasonable amendments. We tried to codify and to make the bill more reasonable so we could support it. We believe and are seriously committed to ensuring that serious criminals are deported and kept out of Canada. However, that also requires some investment from the government to border security and all those things.

This new law relieves the minister of the obligation to consider humanitarian and compassionate consideration. Is this the kind of Canada we want and why would the government and the minister want to be relieved of considering the best interests of children in possible deportation cases?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister started his comments by using the example that I made reference to in terms of a youth who would come to Immigration Canada maybe at an early age of four to six or whatever age one wanted to put on it, but spent 12 years in Canada. After graduating high school, he would take a trip to the United States with his buddies after graduation and use some false identification to be served alcohol. The minister seemed to be of the same opinion that I was, that this kind of thing happened and it did not justify being denied the opportunity to appeal.

Is the minister prepared at this point to make a very clear statement on this issue? In that situation, which was raised on numerous occasions at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, it will not exist in the sense that there will be no form of any limiting of the rights of that type of a scenario. Could he provide that assurance to the House today? He seemed to imply it relatively strongly in his remarks. Will he take the next step and say that the individuals who made that point in their presentations were wrong in that his legislation would not do that?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the offence of purchasing alcohol is illegal in the United States, it is not a criminal offence in Canada. I have no idea what the member is talking about. This is completely bizarre.

The bill would allow us to deny access to the Immigration Appeal Division for foreign nationals who received a penal sentence in Canada for a serious crime defined under IRPA as a penal sentence of six months or more. I simply do not understand how a misdemeanour in the United States becomes a serious criminal offence in Canada.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

NDP

Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to know that it is primarily young Americans who come to Quebec to drink because it is easier for them.

This seems like a great bill and it seems like it will work. I would like to point out one situation and have the minister respond because I know that he loves to name names and cite specific cases.

There is a titled British citizen who got out of prison and, with no difficulty whatsoever, became a Canadian citizen. I am not talking about a young Vietnamese murderer or a person whose appearance we do not approve of. This is a well-dressed billionaire, a respectable man who was knighted by the Queen herself. He had just gotten out of prison when he arrived here.

Will this legislation be applied retroactively to this man?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I do not understand the question.

Foreign nationals are ineligible to enter Canada if they have received a serious criminal sentence that would correspond to a sentence of two years or more in Canada.

That said, apart from people convicted of war crimes or human rights violations, anyone can apply for a temporary resident permit to challenge their ineligibility. That is a standard process that is not affected by this bill.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

St. Catharines Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-43.

I had a chance this morning to listen to the members in opposition speak to the bill, which also reminded me of the time we spent at committee.

It may not be the most exciting part of our parliamentary responsibilities for the public to watch, but to suggest in any way, shape or form that the bill did not receive a thorough going-over at committee, after serious and significant debate, presentation of amendments, response to those amendments and the clause-by-clause review of each and every piece of the bill, would be incorrect.

To state that opposition members did not have the opportunity to call their fair percentage of representatives and witnesses, that they did not have the opportunity to present their amendments to the bill and that they did not have the opportunity to speak to their amendments to the bill would be, and is, completely incorrect.

I would note the hon. member from the Liberal Party for Winnipeg North did present a number of amendments, one of which we spent a lot of time speaking about and gave due consideration, and we did see an amendment to the bill. It had to do with clause 13, if I could describe it very briefly. The opposition was looking for representation in some report or in some thorough review in the House of Commons of each and every individual who, by the Minister of Immigration, would have been denied entry into the country for specific reasons that obviously relate to Bill C-43.

We took that advice and took back the amendment. We made a significant change to the piece of legislation in clause 13 of Bill C-43 to do exactly what the opposition was concerned about, which was to ensure that the report that is submitted to the House of Commons by the Minister of Immigration, the review that takes place on an annual basis on all of the work that has taken place at the ministry for a given year, be reported and tabled in the House of Commons.

