Thank you very much, Chair.
We are moving this amendment at this time to address some of the concerns we've had about this mandatory detention. As you can see, we have proposed two amendments. One of them was that if we should end up with a designated group, like a minimum number—and we have suggested 50—that would lead to the designation of irregular arrivals. But as we did not get that, we're introducing a periodic review of the detention regime for designated foreign nationals, consistent with that which exists for permanent residents and foreign nationals under section 57 of IRPA, to ensure that the initial review occurs within 48 hours, then within 7 days, and once every 30 days thereafter. So it would occur every 30 days. In this we are also hoping we can raise the age of detention from 16 to 18.
They say you never give up, you keep trying in different ways, and we will, because this is what we believe in.
Mr. Chair, we don't move these amendments very lightly or to be obstructionist; we're moving these amendments because we have some serious concerns around the charter and constitutional challenges, and also international conventions.
In my previous life, my experience has been that two or three lawyers can sit down in the same room and you're not always going to get the same interpretation of the language before you. In this room we heard lawyer after lawyer, and even, I would say, witnesses who were more pro-government, saying that this could create a problem.
I think it is really imperative. I am very sensitive to the fact that my colleagues across the way and the minister heard the concern and they have put forward an amendment as well, which will come later. I want to acknowledge that we realize you have heard that. However, we believe this is the right way to go. Within 48 hours we should be able to do that first review. You know what? If we're worried about large groups, we've offered the government a solution for that, and that is to designate what a large group is; we put the number at 50. Of course, there was no will for that, so our position is that nobody should be detained without a review within 48 hours, and then another review within 7 days, and another review 30 days thereafter.
When you look at it, we're not trying to create new language here; we've gone into IRPA and lifted the language out of there to reflect it here.
If the concern is that this does not work with larger groups, I want to assure my colleagues across the way that I am willing, and I'm sure everybody on this side of the table is, and I'm hoping my colleague at the end of the line is as well, to reopen that clause where we were looking for a number of, let's say, 50 that would lead to irregular designations, and then we had suggested a different timeline for those designations. Because my colleagues across the way are not prepared to accept a number for those irregular arrivals when they arrive in large numbers, it leads me to believe we have to go back to living with the processes we have, and those are the timelines we are supporting here.
I could spend the next hour and a half reading into the record the testimony of witness after witness, from every party, who said the imperative nature of the government addressing this.... But you will all be relieved to know that I'm not going to do that. What I am going to stress very strongly is for my colleagues across the way to support this.
As you know, it is not a secret that we're opposed to many aspects of this legislation. We believe it's fundamentally flawed. We don't believe in a two-tiered refugee system. We believe everybody who arrives on our shore as a refugee or as an asylum seeker, no matter how they arrive here, should be treated exactly the same. We are willing to admit and to acknowledge, and to actually celebrate, the fact that our current system, including the much-appraised Bill C-11, already has in it the ability to detain until identity and security checks have been done. There's a review built in there. So for us, this review on a regular, prompt, and timely basis.... Before we put anybody in prison, we really have to justify it and we have to be able to review it. That person who is being detained has the right to that review.
By the way, we're not saying release the person if they are a national security risk or if they have criminality that puts Canadians at risk or if we don't know their identity.
We have been very reasonable here, once again, because this opposition wants to make things work. We've heard the government's concerns and we've worked very hard to try to address those. At the same time, we also have to protect the public purse. That's our job, too, to help you protect the public purse. The way we do that is to prevent you from leaving yourselves open to horrendous litigation and all the costs that go with it.
Mr. Dykstra, I know you're going to support this, and I look forward to hearing your response.