Thank you very much, and I want to thank our guests as well.
I want to start off by saying that New Democrats recognize the need for an efficient and responsive judicial apparatus for removing serious criminals who are not citizens. In the kind of way-out cases that we've had cited here, we're not going to find that much disagreement across the table. We are willing to work with the government to make sure criminals of all backgrounds cannot abuse our appeal process.
That being said, we share many of your concerns—and I'm talking specifically to you, Irina—with the legislation before us today; namely, we worry about consequences, and we worry about legislation that is brought where the justification seems to be these way-out cases. When you try to formulate legislation in this manner, it leads, whether it's intended or not, to an impact on groups. In this case you're talking about those suffering from mental illness. A news report you may be aware of from the CBC that followed the introduction of Bill C-43 raised concerns that the legislation could unfairly punish the young and the mentally ill.
In the report, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress said he believes the new bill will drastically increase the number of young immigrant males who are deported without appeal, including Somali refugees raised mainly in Canada. He notes that many of these young men have little or no connection to the land of their birth. They grew up here. This is their home.
In another article published last year in the Toronto Star, immigration lawyer, Carole Dahan, notes that an additional problem is that it is not uncommon for immigrants, especially those from the Caribbean, to wrongly assume they automatically become citizens after a lengthy residency in Canada.
I actually had that conversation with a taxi driver in Toronto. He was quite shocked to find out. I said to him, “Do you vote?” He said, “No. I am a Canadian. I've lived here for many years.” I said, “No, there is a process you have to go through.” I gave him the contact information for his local MP so he could seek some guidance on how to do it.
Have you encountered this problem with the permanent residents your organization serves? Do many assume that because they have spent most of their lives in Canada they are Canadian?