Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to enter into the debate on the Speech from the Throne.
It is quite evident from what was not in the Speech from the Throne that the government is clearly failing in a number of areas. At a time when the throne speech is to lay out the government's priorities in the areas that it needs to pay attention to, it neglected four of the major issues that are huge in the country right now. Many people are talking about those issues and many people are looking to the government for answers. There was a failure of the Liberal government to acknowledge those issues or spell them out in any remote detail or even in any generality.
One of the major four areas is the fishing crisis happening on our east coast. The government did not talk about that or mention it in the throne speech. The government did not address agriculture in that throne speech. That is a major issue for many hard working Canadians in the agricultural field and it affects all of us.
It has neglected to talk about the airline industry, as was just pointed out by my colleague for Calgary Centre. It has failed to talk about immigration and the crisis happening in the broken system that became so clearly evident this past summer off the west coast of Vancouver.
I will focus most of my attention in my speech this morning on the broken immigration system and the failure of the government to address the crying need for change in that area. It is woeful that the government has not taken action. The incidents that happened this past summer of which all Canadians across the country are aware have in essence highlighted and shone a beacon of light on the government's failure in this area.
The immigration system has been broken for a very long time. Members of the opposition have been talking with the government, pleading with it for a number of years to change the system. My colleagues that were here years before I came here made a lot of proactive positive suggestions to the ministers of immigration, to the government, to the Prime Minister, and they have not acted on them. They rebut any idea of change out of hand because it comes from opposition members or from anybody else. They believe they have the answers and will do what they want.
With that kind of attitude and that kind of approach to governing the Liberal government gets itself into the position of crisis after crisis after crisis because of its inability to be proactive and its inability to look at positive solutions suggested by others, even by people in its own caucus. They are rejected out of hand. As a result of that attitude, that underlying philosophical approach to governing, the government neglects its responsibility. That is not acceptable.
Members of the opposition will continue to urge that the government take action. Failing that, we will work in whatever way possible to become the government so that we can put in place proactive positive approaches that solve glaring problems across the country which the government is not willing to even go near.
I will move into a little more detail about some of points made about our immigration system. I will quote a piece of information that came from a report commissioned by the minister of immigration entitled “Not Just Numbers: A Canadian Framework for Future Immigration”. This study was put together by some independent individuals who did a broad based consultation process, in the government's own words, to find out what needs to be done. Here is something that was included in the report:
In recent years in Canada, over half of all the asylum-seeking arrivals at ports of entry had destroyed all identification documents before being seen by officials—
It goes on to say:
Recent arrivals have mainly come from countries which are stable enough to provide identification documents. Generally, these individuals are uncooperative and refuse to provide their names, their countries of origin, or anything else that might assist the expeditious processing of their claim. The idea that all such persons are reluctant to give such details because of refugee-based fears, or that the persons helping them enter Canada are latter-day Raoul Wallenbergs, is naive. The people-smuggling business is now as lucrative as the international drug trade.
This was in a report submitted to the government, commissioned by the government and in fact has been lost on the government. It is another report that has simply been shelved or put away to gather dust for another day. We can say this because the government has rejected that notion out of hand as well as many other proposals which have been put forward. It is a shame that is its approach to governing.
Immigration department officials in response to the people smuggling that occurred on the west coast this past summer have said the following. An Immigration Canada spokesperson named Jim Redmond has said:
This is not a humanitarian movement; this is almost a slavery movement. It's hard on the people who are smuggled. It's organized crime at its worst.
He also said:
There is a good chance we could have more arrivals this year. It would be naive to say it's all over.
What appears to be happening is that the Liberal government is hoping the issue will just fade away. If it does nothing long enough other issues will pop up which will take the attention away from this glaring failure within its mandate so that it does not have to act on it. The underlying approach of the government is if it does not do anything long enough maybe people will forget about it.
People are not forgetting about it. They are realizing that the government is failing in the area of addressing the immigration system. I have sat with my colleagues for two years on the immigration committee. We have had many good debates. We have tried to work together. We have had many very heated debates at times too about the issue because it is a very important one.
We have been able to work co-operatively at times to look at ideas and solutions. What tends to happen is they get rejected because they are not approved by the minister, by the prime minister or by the cabinet. That is a shame too because there are many things we would like to see happen that are not happening.
The Reform Party offers a proactive positive approach rather than this force of negativity of doing nothing offered by the Liberal government. We have ideas, suggestions and solutions which have been put forward time and time again. I will mention a few of them.
We have to move away from the voluntary compliance system within the immigration system when individuals claim the protection of Canada. They can come, claim refugees status and then be told to appear tomorrow or next week at a hearing.
Those who are not true refugees will abuse that and often do. They disappear and do not go to their hearings. That is a problem. We need a system that addresses that, a system that has individuals maintained in an area until it is determined whether they are really refugees or not.
That process needs to be expedited. It cannot go on for years and years and years as it currently does. Members know that refugee cases go on for years. People's lives are in limbo. It is not fair to them and it is not fair to Canadians.
That process needs to be determined quickly, in a matter of days and weeks, not months and years. It needs to be done quickly, and once a decision is made, then it should be acted upon. If the person is determined not to be a refugee, then they should be removed from our country post-haste. If a person is determined to be a refugee, then they should be integrated into our communities as quickly as possible.
The Liberal government's approach is to leave people's lives in limbo, to allow people who are not refugees to be here and then to go after people who are true refugees and deport them. The system is broken at both ends and this Liberal government is failing.
The facts are in. The perception across our country is that this government does not think it is a problem. The Prime Minister himself said there is nothing wrong with our immigration laws and there is nothing wrong with our refugee process. He said that this summer. In light of what is happening on the west coast, it is unbelievable. It is absolutely shocking that this government, in the light of information, details and facts from its own people, fails to act. It is unbelievable.
I urge my colleagues on the government side to apply pressure to change the system. Failing that, the members of the opposition will work day after day in this place, in committee and on the streets of our nation to be proactive and positive. We will make a commitment here and now that we will change the system not only within immigration, but within all the other areas outlined in the Leader of the Opposition's speech for a positive vision for the future of this country, because it is clear that today in this land the Liberal government has failed and is visionless. We will carry the day. We will put in place the positive solutions that will reshape our country and take our country ahead for the next generation.