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.


Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, let me preface my remarks by saying I support the consolidation of the functions of immigration and citizenship within the new ministry of citizenship and immigration. It is a logical combination and needed to be done. I am glad it has been done with such expediency providing the hon. member from the Bloc here a follow through, at least not with objections but rather support.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my hon. colleague, the soon-to-be official Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the very best. This portfolio needs a lot of support and I realize it is a difficult position. It requires extreme wisdom, caution and concern. The department deals with more than just dollars and cents. It deals with people's lives. At the same time we must also realize that this department, along with all other departments in the government, must examine their financial commitment and the way money is spent.

As opposition members we must bring to the attention of the department of immigration the requirement to examine all its expenditures and do its share in reducing the massive debt and deficit that the country faces. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is also required to balance the needs of Canada with our international commitments, that portion of the hundreds of millions or so of migrants in the world that are seeking a place in Canada.

Canada has a long tradition of humanitarianism when it comes to immigration. We have a legacy that is unique to just a few nations on earth of being built almost entirely by succeeding waves of immigrants. That legacy has become etched into Canada's collective conscience. It has become part of our self-image as Canadians.

However, the present day manifestation of a legacy of immigration in Canada is now in a precarious position. The majority of Canadians, while being thankful for our immigrant past and while still treasuring Canada's tolerance toward newcomers, are mystified at the direction the immigration policy has gone in the last 10 years or so.

They see present day immigration patterns no longer as a boon but are concerned about what is happening. That is a problem to which our new immigration and citizenship minister must pay very careful attention. Any government that ignores the wishes of the majority of the population for significant policy change is staring grave political danger in the face.

While I congratulate the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on his post and on behalf of Canadians wish him the best of luck I am saddened to report that some of the policies of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration have gone awry. Canada had grave problems with immigration policy six months ago and those problems are even greater today.

Six months ago concern was expressed that Canada was accepting too many immigrants. That is a frank statement I know. It is a statement that will send many stakeholders, as they are called in modern bureaucratic parlance, into a tizzy. It is a fact. Today there are but three major immigrant-accepting countries in the world: Canada, Australia, and the United States.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is fond of talking about immigration targets in percentages, so let us do that. The United States and Australia both take in yearly about .4 per cent of their population as immigrants. This year, as this government frequently points out, Canada will accept 1 per cent of its population as immigrants. That is .25 times the number of immigrants per capita as the next closest immigrant accepting nation on earth, 2.5 times as many immigrants yearly.

The Reform Party on the other hand thinks that Canada should accept about 150,000 immigrants yearly. For this modest proposal my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, accuses us of being inflammatory and anti-immigrant. Getting back to percentages, 150,000 immigrants per year represents about .55 per cent of the population.

Therefore, if the policies of the Reform Party were enacted Canada would still be accepting by a wide margin more immigrants than any other nation on earth, even with that adjustment. For that we have sometimes been accused of being anti-immigrant and inflammatory. Who is being inflammatory: the Reform Party for suggesting that Canada continue to be the leading immigrant-accepting nation on earth, or the minister for suggesting that we are anti-immigrant or that we have an anti-immigrant bias? The answer is more than clear.

The Canadian people have been told that immigration targets were based on facts, that there was data which suggested the necessity of accepting one-quarter of a million immigrants per year. Well, we are still waiting. Where are those facts? They have not been presented in this House and they have not been presented to the Canadian people.

The closest the minister has come to presenting a factual basis for his government's claim that Canada needs to accept the equivalent of the population of Calgary in the next three years has been to dredge up a 1991 report by the Economic Council of Canada, despite the fact that on page 32 of the report in its conclusion it calls this year for a target of about 175,000 immigrants. It also says that 250,000 immigrants per year or more would not be advisable because Canada would have difficulty integrating that level. Some facts, and that is all this minister has been able to produce.

I am happy to say there are facts out there. If this minister is short on empirical data, I would be more than happy to help him with some of the numbers. Here are some facts: Since 1979 the performance of immigrants in the economy has dropped dramatically. It used to be that immigrants had a higher level of education and higher levels of income than Canadians. Well, no more. The sheer number of immigrants means that immigrants are having more and more difficulty adapting socially and economically than they ever did before.

