House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wildlife.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-207, an act to amend the Auditor General Act (reports), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC


That Bill C-207, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing line 10, on page 1, with the following:

"under section 8(1), at least three".

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I am wondering whether the mover of the motion is in fact here today and, if not, whether we can address this matter. I believe a negotiation was discussed and, before making a decision about this matter, we could settle that question.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Madam Speaker, Bill C-207, tabled for first reading on February 1, 1994 by the member for Ottawa-Vanier, provides in clause 1 that the Auditor General shall report at least annually to the House of Commons. This bill also provides, in clause 4, that the Auditor General may report to the House of Commons on a study of any matter undertaken for the purposes of this act upon completion of the study.

After second reading, the public acounts committee considered this bill. The Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board moved in the public accounts committee the following amendments, which were carried on division by the committee.

The Auditor General shall report annually to the House of Commons and may make, in addition to any special report made under subsection 8(1), not more than three additional reports in any year to the House of Commons. That was the main amendment moved in the public accounts committee by the parliamentary secretary.

Where the additional reports are concerned, the Auditor General shall send written notice to the Speaker of the House of Commons of the subject matter of the report the Auditor General proposes to make under subsection (1). Then, again according to an amendment moved by the parliamentary secretary, the additional report shall be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Commons on the expiration of 30 days after the notice is sent or any longer period specified in the notice.

A third amendment was also moved, to subsection 8(1), concerning the presentation of a special report. It was worded as follows:

8.(1) The Auditor General may make a special report to the House of Commons on any matter of pressing importance or urgency that, in the opinion of the Auditor General, should be reported immediately.

That clause 3 was replaced by the following:

8.(1) The Auditor General may make a special report to the House of Commons on any matter of pressing importance or urgency that, in the opinion of the Auditor General, should not be deferred until the presentation of the next report under subsection 7(1).

This amendment was moved in the public accounts committee by the parliamentary secretary.

Since the present act, which is 17 years old, has existed, subsection 8(1) concerning special reports has never been used by an Auditor General.

As well, in his testimony before the public accounts committee on May 26, 1994, the Auditor General stated: "An amendment to allow the office to table, say, four times a year would enable me to do what I would intend to do anyway. There are few issues that cannot wait a month or two for reporting, and in those cases there is always subsection 8(1) of the current act for use in real emergencies". In fact, that section has never been used in the 17 years of the acts existence.

Why not simplify this entire system, as proposed in the amendment by the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, and add to the annual report, which will continue to be tabled, the possibility of not more than three additional reports?

I have already stated in the House that the request by the member for Ottawa-Vanier during Question Period on January 20, 1994 to allow the Auditor General to increase the frequency of that person's reports was the 16th such request since July 1980; there has been a 17th in the meantime. It is time that we took action on this bill.

The federal debt, combined with that of the provinces, has now reached the critical level of 91 per cent of Canada's GDP. Furthermore, according to economist John Richards, the author of a study published by the C. D. Howe Institute, the measures announced by the Liberal government to reduce the deficit will probably fail. In Mr. Richards' opinion, it is highly probable that the present program to fight the deficit will not even achieve the most modest objectives contained in the Liberals' red book.

In the present situation of indebtedness, since we have reached a critical point and have a program to fight the deficit that is worse than shaky, why not give the Auditor General more elbow room and promote a more flexible and workable way for that person to publish work and take action?

Why put the number of reports by the Auditor General in a strait-jacket of one annual report, to which in the long term no more than three additional reports would be added?

In order to give the Auditor General more room to manoeuvre and more latitude to take action, I move the amendment tabled this morning, that is:

That clause 1 of Bill C-207 be amended by striking out lines 4 to 11 on page 1 and substituting the following therefor: The Auditor General shall report annually to the House of Commons and may make, in addition to any special report made under subsection 8(1), at least three additional reports in any year to the House of Commons.

By means of this amendment, the Auditor General could publish at least three additional reports, indeed four, five, or even more. The Auditor General could still publish the annual report, to which could be added three or more additional reports, depending on the situation.

This amendment would avoid pointless and tedious proceedings to amend the act two or three years from now to allow for more additional reports, if the Auditor General considered that appropriate, and would be in the spirit of the initial bill tabled by the member for Ottawa-Vanier, which did not put a ceiling on the number of reports by the Auditor General.

That member's bill specifies only a minimum of reports each year; the amendment moved by the parliamentary secretary puts a ceiling of three additional reports in addition to the annual report; and the amendment I am moving today is in agreement with the bill tabled by the member for Ottawa-Vanier: a minimum of three additional reports, and thus a broader base, in addition to the annual report, which would still be published.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Jean-Robert Gauthier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Madam Speaker, I am going to comment very briefly on this amendment requiring the Auditor General of Canada to report at least three times in addition to his annual report.

We considered such a provision when the bill was drafted, and we rejected it at that time because, in my opinion, the Auditor General should be left free to act. It should be his decision when to table a report. There should not be a minimum of three reports imposed on him.

What will happen if, for completely extra-parliamentary reasons, for factors entirely outside his activities as auditor, an election is called? It is easy to see that it would be impossible for him to table the three minimum reports plus an annual report in that year. I am puzzled that the Bloc Québécois is absolutely determined to impose three additional reports on the Auditor General, over and above his annual report.

The original idea behind Bill C-207 was to make possible greater transparency, greater freedom of action, and, what is more, greater accountability to the people of Canada with respect to the public accounts that are approved by this House.

I do not see why the Auditor General should be forced to prepare a minimum of three additional reports. I would have preferred that we stick to the original bill, which left him the freedom to decide when, how and why he would report, and did not impose a minimum of three extra reports.

I cannot support this amendment.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Madam Speaker, I support the amendment of the hon. member for La Prairie to Bill C-207, under which clause 1 of the bill would be amended to enable the Auditor General to make at least three supplementary reports a year.

By allowing the Auditor General to report more than once a year we would be giving him greater latitude, and that is something we heartily support. The wording of the amendment sets a minimum.

It is not restrictive. It says the Auditor General will be able to present at least three supplementary reports. He could present more than that, but there will be a floor. I do not think it would be wise to introduce this kind of change and set a limit on the number of supplementary reports.

The Auditor General's strength is his credibility. Giving him latitude is also giving him the room to carry out his mandate fully.

