House of Commons Hansard #206 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.


The House resumed from May 12 consideration of the motion that Bill C-316, an act to amend the Immigration Act and the Transfer of Offenders Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario


Mac Harb LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate the hon. member on his initiative. I know how hard he has worked in order to introduce this private member's bill. His constituents are very fortunate to have him as their representative. He is hard working and I wish him well.

The bill relates to immigrants or refugees in Canada who have criminal records. On the surface the bill would help the government deport those refugees or immigrants immediately after sentencing provided a provision is made to pass the authority to the provinces to deal with this issue.

On the surface the bill makes a lot of sense. It is precise and to the point. However, it causes quite a bit of confusion when one goes a little deeper into it.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has already indicated publicly that he supports the intent and the spirit of the bill but has raised a number of concerns which I will reiterate. On November 1, 1994 the minister tabled a document entitled "Into the 21st Century: A Strategy for Immigration and Citizenship". He made a number of comments but I will mention only a couple which I believe are relevant to the legislation before us.

The minister said: "A number of legislative changes will be considered to the control and enforcement provision of the act. For example, currently deportation orders can only be issued by an immigration official. Consideration is being given to authorizing judges to issue deportation orders at the time of sentencing rather than requiring a separate step".

He also said there may be other improvements we can usher into the system. One such recommendation coming from chiefs of police is to permit judges to not recommend deportation at the time of sentencing but to order deportation at the time of sentencing so that the system is leaner and the issues of individuals are all dealt with at the right time and that there is full due process for the individual, counsel and lawyer to react to the judge's ordering of a deportation rather than recommending and then having it go back to immigration and before an immigration appeal division and so on.

In other words, the minister is already trying to streamline the process and make it easier for the justice system to deport people with criminal records who are here as refugees or landed immigrants.

He further stated that as parliamentarians we should be interested in this issue and also be prepared to look at making the relevant amendments if we think the amendments will work, which is very important, and if we think those amendments are fair. The minister supports the spirit and the intent of bill C-316. However, I will outline some concerns of the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Immigration falls under federal jurisdiction when it comes to deliberation and delivery of the justice system. If we were to pass on this jurisdiction to the provincial level there would be a number of problems. The department which deals with the issue of immigration is not the same department which deals with delivery of other relevant aspects of immigration.

If this were transferred to the provinces since this is where the issue would fall under Bill C-316, we would have to introduce training for judges and lawyers in some cases. That would cause more delays. Over and over we have seen cases tossed out of court because they were delayed for too long. It would mean more appeals. We already have an overloaded provincial court system.

When dealing with the provincial justice system we know attorneys can make recommendations to the court based on a number of factors which are not part of immigration agenda but are a part of other aspects of the justice system such as plea bargaining. Judges would then require proof beyond a reasonable doubt which would make the issue before the court difficult to prove.

This legislation contravenes the charter of rights when it comes to challenges. A number of sections could be challenged such as section 11(h) which deals with double punishment. It could be argued that deportation is a second form of punishment in addition to any other sentence; only a non-citizen would be subject to this punishment.

Section 12 deals with cruel and unusual punishment. It could be argued that removing the permanent resident from Canada would offend standards of decency by denying for life the person's right to be with family and friends.

Under section 15, equality under the law, it could be argued that permanent residents were being treated differently from Canadian citizens under the law. Two persons convicted of the same offence would be subject to different consequences based on their immigrant status.

Simply by looking at these recommendations from both the Department of Justice and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, while the intent of the bill is good I suggest my colleague might want to take it back and look at it with the view that if anything is put before the House it should be consistent with the charter of rights and freedoms and should meet the criteria set out by the Department of Justice and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I remind members that when in doubt in seeking the floor please rise; do not depend on any lists that might or might not be in circulation.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill which if successful and sufficiently improved could be a good first step in ensuring the quick deportation of foreign born criminals.

