Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the committee members for indulging me.
I'm speaking to the amendment. In fact, I'm speaking to the entire section pertaining to the asylum seeker changes proposed under Bill C-97. The New Democrats feel very strongly that we should not be supporting these provisions and that these provisions should be struck from this bill.
At the immigration committee, all the witnesses were very clear in saying that the government should not be proceeding with this measure. We've received over 2,000 emails from Canadians calling on the government to stand down these provisions. This amendment, Mr. Chair, does not fix the problem. Witnesses were clear to say there is no fix to this.
Effectively, the government is proceeding to endanger the lives of asylum seekers. We had expert witness upon expert witness who came forward to state that. Amnesty International was very clear to say that there is no fix. The Canadian refugee lawyers' association also said there is no fix.
As far as creating a hearing goes, according to the amendment there is not even a requirement for an oral hearing, so what was being suggested by way of an explanation is not accurate in that regard.
The idea that creating hearings would somehow fix this problem is erroneous at best, Mr. Chair. As we know, the IRB already exists; there's already an independent process, a well-respected process. The witnesses said that this process is the proper process asylum seekers should go through to determine whether or not they are eligible to be a refugee and are able to seek asylum here in Canada.
Setting up a separate set of hearings with some other entity that is not prescribed in the legislation would be duplicating our efforts. Frankly, we just had an Auditor General's report that said that the government is inefficient in its work, that it is duplicating its effort and not achieving the results we hope to achieve, so why are we creating a separate process that asylum seekers would have to go through, while also costing taxpayers money? Why are we setting up a new infrastructure to do this work? The IRB is already very capable of doing this work.
The attempt to somehow say we can fix this draconian piece of legislation by saying we're going to require hearings is deficient.
Mr. Chair, you're aware from the NDP members on the immigration committee that I sent a letter to you, Mr. Chair, to be shared with all the committee members, urging committee members to strike down these provisions. At the very minimum, Mr. Chair, these provisions ought to be a stand-alone bill for full debate in the House of Commons. We heard witnesses throughout the process calling for the government to strike down these provisions and withdraw them.