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House of Commons Hansard #93 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite made, I certainly agree, some very important points about the debt, but I cannot help but intervene on his comments about referenda.

I know he has a lot of faith in what the Americans are doing by holding referenda, but I would like to point out to him that the cost of popular justice, of popular referenda if you will, in the United States has involved basically the wild west, the lawlessness of the wild west and the genocide of the Indians.

It involved Jim Crow laws in the southern United States, where the popular municipalities with the Ku Klux Klan led to all kinds of atrocities against people based on race. Because of popular justice it was entirely impossible at that particular time, at the turn of the century, to bring these people to justice when they did these things against people because of race.

Jim Crow laws are again another reflection of popular sentiment translated into prejudice against individuals, whereas I remind the member opposite that the Canadian experience in these areas was entirely different. We did not have a wild west, and we did not have a wild west because decision making was not vested in people at the grassroots. It was vested in laws that were determined by members of parliament rather than referenda. When people are elected, those people should be speaking from their own conscience and not simply as a result of popular pressure. That is the danger of referenda, as we see in the United States.

The member is perfectly correct. The Americans love referenda. But it could also come back to the same kind of prejudice, hate and destruction that typified the kind of referenda we saw in the 19th century and at the turn of the century against both Indians and blacks.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the arguments which have just been put forward by the member—and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to talk about them—are typical of the sorts of red herrings which are thrown in by people opposed to allowing the people who pay our salaries to have more say in the operations of this place. They always draw on these historical events from donkeys years ago, at the turn of the century, when we all know very well that governments controlled all of the propaganda. Governments controlled all of the means of distribution of information.

Even here in Canada, as late as the 1970s, Francis Fox, a minister of the House, was trying to prevent people from having satellite dishes on their apartment buildings in Vancouver. He was arresting people and putting them in jail for trying to get by the government propaganda and receiving news broadcasts from other places so that they could sift through the propaganda to find the truth.

There is no comparison whatsoever between the conditions which existed at the turn of the century, in terms of information available to people, and what exists in modern times, even from the mid-1970s, if we look at the results of referenda in the United States, which is our closest example, and in Switzerland.

I can understand why the member would be afraid of this because the outcomes are universally small c conservative in nature. People exhibit their common sense by making wise decisions with taxpayers' money. They keep their politicians under control.

Sometimes they make decisions that the politicians are unwilling to face. For example, in Washington state at the end of last year the people decided to decriminalize the use of marijuana. In Canada that is a hot potato that we do not want to touch. We would rather it just went away. None of us want to say whether we are for or against it, but in Washington state it was taken out of the politicians' hands and the people did it.

I hear people criticize something like proposition 13, which got spending under control in California. But the people of California have every opportunity to reverse that. Anyone could have taken an initiative and reversed those spending controls. No one ever has. The fact is that there is greater democracy, a greater standard of living, lower unemployment, and a greater satisfaction with lifestyle. We have a lot to learn from places where there is a greater degree of democracy.

In terms of cost alone, there is a cost to democracy. It costs, I believe, about $400 million to run parliament, with all of its staff, with all of the travel, with all of the spending. I believe that is roughly the right figure.

What do the citizens of Canada get out of that? They get the will of the Prime Minister's office imposed upon them. That is what happens from this place. The will of the Prime Minister's office is imposed upon them for $400 million a year.

When we look at the debt of $600 billion, I cannot believe for a second that we would be in more difficult straits if the people of Canada had been controlling this place instead of the elected people, who, according to the member over there, use their conscience on what they should be doing.

I believe we would have a better country if the people of Canada had more input into what was happening in this place.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot resist giving my colleague opposite a further lesson in history. He should recall where the term demagogue comes from. I am not referring to him as a demagogue. I am not disparaging his remarks.

A demagogue comes from ancient Greece. The word referred to people who could influence the crowd, not by the weight of their arguments or the propriety of their arguments, but just by the weight of their rhetoric.

The difficulty with referenda and this type of popular response that the member is suggesting is that all of the people are not equally informed on an issue. By eloquence and rhetoric, even though the facts may be twisted and distorted, people can be influenced. That is why we had a situation in the United States that occurred in the late 19th century and early 20th century where the popular sentiment was manipulated by demagogues. It led to terrible results.