Each and every one of those individuals who will have received a decision based on the minister's interpretation and understanding of the bill, will be printed in that document and will obviously be presented here on the floor of the House of Commons. Members of the opposition asked for transparency, demanded transparency and came to committee expecting transparency. To suggest that we did not listen, respond or make a strong indication and change to the bill in order to represent that position is simply false.

The minister did a good job of defining the three areas upon which the bill is focused: first, to make it easier for the government to remove dangerous foreign criminals from our country; second, to make it harder for those who may pose a risk to Canada to enter the country in the first place; and third, in a very positive way, to remove barriers for genuine visitors who want to come to Canada.

I did not hear anything from the opposition on the third part of that piece in which we now, under the bill, have ensured that those who wish to come to Canada, and barriers have been placed in front of them, will have the opportunity to get here in a much quicker fashion, or to get here at all in some cases.

When I listen to the opposition members talk about the need for an appeal process, no one on this side of the House would ever suggest that an individual should not have a mechanism to appeal. That is just, fair and how our Canadian society approaches issues such as immigration.

At the same time, I listened to what Jacques Shore from Gowlings said. He said:

—I support clause 24, which removes the appeal rights for persons convicted of crimes and sentenced to imprisonment for six months or more. This will speed up deportation of those convicted of serious offences. Criminals should not slow down the Canadian justice system by relying on years of appeals and giving them the opportunity to reoffend....

Bill C-43, if passed, could prevent people who have demonstrated track records of blatant lack of respect for our society's cherished values from coming to Canada....

—Bill C-43 is a step in the right direction. It will prevent criminals from taking advantage of our overly generous appeals process.

I did a little review and had a look at what Mr. Shore brought forward to committee. In fact, in 2007, there were 830 appeals. In 2008, there were 954; in 2009, 1,086; in 2010, 849; and in 2011, 564 appeals. On average, since 2007, there have been over 850 appeals annually to the IAD by serious criminals trying to delay their deportation.

As of May 2012, there were 2,747 appeals pending to the IAD on the basis of criminality. That means one of every four appeals to the IAD comes from those who have been convicted of a serious crime and have now used the appeal process, not for reason of defence but for reason of offence. The offence is that they have committed a serious crime and they are using every trick in the book in an attempt to stay here in Canada because they do not want to face the responsibility of a conviction for their crime.

If that is acceptable to the opposition, I understand why they stand here today and oppose the bill. If that is part of the reason they do, that is their right. However, on this side of the House, when we speak about serious crime and those who have taken advantage of the opportunity to come here as permanent residents, this government will stand on behalf of the millions and millions who have come to this country, earned permanent residency, earned Canadian citizenship and have done so in a way that is respectful, shows dignity and allows all of us in Canada to take pride in the immigration system that we should have in this country.

We have also said the legislation will ensure the deportation of foreign criminals will actually take place properly instead of in unjust delay.

The member from Winnipeg brought up questions about what defines serious criminality, at committee and here in the House, and the minister has responded on three separate occasions. The Canadian Police Association has said that while the overwhelming majority of those who come to Canada make a tremendous contribution to our shared communities, there does remain a small minority who flout Canadian law and take advantage of drawn-out proceedings to remain in the country at a risk to public safety.

We heard at committee, from witnesses and from the opposition, that the definition of a serious crime is one that results in a sentence of six months or more. The member from Winnipeg has, on a number of occasions, used an example that the Minister of Immigration has pushed aside as being an improper and, in fact, wrong example.

For the sake of the record, what we spoke about at committee and also what we are speaking about here in the House of Commons as the bill moves forward is moving from serious criminality of two years to serious criminality of six months, in terms of conviction and sentence.