The minister talks about the need to replenish an aging population. The facts are these: Canada's population is not in decline. In fact it is growing and will continue to grow even without immigration until the year 2026, when our population will top 30 million. That is without immigration. From then it would go into a slow decline before levelling off some 100 years from now at between 18 to 20 million. The fact is that even the demographic review says if Canada really wants to increase its population, the way to go about doing that is to create incentives to fertility, in other words within and not through immigration.

The minister has spoken about an aging population and about a demographic shift that can only be cured through immigration. Again the facts are quite different. All the demographic research to date makes it very clear that immigration will never solve the aging of the population. Why? Because immigrants are getting older too. Research has already clearly proven that the average age of immigrants coming into our country is about four years younger than the average age of the Canadian born or the Canadian population.

Research indicates that trying to make the population younger with immigrants will not solve the impending social security crunch. The only way to do that is to raise the productivity of all Canadians, to raise everyone's standard of living in order to replenish and enrich the tax base. Right now, countries like the United Kingdom and Sweden are where Canada will be in the future in terms of an aging population. They have solved the social security crunch not with immigrants but through sensible economic measures.

Those are just some of the facts. Unfortunately, I do not believe this minister has the facts to support the government's contention that 250,000 immigrants are vital to Canada. Why 250,000? Why are these incredibly high immigration numbers maintained? I do not know and I do not believe the Canadian people know. Does the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration have the answer? If he does, where is the data to support it?

When this year's immigration targets were released in February the question remained about selection and the selection process. The government said that of the 250,000 immigrants to Canada this year 44 per cent would be immigrants from the independent class. Those are immigrants who have been selected according to their skills, their education and their ability to quickly adjust to Canada and to make a positive contribution.

The government's own numbers reveal that there is not 44 per cent from the independent class, not 40 per cent, not 30 per cent. In fact only 15 per cent of a quarter of a million immigrants this year will be from the independent class. The minister arrived at this questionable 40 per cent figure by adding to the number of independent immigrants their spouses, their children and their parents, all brought in under the family reunification program.

That is not what we should expect from this department which indicates the minister and the department wants to make the immigration program more transparent for Canadians. Let us lay it all out on the table the way it really should be.

The Reform Party wants to bring some sense back into the refugee system. Canada should be proud of its record of accepting immigrants. Over the past few years no other nation on earth has accepted as many refugees as Canada on a percentage basis of our population. However, our refugee determination system is out of control. We are now accepting as refugees about 70 per cent of all claimants who make it to our shores. The world-wide average for refugee acceptance is 14 per cent. We will accept about 30,000 refugees this year.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has estimated that there are about 60,000 people in the world who meet the description of a true or genuine refugee. That same agency estimates that last year of those 60,000 refugees fully 35,000 did not find a safe refuge. In other words they had no country that would accept them. How is it possible then that Canada could accept 30,000 refugees while the UN estimates that world-wide between all of the refugee receiving nations on earth less than 30,000 refugees were accepted?

The truth is that only a small percentage of the people Canada accepts as real refugees are real refugees. The hard truth is that the majority of people who are granted refugee status in Canada are not refugees at all but economic migrants. These are people who see how attractive Canada is and want to start a new life here. We certainly cannot fault them for that, but they are not real refugees. They are not genuine refugees.

If they desire to start a new life in Canada then they should have the opportunity to apply through regular channels like all other immigrants. Let us leave the quota spots open for real refugees, people who are languishing in camps and are displaced overseas, people who the United Nations tell us are in the most desperate of straits. Those are the truly needy. Those are the most deserving: Rwandans, Bosnians.

The inland refugee determination process is an unbelievably expensive mire. When the minister says that Canada is living up to its humanitarian commitments, that just will not wash. We are not. We could be doing far more with far less.

On page 337 of this year's estimates under the Department of Citizenship and Immigration we read that the inland refugee claims cost Canadian taxpayers anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 just to process their claims. Those are direct costs. Multiply that out and the bill to Canadian taxpayers is somewhere around $750 million to $1.25 billion, just to settle 16,000 people whose refugee claims are accepted inland. It is easy to misunderstand big numbers like these until they are put into the correct perspective. Allow me to put that billion dollar number into perspective.

The entire budget last year for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was just over $1 billion. With that amount of money the UN resettled or repatriated five million refugees. With that amount of money Canada resettled 16,000. There is something wrong.

The refugee determination system is an injustice of mammoth proportions. Not only is it an injustice to Canadian taxpayers who have to foot the bill, but also to those tens of thousands of desperate genuine refugees overseas who are literally bumped

off the list to make way for economic migrants who arrive, along with some refugees, and claim refugee status in Canada.