I do not really believe that we as human beings have changed so dramatically in 2,000 years. As a matter of fact, if you are somebody who is interested in the Bible, you would appreciate that maybe we have not changed over 2,000 years.

The very point of all this is that demagoguery is a real thing. It was exercised in ancient Greece. The ancient Greeks recognized it for what it was. I admire the member opposite very much, but I am sorry, what he is proposing is government by demagoguery.

I think we have advanced beyond that. Each of us as politicians has a sacred duty, in my view, to act according to our conscience on the best information we get. We cannot do that by referenda.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite can claim he is operating on his conscience if he wants to. I know the people in my riding have made it clear that they elected me to vote their will in this place.

He keeps hearkening back to history. He even went back as far as the Greeks this time. I will repeat that at the turn of the century there were very few people who had control of the dissemination of information. We live in a totally different era. He mentions that some of the people are poorly informed. I suppose that is because they make a decision that is different to what he would like.

I will give him an example. In March in California people were asked to make an interesting decision. Someone proposed that “None of the above” be added to the bottom of the ballot so that people who did not want to vote for any of the above would mark “None of the above”. The argument was that this would cause a greater turnout of voters.

Arizona has that on its ballot, but it has never increased the voter turnout, so the citizens of California rejected it by 65%.

I disagree that there is any evidence from Switzerland, from Washington State, from Oregon, from Arizona or from California that people do not think very carefully about their decisions or that they are not informed when they make their mark on the ballot.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

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

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, we would ask that the vote be deferred until tomorrow at the end of Government Orders.

Sales Tax And Excise Tax Amendments Act, 1999Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Accordingly the vote stands deferred until tomorrow at the end of Government Orders.

The House resumed from May 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-31, an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

May 9th, 2000 / 3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

We have long been calling for the government to introduce new immigration legislation, which was supposed to happen last year.

Late or not, the bill is presented while many chronic problems and faults are surfacing at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Today, I will address various issues relating to immigration and to the bill before us. According to the minister, the legislation will be tougher on criminals. I have my doubts. The provisions of Bill C-31 on security are inadequate. I will address the recommendations that my colleague, the member for Compton—Stanstead, made to the committee. I will also talk about the report on immigration that was published by the auditor general a few weeks ago. auditor general exposed a few problems of which the government had been aware for some time.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada is aware of the abuse that occurs at immigration. In the 1980s we introduced two controversial bills to deal with the imperfections in the system. These bills, one a piece of emergency legislation, were vehemently opposed by the Liberals. This is hardly a surprise. Liberals loathe taking a stand on a certain issue out of fear of losing the next election. When danger arose, we took action.

Be assured that during the course of the debate on the immigration bill the Progressive Conservative Party will continue its tradition of fighting for an efficient and effective immigration system. We are familiar with the immigration system. That is why this party looks forward to debating the clauses and provisions found in Bill C-31.

One of the biggest fears of this party and Canadians is the entry of foreign criminals. The new bill purports to toughen our present stance on criminals. Much more can be done.

In the new legislation provision is made in clauses 31 and 32 to bar individuals from the refugee determination system. Clause 31 deals with those inadmissible on the grounds of having violated human rights. Clause 31(1)(c) reads:

(c) being a representative of a government against which Canada has imposed or has agreed to impose sanctions in association with the international community.

Perhaps the minister could clarify “a representative”. Is a representative a government official or is it a national of that country?

Clause 32 of Bill C-31 sets out criteria for serious criminality. We do not understand why a serious criminal is only deemed to be someone who has been convicted of a crime punishable in Canada by imprisonment of 10 years or more. Why these numbers? Is the minister telling us that offences for which someone could only serve nine years are not serious? What does she mean by serious criminality? Our party is baffled why the minister would not take all crimes seriously.

Even more, there is not necessarily consistency between two countries' criminal justice systems. An offence punishable in Canada by 10 years imprisonment may not be punishable in another country at all. The Progressive Conservative Party is not comfortable with the numbers as they are set out in Bill C-31.