Let me state for the record some examples of offences from actual cases where terms of imprisonment of six months or greater were imposed: assault with a weapon, which resulted in 13 months in jail in one case and two years less a day in jail in another; possession of a schedule 1 substance for the purpose of trafficking; sexual assault; breaking and entering; possession of tools of breaking and entering and theft; robbery; multiple counts of forgery; possession of counterfeit mark; possession of instruments to be used to commit forgery; causing death via criminal negligence; manslaughter; and finally, murder.

When we talk about serious crimes, those are the examples that we are referring to. To take up examples that do not even border on the edge of serious criminality is really inexcusable. What that does is it gives the impression that there is something that is not right with the bill, when in fact when you look at the content, each and every clause of the bill, it speaks very significantly and very specifically to what a serious crime is and how an individual, from permanent residency, is forced to at least live through the responsibility of the act they committed.

I will conclude by stating that we went through the bill from one end to the other. We listened when we needed to make a change that makes sense from a legislative perspective. It should have happened years ago, but we now have a bill to ensure that foreign criminals will be removed on an expeditious basis and those who are responsible for those serious crimes will have to serve the sentence.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want the parliamentary secretary to speak directly to one clause of the bill which as I mentioned in my speech I find to be the most egregious. It is not tied, as I can see it, in any way, shape, or form to criminality or criminal behaviour. Clause 8, which creates new section 22.1, states:

The Minister may, on the Minister’s own initiative, declare that a foreign national, other than a foreign national referred to in section 19, may not become a temporary resident if the Minister is of the opinion that it is justified by public policy considerations.

I have looked through the bill and there is no definition or criteria with respect to “public policy considerations”. Why does this clause stand alone in blocking temporary residents without any connection whatsoever to the various issues that the parliamentary secretary has told us are the driving force of the bill, in other words, criminality? No criminality is mentioned in clause 8 as an exclusion for people coming to Canada.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the committee spent a great deal of time dealing with proposed section 22.1.

It should be clear that the provision would create a new authority that would allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to declare that a foreign national may not become a temporary resident where the minister is of the opinion that such a decision is justified on the basis of public policy considerations.

As the member knows, and she has been here long enough to understand, there is the legislative side of how we deal with a particular implementation strategy of a law and there is the regulatory side of a piece of legislation, which supports the clause and which comes into direct implementation when the bill receives royal assent and implementation begins.

I should let the member know and she should understand that while we dealt in great detail with how we would formulate this, the ministry officials, the assistant deputy minister and in fact the deputy minister, indicated that regulations regarding how this piece of legislation would be implemented and carried out would be defined within the regulatory framework that would support this piece of legislation.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the parliamentary secretary would provide comment on an issue that was raised quite a bit during the committee hearings. There is a great deal of concern for those individuals who come to Canada at a very early age, at one, two, three years of age. They arrive here as infants and they become a part of our system. They take part in our nursery programs and attend our educational facilities. They might not have been born in Canada, but for all intents and purposes they know no other land but Canada. There is absolutely no exemption whatsoever for these individuals to be given any form of discretionary or compassionate review in regard to what this legislation is going to be implementing.

France and other countries have recognized there is a difference when a two-year-old comes to a country as an immigrant. Why does the government not recognize that there is a difference between a two-year-old and a 35-year-old arriving as immigrants?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can say with confidence that if that is what is left as the opposition's offence to this piece of legislation, we stand on pretty good ground on this side of the House.

The member knows we dealt with the issue at committee. We talked about what mechanisms an individual like that would have in terms of the basis of an appeal.

Let us think of the millions of those who have come to our country, as my parents did as very young individuals. They grew up here, were trained here and received an education here and then became citizens of this country.

There is a point at which one has to say enough with the extreme examples and let us get down to what the legislation actually does, how it works for Canadians and how it tells those who want to come to this country that they need to do so on the basis of not committing a crime.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for the opportunity to speak to this important bill on behalf of my constituents of Surrey North.

