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Evidence of meeting #39 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 children.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sharalyn Jordan  Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee
Christine Morrissey  Founder and Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee
Michael Deakin-Macey  Past President, Board of Directors, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, As an Individual
John Amble  As an Individual
Richard Stanwick  President Elect, Canadian Paediatric Society
Glynis Williams  Executive Director, Action Réfugiés Montréal
Jenny Jeanes  Program Coordinator, Action Réfugiés Montréal
Marie Adèle Davis  Executive Director, Canadian Paediatric Society
Gina Csanyi-Robah  Executive Director, Roma Community Centre
Maureen Silcoff  Representative, Roma Community Centre

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Yes, right.

The bill removes the automatic stay of removal for several types of claimants including designated foreign nationals and claimants from safe countries when seeking judicial review. Effectively, an individual can be removed before their hearing is made.

What are the problems associated with that, when somebody has to go back before their hearing? Let's be candid.

4:10 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

It's an absolute denial of justice and due process, and it puts Canada at serious risk of returning someone to their death, to persecution.

When we signed on to the Geneva Convention, we signed on to be a place of refuge and protection for all refugees and to give them access to due process.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Founder and Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Christine Morrissey

The other thing—

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

I'm sorry, I have to move on.

I'm sorry.

Mr. Opitz.

May 3rd, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

There are a few things that aren't perceived properly. Bill C-31 is proposing changes that will build on reforms that the asylum system passed as part of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act. This bill will not change any of the protections that the LGBT community has. In fact, it's going to help people from this community seeking status in Canada to get it faster and protect those refugees because that's what we do.

We are a compassionate country, and we are going to make sure that people that are needing our protection do get it. We are a signatory to the Geneva Convention and many other international agreements that we dutifully follow.

Also, I want to point out that Minister Kenney has been a great defender of the gay and lesbian community, and has encouraged the gay and lesbian community here in Canada to privately sponsor LGBT refugees. That option exists. In fact, they should listen to the minister, take him at his word, and apply to do that.

The other one, because I do want to talk to Mr. Amble about some security issues, is that 99% of people that do arrive here are out in the community, are working, and are contributing, while their claims are being processed. Only 1% are detained, and that's where the problem comes in for some of our security issues and why detention can be important until we understand who these people are.

Mr. Amble, over to you quickly on the detention side first, let's begin with that because I only have a few minutes.

A lot of these folks, especially smuggled, trafficked folks, come from places that are rife with terrorist groups and other criminal organizations.

If you were one of these people, for example, would a mass smuggling event be something you would conceal your identity under when you arrive?

Do you follow me?

4:15 p.m.

As an Individual

John Amble

Yes. The short answer is, yes, if it's available.

We've seen evidence that, particularly with people who originally travelled to western countries like Canada, in this instance, with the intent of at some point carrying out a terrorist attack, they don't care how they get there. They'll get there in any way, and if it's through a smuggling operation where they get bunched together with 20 or 400 other people and that gets them in, they're going to do it.

It happens to be that, unfortunately, too often these are from the countries that have human rights abuses too, countries where the government oppresses its people tend to generate a level of militancy amongst at least [Technical difficulty--Editor] members of the population.

That oppression often takes the form of human rights abuses, and that militancy often takes the form of terrorist activities. What happens is that the two are actually sort of linked, and the governments across the Middle East and areas of central Asia and Southeast Asia and Africa that have strong human rights abuse issues, also tend to produce the most terrorists.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

That's interesting.

Those terrorists, even though they come to our shores, they may not necessarily be interested in doing harm to Canada or the United States, but they may actually use us as a base of operations to strike back at the place they came from. Is that a fair statement?

4:15 p.m.

As an Individual

John Amble

Yes, it is very fair.

In fact, the governments of those countries where they originally come from are aware of that. This has been a pattern since the end of the 1980s, after the Soviet war in Afghanistan when the mujahideen felt they'd defeated the Soviet Union—now what do they do? Then they were going to go back to their home countries. Those countries didn't want them there because they knew that they were going to come back and undertake activities designed to overthrow those governments.

Many of them did move to Europe and Canada and the United States from where they did continue to plot attacks on their home countries.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Deakin-Macey, yesterday we had Imre Helyes, from the Embassy of Hungary, and he said people basically come here because it's easy money. In your opinion do you think Canada is easy money, and does this affect and harm our international reputation and economy?

4:15 p.m.

Past President, Board of Directors, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, As an Individual

Michael Deakin-Macey

Well, “easy money” is a bit of a loaded term perhaps, but I think we take great care of people who come here.

4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

[Inaudible--Editor]

4:15 p.m.

Deakin-Macey

Is the mike on?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Go ahead, sir. We were just chatting while you were speaking.

4:20 p.m.

Past President, Board of Directors, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, As an Individual

Michael Deakin-Macey

Oh, all right.

I think we easily have one of the most generous packages for new immigrants and refugee claimants in the world. For example, with the Sun Sea, they didn't come here directly from Sri Lanka; they came from another place. You could almost argue that they were upgrading as they went along and they got here. God forbid that they drifted around for three months and arrived anyway. And, we took good care of them.

If you include all of the cost of that—and I'm not trying to be flippant about this—the military overflights to keep track of the ship before it got out of international waters and inside our borders, because we couldn't touch it before then, all the military stuff that went on.... If you included the actual total cost for that particular operation and applied that money to other things, such as hearing times and applying more resources to get rid of backlogs, it would have to produce the kind of effect that we all want to see. It has to.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Towards that end, Mr. Amble called that a “cynical appreciation” of our generosity, and I think that's an apt term.

In reply to some of the comments that were also made about law enforcement in democratic countries that fail to protect, whether it's LGBT community members or others, it's really not Canada's role in the world to augment and enforce law enforcement in those countries. It's up to those countries to reinforce their own laws and ensure they afford protections for people who are persecuted. They also have options to go to countries for refuge that are a bit closer and not just target Canada. I think part of that is something that is happening.

I think I'm out of time, Mr. Chair.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Are you finished?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

I thought it was up.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Well, you have more time.

4:20 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

I wouldn't mind responding to some of the comments that were addressed to Rainbow Refugee.

Do we have time?

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

I'm sorry, we have to move on. Now the time is up.

Incidentally the clock has stopped again, so the immigration committee has stopped in time.

You have five minutes, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you.

Ms. Jordan, did you want to respond?

4:20 p.m.

Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Sharalyn Jordan

Yes. We do share the goal of seeing refugee claimants move through their claim much faster than the current system allows. Clearly waiting a year or two in limbo is unacceptable. However, that waiting time was created through inadequate resourcing of the refugee board.

You can legislate any timeframe you want; it won't work if the refugee board is not staffed properly and fully. Legislating too rapid a timeline will actually create inefficiencies. People will end up going to a second decision, when a first decision could have been enough if they were well prepared. This is what's happened in the U.K.

4:20 p.m.

Founder and Member of the Board, Rainbow Refugee Committee

Christine Morrissey

I would like to add that with regard to the reference to people going to a nearby country, we have many examples and many experiences—for example, we had two gay men from Pakistan who were outed by the local BBC. Their only way of escape was into Afghanistan in the middle of a war, to where people from Pakistan are not accepted. They were there with double indemnity, if you like.

It's the same thing with almost all of East Africa. All of East Africa gets processed through Kenya. In Kenya there are backlogs of years. Even if we attempt to sponsor somebody, we're still up against the same backlog that everybody else is up against.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you.

Did you have more?