Changing from one report a year to several is a response to a long felt need. The proposed amendment to section 7 of the Auditor General Act has been recommended four times by the public accounts committee and once by the Senate finance committee. The Auditor General would like to see this change.

With reports at regular intervals, information will be split up and will reach us in a shorter time, which will obviously result in savings.

The Auditor General will be able to report to the House of Commons as soon as he has finished an in-depth audit of a department or a federal body, instead of waiting until he tables his annual report. Parliamentarians will thus be able to have access to information faster, and act more promptly.

The amendment gives plenty of leeway, and the necessary flexibility, to the Auditor General. Why opt for a ceiling? Where does this distrust come from? Why give with the right hand and take away with the left?

If it is felt that the Auditor General needs to produce more than one annual report a year, which seems to be an accepted fact, why restrict him to producing no more than three additional reports?

Moreover, the idea of regular reports reflects a trend that we can see in other countries: Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand. They have all adopted the idea. We are not abandoning a sacrosanct standard and striking out on our own.

The Auditor General's 1993 annual report has over 700 pages. If he reported at regular intervals all the information would be brought out over the course of a year and not just at the end of the year. That would be more efficient, more effective and more transparent. His auditing activities show how public money is being used, which meets a vital need. There can be no half measures in transparency.

Everyone is in favour of virtue, but when the time comes to act they get lukewarm and propose to limit the number of supplementary reports. This is backing and filling. Since 1980 there have been many attempts to amend the Auditor General Act but none of them has succeeded.

It seems to be difficult to go from words to action and give the Auditor General the latitude he needs. We are clearly running into resistance here. Apparent supporters of the idea say one thing but make a point of setting limits to what they call transparency. There is no room here for petty politicking. The Auditor General is the government's watchdog, and he must not be muzzled.

The Bloc Québécois defines the Auditor General's role positively. There is no question of imposing limits on him: we want to give him the manoeuvring room he needs to carry on his activities.

The bill tabled by the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier originally provided in its clause 1 that the Auditor General could table at least one report, whereas the text we now have before us stipulates that he can prepare not more than three supplementary reports a year. Limits are being introduced, things are being restricted. After they make their resounding statements of principle, put the Grits through the mangle and their real intentions gush out.

The Auditor General ensures probity in the management of public moneys. He is apolitical. In today's context, participating in the passage of measures that might make it possible to save money is not something to dismiss lightly.

The Office of the Auditor General does audits, and we would benefit from having the findings in a shorter time. The wording of the amendment is designed to achieve this by providing for additional reports. The Auditor General already has the power to make special reports to the House.

Section 8(1) reads as follows:

The Auditor General may make a special report to the House of Commons on any matter of pressing importance or urgency that, in his opinion, should not be deferred until the presentation of his annual report.

However, since 1977, he has never invoked that section. The member for Ottawa-Vanier wanted to soften the original rule. In its place, he proposes the present wording which sets requirements too high, so high in fact that one wonders if they will ever be satisfied since the auditor has never used this prerogative in 17 years.

We submit that the requirements of managing a modern state call for a new way of doing things which allows for greater visibility. The auditor needs more leeway in the performance of his duties. For one or two weeks after he reports to Parliament, everyone focuses on the complexity of the task, on the visibility of his work. Then, it is back to oblivion for another year.

He must-and arguments favour more frequent reporting-be given the opportunity to make more than one yearly report. To achieve this, we will have to use general wording.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to address the House on this bill to amend the Auditor General Act. I have followed the discussion with interest on the question of when and how the Auditor General reports to Parliament.

Since 1980, the public accounts committee and the Auditor General have repeatedly recommended that the Auditor General Act be amended to allow more frequent reporting to Parliament. Such recommendations were made in 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1993.

Both the former Auditor General, Mr. Kenneth Dye, and the current Auditor General, Mr. Denis Desautels, have supported initiatives to amend the Auditor General Act to allow them to report results of individual audits at their completion.

Both Auditors General have examined the merits of completion date reporting. They have noted that more frequent reporting would lead to a more even workload within the office of the Auditor General. This would lead to improved efficiencies. However there has been no estimate of the magnitude of these efficiencies.

The primary benefit for supporting change to allow the Auditor General to report more frequently would be to enable Parliament and the public accounts committee to discuss the findings of the Auditor General on a more timely basis.

This would imply that corrective action could be taken sooner and that Parliament would be in a better position to influence that action. These are indisputable goals. However, it must be clear that we are not referring here to the timely reporting of very urgent issues.

Section 8 of the current Auditor General Act already allows him to report at any time to the House of Commons on any matter of pressing importance or urgency that in his opinion should not be deferred until the presentation of the annual report.

This section allows the Auditor General to make a timely report to Parliament on any pressing matter. Yet, no Auditor General has never done so. Why is that?

Another reason advanced for changing the current act is that more frequent reporting will help the public accounts committee to do a better job. The committee will be able to hold department and agency officials more accountable to Parliament and the Canadian taxpayers.

For instance it will be more likely that public service employees called as witnesses before the public accounts committee will be the same ones involved at the time of the Auditor General's audit. In the past this was not always the case. Again this is an admirable goal which members should support. Anything we can do to improve the results of this important committee should be seriously considered.

However the most important question we must ask ourselves today is what will be the impact of this bill on the effectiveness of the office of the Auditor General?

The Auditor General is effective because of his independence and the credibility that results from that independence. We would not want to support changes to the act that would put the Auditor General's independence at risk.

The Auditor General recognizes the importance of his independence. It is a key component of his office's mission statement. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada conducts independent audits and examinations that provide objective information, advice and assurance to Parliament. We promote accountability and best practices in government operations.

The importance and the necessity of the work of the Auditor General and the public accounts committee is not a question for debate. It is how we can make the best use of these important tools that is the issue.

In the past when the issue of completion dates reporting was discussed in the House, it was noted quite correctly that the findings of the Auditor General have become more positive in recent years. The Auditor General has been reporting in his annual follow-up chapter that progress has been made in solving problems reported in earlier reports. Improvements in departmental management are being made and reported by the Auditor General.

Reporting audit findings closer to the completion date of the audit will result in early reports to Parliament, but this alone will not solve the timeliness problem.

The very nature of the auditing process is a partial explanation. Complete auditing within a department can in fact take up to two years. I know the Auditor General is working on a solution.