The minister is aware of these facts. The minister is more than aware of the outcry which has been issuing forth from Canadians over some of the people the Immigration and Refugee Board is either allowing into the country or allowing to stay when their deportations are appealed.

Several weeks ago in this House the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration promised to get tough with the system. Those are fine words but they do not correlate with his actions. This get tough minister has to answer for the following record which he has created in just six months on the job.

The number of refugees accepted through the inland determination system has skyrocketed even from the non-refugee producing nations.

This minister has appointed several dozen of the most unrepresentative appointees to the IRB that have ever graced the board. The vast majority of them have been immigration lawyers or advocates. It is little wonder that the acceptance rate has gone through the roof.

He has supervised the expanding of the definition of refugee well beyond what it used to mean in Canada. It is well beyond anything the UN which wrote the definition ever intended. He intends to create a whole new layer for refugee determination, making it easier for failed refugee claimants to stay in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. All this is to happen in six months.

The minister says he wants to do what all Canadians want for the refugee system. They want a fair, sensible system that is humanitarian, which takes care of those who are genuine refugees. We want to do our international share but we are not doing that.

The minister says he wants to get tough. That is what we need to do. We need to get tough with the inland refugee determination system so that we can channel more of our resources into helping people who we know need the most help. That is not happening. Instead, the system is being fed this massive immigration and refugee bureaucracy. It feeds this massive industry of advocates and lawyers who are earning more than a decent living at the expense of the taxpayer and real refugees.

Some years ago Canada began the process of drafting a treaty agreement with the United States relating to asylum. This treaty would mutually recognize Canada and the U.S. as safe third countries for the purpose of asylum. The effect of such a treaty would be to stop people from asylum shopping between Canada and the United States. It would prevent those with the economic wherewithal to travel from passing through the United States before entering Canada and declaring themselves to be refugees.

This is not a hard measure. This is not an inhumane measure. It is common sense. This process should stop. Over 7,000 people last year travelled through the United States before registering a refugee claim in Canada. That caused an enormous drain on our refugee determination system and has the effect, once again, of limiting our ability to divert our resources to those refugees who need our help the most.

There have been calls for the minister to sign the agreement which has been in the drafting stage for some time now but he refuses. The minister says that until the United States adopts a refugee determination system similar to Canada's, he will not enter into the treaty. I can assure the minister that will not happen. The Americans will never adopt our system.

Canada has an international reputation for accepting almost anyone as a refugee who manages to make it here. This year, almost 70 per cent of all claimants have been accepted as refugees. The U.S. would never agree to adopt our system. In fact it is talking otherwise. Neither will Australia and neither will Europe.

I believe the minister, before he left for the western European nations really could not teach those European nations much about immigration that would be acceptable to them. It is time for Canada to sign the treaty with the United States. It should have been signed a long time ago. It is not enough just to talk tough. There has to be some action.

Since this department began its operation, the minister promised he would consult Canadians to determine what the future would hold in terms of immigration policy. The minister is spending $1 million to set up town halls, to distribute questionnaires around the country in order to determine what Canadians think about immigration. At least that is what he says.

In fact the concluding document of the Montebello meeting where this consultation process was devised makes the minister's real intention more than clear. In the document, we read of the need to convince the majority of Canadians who oppose current immigration levels that they are wrong and that the government is right. We read of the need for public education. We read of constructively engaging the press and putting a positive spin on ultra high immigration levels. That is called consulting when in fact it is nothing of the sort.

The Reform Party stands for including the public in national debates on vital issues. It is necessary. The minister knows that Canadians want to be included, so this process was set up. Is it to pacify Canadians? Is it to make them feel included when the real goal is to shut them out by controlling the dialogue? It is a good question to ask.

Needless to say the Reform Party wants all Canadians to have their voices heard in the immigration debate. In fact we want to let Canadians decide the major immigration issues by way of national referenda. Why could there not be a referendum on the levels, the numbers and why should there not be one on the selection process? It is quite easily arranged. However there will be no immigration debate under this government. There will be an immigration mandate. If Canadians do not like it, then they can attend one of the education classes to learn how to properly think about immigration.

The minister said that he wanted an expanded role for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. What has been done? The committee has derailed the important work and a strawman issue has been developed instead. The minister has decided that the Citizenship Act needs to be rewritten. He has decided that the committee needs to spend its valuable time looking at issues that no one thought needed review at this point in time, certainly not a review that would cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, a review that would take up weeks of the committee's time, a review that will call on Pierre Trudeau and Mr. Dressup to tell us what it means to be a Canadian.