I appreciate the work the Canadian Police Association has done on the bill. I appreciate that my colleague from the Liberal Party was brave enough to sponsor it. Clearly the goals of the bill are not shared by the minister of immigration. If they were, these measures would have been amended to Bill C-44 when it was up for debate.

The minister knew the recommendations of the Canadian Police Association but chose not to act on them. He chose to ignore these common sense measures which, when the legal language is cleared up by a competent lawyer, would take a small step toward ensuring non-citizens who commit serious crimes in Canada will make two stops after they leave the court room, one to the prison and one to the airport where, unless Canadian immigration allows them to run away on the tarmac as was the case last week, they will be sent where they belong, out of Canada.

The bill has a lot of serious problems that will require serious study and fixing before the bill can be made effective. I trust it is the intention of my colleague to work on these weak points. I hope the bill is not window dressing, the sort of smoke and mirrors tactics the minister of immigration loves to engage in.

My colleague from Cariboo-Chilcotin dealt with the bill's problems admirably during the last hour of debate. I will not beat that dead horse. However, before the bill goes any further it is necessary to look at the big picture of deportations. It is necessary to understand what the Reform Party wants to see with deportation policy.

The Reform Party's stand on non-citizen criminals is clear, simple and in line with what the majority of Canadians want, something the minister for immigration would have a hard time understanding. Our policy for non-citizen criminals would not result from bargaining with special interests or with refugee lawyers but from consulting with our members, our constituents and with the people of Canada.

I am sure my hon. colleague, the sponsor of the bill, understands what the people are saying on immigration matters. I understand a lot of Liberal backbenchers are feeling the heat from their constituents. It is too bad they cannot do anything about it. It is too bad they have to toe the Liberal Party line.

We believe that the people who have not exercised a claim to Canadian citizenship or who have not lived in the country long enough to claim citizenship and who commit serious crimes have violated a moral contract entered into with the people of Canada.

The Reform Party believes that immigration to Canada is a privilege, not a right. We believe that the people of Canada, the citizens of Canada, have the collective right to determine who comes into Canada, how many people are allowed to come into Canada and under what conditions.

A newcomer to this country enters into a moral contract with Canada. There are several terms of that contract. The most important of them is that the newcomer must abide by the laws of this country. There is nothing that angers my constituents like recently arrived immigrants to Canada who commit crime. That drives them up the wall, and rightly so. Canadians collectively have the right to be morally outraged when the wonderful gift of Canadian residency is extended and then the recipient of that gift violates our laws.

We are above all else a nation of laws. That defines Canada. We demand of anyone who immigrates here that those laws are to be respected. That is a demand. When someone ignores that demand, violates the moral contract with Canadians and makes a

mockery of the Canadian generosity by breaking the law, then that person should be removed quickly and permanently.

I challenge the government. I challenge the immigration minister and the Prime Minister to poll Canadians, ask Canadians if they feel that newcomers who break the law should be removed quickly and permanently. Mr. Speaker, I will bet you Sergio Marchi's pension that they will say yes.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members


Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

An hon. member

You know better. You are not a rookie any more.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I am sure that although we have been away from this place for a week, colleagues will remember very well the traditions and rules of the House in referring to one another either by riding name or portfolio in terms of ministry.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will heed that caution.

Immigrants are responsible for a small percentage of crime in Canada. Immigrants are under represented in Canadian prisons. That speaks to the character of immigrants to Canada. That speaks to the gratitude of the immigrant population. The immigrant population, like in all populations, there are some who will break the law.

Immigrants have come to me on a tragically regular basis asking me to do something about crime in their communities. When we deport foreign born criminals, we are not picking on immigrants; we are protecting them. Immigrants come to this country seeking a better life and because the overwhelming majority of immigrants do not break the law, Canada has a duty to ensure that the problems and the crime that many immigrants have left behind in their countries of origin stay there, out of Canada. That is our duty.

Do immigrants who break the law deserve to be doubly punished? No. Should they serve more time because they are immigrants? No way. However, if a non-citizen breaks the law then they have done more than just violate our law, for which the criminal justice system will deal with them. They have also broken a moral contract: they have broken their promise to obey the laws of the country they have adopted and that has adopted them.