It should be remembered as well that audit findings are discussed with the managers responsible as they are being developed. Issues are addressed by government managers on a priority basis as they are identified by the auditee. Corrective action plans are generally developed well before the tabling of the Auditor General's report to Parliament.

I believe that the Auditor General would be happy to report that all the problems have been solved. In one of his first reports he noted: "Accordingly, the greatest professional satisfaction for me and for my colleagues in the office will not be the disclosure of error, waste and loss, but rather the evidence that management has corrected unsatisfactory situations".

Mechanisms are in place within the government to address observations made by the Auditor General. Furthermore, as I commented earlier, provisions already exist in the Auditor General Act that empower the Auditor General to report to Parliament on an urgent basis at any time.

This act is a very important piece of legislation. It is critical to the accountability process that takes place between the government and Parliament and the Canadian public. However, it is an act that is viewed as being very successful. Canadian taxpayers are happy that they have an independent and effective watchdog on their side.

I have another concern relating to the proposed amendments to the current act. I am concerned that the Auditor General could come to be used as a short term investigator asked by House committees and others to respond to the partisan controversies of the day. Pressures to agree to investigate concerns of this nature could place an unbearable workload on his office. This additional workload could put completion of his extensive statutory workload in jeopardy.

In summary, I would like to emphasize that we should be careful when amending the Auditor General Act. We should ensure that we have all the facts on the table. We should know all the consequences, both the positive and the negative.

In conclusion, the amendment proposed here at report stage is an inappropriate one. It calls essentially for mandatory quarterly reports rather than a more reasonable approach of one report annually with the option for additional reports as audits are completed.

The Auditor General opposes this sort of additional duty because it forces him to have a new report three more times a year, whether he is ready or not. The amendment has the potential to be an absurd waste, given the fluctuations of the audit cycle.

The Auditor General is opposed to the amendment because he does not feel he should be required to report until he is ready. He must have the choice, as given him by the act.

I urge all members to oppose this amendment.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Is the House ready for the question?

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members


Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

(Motion negatived.)

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Jean-Robert Gauthier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Jean-Robert Gauthier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

Auditor General ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

As there is no further business before the House we will suspend until 12 o'clock noon.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11.37 a.m.)

The House resumed at 12.02 p.m.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

York West Ontario


Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

moved that Bill C-35, an act to establish the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, there is something very strange going on this morning. For those viewers watching on television I was almost getting a standing ovation from my friends on the Reform side. I thank them for their generous and very thoughtful co-operation today. I thank my hon. friend, the Reform Party critic, for moving to second reading and showing some degree of flexibility to move to committee of the whole. I understand the Bloc Quebecois does not want to do so. I hope to find out the reasons why.

The bill before the House of Commons today is relatively short, straightforward and important. It is only six pages long and 22 paragraphs in all.

Its purpose is obvious: the creation of a Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

The House will recall that one of the commitments of our party during the campaign was that the business of immigration had no business being in the department of public security.

That was a move made in the dying moments of a very desperate government that Canadians saw fit to replace. That is not the issue that caused consternation for the Prime Minister, this minister and all caucus members of the Liberal Party of Canada. It was that the move of putting immigration in public security was very directly a slap or a black eye for all those people who came to the country as immigrants and who are now for the most part full members of the Canadian family through their Canadian citizenship. Placing that in public security very much undermined the real story that immigration has played in the country.

Sure there are cases of abuse. Sure there are individuals who claim refugee status, are not refugees and are everything but. Yes, there are those who make multiple claims on our welfare systems. We have tried to address that through memorandums of understanding with municipalities across the country. We have those problems, but show me a department of government that does not have abuse problems. Show me a UI system that is not abused. Show me a CPP disability system that is not abused. Show me a welfare system that is not abused.

We are saying that regrettably there is abuse of various programs in society. Regrettably that is part of human nature not only in our country but the world over. Our system, when stacked up against other systems of the world, certainly speaks to a sense of clarity and a sense of integrity.

We are also dealing with a minority of cases that should not be translated to being the majority story. That is why I was personally offended, as was my party, by immigration being placed in public security. The Prime Minister made a commitment that if he were elected Prime Minister that would cease and desist. True to his word when he appointed his cabinet, lo and behold there was a new department called citizenship and immigration.

We have been carrying out our work notwithstanding the bill that gives legal authority to that department is before the House of Commons today. It enacts changes announced by the Prime Minister on November 4, 1993 and delivers on the principles contained in the red book.

The bill organizes the citizenship and immigration mandate and promotion functions of the government in a coherent and common sense fashion. More important, the legislation before Parliament today modernizes and streamlines government to meet the needs of Canadians and to give us the tools needed to deal effectively with myriad complex citizenship and immigration issues.

The Prime Minister spoke on many occasions. Our party spoke very eloquently and indicated that immigration was a building tool for our country. It is a building tool that through the years has helped to build a modern day Canada. Immigration will also be part of our future. It is up to us how to shape it, how to mould it and how to help it address current day phenomena which are different from yesteryears. Nonetheless immigration is an absolutely vital part of the lifeblood of our country.

There is also citizenship. Sometimes citizenship gets lost because immigration is so overpowering or is such an emotional issue that the media clearly focus on it as opposed to citizenship issues. I might also add that oftentimes the media deal with immigration in a negative way. It is always the negative issue that screams the loudest on page 1 or on the first story on our TV sets or radios. Sometimes that is how news is covered. Negative stuff sells but if members of Parliament are interested, as we all should be, about talking fact and not fiction then there is also the need to distinguish for the public that the culmination of all those negative cases does not define the essence of the issue.

Sometimes immigration gets covered the way media covers aeroplanes. Media covers aeroplanes only when they do not land. They do not talk about the ones that land safely. They ask why they should. We feel bad when aeroplanes do not land. We send our sympathies to the families of the victims of aeroplane crashes. We try to learn from aeroplane mishaps. We try to figure out whether it was pilot error or whether it was a malfunctioning in one of the motors, engines, wings or whatnot. We study and we try to prevent another one from happening.

We in the House of Commons do not go around and across the country as members of Parliament alarming our fellow Canadians because of an unfortunate accident. We know better. Ninety-nine per cent of aeroplanes land at airports seven days a week, 24 hours a day. In fact the statistics show that travelling in aeroplanes is safer than driving cars. Members are responsible to learn from those mistakes, but we have to be responsible about reflecting the total picture, the context of those aeroplane mishaps and landings.