It is safe to say that dealing with those non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada is essential and something in which we as New Democrats strongly believe. Unfortunately, the bill leaves much to be desired. Bill C-43 misses the mark and fails to address any of the holes with regard to training, allocation of resources and monitoring within the public service agencies that deal with non-citizens. Moreover, the bill would not protect public safety as the Conservatives would like everyone to believe.

Not only is the bill flawed in its content, but it also paints newcomers in a negative light. The bill redefines serious criminality for the purpose of access to an appeal of termination of admissibility. The bill would place increased discretionary powers in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration by bluntly removing all necessary checks and balances that are in place.

Newcomers arrive on Canada's shores with the same goal as those who have been living here for generations. They want to build a better life for themselves and their families. The majority of newcomers never break the law, yet the Conservatives would paint with the same brush the few criminals and the many non-violent, non-criminal newcomers who arrive in Canada each year.

Let me be clear. We strongly support the quick removal of violent and dangerous non-citizen criminals.

Unfortunately, Bill C-43 would not succeed in its aims, but rather would give sweeping discretionary powers to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration while completely ignoring much needed training and resources.

A number of people who spoke at committee pointed out that law enforcement agencies and immigration services are severely lacking resources. Our public service employees are lacking the resources to deal with people who do not comply with the current citizenship and immigration regulations and laws. The Conservatives know it is unfair to ask these already overburdened agencies to do more with fewer resources.

The Conservatives also know it is inappropriate to relieve the immigration minister of the responsibility to examine humanitarian circumstances.

The fact of the matter is that the Conservatives do not care. What they do care about is ramming through their radical Conservative agenda while hiding from oversight and avoiding accountability. The government has avoided accountability before. We saw it with the F-35s. The Conservatives are not taking responsibility for that fiasco. We also saw it with the Minister of Agriculture with regard to the meat poisoning that happened in Alberta. The government has failed to take responsibility and has failed to account for those serious flaws.

Clearly, the Conservative government's objective is to introduce measures that would contribute to a less transparent and more arbitrary approach to immigration.

As a responsible opposition, we have attempted to restore some vital checks and balances to this bill. We New Democrats have asked the government to work with us. We asked Conservative members at committee stage. In that effort we introduced a number of amendments to work across party lines to make the system better, to deal with violent offenders. However, the Conservatives would not entertain any of the amendments that were offered to them. This has happened not only with respect to this bill but with other bills that have been introduced. The Conservatives continually fail to look at some amendments.

Surely, of the thousands of amendments we have introduced at committee stage and report stage some of them would make sense. The government has failed to take a reasonable approach to our immigration system and other measures that have been put forward in this House. The amendments that were introduced were all rejected in favour of an irresponsible approach with no checks and balances and no accountability.

This is a bill that does not help our communities, nor does it respect our judicial process. Instead, it removes any discretion for a judge to consider the nature of the crime and the context in which it was committed. This includes any potential mental illness of refugees from war-torn countries. One can imagine coming from a war-torn country. Clearly, this bill does not address that.

Safe communities have long been a priority in my constituency of Surrey North and across the country. The objectives in the preamble of this bill make sense. Members can all agree that non-citizens who commit serious crimes should be dealt with quickly. For those reasons the NDP supported the bill at second reading in the hope that the Conservative government would be reasonable and would look at some of the amendments we had to offer to look at ways to improve the system. Yet again, like all the other bills that have come through the House, it has failed to entertain any one of those amendments. Once again we see the Conservatives pushing through their agenda at the expense of new and existing Canadians. This has been pointed out. The so-called foreign criminals, while there are 1.5 million permanent residents, is how these individuals are classified.

It is difficult to understand why the government is paying lip-service to the problem of non-citizen criminals and not addressing the important issue of shortage of resources. It is continuing to make cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada and the RCMP. Basically, while the minister is given more power, those on the front lines are once again being asked to do more with less. Members saw the report from the PBO's office yesterday where more services, front line workers and officers are being cut than at the back end. Clearly, the priorities of the government are not aligned with what needs to be done.