What a waste of time. The committee ought to be spending its time reviewing the very questionable appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board. It ought to be examining the effect that the highest rate of immigration in the world is having on Canada. It ought to be looking at ways to make the refugee determination system more effective, more humanitarian. Instead the minister insists that we redefine Canadian citizenship. Is that reasonable?

It was revealed to the House that immigrants are not tested for HIV before entering Canada. They are tested for TB. They are screened for cancer or kidney disease. They are tested for syphilis. But there is no testing for AIDS.

After this revelation the minister promised to look into the issue and take the necessary steps to bring Canada's medical testing requirement into the 20th century. That was a month ago. What action has been taken? Nothing.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

An hon. member

No committee?

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

No improvement. At one time immigration was a boon for Canada. It could be again. But in order for immigration to play a positive role, in order to truly balance the needs of Canada against our humanitarian role in the world, we need to bring a little common sense into the debate. We need to make tough decisions. Talking tough is not enough. Talking about lie detector tests and opening the doors even wider to inland refugee claimants and appointing people with vested interests to the Immigration and Refugee Board is the height of hypocrisy. It is pandering to the old style. Talk tough and then take the opposite direction.

Canadians expected more from this government, much more, but they have gotten the same old gang. Nothing has changed. It is just getting worse. With the consolidation of the functions of immigration and citizenship in one department came a mandate to really do some good: to respond to Canadians, to make some changes that would benefit newcomers to Canada and Canadians born here. But we have nothing of the sort. Canadians are demanding change. They want immigration levels to be tied to economic cycles. They want immigration to have a positive net effect on the economy. That is not too much to ask. The world's other immigrant receiving nations tie immigration levels to the state of the economy. Why do we not?

In fact one of the provinces sets immigration levels to the economic priorities of the province, the province of Quebec. I believe that the government has something to learn from what the province of Quebec is doing on immigration levels.

Canadians are telling me that the bulk of immigrants, not just a tiny percentage, should be chosen by Canada as independent immigrants. We need immigrants. We need immigrants with education, high tech skills, an ability to quickly adapt and contribute. Instead 85 per cent of immigrants are not chosen by Canada. They chose us.

It is neither unreasonable nor uncompassionate for Canadians to demand that those immigrants who come to Canada be chosen by Canada. The minister knows that. He has had the time to react or enact reform that would ensure that a higher percentage of immigrants are hand picked but that has not been done. If anything, the number of independent immigrants could actually be falling.

We need this new ministry to fundamentally re-examine the refugee determination system, a review that is more than just window dressing and more than just adding new layers of bureaucracy in an attempt to streamline. It is time to make the refugee system answer to taxpayers and to answer to a world-wide need for Canada to accept a higher percentage of UN recognized overseas refugees.

Canadians want the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to have the sort of review and reporting power the government has promised. The committee should be choosing its agenda rather than having an agenda handed down to them from the minister in order that it be distracted from the real job at hand. Immigration is in trouble in Canada. Never has a higher percentage of Canadians expressed such opposition to the current immigration policy.

The Financial Post over the weekend reported that even the government's backbenchers are expressing outrage and frustration in their communities over an immigration policy which has gone wrong.

Canadians recognize, rightly, that immigration is no longer working for anyone. It is not working for Canada. It is not working for immigrants. Most disappointing of all, the minister in the past six months has not taken any substantial action to solve the immigration problems. In fact he has exacerbated them by increasing the levels, loosening the refugee system, appointing the wrong people to the IRB, and trying to manipulate the opinions of Canadians.

I would caution the minister. The Canadian people are not easily manipulated. It is time to start listening. It is time to take real action, action that is in line with the get tough promises that the minister made in the past.

I wish the minister success for the sake of Canada and for the future of immigration to Canada. I hope he does well but if the past several months of the workings of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration are any indication I am not optimistic.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I would advise the House that we are now on 20 minutes for debate and 10 minutes for questions and comments.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to rise and take part in this debate today. Although this effectively is basically a piece of housekeeping legislation, it nonetheless has quite significant meaning.

The previous government had moved the Department of Immigration into the realm of public security as if perhaps there was some danger to the security of Canada to be feared from those who choose to come here or who come here to find refuge from countries where law and order and justice and those values that we treasure so dearly in Canada are not treasured quite as dearly.

