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Evidence of meeting #31 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was claimants.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Dawn Edlund  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Jennifer Irish  Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Les Linklater  Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Daniel Thérrien  Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice
Michael MacDonald  Director General, National Security Operations Directorate, Public Safety Canada

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Roxanne James Conservative Scarborough Centre, ON

There might be a bit of a conflict of interest sitting in that chair.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) NDP Jinny Sims

I will move on to deal with the bill right now anyway, just as soon as I can get to the right page again.

Minister, Bill C-31 also allows you to designate a group of refugees, the ones who arrive in groupings as you said, as irregular arrivals. If their refugee claims are accepted, they'll be designated foreign nationals and will have to wait five years before they can apply for permanent residency—and we know that the waiting lists after that could be another five. So isn't that a very long time for bona fide refugees to be separated from their children and families? It could be a husband, a wife, or little children, but children definitely could be involved.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

I'll be blunt. We do hope that prospective customers of criminal smuggling syndicates take precisely that into account before they decide to hand over cash to a criminal syndicate to be brought to Canada illegally. We do hope and expect that fewer people will make that decision because of that consequence.

Finally I would point to many other democratic jurisdictions, such as Germany, that do not grant permanent residency to protected persons. Again, that is a privilege, and we will restrict the privilege for five years to people who have come here illegally through a smuggling operation.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) NDP Jinny Sims

Thank you, Minister. It just seems so un-Canadian for us to allow either a child or a parent to languish in a refugee camp for five years.

My other question for you right now concerns the fact that every other detention review regime in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act includes a mandatory review of detention within 48 hours. Your bill mandates that the immigration division cannot conduct a review in the case of a designated foreign national until at least a year has passed. Why are you denying detainees the right to a review?

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

In designated arrivals?

5:10 p.m.

NDP

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

It is because when we get hundreds people in one large-scale arrival, people who typically have destroyed their documents, it takes time to identify who they are, whether they're admissible to Canada, whether they're eligible to make an asylum claim, and whether they pose a risk to public safety or health.

We can't do that overnight. It's very, very difficult to do it, if we're constantly running back to the IRB trying to make a case every 30 days for an extension of detention.

That's why we believe it's operationally necessary in large-scale smuggling operations to have an enhanced detention provision.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Let me say, Madam Chair, I'm really impressed. You have only been on the job for a week, but you're on top of the files.

Congratulations.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) NDP Jinny Sims

Thank you very much. I've had a great deal of interest in this file for a long time, as you can imagine. You know the riding I come from. They keep me busy on these issues.

Thank you.

Now we're going to go over to Mr. Lamoureux for five minutes.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to get something really clear in my own mind. I look at the minister's bill and I do believe the minister has set a framework to establish a double tier of refugees.

To highlight that, I'm going to emphasize that the 1951 refugee convention, of which Canada is a signatory, states that countries like Canada cannot impose penalties with regard to how a refugee obtains entry into a country, because it is recognized that refugees often breach immigration laws.

Does applying a five-year ban on obtaining permanent residence and, consequently, travel documents to those deemed as designated foreign nationals but found to be genuine refugees under the convention not amount to a penalty?

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

No. Absolutely not.

Our decision not to grant a privilege to people is hardly a penalty. Our decision to ensure that we can identify who legal migrants are by maintaining their detention is not a penalty.

If these are penalities, then virtually every other western democratic country is in contravention of the convention. I do not believe they are.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

If you are a bona fide refugee coming to Canada through the normal means, you can sponsor a relative virtually immediately upon arrival. Correct?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Yes. That's a privilege we grant to people who follow the rules.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

That's right.

If a person arrives and you, as a minister, make the determination that this is an irregular arrival, that person is going to be put into detention and is not going to be able to be a sponsor for at least five years. Correct?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

If someone comes in as a designated arrival, they could be subject to the enhanced detention without review for up to a year. However, if they are deemed to be a bona fide claimant by the IRB, they could be released as soon as they get protected status, or earlier, upon the discretion of the minister.

But once they get protected status, they would not be eligible to file an application for permanent residency and subsequently sponsor family members for a period of five years. That's to send a message that if you want to come to Canada, don't pay a smuggler.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

The other message you're sending is that there is a double standard. It does on the surface appear as if it's in violation of the 1951 refugee convention.

Surely you can understand why some people would see it that way. Right?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

I think the vast majority of Canadians see human smuggling and cooperation with it as a serious crime, a violation of the integrity of our system. It undermines public confidence in our tradition of refugee protection.

I must say I'm surprised that I still haven't heard, in two years of this debate, a single constructive idea from opposition parties about how else to address the phenomena of widespread human smuggling operations.

This is our best effort to respond to it. If someone has constructive ideas about how else we could do it, we're all ears, but we still haven't heard those ideas.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

I think one of the fundamentals is recognizing the importance of the 1951 refugee convention and that we are in fact establishing a two-tier system.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

The core of the convention is this: It's a commitment of non-refoulement. That is to say, if someone is deemed to have a well-founded fear of persecution on the enumerated grounds, they will not be sent back to their country of origin.

The reforms we propose, whether for smuggled migrants or those coming from designated countries, would absolutely respect the non-refoulement principle. There would not be two-tier treatment for people in that respect.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Minister, you can't have it both ways. You can't say that there's no double standard and implement this type of legislation. There is a double standard here.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

The convention is not about permanent residency or citizenship or family sponsorship. It's about non-refoulement of people who face risk.

We absolutely respect that obligation in these reforms.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Let's change topics and get back to the biometrics, because it think it's going to have a fairly significant impact going forward. If you take a look at what it's doing within the legislation, again it's setting a framework where we're potentially going to be moving forward on biometrics.

You made reference to it being implemented in two time spans, one that will take place this year—

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims) NDP Jinny Sims

I want to give the minister 20 seconds to answer.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

When do you anticipate the second part being implemented?