I ask my fellow colleagues: Ought we not do the same when we talk about the emotional issue of immigration? I think we should and it is important that we do so. It is not to say that we forget about the negative cases or that we do not learn from the negative cases.

I will be presenting legislation before we rise for the summer on individual cases that have been in our newspapers which have driven Canadians, the opposition and this minister right up the wall and around the bend. We will learn from them and make amendments so that we make the laws as foolproof as possible from those who want to play with or abuse our laws.

Citizenship is also part of my mandate. I would suggest to hon. members that citizenship can help us with immigration. It is a natural fit when the Prime Minister put citizenship and immigration together. As immigrants come into the country and are facilitated, the processes of citizenship and making them Canadian take over. When a person becomes a Canadian citizen the process of him or her being an immigrant is over.

Immigration is a process that at some point stops and citizenship takes over and we are all Canadian citizens. Our origins may be different. I may have been born in Argentina of Canadian parents. Yet I went through the same school system as the children of hon. members today. We speak English or French; maybe badly but none the less we speak it. We have played hockey on the same streets. We have been in trouble for throwing snowballs at our schoolmates. My cultural origin is different. Am I a better Canadian than anybody else here? Absolutely not. Am I any worse? The same answer.

Citizenship helps us with immigration. It also helps us with immigration because in the offer to the standing committee to help us shape a new Citizenship Act one thing I asked it to do was to look into the responsibilities, obligations and values of Canadian citizenship.

Why is that? There are two reasons. In the debate about immigration we talk often about rights: the rights to make an application, the rights of family class reunification, the right to have rights defended under a refugee application, and the right of an individual to receive humanitarian and compassionate consideration on which I have had requests from members of the Chamber on a daily basis. It is rights dominated and that is legitimate. There is a place for rights to be defended and to be respected.

When we talk about citizenship the debate should shift quite properly and focus on the responsibilities and obligations of new citizens in Canada to defend, promote and stand on guard for Canada. What are the values of Canadianism that we want our new immigrants to embrace, cherish and respect? While we value the cultural identity that formulated my father's first 35 years, we are a mature country when we say: "Mr. Marchi, we are not asking you to leave your cultural vestiges at the door because who you were for 30 years no one can remove". Not even the former Soviet Union with all its armies and tanks was able to suppress that. The moment the Soviet Union came apart we saw a flourishing of culturalism, ethnicity and religion. Where was that during the time of the Soviet empire? It was still alive because that is who people are.

We are a mature country when we have embodied an official policy of multiculturalism which was certainly there before it was crystallized by Mr. Trudeau in 1971.

There is also a complementary feature. When one comes to Canada one also needs to embrace that which is Canadian and which has given essence to our life in Canada.

Why is it that in the oath that we ask our citizens to swear that it speaks to beholding to the duties of citizenship and nowhere in our Citizenship Act or anywhere else do we define duties, nowhere do we define obligations, nowhere do we talk about responsibilities. Some people wonder why certain things are not done.

I would like to be in a position to move a bill in this Chamber in the fall, after the committee has had its study and reported, to talk about those things because those are unifying. It would not only help the newcomer to understand what Canadian society is about but it would also be a reassurance to all other Canadians that people are coming here and becoming Canadians are prepared as immigrants in the past to build, sacrifice, pay taxes, bleed when they get hurt and to rejoice in Canadian victories whatever those victories are.

I would like to be in a position as minister or those who may follow me to be able not only to give out a citizenship certificate or congratulations or for members of Parliament to do that when they go to the citizenship ceremonies, but also to give out a charter of responsibilities and obligations.

Let us strive to talk about that even though it is difficult. How long of a charter are we going to have if we start talking about responsibilities and obligations? We have to obviously capture the essence. What are the values of Canadian citizenship or Canadianism? It is pretty difficult and sometimes it can be a divisive debate. I think on the whole it will be a unifying debate, particularly at a time when our country in the next number of months will be seeing and hearing a lot about the negatives of this country and how federalism does not work and how people are in a funk.

When we eliminate those day to day problems and talk about Canadian citizenship as I have on radio shows, TV shows and in forums with Canadians, it is an absolutely positive and uplifting force. Nobody, despite the problems that we have in all of our backyards, is prepared to give up on Canadian citizenship. Everybody recognizes that it is the best passport in the world. Everybody recognizes that one of the difficulties in immigration is the fact that literally millions of people want to come to this country.

The biggest difficulty I have is dealing with members of Parliament who come to me and say: "Why has your department turned this individual down?", "We have a point system" or "Why was he refused his visitor visa?" The demand to come here is a reflection of how much of a good thing we have got going in this country and that we need to protect and promote it.

We cannot be home to everyone. That is why we need to be selective in our immigration program. Being selective is a natural part of the immigration program. We select to further the interest of our country. We also need to have a sense of compassion so that our immigration policy can be a lifeline to our brothers and sisters who are deserving and in search of simply a life that you and I have either adopted or that has come automatically to us. The responsibilities of this new department include immigration applications, level setting, federal-provincial relations in terms of immigration programs, visas, refugees, enforcement, settlement, citizenship applications and citizenship promotion. We are changing how we do citizenship in this country.

No longer are we going to have citizenship court judges because the system imposed on them was a financial and time burden that simply was not worth it anymore. There were 10,000 people in the backlog every month who wanted to become citizens.

In my area of metropolitan Toronto it took almost two and a half years in some cases from the time they got an application until the time they swore an oath. That simply was not good enough. One court judge had to do a one on one. We were approving 95 per cent of all applicants. I concluded that for saying yes to 95 per cent it was simply taking too much time and costing too much money. Therefore, we have moved to an administrative process, a classroom style, a written test rather than a one on one verbal. We are also adding standards and consistency across the board.

We are not losing sight of the ceremony of citizenship which all of us as members of Parliament have or hopefully will participate in because it is such a moving tribute and it helps us with immigration. Why? Because we are not going to hide citizenship in a court. We are going to move it to a school auditorium.

When I was in the riding of the hon. member for Carleton-Gloucester, we did it in a school auditorium in front of the kids, the parents, the rate payer groups, police representatives and RCMP and the local media. Neighbours of these citizens came out to see them.