When I talk about priorities, there are constituents of mine who have come into my office wanting to be reunited with their parents and loved ones. They are having to wait six to eight years. Members have seen the long lineups and wait lists in a number of categories. The government has failed to address the wait lists for reuniting families.

I am an immigrant. I came to this country 33 years ago. It was through family reunification that I was able to come to this wonderful country. Now the same system is in place but the wait time is eight years to reunite with loved ones. That is not acceptable.

We believe we can prevent non-citizens who commit serious crimes from abusing our appeals process. We also believe this can be achieved without undermining their rights. Once again, the Conservatives plan to do exactly what they want to do with no regard for the people of this country or the democratic processes by which it should be governed. There is the rule of law.

Members all know what Conservatives do when they do not like rules. They break them or they undermine Parliament to change them. This is exactly what is happening with Bill C-43. We have seen this with Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, and the omnibus crime bill. If they do not like the rules, they will change them in such a way to drive the Conservative agenda.

In summary, we agree that non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada should be dealt with quickly. However, we cannot ignore the fact that this bill would concentrate more arbitrary power in the hands of a minister without the appropriate checks and balances.

My sincere hope is that the Conservatives will take a step back and think about the consequences of painting law-abiding newcomers who arrive in Canada each year with the same tainted brush.

We know that the method by which we go about removing foreign criminals from Canadian soil is flawed. We know it needs to be fixed. Bill C-43 fails to do this and hurts both Canadians and newcomers.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeMinister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I must admit a certain degree of skepticism about the member's concluding assertion that the NDP knows that the current process for removal of foreign criminals is flawed and must be changed. My skepticism is based on the fact the NDP has not made any proposals, ever, to streamline the process for the removal of convicted foreign criminals.

Second, the member says that the bill somehow undermines the rights of foreign nationals facing removal. Perhaps he could clarify. Does he not understand that the denial of an IAD appeal for someone facing removal for conviction of a serious offence follows all of the normal procedures of a criminal proceeding, where the foreign national is presumed to be innocent, goes before a Canadian court of law and is convicted and sentenced to a serious penal sentence, and of course has appeal rights from that? What more rights does the member think that person should have? Does he think there is a right for foreign criminals to stay in Canada?

Finally, he comments on ministerial authority to exercise negative discretion against people who promote terrorism or hatred, and yet he and most members of the opposition are constantly asking me, as the minister, to exercise uncontrolled positive discretion under the Immigration Act to admit foreign nationals either under temporary resident permits or for permanent resident reasons. Why is he in favour of ministerial discretion for positive discretion, but not negative discretion?

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:40 a.m.
See context

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, clearly the NDP introduced a number of amendments at committee stage, hoping we could have a balanced approach. There is no doubt on this side of the House how we should deal with people who commit serious crimes, and we would like to work with the Conservatives to that end, to look at serious criminals and deal with them appropriately.

What we do not agree with is this concentration of arbitrary power with the minister to deal with these issues. We were hoping that the Conservatives would have a balanced approach, that they would look at some of the reasonable amendments we offered to make the bill better and make our system a lot better. It certainly is not working right now; some of what is in place is not working. We introduced amendments, but Conservatives clearly did not want to go in a different way from their own agenda.

Motions in amendmentFaster Removal of Foreign Criminals ActGovernment Orders

January 29th, 2013 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the aspects of the bill that is rarely talked about is that the government would now increase from two years to five years a person's ability to apply to immigrate to Canada where there has been an issue regarding misrepresentation. The government has failed to recognize that there is unintentional misrepresentation. There is bad immigration advice, and as a result it is a fairly profound consequence to increase the time from two years to five years before that individual would be able to apply.

At committee we heard examples of cases where there was a great deal of sympathy, that five years would not be proper to give. I wonder if the member could provide comment on that aspect of the legislation.