Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Chris Alexander  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 Citizenship Act to, among other things, update eligibility requirements for Canadian citizenship, strengthen security and fraud provisions and amend provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions.

Amendments to the eligibility requirements include

(a) clarifying the meaning of being resident in Canada;

(b) modifying the period during which a permanent resident must reside in Canada before they may apply for citizenship;

(c) expediting access to citizenship for persons who are serving in, or have served in, the Canadian Armed Forces;

(d) requiring that an applicant for citizenship demonstrate, in one of Canada’s official languages, knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;

(e) specifying the age as of which an applicant for citizenship must demonstrate the knowledge referred to in paragraph (d) and must demonstrate an adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages;

(f) requiring that an applicant meet any applicable requirement under the Income Tax Act to file a return of income;

(g) conferring citizenship on certain individuals and their descendants who may not have acquired citizenship under prior legislation;

(h) extending an exception to the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent to children born to or adopted abroad by parents who were themselves born to or adopted abroad by Crown servants; and

(i) requiring, for a grant of citizenship for an adopted person, that the adoption not have circumvented international adoption law.

Amendments to the security and fraud provisions include

(a) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who are charged outside Canada for an offence that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence under an Act of Parliament or who are serving a sentence outside Canada for such an offence;

(b) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who, while they were permanent residents, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring those persons from acquiring citizenship;

(c) aligning the grounds related to security and organized criminality on which a person may be denied citizenship with those grounds in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and extending the period during which a person is barred from acquiring citizenship on that basis;

(d) expanding the prohibition against granting citizenship to include persons who, in the course of their application, misrepresent material facts and prohibiting new applications by those persons for a specified period;

(e) increasing the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after having been convicted of certain offences;

(f) increasing the maximum penalties for offences related to citizenship, including fraud and trafficking in documents of citizenship;

(g) providing for the regulation of citizenship consultants;

(h) establishing a hybrid model for revoking a person’s citizenship in which the Minister will decide the majority of cases and the Federal Court will decide the cases related to inadmissibility based on security grounds, on grounds of violating human or international rights or on grounds of organized criminality;

(i) increasing the period during which a person is barred from applying for citizenship after their citizenship has been revoked;

(j) providing for the revocation of citizenship of dual citizens who, while they were Canadian citizens, engaged in certain actions contrary to the national interest of Canada, and permanently barring these individuals from reacquiring citizenship; and

(k) authorizing regulations to be made respecting the disclosure of information.

Amendments to the provisions governing the processing of applications and the review of decisions include

(a) requiring that an application must be complete to be accepted for processing;

(b) expanding the grounds and period for the suspension of applications and providing for the circumstances in which applications may be treated as abandoned;

(c) limiting the role of citizenship judges in the decision-making process, subject to the Minister periodically exercising his or her power to continue the period of application of that limitation;

(d) giving the Minister the power to make regulations concerning the making and processing of applications;

(e) providing for the judicial review of any matter under the Act and permitting, in certain circumstances, further appeals to the Federal Court of Appeal; and

(f) transferring to the Minister the discretionary power to grant citizenship in special cases.

Finally, the enactment makes consequential amendments to the Federal Courts Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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

June 16, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 10, 2014 Passed That Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 10, 2014 Failed That Bill C-24 be amended by deleting Clause 1.
June 9, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and five hours shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and that, at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration at report stage and the five hours provided for the consideration at 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 said stages of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
May 29, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
May 29, 2014 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, because it: ( a) does not provide an adequate solution for reducing citizenship application processing times, which have been steadily increasing; ( b) puts significant new powers in the hands of the Minister that will allow this government to politicize the granting of Canadian citizenship; ( c) gives the Minister the power to revoke citizenship, which will deny some Canadians access to a fair trial in Canada and will raise serious questions since Canadian law already includes mechanisms to punish those who engage in unlawful acts; and ( d) includes a declaration of intent to reside provision, which in fact gives officials the power to speculate on the intent of a citizenship applicant and then potentially deny citizenship based on this conjecture.”.
May 28, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second 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 said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 9:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Christine Moore NDP Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, increasing the residency requirement in no way changes the value of Canadian citizenship.

I believe that people are capable of proving that they belong and that they have a desire to become Canadian citizens after a reasonable period of time. If we have not been able to establish that a person would contribute greatly to Canadian society by becoming a Canadian citizen in four years, I do not know how increasing the residency requirement would change anything.

