Evidence of meeting #108 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was border.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mike MacDonald  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
Patrick Tanguy  Assistant Deputy Minister, Government Operations Centre, Emergency Management and Programs Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Commissioner Gilles Michaud  Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Jacques Cloutier  Vice-President, Operations Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
Shereen Benzvy Miller  Deputy Chairperson, Refugee Protection Division, Immigration and Refugee Board
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Evelyn Lukyniuk
Jamie Solesme  Superintendent, Federal Policing, Criminal Operations, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

I am just going to take one moment on this one. Unusually, we have the operational people present who are being requested to do something our committee is asking, and I don't think it would be unusual to ask the operational people about the doability of this possibility.

I know that I already said no. But I just think that because you're here, we're now into something that would require activity. We don't want to set our committee up for failure and not getting something we want. Obviously the committee wants information.

Could you just advise the committee for a moment on the doability of this request?

12:15 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mike MacDonald

I can do three things, Chair. First, I'd like to apologize for not quickly finding the data that was asked of me in all of my information. I carry the burden of that mistake. However, I will say that from April 1 to April 23, we have 1,972 interceptions across all of Canada, not just Quebec.

When I look at Quebec specifically from a different data period, which is April 1 to April 26, that number goes up every day, and that number in Quebec is 2,142. So April overall will land somewhere around 2,500 or so, but we can provide the exact number.

In terms of the feasibility of that, the data is originally hand-counted. When an interception occurs, it takes time to verify those numbers, deconflict numbers, put it into our GCMS system and then pull those numbers out. So yes, we do need a bit of time operationally to give the most accurate data after the first of each month. We can always give data a few days after the first of each month, but it will be imperfect. There will be mistakes made in hand-counting and there will be mistakes made in deconflicting, so we like to clarify and clean our data as much as possible.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Would you want to give us a good suggestion on how many working days after an end of a month would be the most reasonable to get the least imperfect data available? We're not necessarily going to give you that time, but if you wanted to give us a suggestion, the committee may entertain that.

12:15 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mike MacDonald

I think a two-week window after the first of each month is very beneficial to us. Should we be asked to do that in less time? Absolutely, Chair. We will provide data with caveats at any point in time that it's asked of us.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

I understand right now it is published online about the 15th of the month.

12:15 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mike MacDonald

It is. We can bring that forward.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Bring it forward to...?

12:15 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Mike MacDonald

We can bring that forward. The day 11 was noted here. We will meet that if are asked to meet that.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Okay. That would not be considered an unreasonable request? You've got five days after, and we had some question about whether it should be longer than that. We'll work that out.

I've got Ms. Rempel, then Ms. Kwan, and then Mr. Maguire.

Ms. Kwan.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I was just going to say the official numbers actually come out around the middle of the month. If committee members wish to obtain those numbers at an earlier time, with the understanding that they have not been cross-checked—I think the numbers might flex a little bit.... If we accept that as a premise and if we wish to receive those numbers at an earlier time, I think that we can proceed accordingly and move forward with the rest of the committee business, such as having committee members ask important questions, because time is fast running out, Mr. Chair.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

I just want to check to see whether there's an amendment that someone wanted to make or whether we're leaving it at the fifth of the month.

Ms. Alleslev is next on the list.

May 3rd, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

I would like to make an amendment that it stay, at the time when they publish it, ”no later than the 15th of the month”, because I think that there's a significant risk in publishing, or even committee members having, information that is not relevant and not accurate and there is a sensitivity around this. I think that if it is “no later than the 15th of the month” when they publish it—

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

That is an amendment.

Now we are going to speak to the amendment.

The list changes. I've got Ms. Rempel on the amendment, which is “no later than the 15th of the month”.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

This is arguably one of the top public policy concerns facing our country right now. Our job as parliamentarians is to assess the adequacy of policies that are in place to address one of the top public policy concerns in our country right now. It is difficult to do that without data or finding data well behind the things. The assertion that somehow it would be a risk for parliamentarians to be working with the same data that the officials have, Mr. Chair, I actually find an affront to democracy. When the minister stands up in the House and says “we've spent all this money” or “we've got this task force“, yet we have no data, I can't get the minutes of meetings, and I can't do anything, then how am I supposed to do my job? The reality is that if they're not getting this data fast enough, then the government needs to be pushing them to do something better because if we're not understanding the problem, how can we even fix it? How can you go to the Americans and negotiate? I just find this whole premise ridiculous. We should be receiving this information, imperfect or whatnot, as soon as we can so that we can.... This is my file. This is what I've been tasked with as the official opposition and I don't have the data to be able to do this. It's ridiculous.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

I had Mr. Whalen's hand up.

Did you want to speak on the amendment, which is “no later than the 15th of the month”?

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

I'll leave it.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Is there any other discussion?

Mr. Maguire.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Maguire Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

I just want to put on the record that I believe that there should be a tally. I'm sure the government receives a tally of these people every night or every day. We've now received, on the 3rd of the month, indications of exactly what that number is within four days of the end of the month.

It just seems a bit...I wouldn't say ironic, it's that I'm very sure there is a number that could be available every day. As you move toward the end of the month, it's very easily done to tally the whole number that should be there by the second day of that month. I mean, if it isn't, we need to ask our officials to realign their processes so that they can. This is a very important situation in our country at this moment.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Ms. Rempel.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Chair, surely the department is briefing the minister and various other ministers. Surely they're looking at the efficacy of policy. This data is informing whether or not things are working.

Again, for my colleague to make the assertion that somehow it's a risk if parliamentarians have this is ridiculous. Why even bother coming to work every day at this point? I have ministers standing up in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister, saying divisive politics and fearmongering, and blah, blah, blah. Then when we ask for data, it's like, “No, sorry. Can't do that.”

Why can't we have this at the beginning of the month on the front end, so we can assess policy decisions? I strongly disagree with this. You're saying that parliamentarians who are trying to evaluate and make policy shouldn't have access to the key metric, at the beginning of a month, on whether or not stuff is working.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Ms. Kwan.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I think it's reasonable to ask officials to provide these numbers within a week, with the caveat that there might be fluctuations with those numbers because of the cross-tab checking. If we understand and accept that as the premise, I think it's reasonable to get that information. Of course, you can verify those numbers when they become official on the public record in mid-month.

I wonder if we can just get on with it, instead of arguing about this, Mr. Chair. I will not support the amendment, and I will support the original motion, with this understanding.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Okay, we have an amendment on the floor.

I just want to clarify for the committee something that Mr. Maguire said.

What I heard was that we had numbers for up to April 23 available today that are complete, and we had up to April 26, which were partial for Quebec. We are on the third of the month, so we have—in a 10-day window, between the 23rd and today—complete numbers now. We have almost complete numbers in a seven-day window.

I think that's what you told the committee.

12:20 p.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic and Program Policy, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Rob Oliphant

Because we didn't have full numbers until the end of April, I wanted to clarify to make sure that wasn't being misunderstood.

We have an amendment on the floor now to change it to the 15th—