As a result of the violation of that contract Canada has the right to say we don't want to include them in our national family. We have the right to view that period of time between the date the newcomer comes to this country and the date they receive their citizenship as a period of probation. If that probation is violated, then there is no onus on Canada to provide a home for that person any longer.

The Reform Party supports quick deportation after conviction. We will support this bill on the condition that the gaping holes in this legislation are plugged by the committee. We will cooperate with the sponsor of this bill to work out those problems, despite the fact that those are huge problems as the bill is presently written.

Today let me speak briefly to one of the big problems in this legislation, and that is the problem of reciprocal agreements with other countries.

This bill says that a criminal court judge can only order deportation back to countries with which we have a co-operative agreement. In other words, the only countries we can deport people to are countries that say they will take them back.

The problem we run into is that a lot of our foreign-born criminals come from countries that are notorious for not taking back their own. What is this bill going to do about that problem, the so-called travel document problem? It does nothing except to give in to it. That is not good enough. It means that a large part of the overall problem will not be dealt with by this legislation.

I do not expect my colleague to be able to single handedly fix that problem, but the government can fix the problem. The inability to secure travel documents is no excuse for not being able to deport.

The Reform Party today is putting this government on notice that we will no longer accept the excuse of not being able to get travel documents. We give away far too much foreign aid for that excuse to be valid. If a country will not take back its citizens who commit crime in Canada, then the minister of immigration should recommend to the Minister of Foreign Affairs that all foreign aid in any form be suspended to that country until they change their tune.

No deportation, no foreign aid: it is a simple solution. Most of the solutions to Canada's immigration problems are simple ones. They only require a little political will.

I thank my hon. colleague for sponsoring this legislation. I hope this gesture has implications within his caucus. I hope we can impress on the immigration minister the need to get serious with immigration policy. So far the minister has not figured that out.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The hon. member for Roberval would like to raise a point of order. Please give me a moment, as I would like to check something.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to raise my point of order. I would like to seek from the House unanimous consent for an emergency debate. I realize that, according to the order of business-I will

be brief-such a request can normally be made only after the regular period of routine proceedings, which will end at approximately 3.15 p.m. today.

However, given the importance of the issue in question and the need to prepare ourselves for the debate, if the House were to accept my proposal, I think that you would find unanimous consent in this House for the following motion: "That the House take into consideration the situation of Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia-Hercegovina".

Given the extremely serious situation there, it is important that the House immediately consider this request for a three hour emergency debate, to begin at 6.00 p.m. The details of the debate could be worked out with the government later, but it is important that we immediately make up our minds on the necessity of the debate.

Therefore, I would ask my colleagues whether they will give their unanimous consent right now to holding a debate at 6.00 p.m. tonight on the situation of the peacekeepers, an extremely important issue.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Firstly, I would like to thank the hon. member for Roberval for his patience while I verified the rules governing this process. I give the floor to the parliamentary secretary to the Leader of the Government.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on the same point. I can see the hon. member's point of view, but I am quite surprised that he did not inform me that he planned to introduce this motion this morning.

I am prepared, to enter into discussion with him. We are always willing to entertain such discussions with hon. members in the opposition when they have suggestions concerning House business. However, I am aware of no such discussions on the subject this morning.

In the normal course the hon. member and others may wish to bring forward an application under Standing Order 52 at three o'clock. I think it is entirely appropriate that this be done, and the Speaker then will consider whether the circumstances exist for an emergency debate.

Tomorrow is an opposition day. It has been designated as such and it is available for discussion on the subject should the opposition choose. There is plenty of opportunity for the House to engage in the debate, and I do not feel there is need for us to set aside business and indeed the hon. member is not suggesting that we set aside the business that is scheduled today for the House. I suggest we proceed with it at this time.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Before I give the hon. member for Calgary Centre the floor I would like to remind the House to be cautious. I do not intend to get into the debate at this time. As soon as possible I would like to put the question to the House with respect to the request from the hon. member for Roberval for unanimous consent. I do not want to prejudge what the decision of the House might be in the matter.