The bogey persons as we now call them because we have to be politically correct, and bogey persons is a name that people sometimes attach to those who are the newcomers, who are they? Are they like us? Who are these people? There they were on a stage raising their right hand and swearing allegiance to our country. What a beautiful testimony it was. It is our Prime Minister and our government that is pushing those out to the community not as the exception but as the rule.

Citizenship court judges for the most part did a wonderful job. No one is blaming them personally at all. It was the system that needed changing. Instead of citizenship court judges we are now going to ask the Order of Canada recipients on a non-remunerative basis to officiate. That adds greater elegance and profile.

For instance on the opening day of Citizenship Week we held a special court at the University of Toronto. We had three Order of Canada recipients on stage with us: Knowlton Nash, June Callwood and Maureen Forrester. Those three were better known than the minister, never mind the citizenship court judges. Everybody lived with Knowlton Nash for 30 or 40 years in this country. For years the last thing people thought about before they went to sleep was Knowlton Nash. All of a sudden Knowlton Nash is there on the stage celebrating citizenship. Does it not add greater testimony to the importance of citizenship when we include Order of Canada recipients across the country? I think it does.

On July 1 it will be the first such occasion in Halifax in ceremonies on pier 21, our answer to Ellis Island, our Statue of Liberty. Millions of immigrants came through pier 21. Second and third generation sons and daughters go back when they visit Nova Scotia. They go to see pier 21 that their dad or mom talked about. That is our Statue of Liberty. There will be a citizenship ceremony at pier 21. There will also be one in Toronto. For the first time Order of Canada recipients will be officiating to let people know that the changes we made are happening.

Citizenship and immigration go hand in hand. That is why the new department will take a lead role in strengthening those values, obligations and responsibilities that I talked about.

This month marks the 125th anniversary of our immigration programming. Interestingly enough this is not the first time that Parliament has engaged in a debate on the establishment of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. Almost 45 years ago today Prime Minister St. Laurent constituted a Department of Citizenship and Immigration. With today's legislation we are in fact learning from our history and from our past where we have to obtain lessons and inspiration from time to time.

I would like to quote briefly what M. J. Coldwell said in the House of Commons 45 years ago. He was not a Liberal, but he was acknowledged as one of the great parliamentarians of his day. On November 26, 1949 Mr. Coldwell said, and I quote: "In my view the placing of matters related to immigration and citizenship under one Department of Citizenship and Immigration is a wise move. It is essential that people who come here as immigrants should be not only welcome, but also taught to value

the citizenship of this country and to have an appreciation of what Canada means to them".

Like Mr. Coldwell, I am a citizen of Canada and an immigrant and I am deeply aware of the value and importance of the words immigrant and citizen.

All members of Parliament recognize the need to overhaul our immigration policies and to consider the long term role of immigration in that nation building exercise. All of us recognize the need to improve the immigration system. No one has the virtue of a monopoly of concern. There are things that work very well. There are other things that clearly need modification.

That is one of the reasons we are doing a 10-year policy framework. I do not believe that immigration is done annually. I do not believe that immigration is done on a short term basis. Immigration to our country of Canada is a long term investment. You do not do settlement in six months. You do not take an individual and pretend that after six or 12 months that person is integrated. We know that it is more generational. We know that at the intake the country to a certain degree pays for the integration of those individuals. As the individual goes on in Canada, he repays that loan to the point that he is repaying more than the initial loan. That is then the net benefit to our country economically, socially and culturally.

That is why we are also doing a broader consultation. We cannot do a 10-year policy without inviting Canadians into the tent. The days when setting levels and not including municipalities are over. Why should we include municipalities in the business of immigration? We see mayors and reeves and councillors complaining that they never knew the levels for the next five years. They did not know the numbers more or less that would be coming to their city or town and, therefore, they could not plan a resource accordingly.

I went last week to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Winnipeg. I delivered a strong commitment of this Prime Minister and government that those days are over. No one forced us to do this, but what makes sense is what is worth doing.

Why should boards of education be on the outside looking in when they too complain that they never knew the number of kids born of immigrants or refugees that came into the school system. They could not plan. They could not resource. So we have included boards of education in our consultations.

Unions and labour movements, the same thing, people who have a concern with our unemployed membership. How many people are you bringing in? What skills are you bringing in? Are you looking for scales in construction or high tech or the new economy? What is the mix?

For the first time in many years we are enlarging the tent and giving a place for people to stand. We have opened up the consultations in an unprecedented way since 1976, when another minister of immigration offered the green paper and basically built the amendments, very significant amendments, as a result of consulting Canadians. We hope to do the same. That process is under way.

We are also including the public. We have five town hall meetings planned across the country. My first one tonight is in Montreal. We have eight study circles on specific issues across the country.

We have 10 working groups working with Canadians on 10 specific issues which 50 Canadians from all walks of life identified as key issues.

All the members of Parliament in this Chamber were given from my office a kit that would try to provide information and direction on how members of Parliament could provide leadership in their own ridings, touching base with Canadians, NGO groups, lawyers and advocates. When we opened it up, sure we took risks. Do you not think it is a risk opening anything up? Of course it is because when you open yourself up you open yourself up to a spectrum of issues and this is not a public relations exercise.

If we are looking just for public relations then I am suicidal because the consultations that took place in October are the fullest that can be had, an election.

We have a majority government. We have a red book that we are following so we could have said that we are on course. We are not doing this for public relations gimmickry because no one makes us do this. We want to do this because we believe it is the right thing. If we allow things to fester on the outside and ignore them, my attitude is that those festers grow and become bigger and unmanageable, and we have a problem when things are left unattended.

The objective of government is to provide good government, leadership and inspiration and you do that by tackling problems or concerns or fears that Canadians have and we work them out.

I believe by being open we can work them out. I have people coming to me saying I should close the doors: "Why are the doors being kept open when my Johnny and my Susie cannot find a job? What gives you the right to keep those doors open?".

I do not want to ask Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones to get out of my way-"I have my mind made up. It is a red book. We are a majority government. Who are you?". I am not going to be that kind of a minister because we cannot afford that luxury. Mr. Smith or Mrs. Smith, talking about Johnny or Susie, love Johnny or Susie as much as we love our own kids. If we heard one thing in the campaign it was that parents had it pretty good in Canada but they were really concerned about their kids, their future, their education, their career. If I heard one thing in my riding it was: "Mr. Marchi, we have had a pretty good shake but I am

worried that my kids get the same kind of good shake I have and I fear for them now, given the state of the economy".

Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones has that concern out of love for their kids. I love my Adrianna as much as they love their Johnny and Susie and so I will never say to those parents "get out of my way".

I also will not do something that some people are prepared to do and embrace Mrs. Smith and say "You are absolutely right. If your Johnny or Susie does not have a job obviously I have to close the doors".

I am not going to be that minister either, as much as I care for that Canadian. What I prefer to do as a minister, which speaks to this consultation, is say: "Mrs. Smith, Mr. Jones, it is time that you and I sit down. It is time that you and I looked at the facts. It is time that you and I break some bread, look at the facts, ask ourselves if immigrants will help Johnny and Susie or hurt them, if economics is the discussion of the day".

I can ask a Mrs. Smith and a Mr. Jones in Toronto if they think immigrants cost us jobs or create jobs. Toronto has been in an economic funk for a few years and I believe a lot of people would say they would cost us jobs today because of how that economy has dealt a fatal blow almost to the metropolitan area and that we are now coming out of it.

I am realistic to note that the feeling would be immigrants can cost us jobs. If I were to go to Vancouver, the part of the country the Secretary of State for International Affairs comes from, and ask a Canadian if they think immigrants create or cost us jobs, they would say undoubtedly: "Mr. Marchi, are you kidding me? Look at Vancouver. Look at British Columbia".

One of the reasons we do not know the r word, ``recession'' is because of immigrants, of business investment from the Asia-Pacific, for instance.

One Canadian in Vancouver, one Canadian in Toronto, they cannot both be right. There has to be one general answer and I know it depends on how many in a certain class we have, where they go and what their skills are. That is why it is not only the numbers game. Is it the 250,000 or is it the 150,000 the Reform Party talks about? I would like to see where it is also going to be prepared to cut. It does not tell me that.

However, let us put that argument to the side because the other numbers game is within the categories: what is the number of family versus independent versus refugee versus student visa versus all the other categories?

Both those Canadians cannot be wrong or right generically. I hope to sit down and find that common cause and common ground with Mrs. Smith. I believe that on the whole, immigrants create economic activity, whether it is because they buy a product and lead a recovery through consumership which we have not yet seen in this country-until we do we will not see a full economic recovery-whether it is because of the dollars they bring into this country through their savings, whether it is the entrepreneurs who create a business.

I believe that at the end of the day, and most studies will confirm this-we need to do more work on it-on the big picture immigration creates economic activity. If we can break bread on some common ground, maybe we will put to rest the popular wisdom that every time one gets into an economic downturn one needs to close the doors to immigration.

Maybe we can also do with that popular wisdom what they did with those who suggested that the popular wisdom was that the world was flat. If one thought it was round, they thought of taking that person away somewhere. It was clear that it was flat because one could look way out there and of course earth fell at the end of the last apartment building at the end of the highway. One can not even begin to think that the world is round when we are walking nicely and smoothly on a flat piece of green carpet in the House of Commons.

Popular wisdom was wrong there. We have a lot of popular wisdoms that do not build countries. Popular wisdoms do not build countries. They do not give momentums to countries. They do not create values. We know that and that is the exercise.

I believe that if you sit down with Mrs. Smith and Mr. Jones, they are fair minded. They are tolerant. This country is not less tolerant. Look over the course of 25 years where they measure unemployment and immigration. Sure there are ups and downs. Take the average. Do not point to me the worst case. Do not be the media on the negative cases.

I will admit that tolerance is down during an economic recession but then I will ask members to look where it is when we are having an economic boom. If members want me to look at one, they are going to have to look at the other. Then we will have to take an average and then we will say where the tolerance level is for Canadians.

I strongly believe that Canadians are fair minded and tolerant. They want to be presented with the facts. They do not like abuse nor should they. We should not be tolerant with people who have no business being here but we should not take that out on the entire policy. I believe in that tolerance.

I have speaking notes that my officials put together that I will not read because I tried to cover the essence of this department.

I will end on a very personal note. Maybe I should not do it but I will do it anyway. I fought a nomination battle in 1984 that was the toughest battle that some of us go through. We had it Monday night at seven and we ended up on Tuesday morning at 3.30 a.m. on the third ballot. We then went to our favourite Italian banquet hall, Tony's ballroom, to celebrate until six in the morning. I went home and showered and went looking for a campaign office because Liberals were still fighting Liberals because their Liberal candidate had decided three days into the campaign not to seek office.

We were all in a tiff-the Conservatives that year as we know-and some of us survived, but it was a tough campaign. I felt so pumped up as we all do after a nomination that I went into the toughest part of my riding, the Conservative end of town, in the south end.

I took my wife and we went door knocking right after we found a campaign office. I knocked on my very first door and a 60-year old gentleman came out and said: "Yes, what can I do for you?". I said: "Hi, I am Sergio Marchi and I am your Liberal candidate. I just wanted to say hello and hopefully capture your confidence in this election". He said: "What is your name?". I said: "Sergio Marchi". He said: "What kind of a name is that?". I said: "It is a Canadian name. My parents are Canadian and I am a Canadian so I guess that makes it a Canadian name". He said: "Don't give me that. What is the background of your name?". I said: "I was born in Argentina. My parents are Italian born and we came here in 1959". He said: "Kid, my parents have been dead 25 years and if they thought I would vote for an Italian MP they would turn over in their graves".

I looked at my wife and my wife thought I was nuts, but we both thought without saying it, "this is our first door and this is the response. We have to go through this for a campaign".

Being a stubborn Canadian of Italian background, rather than doing what each of our campaigns tells us to do-when you meet someone like that keep moving, do not waste time-I stayed there.

I stood there and said: "Who are you going to vote for?". He said: "None of your business". I said: "You are absolutely right, but I have lost your vote so what does it matter?". He said: "I am going to vote Conservative". I said: "Do you know who your Conservative candidate is?". He said no. I said: "Do you want me to tell you?". He said sure. I said: "His name is Frank DiGiorgio". He looked at me and said: "You think you're kind of a smart ass, don't you?". I said: "No, sir, I am telling you the truth". He said: "For the first time in my life I am voting Socialist". I said: "Do you know who your Socialist NDP candidate is?". He said no. I said: "I'll tell you". He said "I don't want to know". I said: "I don't care, I am going to tell you anyway. His name is Bruno Pasquantonio. Sir, you cannot get any more Italian than that. So unless you want to vote Communism or unless you don't want to vote give me five minutes".