As the standing committee discussed its draft report on border security, my colleague the immigration critic, the member for Compton—Stanstead, was able to secure two amendments in the final report.

One amendment was the requirement for all refugee claimants to be fingerprinted and photographed at the first point of contact with them in Canada. My colleague has reasoned that refugee claimants disappear and do not show up for their hearings. One statistic from the Immigration and Refugee Board in Vancouver shows that 71% of claimants did not show up for their hearings. Where are they? How many criminals are passing through? How many criminals are endangering our cities, our streets and our children? How many are there and where are they? As a national party, we are concerned about these potential criminals.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Matthews Progressive Conservative Burin—St. George's, NL

What is the hon. member talking about? Potential criminals?

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member from Newfoundland does not seem to be aware of the criminals walking the streets of Canada. They are probably walking the streets of Newfoundland and affecting children there. That is why identifying these individuals at first contact is of prime importance. In such a large country as Canada it is hard to keep track of every single person but we must at least make some attempt to be familiar with those coming in.

The recommendation passed unopposed at committee. Members were supportive that it be included in the bill. Our party was very disappointed that the minister did not see fit to include the fingerprint and photograph recommendation in Bill C-31. It is unbelievable.

We later learned that fingerprinting and taking pictures of people would be carried out through departmental regulations. Fingerprints and photographs must be provided for in the new bill. It must be law. We should not allow such an important provision, unopposed by the standing committee, to be carried out only at the whim of immigration officials.

Our party's second proposal at committee involved safe third countries. A safe third country is one which a potential refugee to Canada has passed through on his or her way to Canada. Safe third country provisions would be an efficient and fair means to deal with undocumented refugee claimants. These individuals would have a safe haven in a safe third country.

The thinking behind the safe third country provision is that it is mutually beneficial. Most important, the refugee claimants are given a safe haven in the country they pass through on their way to Canada. Second, Canada is able to control its borders from undocumented arrivals.

We are pleased that Bill C-31 makes a provision for safe third country negotiations in section 95. The government is willing to pursue the idea of safe third country provisions, but why has it not taken action? Over the past seven years the Liberals have only negotiated safe third country provisions with one country, the United States. Negotiations must be expanded.

The Progressive Conservative Party's 1997 election platform spelled out our commitment to end patronage appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board. In keeping with good Liberal tradition, in part 4, clause 150(1)(a) states in black and white that members of the IRB will be appointed by the governor in council. No means ensuring meritorious appointments are outlined in the bill.

Numerous witnesses at the committee, including the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Bar Association, as well as our party have called on the government to end patronage appointments. The government again has cast aside this recommendation in favour of its own partisan interest.

It is now almost one month since the auditor general released a scathing report on Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Chronic problems exist therein, problems the Liberal government has attempted to solve. Even worse, these are problems the auditor general has discussed before. Allow me to explain these serious issues.

All newcomers to Canada must pass a medical to protect Canadian society from the risk of disease. Criteria for medical tests are less than satisfactory and have been the standard for an unacceptable 40 years. No tests exist for new diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Moreover, physicians do not determine medical admissibility; visa officers do. Approved doctors carry out examinations and forward their advice to the officers. What new diseases are routinely transported to Canada? The auditor general underlined deficiencies in medical examinations 10 years ago. How can the government delay? This was going on 10 years ago.

The immigration bill does not provide guarantees the health of Canadians will be protected any time soon. Medicals and health provisions are given very little space in Bill C-31. We are not satisfied that sufficient preventive measures are taken in the new bill.

When will the criteria for medical admissibility be updated? What health conditions does the minister consider to be dangerous to public health? What diseases will excessively burden the health care system? These are only a few of the many questions Citizenship and Immigration Canada failed to address in the new legislation.

The auditor general also addressed the department's computer systems. Simply put, the systems are inadequate.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Have you read this speech?

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, once again I see that the few members there are on the other side are very interested in what I have to say.

The systems are outdated and are not integrated. Are these the kind of computer systems that aid in determining medical and criminal admissibility to Canada?