I will hear the hon. member for Calgary Centre on a brief intervention.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like you to clarify whether in fact under the standing orders other business can be brought up or new items can be brought up during Private Members' Business. Do we not have to stick to the agenda for the hour and then seek unanimous consent? I am just questioning the timing of the request.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

That is exactly the point I was taking time to get more information on while I asked the hon. member for Roberval to be patient before getting the floor.

I have been assured that the request can be made for unanimous consent at any time and the House will deal with the question as it arises.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the hon. member for Red Deer has already made an application to the government to have an emergency debate on Bosnia.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Let me deal with the matter at hand, following the intervention of the hon. member for Roberval.

You have heard the hon. member for Roberval's arguments for unanimous consent. Is there unanimous consent?

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)


Therefore, let us resume debate.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Bernie Collins Liberal Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning to deal with private member's Bill C-316.

I know there has been a lot of discussion surrounding this issue in the larger cities of Canada, but make no mistake, this issue is not just of concern to large cities. I represent the people of Souris-Moose Mountain, a rural riding in southeast Saskatchewan. Crime for them is of great concern as it is to all Canadians.

The people of my riding are honest hard working individuals. They work every day to see that the future of Canada is a good one for their children. We are not so different from the people in

Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver. We dream of the future and we hope for our children. We feel strongly that we live in the best country in the world and we want to keep it that way.

Let me say that the murders of Georgina Leimonis and Constable Todd Baylis were reprehensible crimes. The sad thing is that these are not isolated events. We should be able to stop these kinds of things from happening in our country. We must work together to see that we reach a balance which protects the rights of individuals and allows for freedoms, but also provides for security for us to live and raise our families and walk our streets in safety.

I congratulate the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. He has done an admirable job this past year and one-half in producing reforms and actions that have and will greatly improve our immigration and deportation system.

Measures contained in Bill C-44 have limited the rights of serious criminals to appeal under the immigration system. However, there still seems to be room for further tightening on the rights of serious criminals. There is still room for a criminal to fall through the cracks between the courts and the Immigration Act.

Many appeals are available to a convicted criminal both through the criminal process and the Immigration Act. Bill C-316 would still permit the criminal to have access to appeals through the criminal process. It would only limit his or her access to the appeals in the Immigration Act. Remember, we are talking about convicted criminals who have committed a serious crime.

This bill applies to criminals convicted of an offence punishable by a sentence of 10 or more years. The measures contained in this bill will accelerate deportation by allowing the court in addition to any other sentence to order the removal of a non-citizen.

It would save the Canadian taxpayer money because the two separate hearings, immigration and sentencing, would not be needed. Instead of two hearings, the courts would decide both the sentencing and deportation. It would not just save money; in the case of Todd Baylis, it may very well have saved his life. We believe strongly in freedom in this country but we cannot allow our freedom to go so far as to limit our security.

Some people have criticized this bill because they believe it punishes non-citizens more than it does Canadian citizens and it treats them differently. Of course this is already true of our current laws. Non-citizens cannot vote. Under the current law non-citizens are already subject to deportation.

The only difference contained in Bill C-316 is that the sole responsibility for both the criminal sentence and deportation would lie within the courts and not within those two bodies, the courts and immigration. Taking out this extra step leaves less room for error, less room for bureaucracy to step in and less room for criminals to get lost in the shuffle.

Let me cite one incident. Mr. Ng, the individual who came from California, ended up in Calgary. There he stayed for five or six years while the taxpayers had to absorb the cost. Hopefully this mechanism put forward by my fellow parliamentarian would alleviate this kind of excessive tax burden on individuals having to put up with dangerous criminals hiding within the existing law.

This bill has been endorsed by the Canadian Police Association and the Metro Toronto Police Association. Certainly that should tell us something. These are the people who come face to face with these problems each day. They are trying to make our streets safer. We would do well to give them a hand.