He invited my wife and me in for tea and I made a second mistake. Any campaign says not to have a tea or coffee or a glass of wine, keep moving. I went inside and we spent 10 minutes at our first door.

The beauty of this story was, and it is a true story, when we moved on to the next door there was a sign on that gentleman's lawn that said "Elect Sergio Marchi, Liberal, York West". It was not that he took a Liberal sign. The essence of that first door for me is the story of our department today, that once he had seen that I did not have thorns or horns in my head, that he felt I went to the local school, that I spoke English, that I was capable of mixing it with the best and not being any worse or any better, that the boogie persons came down, he said: "Put a sign on my lawn".

That is the debate and the discussion I want to have with Mrs. Smith or Mr. Jones because if I would have went to the second door I would have spoke ill of that first person who came out and offended me. However, we stayed there and the two of us chatted. He had up my lawn sign. That is the Canadian way. That is tolerance. You would not have thought it initially, but it was.

That is the essence of doing the consultations the way we are going to do them. Citizenship and immigration is a natural and it has worked for the country. None of us believes that nation building will stop at the end of this parliamentary day. Nation building is an ongoing march and an ongoing exercise and immigration is one of those tools to shape and mould a better Canada for all of us. That is why it gives me great privilege and honour this morning to move the acceptance of this bill at second reading.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Madam Speaker, I am rising today to join the debate on Bill C-35, establishing a Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

This bill also amends a number of acts: The Access to Information Act, the Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship Act, the Employment and Immigration Commission Act, the Financial Administration Act, the Immigration Act, the Department of National Health and Welfare Act, the Privacy Act, the Public Service Compensation Act and the Salaries Act.

As you can see, Madam Speaker, it is a fairly complex piece of administrative legislation. The minister has just told us that it was his decision to transfer immigration from the former Department of Public Security to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. The original switch was made arbitrarily by the Conservative Party in June 1993. We in the Bloc attacked that original Conservative decision, because it associated immigration and immigrants with criminal acts probably constitut-

ing attacks on the security of the state. We strongly opposed the decision by former Prime Minister Kim Campbell.

In light of the far-reaching re-organization by the new Liberal government, and of the bill's complexity, we would have preferred the government, and in particular the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to provide us with a detailed document explaining the Bill.

We will vote against the bill at second reading, because it contains certain clauses that we cannot accept. For example, clause 4 provides that "the powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating"-and I want to stress that word "relating"-"to citizenship and immigration".

This strikes us as too broad and too vague a provision. We would like the Minister's area of jurisdiction to be defined clearly and precisely. In any event, we want to avoid abuse of these powers by the Minister, and duplication of work done by other departments and government agencies.

Above all we want the minister to respect scrupulously the scope of the provinces' jurisdiction over immigration. We have already criticized the minister's intrusion into an area of Quebec jurisdiction, the orientation and training centres for immigrants. We will never permit the minister to interfere in education, which is exclusively a provincial responsibility.

Another major objection to this bill is found in clause 5, which specifies as follows: "The Minister, with the approval of the Governor in Council, may enter into agreements with any province, group of provinces or any agency thereof"-and I stress the word agency-" or with any foreign government or international organization, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of policies and programs for which the Minister is responsible".

We do not agree that the word "agency" should be included in the Act. It is dangerous. The federal government must negotiate and sign agreements with the provincial governments responsible for these agencies. Using a word like that, the federal government could short-circuit the authority of the provinces, something we find unacceptable.

Another clause we cannot accept in its present form is clause 10, amending section 4 of the Multiculturalism and Citizenship Act; this clause reads as follows:

The powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to multiculturalism and Canadian identity.

As well, clause 11 adds the function of promoting the understanding of Canadian identity. This provision does not exist in the legislation now in force. Why does the government want to add it now, if not to block the rise of the sovereignist movement in Quebec? Furthermore, the respective responsibilities that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the Department of Canadian Heritage will have are not clearly delineated.

Madam Speaker, you are not unaware that Canadian unity is a subject that profoundly divides Quebec and English Canada, the government and the opposition. Why does the government want to include this controversial provision in a bill whose sole objective should be to provide a legal structure for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration?

We shall vote against this bill on second reading, and we want it to be referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for consideration.

I take this opportunity to criticize the minister, once again, for launching his show on Canadian identity at a time when the Bloc Quebecois has elected two-thirds of MPs from Quebec, on the eve of a provincial election that the Parti québécois will win, and on the eve of a referendum to be held in 1995.

It is clear that the government organized these hasty and premature consultations on citizenship with the sole objective of blocking the battle by the people of Quebec. The review of the Citizenship Act was not in any sense a priority, either of the government party or of the opposition parties. A resolution to that effect and discussion at a recent convention of the Liberal Party of Canada held in Ottawa in May 1994 raised no interest among the delegates.

The minister should on the other hand concern himself with the solution to concrete, more immediate and pressing problems such as the backlog of more than 220,000 requests made by permanent residents who often have to wait several years before getting their citizenship and Canadian passport.

We also denounce the minister's intention to close the Citizenship Office on Saint-Denis Street, at the corner of Beaubien Street, in Montréal, and his decision to transfer and centralize visa functions in Ontario and Alberta.

In addition to citizenship, the new department is also responsible for immigration, a matter of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces ever since Confederation, in 1867, pursuant to section 95 of the British North America Act.

Canada, then a country of 3 million inhabitants, adopted its first immigration act in 1869. On June 25, we will be commemorating, as the minister said earlier, the 125th anniversary of this first act and of the first Canadian programs in this area.

I would like to pay tribute, here, to the 12 million newcomers who have since arrived in Canada. Together with the First Nations and the two founding nations, they have build this country. They continue to arrive from all parts of the world to

participate and contribute to Canada's and Québec's economic, political, cultural and social development.

As an immigrant myself for the last 20 years and as critic for the Bloc Quebecois in matters of citizenship and immigration, I want them to know that my party and myself greatly value their precious contribution to the building of this country.