The minister has announced a new global case management system which she says will cost $200 million. The department has received $579 million in new funding but $209 million has been spent. This new funding will be eaten up very quickly. Where does the minister expect to find all the extra funding that will be required for the case management system and the increased administration wrought by Bill C-31?

More frightening is that no one will ever know how many criminals are admitted to Canada. Foreign police records may not be up to date or reliable. Some countries cannot provide the information due to internal turmoil. The department's solution to this is simply to not require police certificates from 40 countries. This is a preposterous means to deal with criminal admissibility to Canada. That is not all. In 1998 over 1,300 ministerial permits were issued to people with criminal convictions. What kinds of people are routinely coming to this country?

Stiffer fines and longer jail terms may help in keeping criminals out of Canada but we need to start at the source. We need to have better detection strategies in place abroad to screen criminals. Simply not requiring certificates from unreliable countries does not take care of the problem.

Our party hopes the minister sees fit to take an introverted look at her department and fix it on the inside. We hope the new global case management system will soon be up and running.

This party supports parts of the bill. We are pleased that the minister has changed the provisions and requirements for in-Canada processing. Spouses, students and temporary workers will now be able to apply for permanent residency from right here in Canada.

I am pleased to express my party's view on Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Progressive Conservative members will be at the forefront of this debate.

Our party knows this issue. It will ensure that Canada's security and the integrity of its borders are respected.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-31, an act respecting immigration to Canada and the granting of refugee protection to persons who are displaced, persecuted or in danger. In addressing the bill it is pertinent that we be aware of the immigration status of all of us.

Let us remember that the vast majority of all our families came from somewhere else, be it recently or many generations ago. Whether through persecution in a foreign country, economic deprivation, the fleeing of a wartorn nation or the search for a better life, most if not all families represented here can point to a time when they were not Canadian.

My Canadian Alliance colleagues and I agree that immigrants arriving in Canada today have come for the same reasons that our ancestors did in the past. They aspire to a better life for their families and for themselves. They seek a peaceful way of life that will allow them to practise their faith without the fear of persecution. They do not want their children to grow up with the firsthand knowledge of war or, worse, the loss of a child due to war.

I can find no fault in any of those reasons to come to Canada, but unfortunately there are those who want to take advantage of our way of life. There are those who would pay no regard to the laws of Canada. These are people like the Snake Heads who have no regard for human life and only see the opportunity to make illegal profit through the smuggling of human cargo. What a sad commentary on the state of mankind that is.

The issues surrounding immigration and refugees have been around for a long time. Because of their heritage most Canadians want to welcome new immigrants to Canada. However they also want to be sure that those who apply for immigration status meet the minimum criteria and that those who do not meet those set criteria are not entitled to the same rights as Canadian citizens.

I believe I can unequivocally state that we would all welcome immigrants and genuine refugees to our country. I believe I can further state that we all believe there should be a set of rules for everyone to follow when implementing and regulating immigration and refugee policy.

The biggest concern I have is that all the legislation in the world will not resolve the problems we see in the present legislation or the proposed law before us. Legislation without the ability to enforce the regulations means virtually nothing. We can write, debate and proclaim endless laws on countless pieces of paper, but without the legal enforcement, without the ability to ensure that the laws are upheld, the laws are not worth the piece of paper they are written on.

Unfortunately that is what I see with most of this new legislation. We are not even able to enforce our current immigration laws. How on earth will we be able to enforce new ones without adding the necessary strength, power and ability to these newly proposed laws? Unfortunately I do not see new enforcement guidelines written into the new legislation.

Let us be realistic for a moment. Higher maximum penalties for human trafficking will have no effect on the flow of illegal immigrants to Canada. The real organizers, the real kingpins behind the smuggling of humans, have no regard for the laws of Canada. They operate outside Canada and have no plans to attend court dates in Canada. The ones who are in Canada attempt to live and operate outside the laws by which we abide. They are seldom caught and rarely convicted for their crimes.

High fines may seem like a deterrent, but the maximum fines under the old immigration act have never been applied. Therefore, why should anyone here believe that the new fines would be any more of a deterrent? It simply will not happen.