We on this side of the House do not feel we have anything to fear from people who seek to come to this country for a variety of reasons. We on this side of the House are proud that Canada is one of only four countries in the world which receives people.

There is a certain amount of babbling going on across the way, but I shall endeavour to rise above it. The hon. member from Calgary tells me he is returning the favour. He should return it slightly more sharply. I might appreciate it more.

In any case, there are a number of points that were raised by the other hon. member from Calgary who is the third party critic for immigration and citizenship. A couple of those I would like to address because I was offended. I want to say that I was offended.

I am offended that the hon. member does not think that citizenship is important in this country. I am offended that here in this wonderful and historic Chamber, the Chamber of Laurier and Macdonald and Trudeau, that someone who represents the people of Canada could think that citizenship is not important, that someone could suggest that the people who have been requested to give their opinions on the review of the Citizenship Act are somehow not of importance.

I am surprised this would be the response. I am surprised given the very hard work that has been put in over the last number of weeks and the hard work that will be continued into this review on citizenship. I am surprised and a little bit disappointed. To be quite frank, I am a lot disappointed. However, in the words of a former great cabinet minister in this House, the late Angus L. Macdonald, when he was premier of Nova Scotia, perhaps one should just consider the source.

I have a few other things that I would like to say. First of all, I am absolutely astounded at the numbers that the hon. member suggests are legitimate refugees. We know that the displacements in the world, the horrors in the former Yugoslavia, the problems in numerous African countries, and the problems with totalitarian governments in other areas of this world have created an unprecedented number of refugees.

To hear the hon. member speak, you would think this was not even a ripple on the horizon. That is just not so. There are more refugees than that in one refugee camp. The hon. member should retract that statement. However, I leave that to his notable good judgement.

I am also absolutely astounded at his percentages. There are words that can be quoted, for example his very famous quotation that even the devil can quote Scripture. With regard to his statement that the percentages that we are allowing in are somehow at an unprecedented high, if the hon. member would like to look back just to two or three years ago, he would see that the number of refugees accepted in this country was higher by, I believe, 12 per cent than it is today. Where we are is definitely within the normal realm of acceptance of refugees.

He talked about the 14 per cent that is the world average. Of course that would be the world average if we add in all those myriad countries that do not accept any at all. Either the hon. member's logic or his mathematics tends to suffer. Of course it would be unkind of me to say that, so I will not.

I also want to talk about something the hon. member raised with regard to the fact that people coming into Canada are not tested for HIV and that the minister promised to do something about it four weeks ago. The hon. member should know-I thought he knew; maybe he does not know-that the enabling legislation and regulation on medical matters under this department's aegis has remained unchanged for 40 years.

Perhaps the hon. member advocates a screaming leap into the void by the government without a proper review before bringing in legislation and amendments, but I want to make perfectly clear that neither this minister nor the department has any intention of bringing legislation before this House until it is adequately prepared and until the situation is adequately covered. That is the way good government works, to make sure that when we bring in legislation to change things that definitely need to be changed in this country, that we have covered all the bases. In other words, going from A to B to C to D will probably

prevent grief as opposed to jumping from A to D and probably falling in a ditch, if I may mix my metaphors, on the way there.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Careful the wheels don't fall off.

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Oh no, they will not fall off. The hon. member for Edmonton knows very well that will not happen.

The figures and statistics quoted by the hon. member for Calgary were most puzzling, given in particular that I know he has received many of the briefings from the department. For example, the $30,000 to $50,000 for the processing of a refugee in Canada is far out of line. That is so incorrect as to almost be ludicrous except for the fact that when the hon. member stands in this House and makes this statement with his authority as a member of Parliament, people out there might believe that he was accurate if it was not corrected, if the facts were not brought forward.

It reminds me of the old joke I know what I believe in, don't confuse me with facts. The facts are that when a processing costs that much-oh, they are getting upset, calm down, take a Prozac-it occurs when all avenues of the system are being exhausted. In other words, that includes an appeal to the Federal Court of Canada. It includes all of the side venues that may be taken by a refugee in dealing with the Immigration and Refugee Board. It is not the average. It is not even close to the average. What is particularly offensive is that the hon. member knows that. If he does not know it, he should try and find out.