What is important is that we process these applications within a reasonable amount of time to allow people to build their lives. It is unreal to see how complicated it can be to get Canadian citizenship and to build a life. Many people who earned university degrees in Canada are turned down for jobs because the employer is very concerned that something could happen and the individual would not be able to stay in the country.

It is essential for people to be able to build their lives and become full citizens by exercising their right to vote, among others, and actively participating in their communities. For example, someone could become a municipal councillor in their town to truly get involved.

For this to happen, we need to process applications within a reasonable amount of time and exercise due diligence. If we had an adequate organizational capacity, I am certain that we would be able to assess an individual's case in four years. That seems reasonable to me.

The current residency requirement is reasonable, so I do not see why the government wants so badly to increase it. The system already has massive delays.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 9:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are going to take advantage of this opportunity, because the holidays are coming.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues for their excellent speeches. The end of the session is fast approaching, and I would like to take a moment to recognize all of the work my colleagues have accomplished over the year.

I would also like to share my thoughts on the bill before us this evening, namely Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. When the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration introduced the bill last winter, he said he wanted to protect the value of Canadian citizenship for those who have citizenship and create a faster, more efficient process for those who are applying for it. I think that everyone here agrees with that basic principle. As legislators, we have a duty to protect the value of our citizenship, and we all recognize that there are measures that must be taken to make the citizenship process faster and more efficient.

While we agree with the objective, I must point out that we have different opinions as to how to reach that objective. I will begin by focusing on the aspects of the bill that must be implemented in order to strengthen the value of our citizenship, while also protecting Canadian citizens.

First, there must be stricter rules for fraudulent immigration consultants. Bill C-24 would give the government the authority to designate a regulatory body whose members would be authorized to act as consultants.

The bill also recognizes that people who sell immigration consultant services are capable of committing an offence. The goal here is to punish fraudsters, not law-abiding immigrants. That is why we are pushing the government to create strict laws to crack down on fraudulent immigration consultants. I also feel that access to citizenship could be expedited for those who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, since they make a commitment to represent our country and defend our values.

Another positive aspect of this bill relates to conferring citizenship on more lost Canadians. The NDP has taken an interest in this issue since at least 2007. In response to pressure from our party at the time, the government instituted measures in 2009 to confer citizenship on most lost Canadians. However, the changes did not apply to people born before 1947. Bill C-24 closes the loop.

I would also like to express my approval of the harsh penalty for fraud. Bill C-24 significantly increases the fines for fraud from $1,000 to $100,000, as well as the maximum prison terms, which will now be from 5 to 14 years depending on the circumstances. This measure will give those contemplating fraud reason to stop and think before committing a crime.

I also support the proposal to institute stricter residency requirements for those seeking citizenship. This measure specifies the number of days during which a person must have been physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship. This clarifies the process and, as immigration lawyer Richard Kurland pointed out, it will simplify things for permanent residents trying to plan their lives. Some parts of this bill will fix problems with the system.

However, other parts of Bill C-24 should be changed. There are many reasons for this. First is the fact that the bill hands too much power over to the minister, including the power to grant citizenship to or revoke it from dual nationals. This measure raises major legal concerns and makes new immigrants vulnerable to arbitrary, politically motivated decisions.

I want to make it clear that Canadian law already includes mechanisms to punish people who commit crimes. It should not be up to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and his department to make these decisions.

Another issue with the power to revoke citizenship for dual nationals is that it will result in two-tiered citizenship. Some Canadians could have their citizenship revoked, while others found guilty of the same offence would be punished under the Criminal Code. I believe that aspect of the bill could face a legal challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically under section 15.

Treating dual citizens differently and exposing them to potential loss of citizenship creates a double standard, which raises some serious constitutional questions. However, section 15 of the charter could not be more clear:

15. (1) Every individual...has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Is the government hoping to once again be scolded by the Supreme Court? How can it consider giving a single person that kind of authority without putting in place a system of checks and balances to avoid abuses? Moreover, why refuse to release the names of the people whose citizenship the minister has revoked or to whom he has secretly granted citizenship?