An additional measure in the bill that ensures fair treatment of non-citizens is the provision that it does not apply to anyone who arrived in Canada before the age of 16 years, as long as that individual remained free of criminal charges for a period of five years. That is a very important feature. We do take responsibility for those who have been raised in our society whether they are citizens or not.

Before concluding let me touch upon a couple of issues that have come forward with regard to party line. Within the framework of this bill we have the ability to cross party lines to support those initiatives that make good sense to all taxpayers.

The member of Parliament for Cambridge has wrestled with the bill. I am sure he is prepared to entertain any amendments that would strengthen it. In that way we can resolve that those people who do not understand it is a right and a privilege to be here and want to abuse both, we would rather not have them as citizens of our country. It would be much better if they were back in their own country.

Concerning the criminal element, we have some real problems. As some amendments go before the committee we will deal with the deportation aspect. I have strong reservations about suggesting that because criminal elements come here from foreign countries that we would then punish those people by removing foreign aid. I would not support that.

The private member's bill by the member for Cambridge is a good one. It has given us reason to think on how we can improve our society.

In conclusion, I support and commend my colleague the member for Cambridge for a job well done. He certainly has the best interests of his constituents and his country at heart. I urge other members of the House to consider the intent of this bill very carefully. We want to make our streets safer. We want to create a society which will continue to be the number one country in the world in which to live, as stated by the United Nations.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in the debate on Bill C-316, an act to amend the Immigration Act and the Transfer of Offenders Act.

I congratulate my colleague, the Liberal member for Cambridge, for getting involved in this matter. Crime is a matter of the highest concern to myself and the members of the Bloc Quebecois, as it is to everyone. We believe that government has the obligation and also the right to protect people against criminals, whether they are born in Canada or elsewhere.

The aim of Bill C-316 is to improve the process of deporting those who have committed violent crimes and to transfer the powers of the Department of Immigration to the courts. As justification for this bill, the member cited two murders, which took place in Toronto last year and which moved the public, including the members of the Bloc Quebecois. We deplored these two murders-one of a young woman, the other of a police officer. We do not, however, consider the bill justified in the present context. I believe it will create more problems than it hopes to resolve. I note the hon. member included a clause providing for an exception whereby, for example, young immigrants under the age of 16, who had arrived in Canada at an early age, would not be deported. This is an excellent principle, but contained in a flawed bill.

I have often said that young people who arrive in Canada when they are very young become the products of Canadian society rather than their society of origin. Poverty and adversity-problems we have here in Canada-sometimes lead to crime, and we must fight these problems at their very root.

A few months ago, here in this House, we debated Bill C-44. As we know, present legislation already gives the Department of Immigration powers to deport criminals who have committed crimes here in Canada and to prevent foreign criminals from entering the country. Bill C-44 accords additional powers to the Department of Immigration and, particularly, to the minister.

As you know, and my colleague knows this because he sits on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration with me, just about every organization, except the police association, came and testified against Bill C-44. We understand why the police association always adopts the same position against crime.

One of the observations made in the discussions on Bill C-44 was that the bill would impose a double penalty for the same crime, that is, it would punish an individual twice for a single crime. This is unacceptable in any legal system, here or elsewhere. Under Bill C-316, this is even more clearly the case. An individual would be punished twice, particularly by the courts. The courts would punish the offence and then add a second punishment: deportation.

To date, deportation, the expulsion of immigrants, has been an administrative process. It is the responsibility of the Department of Immigration, and, according to my colleague's bill, it should be the responsibility of the courts. We all know that the courts lack jurisdiction to decide on matters where human life is at risk. There are matters of life or death involving the application of the Geneva convention, which imposes certain conditions on signatory countries, such as Canada.

Existing legislation provides a process whereby those accused may turn to the law. Deporting an individual requires a decision by an arbitrator. This decision may be appealed before the Immigration and Refugee Board.