About one year ago Canadians witnessed boatloads of Chinese migrants entering Canada illegally. They made a horrendous journey under appalling conditions. The conditions under which some of them lived would not meet the same humanitarian and social structures we enjoy in Canada. Some died and others suffered serious illnesses while en route.

It is my understanding that most of those who made it to Canada are still in detention awaiting their hearings. It has been seven to ten months since some of these people arrived on our shores.

The future does not look any brighter. Reality says that it may be as much as another two years before the process is complete. When I look to the new legislation before us, a reasonable expectation would be that this length of time would be significantly reduced. Unfortunately all I can see is more disappointing news.

The new legislation appears to do nothing to mitigate this lengthy waiting time. This was one of the most obvious problems in the old legislation, and it has not been resolved in the new proposed law.

There is no doubt that Canada needs to strengthen its immigration laws to seriously address this type of crisis. This is necessary not only for our own protection but also to deter those who stand to gain monetarily from the business of smuggling people.

We simply must take a firm stand and send a message to the world that Canada is not a haven for illegal immigrants and not an easy target for people smugglers. Those who promote such activities should be subject to severe penalties without exception. The penalties must be severe enough to thwart the usury and extortion currently being forced by the people smugglers. Our laws should reflect compassion for true refugees, but they should also encompass legislation to expedite the process of deporting illegal immigrants and penalize the people smugglers.

During the boat crisis last summer I received a number of calls from Canadians in my riding who were outraged with the federal government's inaction on the question of illegal immigration. This inaction drew the ire of all Canadians right across Canada. Constituents have told me that they believe the federal government is failing them and their families by putting these illegal migrants ahead of the needs of ordinary Canadians.

One of the most interesting things I found was that the ones who voiced their opinions most strongly were in fact recent immigrants themselves. To them the situation was very clear. They had applied and waited their turn to come to Canada. In many cases they wanted to sponsor family members to join them in Canada. Their anger was that while they were attempting to abide by the law, others were abusing the law in being able to stay.

By not addressing this issue, legal immigrants are forced to the back of the immigration process. What they really want to do is be reunited with family members. Are we not then creating a double standard?

During the crisis last summer the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Vancouver Island told me that their Vancouver Island forces were drastically reduced as members had been called upon to guard the most recent illegal migrants at the Esquimalt naval base. This calls into question the level of efficiency for both law enforcement and case development that the RCMP is able to provide for the residents of Vancouver Island. This is just one problem which highlights how unprepared we are for this ever increasing wave of humanity that will come to our shores either legally or illegally.

This issue has been ongoing for far too long. These are the issues which I believe need to be fully addressed under this legislation. First, full charter rights should not be available to individuals until the immigration board has accepted them.

Second, we should set new stringent penalties for those who deal in the smuggling of humans. This is a serious crime and needs to be dealt with in the most serious manner possible. International agreements should be used to pursue and convict Snake Heads and others like them.

Third, we should ensure that full security and health checks are completed on each person wishing to enter Canada. Canada's citizens demand to be safe from undue risks.

Fourth, perhaps the most important issue is that of enforcement. We cannot expect our laws to be upheld if we do not have sufficient personnel and real regulations in effect to support them. Words alone will not stop Snake Heads from dealing in human cargo.

In my riding office immigration is one of the top two issues with which my staff deals. The other issue is taxation and the manner in which Revenue Canada, now called the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, deals with people. It is interesting that in both these matters a lack of humanitarian treatment appears to be the common factor.

I should like to take a few moments to describe several immigration cases with which I have been dealing over the past several months. My colleague from Lakeland stated that he was certain that all members of the House had encountered the inadequacies of the current immigration legislation, and he is absolutely correct.

Just listen to some of the events that have taken place of which I have become aware as a member of parliament. In one case a lady in my riding invited a friend from China to visit her in 1996. Today that friend has still not been able to visit Canada.

