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Evidence of meeting #45 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
Matthew Oommen  Senior Counsel, Legal Services , Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Monique Frison  Director, Identity Management and Information Sharing, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Allan Kagedan  Director, National Security Operations, Public Safety Canada

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

This is the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, meeting number 45, on Thursday, May 11, 2012. This meeting is televised.

The orders of the day, pursuant to the order of reference of Monday, April 23, 2012, are for study of Bill C-31, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other acts.

We are in the midst of debating amendment NDP-16. Ms. Sitsabaiesan has asked for the floor, and she has it.

(On clause 36)

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Chair, I have a point of order, a procedural question. I need some guidance from you.

I have a motion that I would like to put on the floor, and I'm wondering whether I should wait until this particular clause is finished and then move it or whether you would prefer that I move it now.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

I don't know.

3:30 p.m.

A voice

We already have a motion—

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

So we'll have to wait until after the clause.

Thank you.

Let me say that I will be moving it straight after this clause.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan NDP Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

With respect to amendment NDP-16, Mr. Chair, I believe the emphasis has to be placed on the importance of the right to appeal in our immigration system. The establishment of the Refugee Appeal Division, the RAD, is a welcome step in the refugee determination system, and it takes its creation from Bill C-11.

We've heard from many witnesses that unfortunately mistakes can be made at the IRB. We heard that an unintended consequence of the expedited claims is that more mistakes may be made. Also, new information may come to light, and without access to the RAD, the Refugee Appeal Division, this information may not be allowed to be heard. The consequence of these negative decisions can be someone's life. The RAD is a precautionary safeguard, and it is for this reason that this bar is dangerous.

We have said time and time again that an asylum seeker's mode of arrival should not determine how we treat them. Mode of arrival, how somebody comes to this country, shouldn't designate them as a second-class refugee. A mode of arrival has no bearing on mistakes that can be made in the determination process.

A judicial review is unfortunately not good enough for this, as new facts may come to light. We need to ensure that there is an accessible safeguard mechanism in place to remedy any error. This bar undermines our international obligations to refugee claimants.

The Refugee Appeal Division should be accessible for all types of claimants.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Ms. Sims.

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Chair, as my colleague has just articulated, this particular bill, Bill C-31, denies access to an appeal to the RAD for negative refugee decisions for a very lengthy number of groups, and I just want to read those into the record: claimants from a designated country of origin; designated foreign nationals; those who have withdrawn or been found to have abandoned their claims; claims that the RPD determines have no credible basis or to be manifestly unfounded; claimants who entered Canada from a safe third country but who could claim refugee status because they fit an exception to, let's say, the Canada-U.S. agreement; and claimants whose refugee status was revoked after vacation or cessation hearings.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Lamoureux.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, before any other motions are put in regard to Bill C-31, I want to get on the record the amendment we're now talking about. In the past, we, as a political entity, have expressed our concern that refugees, or people applying to become refugees, even if they're from a safe country, be provided some reasonable opportunity of appeal.

What the government is proposing to do, in essence, is to say that technically a refugee’s only appeal is the Federal Court, which raises a great deal of concern with a wide variety, if not all, stakeholders. For that reason, I think the government would be making a mistake by going into an area where an individual’s only recourse for a decision made is to take it to the Federal Court. We know that at times the Federal Court, in itself, can be a fairly lengthy process, anywhere from three months to over a year. Unless we amend the current legislation, Mr. Chairperson, the individuals seeking an appeal will not even be in the country at the time their appeal is being heard.

I'm sure members can appreciate the concerns stakeholders would have, for the simple reason that there's always been this sense of justice that someone going through an appeal have the opportunity to be in the country, at least until that final determination is read or given. It's a serious concern we have.

With that in mind, whether it's the NDP amendment or amendments from the Liberal Party attempting to deal with that issue, those are my comments for committee members.

Thank you.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We're dealing with NDP-16.

(Amendment negatived)

LIB-27.1.

Mr. Lamoureux, go ahead.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, did you want me to read this in verbatim or can I just—

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

No, no.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

No? Okay.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Unless you want to. We don't have to, though.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

No, everyone has it—

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We do.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

—and they can read through it.

In essence, it gives an appeal to all applicants, except for those who would withdraw or abandon their claims. The idea is that individuals should have the ability to have, and feel that they're being given, due course and a form of natural justice that ultimately allows them to receive a final determination while they're actually here in the country.

I would encourage members to support this amendment.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Ms. Sims, go ahead.

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Chair, I will be supporting this amendment.

This amendment goes to one of those fundamental beliefs and laws that we believe in, and that is the right to justice. The appeal process is part of that. The wider amendment did not carry. We hope this one will.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

We're going to vote on LIB-27.1.

(Amendment negatived)

LIB-27.2.

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Chair, I move that Bill C-31 in clause 36 be amended by replacing line 13 on page 17 with the following:

or on the basis of humanitarian and compassionate grounds, to the Refugee Appeal Division against a

Mr. Chairperson, this would allow for an appeal on humanitarian and compassionate grounds if a person is denied refugee status. We believe it's important for those claims that are more meritorious on those types of grounds. The idea of having a 12-month delay in being able to apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds just seems not to be appropriate or in keeping with Canadian tradition.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Dykstra.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The government obviously didn't support the last amendment; it won't support this one.

I do find it rather interesting to see Liberals move an amendment to increase the RAD when in fact when they moved the legislation originally back in 2002, they didn't implement the RAD, which was in the legislation. So I do find it kind of interesting that they had their chance to move this, and countless thousands of those who could have taken advantage of it I'm sure would have. Now they're arguing that we're not going far enough with something that they wouldn't implement in the first place.

It's just interesting; it's a comment for observation.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Mr. Lamoureux.