This bill also addresses the issue of transferring criminals from Canada to other countries. True, some bilateral treaties now in effect allow such a transfer if requested by the offender; if there is a bilateral agreement, these people are sent back to their countries of origin. However, not all countries are willing to sign such treaties. Why would the country of origin pay the cost of incarcerating a criminal for several years for a crime that was not committed on its own territory? In this sense, I do not find this bill realistic.

This bill would also penalize the families of criminals. Having been trained as a lawyer, I know that this infringes on the most basic of rights. This is unacceptable. Why should two year old or three year old children pay for their father's crime or a woman for her husband's crime? In my opinion, the philosophy currently evolving in Canada against immigrants with criminal records goes too far.

I read the presentations carefully and I listened to my colleagues earlier. No one in this House mentioned that the crime rate among immigrants is lower than among those who were born here. Statistics show that the percentage of immigrant inmates in Canadian prisons is lower than the percentage of Canadian-born inmates. So punishing an individual by association is both unacceptable and inhumane.

I have noted that Reform members have serious reservations in this regard and that Liberal members support this bill. I really followed with great interest the speech by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and I agree with her analysis.

I think that this bill raises many constitutional issues as well as many questions in connection with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It violates the following sections-which I did not have time to read-namely section 11, which provides that any person charged with an offence has the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause; section 12, which provides that everyone has the right not to be subjected to any

cruel and unusual treatment or punishment; and, above all, section 15, which provides that every individual has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and so on.

For this reason alone, this bill is unacceptable. But there are other compelling reasons to reject this bill. There are always humanitarian considerations that anyone can invoke. The current law, as well as Bill C-44 now before the Senate, provides that a person can always invoke humanitarian considerations. This bill, however, would prevent these considerations from being put forward.

The current legislation is adequate. In fact, every day, the minister of immigration and his officials prevent hundreds of potential immigrants with criminal records from coming here. Every day, dozens of people are removed from Canada to foreign countries. Since the minister already has this power, I think that this bill is totally unnecessary, and that is why I will vote against it.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, Bill C-316 is a private member's bill put forward by the member for Cambridge. In short, the bill proposes to give provincial court judges the power to order deportation at the time of sentencing.

On the surface the proposal seems to make sense. In spirit and intent the bill would simplify the bureaucratic process, eliminating the need for a deportation inquiry. Instead, a foreign born criminal would be ordered deported at the time of sentencing and hopefully be removed without incident following the completion of his or her sentence.

Both the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have called for this type of legislative change. There are a number of gaps in the present system through which foreign born criminals can disappear underground between the time they complete their sentences and the time they are called for the deportation inquiries.

The minister is sensitive to the concerns raised by the Canadian Police Association. He has discussed the possibility of such a change on two separate occasions. On November 1, 1994 the minister tabled a document entitled "Into the 21st Century: A Strategy for Immigration and Citizenship". In the document the minister raises a number of possibilities for legislative change:

A number of legislative changes will be considered to reinforce the control and enforcement provisions of the Act. For example, currently deportation orders can only be issued by an immigration official. Consideration is being given to authorizing judges to issue deportation orders at the time of sentencing, rather than requiring a separate step.

That can be found at page 59. He further referred to such a possibility in his speech at second reading of Bill C-44.

There may be other improvements that we can usher into the system and one such recommendation, for instance, coming from some of the police chiefs is to permit judges to not recommend deportations at the time of giving sentence but to order deportation at the time of sentencing so that the system is leaner, so that the issues of that individual are all dealt with at the right time, and that there is full due process for that individual's counsel and lawyer to react to that judge's ordering of a deportation rather than recommending and then having it go back to immigration and before an immigration appeal division and so on.

In light of the foregoing it is safe to say the minister supports the spirit and intent of Bill C-316. However, there have been a number of technical concerns raised not only by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration but also by the Department of Justice and the Solicitor General.