Until now, such cases were generally referred to the courts and cabinet. It should stay that way. Otherwise, the minister would have the power to revoke citizenship based on suspicion alone, without an independent court ruling on whether or not the accusations are true. On that point, why not follow the lead of the United States, where the government may file a civil suit to revoke an individual's naturalization if it was obtained illegally or if the individual concealed or falsified relevant facts in the naturalization application process? In that situation, the individual in question has the legal right to take the case to court. Every ruling can be appealed, and the individual is guaranteed due process.

That is what should happen in a democratic and egalitarian country like Canada. What is more, the minister can revoke the citizenship of someone who was convicted under section 47 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to imprisonment for life for treason, high treason or espionage or convicted of a terrorism offence as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code—or an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute a terrorism offence as defined in that section—and sentenced to at least five years of imprisonment.

At first glance, this measure may seem fair, but what will happen when the person is sentenced in a country with a judicial system that is corrupt or beholden to political interests? For example, Canada cannot, on the one hand, denounce the elections of a country that it considers to have absolutely no democratic system, but, on the other hand, accept the foundations of its rule of law in order to justify revoking someone's citizenship.

The last point I find troubling is related to what I believe to be the most serious problem with our immigration system: the delays and wait times for processing files, which is completely ridiculous. Despite more than 25 major changes that were made to the methods, rules, laws and regulations concerning immigration since 2008, the Canadian immigration system is still no more efficient than it was and the wait times are getting longer.

Under Conservative rule, there has been a moratorium on sponsoring parents and grandparents, a decline in family reunifications, punishment of vulnerable refugees and an increase in the number of temporary foreign workers to meet the needs of big business. There are currently more than 320,000 people still waiting for their application to be processed, and the usual time it takes is approximately 31 months, compared to 15 months in 2009.

Bill C-24 does not present any real solution to reduce these ever-increasing delays. The bill simply proposes that the processing be simplified by eliminating some intermediaries in the steps towards acquiring citizenship. However, nothing proves that these administrative changes will be sufficient to significantly reduce the wait times.

In light of the concerns I just mentioned, I am opposed to Bill C-24 in its present form. I urge my colleagues to work together to give Canadians and future Canadians what they deserve: a system in which citizenship and immigration are more balanced.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 9:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier tonight, Canada is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The primary responsibility to ensure that the rights articulated in the convention are implemented in Canada rests with government, both federal and provincial. In 2012, the UN committee on the rights of the child recommended that Canada:

“...ensure the principles of the best interests of the child is appropriately integrated and consistently applied in all legislative, administrative, and judicial proceedings.... one approach to ensure children's best interests are given priority consideration...is through the use of...Child Rights Impact Assessments.”

Could the hon. member tell us if the government undertook one, or should the government have undertaken such an assessment with respect to this legislation?

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 9:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member's arguments are absolutely justified, and we have been hearing them all evening.

I can give an example of something that happened in my riding. Parents were asked to leave and their children had to stay because they were born in Quebec. Families are being separated and it is extremely difficult. Sometimes, the child's rights are not taken into consideration. A parent is deported because their country has become safer than it was, but the child can stay. The father is Canadian, the mother was born elsewhere, and families end up separated.

The interests of the child are not always considered fairly.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Philip Toone NDP Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for yet another excellent speech that is representative of the extraordinary work she does in her riding.

In her speech, she suggested that the Conservatives are trying to get the Supreme Court to put them in their place. During their speeches today, the Conservatives repeatedly claimed to be making science-based decisions and listening to the people, yet they accepted not one single amendment.

I get the impression that they are trying to make work for lawyers because they know that so many of their bills end up before the Supreme Court only to be torn to pieces.

None of this is based on science. It is all about partisanship and opportunism. That is why I do not think they are listening to anyone. I therefore seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion:

That the House do now adjourn.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, a motion to adjourn the House was just moved. There was unanimous consent to move the motion. As we can see, the motion was not agreed to, so there has to be a vote because there was unanimous consent to move the motion in the House. That changes things. There were two motions. The first motion was for unanimous consent. Some Conservative members said no to the second motion, but the motion was moved in the House, so we have to vote.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I would ask for the advice of the Chair. My understanding is that a request to adjourn was made in the hope of receiving unanimous consent. Then you canvassed the House to see if there was unanimous consent and there was never any canvassing of the House to ask the question. If the answer to the initial request had been yes then you would have had to put the question to the House. I understand that you did not put the question to the House, so that is something that still would need to be done. Based on that, I would suggest to you that we have not actually adjourned as of right now.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, you actually put the question twice. The minister and the member for Newmarket—Aurora are quite right to say that the second motion to actually adjourn the House was denied consent, but the first motion was accepted, which means the question has been put. It overrides Motion No. 10 that was adopted two weeks ago. The motion has been put.