What we are talking about ostensibly today is the setting up of the immigration and citizenship department. This is long overdue. It is very important. What it does is streamline and modernize government to give government the tools needed to deal effectively with all of the complex citizenship and immigration issues.

On that note, it is necessary to remind hon. members opposite who sometimes look at the area of immigration with perhaps, forgive me, a less than generous attitude of mind that these are very complicated issues. We live in very complicated times.

In my travels around the country since I was honoured to be appointed the parliamentary secretary to the minister, I have talked to many, many people about the subject of immigration. I am absolutely edified every time I come away from town hall meetings, meetings with NGOs, meetings with people who live and work on the front lines of day to day Canadian society dealing with the settlement of new Canadians. I am edified at the generosity, at the open hearts of communities across the country, at the belief in the hearts of average Canadians that immigration is something that built this country, that immigration is good for this country and that continued and expanding immigration can only improve this country. Every one of us here is an immigrant. Whether we came here 50 years ago, 200 years ago or whether, like my hon. colleague the member for the Eastern Arctic, we came across the land bridge from Asia 5,000 years ago, we are all immigrants.

I look around on this side of the House right now. Just in front of me I can see four different ethnocultural backgrounds. Over here in this corner we have too many Irish people. However, that is the glory and the wonder of this country, that we come here together, that we represent all the aspects of Canada at its most diverse and that we continue to do so. Immigration is what made this country strong. Immigration is what made it diverse and immigration is what will keep it strong, diverse and unified.

I think it is a little sad that some of our colleagues are not prepared to understand just how important not just for Canada to thrive but the survival of Canada the continued inter-weaving of this mosaic is. We are not a white-red country. We are not a country that is homogenized and ever so slightly dull. Sometimes it can be a little too exciting living in this country, fortunately not dangerously so but sometimes stressfully so.

I do not think that any one of us, certainly on this side of the House, would change where we live. I do not think we really want to change the conditions under which we live our day to day lives in spite of some of the things we hear from day to day. In spite of some of the things that are said I think we as Canadians understand just how desperately important the peace and security of this country is to our continued success.

Part and parcel of that is the way the government deals with immigration. The government feels so strongly that on the day the government was sworn in the Prime Minister stated that the creation of a separate Department of Citizenship and Immigration under its own minister which would bring together all immigration policy and program activities currently in the Public Security and Human Resources portfolios plus the citizenship registration and promotion programs of the Canadian heritage department would be established. This is what this legislation is doing.

I might make a comment also on some remarks made by the critic from the Official Opposition when he talked about the fact that there was confusion because of overlap between immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism. With the greatest of respect to the hon. member, I beg to differ. I beg to differ with the hon. member on a number of things but I beg to differ, there is no confusion. Yes, there are overlapping areas. This is only sensible and only to be expected because clearly there are areas in all three that tend to come together.

I want to assure the hon. member that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration along with the Department of Multiculturalism are very clear where the complementary and where the overlapping policies lie. This government has a very strong commitment in each of the areas to ensure that policy and program go forward in the best interests of all Canadians from coast to coast.

The hon. member needs to be reassured that we on this side are not confused, just as the hon. member from Calgary needs to be reassured and perhaps to a degree re-educated on the benefits of immigration to Canada. I feel most strongly that the hon. member is missing out both as a member of Parliament and as a Canadian if he continues under this misapprehension with regard to the benefits that immigration brings to this country. I think he also misses out if he feels that somehow the number of people who come to this country-

Department Of Citizenship And Immigration ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

That was so good we will let you continue after question period.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

The Late Arthur AndrewStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to pay tribute to a truly great Canadian, Ambassador Arthur Andrew.

The late Mr. Andrew was a resident of Halifax and I am proud to say my friend. He made a career out of promoting Canada and Canadian values. He described himself as a professional Canadian; a very accurate phrase indeed. He had a distinguished 32-year career with the Department of External Affairs serving in various high ranking diplomatic posts across the globe, including ambassador to Israel, Sweden and Greece. He was assistant undersecretary of state for External Affairs for three years.

After this major career with the Department of External Affairs, Mr. Andrew became a professor at the University of Kings College in Halifax. While teaching at Kings he continued to be involved in Canadian diplomacy and foreign policy publishing many articles on these issues. He also was one of three founders of the Ethiopian airlift out of Halifax along with our colleague the MP for Don Valley West and Peter Dalglish.

On behalf of the House of Commons I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to Arthur's wife, Joyce; his daughters, Stephanie and Victoria; and to the rest of the family. He was truly a great Canadian.