Take a look at some of the concerns from the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. This legislation raises some serious constitutional questions. The supreme court has established that deportation is not a form of punishment but rather an administrative decision taken by Canada. Bill C-316 seeks to change this. By making deportation a sentencing option it suddenly becomes a criminal punishment.

There are no fewer than three constitutional clauses that could be used to argue against the sentence. For instance, section 15 deals with equality under the law. It could be argued that two tiers of punishment would be available to judges if Bill C-316 came into effect, one for citizens and the other for non-citizens. We would have a case where two people commit the same crime, yet the punishment would be harsher for one than for the other.

Section 11 deals with double punishment. It could be argued that removal from Canada would represent a second form of punishment in addition to any other sentence. In effect, non-citizens would face the prospect of being punished twice for the same offence.

Section 12 deals with cruel and unusual punishment. It could be argued here that removing a permanent resident from Canada is tantamount to denying for life a person's right to be with family and friends, to earn a living or to communicate freely in the course of daily living.

Let us look at some of the concerns raised by the Department of Justice. There is a clear potential that even the simplest case could become mired in constitutional wrangling, which could stretch on for years and cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars.

If the bill were to pass we would be transferring the responsibility for removing potentially dangerous criminals from the federal immigration department, whose representatives are experts in the field, to the provincial crown attorneys and judges. We should not dilute federal responsibility for something as important as the deportation of violent offenders.

It would take both time and money to train lawyers and judges to deal with immigration cases. The international obligations that Canada has with respect to immigration matters are not well known to judges acting in criminal matters.

Plea bargaining could become a convenient way for people who should not be in the country to stay in the country. There would be also be more appeals to our overloaded courts.

Deportation can be a complex process requiring travel documents and international co-operation. These are affairs which are best handled by the immigration department, which will continue to be responsible for all other deportations of persons who have entered Canada illegally, have been convicted of serious crimes in other countries or have otherwise violated the Immigration Act.

Judges require proof beyond a reasonable doubt before they can issue any court order. Bill C-316 as it stands could not withstand a charter challenge. The federal court has established that deportation is not a form of punishment but rather is an administrative decision taken by Canada.

Let us look at some of the concerns raised by the Solicitor General. The purpose of the Transfer of Offenders Act is to accommodate non-Canadians serving sentences by making it possible, on the basis of an arrangement between states, to transfer offenders so they can serve time in their homeland. This act is not meant to support orders which may have been made by the court.

Bill C-316 proposes that the act be amended to allow Canada to remove any foreign criminal serving time in a Canadian prison. There is absolutely no incentive for foreign countries to pass treaties with Canada whereby we would transfer to them the cost of punishing offenders who have committed crimes in Canada.

The government wants to ensure that all dangerous foreign offenders are ordered removed. We also want to ensure that the humanitarian concerns, which are an important part of the immigration system, are consistently applied to all persons subject to removal orders.

Bill C-44 seeks to remove all appeal rights from the Immigration and Refugee Board by dangerous criminals hoping to delay or prevent their removal from Canada. It also would prevent the release of unescorted convicted criminals under deportation order from Canadian prisons until they can be removed from Canada.

Many of the proposals which this bill would seem to resolve have already been dealt with in Bill C-44. The system works, but it could work far better than it does at the present time. The hon. member for Cambridge is clearly pointing out that there is need for change. We are taking action, but we must weigh our options carefully. All too often there is a difference between what sounds good and what is practical.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business



John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to address the House of Commons today on the issue of Bill C-316, an act to amend the Immigration Act and Transfer of Offenders Act, tabled by the hon. member for Cambridge.

There is no doubt that Canada is one of the most welcoming countries in the world for those emigrating for family or business reasons and for those fleeing persecution around the world. Because of this tradition, the people of Canada were awarded the Nanson medal by the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, a recognition of the entire nation's outstanding efforts on behalf of refugees.