Mr. Speaker, you asked if there was unanimous consent to adopt the motion, which would have adjourned the House. I agree with the member for Newmarket—Aurora that a number of Conservative members of Parliament at that point denied consent to adjourn the House, but the question was put unanimously. No one denied consent to put the question, which means the House now has to be called to vote on that question.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are multiple people on this side of the House who have been sitting here for a considerable length of time listening to the debate, being part of the questions and comments, and speaking as well. We were certainly here when there was a call for unanimous consent. There was no canvass of the House by the Speaker in terms of the request for unanimous consent, so whatever the House leader of the official opposition is suggesting in terms of unanimous consent being granted just simply did not happen in this place. The only way around this, in my opinion, is to have a canvass emanating from the Speaker. As far as I am concerned, it is a very clear ruling that you would have to make.

It only makes sense that there cannot be this many people who would find anything to this. It is astounding to me that the House leader for the opposition would find this to be a realistic situation with all of us present here.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, you quite properly put the question. At that point the House said agreed, which is why you then moved on to the second motion, which is if the House is in agreement with the terms of the motion that the House now adjourn.

It is true, and I completely agree, that a number of members of the Conservative Party have come in and said they did say no to the second motion. That is very true. We all heard that. We admit that. However, the reason you put the second motion, Mr. Speaker, is that the House agreed to the first motion, which now means that the bells need to ring and we need to call in the members to have a vote on the motion to adjourn. We had unanimous consent from the House to call the vote and unanimous consent was denied. I completely agree. Because unanimous consent was denied, we now have to have a vote.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:10 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, given the apparent confusion and ambiguity, I just want to say that I have been a member of this place for 17 years, which I think is perhaps the longest tenure of anyone in the chamber right now, with the possible exception of the government whip and the member for Vegreville—Wainwright, and I think I have learned a thing or two about how unanimous consent motions are put. I used to be deputy opposition House leader. I have probably put several dozen unanimous consent motions myself.

When a member moves for unanimous consent that a motion be heard, the formula is for the Speaker to say that the member has sought unanimous consent of the House that the following motion be put. The Speaker then seeks the consent of the House.

I was sitting here, as were several members of the government. I have no recollection of unanimous consent having been sought. The only question I heard was, “on the motion”. I, and several other members of the government, denied consent.

I would submit that unless you can get the blues, at the very least this is a question as to whether the Chair, with respect to Your Honour, properly sought unanimous consent. To be generous to the official opposition, it is at the very best a question of ambiguity, and I would submit, in the absence of clarity on this point, that we continue with the business of the House, because clearly this motion has been put in a dilatory spirit.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that both sides are agreeing that the Conservatives said no to the second motion, but the reality is that you put the second motion, Mr. Speaker, because the first motion was adopted unanimously.

That is simple. You put the question. The folks who were listening heard it. The folks who were not listening may not have heard it. I am sorry, but in this game we have to be attentive. The reality is that first motion then put the question of adjourning the House to the House and that, of course, negates Motion No. 10, which ties up a whole range of procedural tools from the opposition.

We are now in a situation in which the House needs to be called to vote. It is not a big thing. I do not think any member of the House would object to voting on it. The reality is that because the motion was put unanimously, overriding Motion No. 10, we are now at the point where the members should be called for a vote. We would like to see that vote.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, while people have been in here debating this issue, I have had the opportunity to go in and see the record in real time.

In real time, in French, you made the motion. You invited comment. There was one oui, and then you proceeded very quickly to the question itself.

In translation, the actual question of “Is there unanimous consent?” did not happen until the same time you were asking the final question for adjournment. As a result, those who were relying on translation of the question “Is there unanimous consent?” said “no” at the time you were taking into account the nays to the motion itself.

In this House, where we wish to allow full participation and reliance on translation, I think it is only fair to allow every member of the House the right to hear the question in his or her official language before being asked to make a decision on it.