Restricted WeaponsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian citizens are still allowed to own a very large number of military and paramilitary weapons and they can also own revolvers as long as they first obtain a free certificate. A majority of Quebecers and Canadians favour a complete ban on these weapons. I think that there should be a ban on the possession of military-and paramilitary-type weapons and of most semi-automatic weapons.

It is unacceptable that the Mini-Ruger 14 used in the Polytechnic massacre is still a legal weapon in Canada. This and other types of weapons cannot be tolerated in a free and democratic society.

We can no longer hide from the reality that weapons are a scourge in our society. And we can no longer ignore the smuggling of military armaments and weapons of all kinds that the Liberal government prefers not to see. The time to act is now.

Comments In ChamberStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to apologize to all members of the House, aboriginals and residents of the Atlantic provinces who have been offended by remarks I made or was alleged to have made in the House recently.

From the controversy over my remarks I have learned that it is not wise in the political arena and in front of the media to use the same techniques I have employed successfully during my long career as a lecturer. In the future I will be very careful in the use of strong analogies and illustrations to bring out crucial points of analysis.

The main point of my remarks was that the policies of the government toward those in need of support require a fundamental re-examination because they have not worked. These policies have created dependence and significant social problems. New approaches to these problems are needed.

I am saddened that analogies taken out of context and the misrepresentation of my basic points have distracted from an open and frank discussion of problems which are of vital importance for the well-being of all Canadians.

Judging from the messages I have received, very many Canadians want to see such a discussion.

Second International Kite FestivalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

Mr. Speaker, from June 2 to June 5, the city of Verdun hosted the second international kite festival. Fifteen countries were represented and 54 special guests displayed their skills. A total of 200 people participated. I myself had fun as both a spectator and a participant.

At least 150,000 spectators came and all agreed that it was a great show.

I commend Georges Bossé, the Mayor of Verdun, for his work and Sandra Carmichael for organizing the event. I also want to thank the team of 200 volunteers who showed unequalled community spirit.

The atmosphere was fantastic and the festival was a success.

Food And Agriculture OrganizationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, today at a press conference in Quebec City the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food together with other governments involved announced that Canada and the province of Quebec, Quebec City, and the Food and Agriculture Organization would host an international symposium from October 11 to October 13, 1995 to commemorate the founding of the FAO in Quebec City 50 years ago.

Canada played a leading role in preparing the groundwork for the FAO's founding through an interim commission chaired by Lester B. Pearson. The organization has grown from 42 to 171 members since 1945 and has carried out field projects in more than 140 countries around the world.

The 50th anniversary of the FAO will be October 16, 1995-

Food And Agriculture OrganizationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for St. Boniface.

High School GraduatesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all parliamentarians, I want to congratulate our high school graduates across the country.

Congratulations to all our high school students. We wish them well in the future, whatever path they choose to follow, whether it is further education or entering the work force.

Graduation normally means parties, and we want to alert the young people to be careful. Driving to and from parties can be dangerous. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid drinking. If possible it should be avoided. If that cannot be done there is a program called Safegrad, managed almost totally by students.

Safegrad has a program to help increase travel safety and to ensure that if drinking takes place it is done under safer conditions.

On behalf of all those who love you a lot, I urge all graduates to be careful.

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the president of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Mr. Claude Corbo, concluded to the failure of a federal policy. Indeed, by stressing ethnical and cultural features, the Canadian policy on multiculturalism leads immigrants to the impasse resulting from a fragmented culture and an extended marginalization.

According to Mr. Corbo, the efforts made by the federal government for ethnic and cultural communities are suspicious. Mr. Corbo added that the policy could increase the minorization of the Quebec identity or to rob it of its originality.

We can only conclude that this policy, which dates back to the Trudeau era, has failed in two ways. Indeed, on the one hand, it has not helped integrate minority groups, while on the other hand it has failed, in spite of the unspeakable objectives of its architects, to rob the Quebec identity of its originality.

The FamilyStatements By Members

June 13th, 1994 / 2:05 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the importance of the Canadian family is beyond question. It is vital to the well-being of our society. It is vital to the nurturing of our children. It is vital to the preservation of our sense of justice, our values and our convictions.

Given the significance of the family's role in society, state or special interest agendas must not be allowed to diminish the role of the family. The freedom of the family to raise its children according to its own unique needs and convictions must be

preserved. Government programs should encourage rather than discourage parental responsibility for their family and any trends that demean the role of the family must be challenged.