We believe jurisdiction in immigration matters should belong exclusively to Québec. Québec must be able to exercize all powers in this area in order to maintain its demographic weight and its survival as a distinct society and as the only French-speaking state in North America. Québec has always claimed this jurisdiction and you know, Madam Speaker, that today it has its own department, the ministère des Relations internationales, des Communautés culturelles et de l'Immigration.

Québec has made progress, but insufficient progress compared to what is at stake. Since 1971, Canada and Québec have signed several agreements on immigration. In 1971, the Cloutier-Lang agreements were signed; in 1975, the Bienvenue-Andras agreements.

The third and most important is the Couture-Cullen agreement which was signed in 1978 under the Parti québécois government. The agreement signed in February 1991 by ministers McDougall and Gagnon-Tremblay increases and clarifies Québec's powers in the field of immigration. According to that agreement, Québec has the right to select the independent immigrants who wish to settle in the province.

Apart from selecting immigrants, Québec looks after their integration and determines the immigration levels for the province. The francization of immigrants is the responsibility of the COFIs.

According to this agreement, Canada remains responsible for national standards and objectives concerning immigration, the admission of immigrants and the control of visitors related to criminality, health and security as well as the administrative handling of requests and the physical admission at the various entry points.

Québec is therefore exclusively responsible for the selection, reception and integration of immigrants destined for the province. As for the immigration levels, the federal government must, before April 30 of each year, inform Québec of the options under study concerning future levels of immigration by category of immigrants.

For its part, Québec must, before June 30 of each year, that is in a couple of weeks, inform Canada of the number of immigrants, also by category, which it expects to admit in the year or years to come.

I might add that the Immigration Act requires the minister to consult the provinces on demographic needs, labour-market issues and regional distribution.

One very important aspect of this agreement is the formal commitment on the part of the federal government to withdraw from reception services, linguistic and cultural integration, counselling and placement programs for immigrants.

The Government of Canada provides fair compensation to Quebec in respect of such services. The province was awarded financial compensation as follows: $75 million for 1991-92; $82 million for 1992-93; $85 million for 1993-94 and $90 million for 1994-95. Any subsequent compensation levels will correspond to the basic amount of $90 million and will increase to keep pace with overall federal expenditures.

Getting back to my historical narrative, with an eye to industrializing the country and opening up the West, Canada recruited a vast pool of foreign labourers, primarily Chinese peasants. The Rockies were breached and East and West were united by the railway. This migration movement which lasted until World War II involved solely the Northern Hemisphere. Immigrants were British, Americans, Finns, Italians, Russians, Germans, Ukrainians, Jews, French and Polish.

However, following World War II, decolonization and communication advances gave rise to new migratory flows, and these are likely to increase in the coming years.

In 1990, the United Nations Population Fund warned that the global population would increase by one billion during the decade of the nineties.

Most of this increase would occur in developing countries where the birth rates were highest. Many of those seeking to immigrate favour the more prosperous, less populated countries. Canada and Quebec rank high on their list because of their resources and wide open spaces.

Canada and especially Quebec are interested in taking in a considerable number of immigrants because of their low birth rates. Moreover, we also lose a part of our population to emigration. It is estimated that emigration levels represent one quarter of immigration levels. For example, during the 1980s, more people emigrated to Italy from Canada than vice versa.

Under the McDougall and Gagnon-Tremblay agreement, Quebec can receive a number of immigrant proportional to its demographic load, plus 5 per cent. This means that in theory, Quebec could receive 30 per cent of all immigrants admitted to Canada.

In fact, Quebec received 47,532 of the foreign nationals admitted to Canada in 1992, that is to say approximately 19.2 per cent, which is roughly equivalent to the average observed over the past five years, which was 19.1 per cent.

This debate on Bill C-35 leads us to take a brief look at this government service, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, which is seeking to legalize its organization but has in fact already moved beyond the preliminary stage. And what we have before us is not very encouraging.

Because of timid, ambiguous and inconsistent policies, we cannot find out where the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is going. He favours never-ending consultations and takes forever to make decisions. He enjoyed a period of grace, but it is over. He had raised some hope after the questionable, inefficient and at times inhuman management of the Conservatives. Today, his inconsistent policies are widely criticized, in particular by immigration lawyers, refugee advocacy groups, ethnic groups, government officials, and so on. You will probably find that out this evening in Montreal.

He has made public two reports he had commissioned himself, namely the Hathaway report and the Davis-Waldman report. Clear and specific recommendations were made, but the minister does not know what to do with them. He suspends deportations, but does not say what will happen to the 10,000 refugee status claimants whose applications were turned down by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

My office has received numerous inquiries on this subject and officials know as little as we do. Meanwhile, asylum seekers are left in limbo. Which files will re reviewed? By whom? When? Under what circumstances? No one knows.

Another example of inconsistency is this announcement made by the minister to the effect that potential refugees may be submitted to a lie detector test to prevent fraud, which is illegal as far as we are concerned. What a ridiculous idea!

The minister and immigration authorities sometimes show deep ignorance of the extremely dangerous political situation in some countries that refugee claimants come from and occasionally they show a lack of compassion as well. For example, take this case of a pregnant young woman who was deported on February 23, given sedatives without her consent and returned to her country of origin, Zaire, which is devastated by an insidious civil war. I said to the minister and I repeat: "Such a serious case deserves an independent inquiry because such behaviour is unworthy of a civilized society". Why does the minister refuse to order such an inquiry?

There is another area where mistrust is systematic. More and more people who do not have passports are required to go to the consulate or embassy of their country to get one, even though they are already recognized as refugees. You know, if a refugee has to go to the consulate or embassy of his home country, his life could be in danger, and especially the lives and safety of his family still in the home country.

Furthermore, I ask the minister to refer any new appointment of IRB commissioners to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. So far, this committee has reviewed no appointment, despite allegations of patronage in some cases.

Finally, I wish to denounce the minister's decision to hold consultations outside Parliament on immigration levels and policies for the next five years, at a cost of over $1 million.

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration should be responsible for these consultations, which are a priority for the Official Opposition and for public opinion in Canada and Quebec. All parties are represented on the committee-the government party, the Official Opposition and the Reform Party. This is not the case on the various working groups set up by the minister, from which the Bloc Quebecois is totally absent. It is not democratic to hold these consultations without the opposition being present.

For all these reasons, we will vote against Bill C-35.