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Evidence of meeting #42 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 chair.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jennifer Irish  Director, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Monique Frison  Director, Identity Management and Information Sharing, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Warren Woods  Manager, Asylum Policy and Programs, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

This amendment limits the restriction on designated foreign nationals from applying for permanent residency to circumstances where they are not identified or have not satisfied security requirements.

Once again, Chair, we have a draconian bill here that absolutely attacks the victims, and all we are trying to do here is mitigate some of that damage.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Monsieur Giguère.

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Chair, my colleague from North Delta, in Vancouver, clearly indicated what we want. We want to do away with the contemptuous aspect of penalizing people because they have been flagged as designed foreigners. That's unacceptable. Even the Canadian Bar Association supports our position. We need to listen to stakeholders as dependable as the Canadian Bar Association representatives, who are saying that this is a threat to Canada's judicial principles. So let's follow all the legal precedent.

In Canada, we have a charter of rights and freedoms, and we should start by respecting it, and not changing it based on extremely flexible security criteria. I want to point out that Bill C-11 and all other current pieces of legislation make it possible to screen out terrorists. That work is currently being done properly. This clause is nothing but a threat to our rights.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Dykstra.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

That being said, Mr. Chair, Mr. Giguère probably heard my comments with respect to the first NDP amendment. I won't repeat them in detail. They stand the same. This amendment actually makes the legislation pale in comparison to what this amendment would do to those irregular arrivals.

It shocks me to see this loose of an amendment, which just gives far too much openness to the process. It redefines the legislation to such a minimal standard that not only is it going to get voted against by the government, but I fear that if the NDP isn't going to withdraw these types of amendments through the course of the next couple of days, it gives us some pretty good political defence that we don't go nearly as far as the NDP wants to go. These types of amendments would simply eliminate almost anyone coming in on an irregular trip, an irregular means to get to Canada, such as a ship, and would actually disallow them permanent residency.

We will not be supporting the amendment.

(Amendment negatived)

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Now we have Mr. Lamoureux, on Liberal amendment 3.

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, it's a fairly lengthy amendment, so people should take the opportunity to turn to the page with it.

The essence is that it deals with the five-year ban that applies to designated irregular arrivals being able to apply for permanent resident status.

Again, it reinforces whether one believes in having one refugee policy or a two-tier refugee policy. If you happen to be a refugee who comes to Canada and you're deemed as an irregular, to then say to that person you cannot even apply for permanent resident status so you can sponsor your children or your spouse abroad is just wrong. It's clearly in violation of the 1951 UN Convention, and we've had presentations on this particular issue.

I would suggest that it is an amendment that is worthy of passage. Hopefully the government will see the wisdom in it and allow refugees, even if they are in mandatory detention centres, the ability to gain their permanent resident status sooner.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Dykstra.

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

I have two comments, Mr. Chair.

One of the first witnesses we had spoke to the push and pull factors of the reasons an individual is determined to come to Canada. This is one of the pull factors. One of the reasons it actually draws people to come to Canada is because we have built this.... That is one of the reasons the bill is here, to repair these holes in the dike, if you will, that allow for Canada actually pulling people to come here as refugees, as part of what ends up becoming criminal human smuggling.

The second point is that the convention actually does not include an obligation for a pathway to citizenship. It's an obligation to provide.... We do our part, but it does not provide an obligation for citizenship.

We will not be supporting this amendment.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Lamoureux.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

The UN convention does indicate that you have to treat refugees equally, and this clearly does not.

(Amendment negatived)

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Lamoureux, Liberal 4.

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

We're not going to move ahead with that amendment, Mr. Chair.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

You're withdrawing it?

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Yes.

(Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to on division)

(On clause 12)

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We're on to clause 12.

Ms. Sims, NDP amendment 5.

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Amendment 5 once again tries to mitigate some of the damage this bill will do to the way we treat refugees. It specifically in this case limits the restrictions on designated foreign nationals from applying for a temporary resident permit to circumstances where they have not been identified or if security requirements have not been addressed.

This actually makes it much, much tighter.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Dykstra.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Chair, I repeat that this does the exact opposite.

Sitting on the government side and saying we shouldn't be giving the minister this much authority.... I'm almost hesitant to say it, Mr. Chairman, because it's always the government that is trying to promote that the government should be taking responsibility, but this is far too much authority within the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's purview. We can't support it.

Again, I come back to the fact that it's just not drafted well. This doesn't tighten, it loosens. It treats the irregular arrival of potential refugees in a much more criminal manner than our legislation will.

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Monsieur Giguère.

May 9th, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

I would like to answer Mr. Dykstra. The need for safety is what draws refugees to Canada. Those people are persecuted. If we recognize them as refugees, we must give them all the rights a refugee can obtain from our country. We should not have a two-tier system—one for refugees we like and another for those we consider to be suspicious because they arrived in a way we see as irregular. That's arbitrary because it is decided by the minister. That's the true scope of those measures.

We want that clause to be limited only to those individuals who truly represent a threat to Canada's security or whose identity is unclear. We are attacking the principle of designated foreigners. Once again, the Canadian Bar Association supports our position. This idea does not violate any laws, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or our country's constitution. You are attacking what you should not attack. It's a bit like a situation where a chicken farmer's chicken coop has been ravaged by a fox. Instead of taking precautions against the fox, the farmer punishes the chickens. That's exactly what you are doing. You are punishing people who have been the victims of smugglers, and that is unacceptable, especially since you recognize the fact that they are refugees.

Thank you.

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Ms. Sims.

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Once again, Mr. Chair, I want to reiterate that we believe the current legislation, Bill C-11, would address the concerns we've heard expressed from the government side.

Right now, none of the designated people could receive a temporary resident visa or anything else for up to a year. They may not even have travel documents or anything else. What we're saying, and what this amendment says, is that the only people who would not be given a temporary resident visa are those for whom identity has not been determined and for whom security requirements have not been addressed. But as soon as those two things are done, then people should have documents.

(Amendment negatived)

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Monsieur Lamoureux, Liberal 5.

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, I would move that Bill C-31, in clause 12, be amended by replacing line 29 on page 6 to line 30 on page 7 with the following:

(5) The officer may refuse to consider a request for a temporary resident permit if the designated foreign national fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any condition imposed on them under subsection 58(4) or section 58.1.

Mr. Chair, the question remains as to why we are still limiting legal status of designated foreign nationals, why we are making these designated irregular arrivals wait five years before they can actually apply to get a TRP.

To pick up on the point Mr. Dykstra made—and he indicated I could make up whatever I like with regard to this whole two-tiered system—I want to refer the member to a presentation that was given by the UN refugee agency, which many, including me, would argue is a fairly world-renowned organization. If you turn to page 9 of the UNHCR's document on Bill C-31, they actually have two very short recommendations:

UNHCR recommends that, in the spirit of the 1951 Convention, the five year bar to regularization of status be removed.

Recommendation number seven:

UNHCR recommends that the principle of family unity be fully respected and applied consistently throughout the refugee procedure and that recognized refugees under the 1951 Convention be entitled to apply for family reunification in a timely manner.

So the one amendment that was just defeated kind of touches on both.

The point I was trying to make on establishing that double tier was that the convention does say that you cannot penalize based on a mode of entry, and that is in fact what we're doing.

I obviously expanded a little bit further than what the actual amendment deals with, but the principle is still there.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.