Canadian families have been lacking a clear, strong federal voice. My colleagues and I intend to change that and provide leadership by speaking for the family and developing policy alternatives that would encourage, strengthen and protect the fabric of this most basic unit of our society.

National Transportation WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about National Transportation Week which took place last week, June 5 to June 11.

The importance of the transportation component to business is fundamental. We are reminded of it almost every day. Transportation plays an essential role in the competitive cycle. In the business community where advantages are harder than ever to come by, efficient, intermodal and competitively priced transportation is essential to success.

With the emergence of a truly global economy, the ability to forecast and adapt to international and national change is essential for transportation.

Given the world-wide demand for effective intermodal services, it is most appropriate the theme of the 25th National Transportation Week was "Intermodalism: The Perfect Fit".

We can also be proud of the dedication, professionalism and hard work of the scores of men and women who keep our transportation industries on the go year round.

Department Of The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House as well as all other Canadians of the anniversary of the Department of the Environment last Saturday, June 11.

In just 23 years Environment Canada has made significant contributions to our understanding of the environment and the consequences of our interaction with it. The department in broadening its approach to environmental issues no longer focuses on individual problems but treats the entire ecosystem as a unit of interdependent elements.

In keeping with the department's quest for sustainable development and the notion that everything we do affects the environment, we as Canadians should continue to do what we can to help preserve our planet for the future.

The Late Rabbi Menachem Mendel SchneersonStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


David Berger Liberal Saint-Henri—Westmount, QC

Mr. Speaker, those concerned about humanist values and religious faith have lost a powerful voice and a champion with the passing of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, spiritual leader of the Lubavitch Hasidic community.

Rabbi Schneerson operated from Brooklyn but his was a vision without boundaries and without borders. He was not a parochial figure. He cared and spoke for people of all walks of life and in all parts of the world.

He was a tireless supporter of prayer in schools, Christian as well as Jewish. He built the movement which today has representatives in every centre of Jewish life working to build a better quality of life for Jews and non-Jews alike.

We are witnessing in his departure the end of an era. I am sure, though, that it is not the end of the ideals of Jewish values and Jewish internationalism which he championed.

I would ask all members of the House to join me in extending our condolences to the Lubavitch community and our hope that his inspiration will help them to continue his good work.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday's issue of the daily Le Droit mentions that a report tabled in the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages reveals, once again, the true nature of Canadian federalism. The Prime Minister refers to an idyllic country where one can freely express himself or herself in French from coast to coast. However, that vision does not reflect the daily reality in the federal public service.

Indeed, some French-speaking civil servants feel they could be severely penalized, by being isolated, excluded or by having their career opportunities affected, if they express their right to work in their mother tongue. The notion of a bilingual Canada was probably a nice dream, but the fact is that the public service is not bilingual: francophones are merely tolerated. Also, Canada is not recognized as the union, based on equality, of two founding nations, since Quebec is also merely tolerated in that federation.

The FamilyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, Reform Party principles are designed to preserve and strengthen the family of Canada.

Reforming our parliamentary system and putting the levers of direct democracy into the hands of Canadians will ensure that family values carry more weight with the federal government. It will also ensure that national policies reflect the interests of all Canadians and their families rather than the interests of a politically connected elite.

Through fiscal and economic reforms the burden of taxation would be reduced, sparing tomorrow's families the economic consequences of still more borrowing and wasteful spending.

Reform's tax policies would ensure fair treatment for families. Through our party's reforms to the justice system we would place the rights of victims and protection of families above the rights of criminals, making our schools and streets safer places for our children to learn and play.

These are the common sense policies that families across the nation want and need.

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, it was my intent to rise today to ask for an apology from the Reform member for Capilano-Howe Sound for his insulting and unacceptable comments to the people of Atlantic Canada.

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I take it the member still wants to continue with a statement. I would again remind all hon. members that we should not be attacking each other personally. We should be attacking, if need be, ideas. I would caution all of us not to attack each other personally.

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

From the first days of Confederation, Atlantic Canadians have worked to make a contribution to our country.

I would ask that all members of the House when they have questions about what we contribute in Atlantic Canada to feel free to come to any one of the Atlantic members of the House and put their questions before they make any statements, such as what was made in the House.

I am very pleased today to hear that the member has apologized to our people. They are wonderful people, very warm.