In the meantime the Chinese applicant has been turned down for seemingly irrelevant reasons. The Canadian letter writer has chronic lymphatic leukemia and was given the possibility of living for five years. Her five years are up now. Her health has been relatively good, but we all know that there are no guarantees in this life. Offers of bonds have been made and rejected. The Chinese applicant is not looking for a job and she is not looking to immigrate to Canada. She simply has a Canadian friend who would like to be able to share a Canadian experience with her.

Letters to the minister of immigration have not resulted in any further positive results. From what I have been able to determine in this case, individual bureaucrats have thwarted the plight of one potential visitor from China to this great land of ours.

In another situation I have worked with an individual who has been waiting for over four years to receive landed status in Canada. He is currently living here and would like to upgrade his skills. However he is not able to do this until he receives his landed status.

We all expect a reasonable length of time to process applications, but four years seems to be an abnormally long period of time. In the meantime no full answers are forthcoming from either the minister of immigration or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. We ask the question why.

In another case a Canadian citizens married a Filipino. Through inquiry after inquiry no full answers were received. When visas were promised, applications were received. When time lines were committed to, they were broken in short order. After a series of pages of requests, letters and faxes I am pleased to report that this couple will finally be together. It is unthinkable that they were forced to endure this process and to live apart for many years.

Perhaps the most heart wrenching and immediate saga is in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan. Mrs. Jaswant Sekhon had six children. Mrs. Sekhon was plagued by ill health, was on dialysis and was not expected to live for much longer. Her last child, a son, Santokh Sekhon, was still living in Punjab, India. The two of them had not seen each other in nine years. For a year he applied to visit his mother for a one week period. Yet Immigration Canada would not allow the married father of two to visit Canada initially on the grounds that he would not leave.

Last fall Mrs. Sekhon became too ill to travel. Unfortunately the mother and son were never able to see each other again. Mrs. Sekhon died of a heart attack on March 12 and her wish to see her son in life was never fulfilled due to Immigration Canada's denial.

In dying, Mrs. Sekhon wanted her son to reunite with the family, be able to grieve and say goodbye to her in her death. I contacted Immigration Canada asking for them to review this file to no avail. The reason given to Mrs. Sekhon was that the official was not satisfied he could support himself while in Canada. Mr. Sekhon only asked to be in Canada for one week. Does this sound like an unreasonable request? It certainly does not to me. Yet the answer was certainly unreasonable.

Let us remember that all the family members except for one are Canadian citizens. They have lived as productive participants in Canada for 10 years. No family should have to endure the agony that this family has gone through because of our immigration system. Yet this is not the only family to endure this type of hardship.

Thankfully there is a somewhat happier ending to this story. Nine days after his mother passed away, Mr. Sekhon received his visa authorization to attend his mother's funeral. Imagine what those nine days must have been like. What a horrifying thought, what a tragic thing.

These are real people who have been enduring real hardship imposed upon them by a government ministry, an immigration bureaucracy that appears to be uncaring and unable to resolve problems.

This government is responsible for creating, causing and maintaining the shortcomings that are now before us in immigration.

I believe that every member of the House, even government members, would echo similar kinds of cases.

This department needlessly and negatively impacts countless lives and families. We only need to read in the papers of concern and allegations of corruption at various levels. This concerns not just illegal migrants, but also visa and counsellor services abroad.

I must raise the question of regulations again. From what I have seen in the proposed legislation, the situations that I have brought before the House would not be resolved. I believe that Canadians should receive more than this when members of parliament debate legislation. Unfortunately, they have come to expect even less with empty words and broken promises. We have seen the lack of true public consultation and true problem solving in many prior bills, and this bill is no exception.

This is not new. The 1990 auditor general's report identified serious problems within the immigration department. Here we are, 10 years later, and they have still not been addressed. Overseas offices are grossly overtasked, resulting in waiting times of up to three years for approval.

Immigration plays an important role for Canada today, but under the present legislation and the present government what we see is really a department in chaos. The proposed legislation will not resolve the big issues before us. Bill C-31 requires a serious overhaul and the regulations must been seen in full in order to address the real immigration issues before us.

In light of these outstanding issues and others that other of my hon. colleagues in the House have mentioned, I am not able to support this bill unless it is extensively amended.

Immigration And Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Training; the hon. member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Human Resources Development.