Sitting ResumedStrengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 10:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier today, the Chair gave a ruling on the comments we made, a few weeks ago, regarding section 56.1. That also happened very fast.

The suggestion that the House should consider translation time and actually wait for the translation would really change things for the government, who enjoys launching surprise procedural attacks.

In the history of this House, no caucus has ever had as many Québec members and Francophone members as the NDP caucus. Yet, there has been no translation rule of this kind over the last three years.

I am surprised that the government would want the House to wait for the translation, given its regular attempts to launch surprise procedural attacks.

This will really change the way we operate in the House. Nonetheless, we believe the situation is quite clear: the question was put and members did understand it well. A vote now needs to be taken.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2014 / 11:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it will not be easy to come down after that humourous and joyful ride. What an adventure. Tonight, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

I was very pleased to hear that the government was going to amend the Citizenship Act. I thought that something was finally going to get done. I thought that the Conservatives were likely going to reduce processing times, which would be good for everyone—for MPs and for the people who are waiting for citizenship. We are trying to help them, but the files are not moving forward. They have stalled. However, after having read the bill, I realized that that was not the case at all.

The first time, the minister responsible for temporary foreign workers tried to reduce processing times, but he made a mistake. He deleted 280,000 people who were waiting for citizenship from the waiting list. That is how he fixed the processing times: he hit delete.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives cut $179 million from the department's budget, including $23 million from the Immigration and Refugee Board, just to reduce processing times. After that brilliant idea for speeding up processing times, we now have 320,000 people waiting. The Conservatives work hard, but they work in reverse.

Then they wondered what to do with those 320,000 files. It made no sense, and nothing was happening. Someone had the brilliant idea of giving the minister the authority to grant citizenship. They took the stack of 320,000 files to the minister's office. That way, the minister can decide who should get citizenship and who should not. Of course, it is all very hush-hush because the Conservatives like secrets. I would not be surprised if they have their own little committee with the Liberals, called “United in Deceit”. Yes, they meet in secret, musing, plotting, slinging mud. There was no lack of deceit from them this week.

I would address the issue of processing times from a different perspective. In four to five days, a Mexican family that I know will be deported after waiting four years for their file to be processed. We went down every conceivable political and legal avenue to get things moving. I personally met with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on several occasions to expedite the process, because these people were getting death threats in their country. Yet they will still be deported in three to four days. I will not say when exactly, as doing so may put them in danger.

The bill we have before us mentions the importance of citizenship and of integrating in the host country's culture. The minister spoke of the importance of Canadian values and of integrating in the host country's culture. These people lived here for four years. In that time, they learned French and found work. The wife started a business and the kids are doing great at school. It seems to me they have integrated fine and embrace our values. However, they will still be deported. Why?

I sifted through the minister's comments to try to understand the situation. Why are these people from Mexico being deported? Why are they not being given the opportunity to apply for permanent resident status? The government is aware of the situation in Mexico.

The minister says that “our immigration and asylum system reforms have already yielded very positive results for taxpayers and refugees alike”. I do not see why he has to bring taxpayers into this. Then, he says that “in 2013 alone, thanks to our reforms, asylum claims from safe countries dropped by a whopping 87%”.

During the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act reform, the government created lists. It created a list of designated countries. They are safe countries that do not produce refugees. It also created a list of countries that are not as safe that are not on the list.

The problem with the Zamudios and exiled Mexican families is that returning to their country would be dangerous because the drug war is relentless and they could be killed. Unfortunately for the Zamudios, Mexico is not on the list of dangerous countries. However, to date, the drug war has claimed 80,000 victims. Everywhere else, we would call that a civil war, but when it comes to a country with which we have an agreement called NAFTA, we cannot start talking about civil war and calling that country dangerous. No, it is our trade partner. The truth is that the Government of Mexico has lost control. It can no longer assure the safety of its citizens, not only in the north, but in all regions of Mexico.

This list should not exist and we will work to ensure that we have a receiving process for refugees and immigrats that has some compassion. That is what is missing: compassion.

In Mexico, 70% of municipalities are infiltrated by drug cartels. As I just said, there have been 80,000 deaths. The situation is so serious that in many villages citizens get together and organize into self-defence groups to fight drug traffickers. The basis of the decision in the Zamudio family case to expedite their deportation, as explained by the minister, is that the cartel who threatened—