We all want to preserve this tradition. However, it has become apparent in the past few years that a system that was designed to be fair, compassionate, and open became overburdened with the number of applicants waiting to come to Canada. The system showed signs of breakdown. Cracks began to appear. Some immigrants and refugees were being processed who perhaps should not have been. Many immigrants who had arrived as youngsters may have found themselves in their teens or early twenties in the midst of a recession and perhaps with a lack of opportunities.

Any society during tough economic times sees the crime rate rise as people become frustrated. Several high profile horrendous crimes that were prominently reported in the newspapers involved non-citizens. I think of the tragic shooting deaths of constable Todd Baylis and Georgina Leimonis. Canadians began questioning what had gone wrong. Why had these young men with lengthy criminal records slipped through the cracks?

When this government was elected it promised to make homes and streets safer places for all Canadians. In response to our promises and to address the problems demonstrated by these high profile crimes, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration introduced Bill C-44. This bill took steps to eliminate the cracks that had previously appeared in the immigration and deportation systems.

My hon. colleague from Cambridge has been moved by the letters and interventions from constituents in his riding, young

and old alike, and has therefore taken the initiative to learn what could be done and to respond with legislation on the issue.

The highlights of Bill C-316 can be summarized as follows. The proposed bill aims to improve the way in which deportations of violent offenders who are non-citizens are carried out. The bill enables the court, in addition to any other sentence, to order the removal of a non-citizen convicted of an offence punishable by 10 or more years. The bill accelerates the deportation process, thereby saving Canadian taxpayers much money.

The bill does not apply to anyone arriving in Canada prior to 16 years of age as long as that individual remains free of criminal convictions for a period of five years. We must, as Canadians, take responsibility for some of those who are raised in our society.

Foreign offenders could be returned to their country of origin if reciprocal conditional release conditions existed and if so ordered by the courts. Currently an offender is transferred if he agrees to be transferred.

I too have heard from constituents on this issue. Many are outraged over the senseless killings of constable Baylis and Ms. Leimonis. I support the general intent of this bill and I believe it to be in keeping with both our immigration and justice policies.

I do have some concern that the dependants of individuals would also be subject to removal. This perhaps could be an area that could be revisited on a case by case basis as the practical implications are considered.

It is my understanding that provisions allowing the judge to order the removal of offenders is something that may be considered by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration at some future time. While some of our hon. colleagues have difficulty with the constitutionality of this provision, some say that such treatment would discriminate between citizens and non-citizens. Non-citizens are, under the law, subject to removal in any event under the current immigration policies. This bill only provides for an expedient and cost efficient alternative as to who might make this removal order. I do recommend, however, that safeguards be built in as to the ability to avoid plea bargaining to avoid the removal order. I would like to see some provisions that the removal order not be dealt with in conjunction with the sentence.

I certainly support the addition of the clause that provides for exception for those offenders who entered Canada before the age of 16 years and who have been free of criminal conviction for five years. This is fair and in keeping with our immigration policy principles. I refer to the situation of Mr. Clinton Gayle, who came to Canada at a young age and was under a removal order. It was over two years old. While Mr. Gayle may have been socializing in Canada, it was determined that he should be removed. These removal orders must be dealt with immediately.

The bill before the House does not deal explicitly with the issue of enforcement and process. One can conclude that if an offender is in custody and has been sentenced and a removal order made, the offender will not be released back into the community. Deportation of undesirables who have no respect for the laws of our country and who jeopardize our safety and security should be removed. This should be done swiftly, surely and immediately.

Immigration Enforcement Improvement ActPrivate Members' Business


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired.

Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Request For Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On Friday I sent letters to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and the Speaker's office requesting an emergency debate on the Bosnian situation. I believe that Canadians are totally outraged by the lack of action and the lack of information.

I rise and ask for unanimous consent to suspend the business of the House for today and begin an immediate emergency debate on this issue. Canadian troops are being held hostage and are in imminent danger. It is therefore vital that Parliament immediately deal with this issue.

I realize that the BQ has asked for unanimous consent to begin debate at 6 p.m., but given the urgency of the situation I do not believe we should wait any longer. We need a debate now and I am asking for that decision now.