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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizens.

Topics

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, that is precisely what the wording says. It says that a Canadian has a “solemn trust to uphold”. A solemn trust to uphold is a responsibility. The responsibility is to defend democracy, the rule of law and basic human rights. It is to ensure equality of opportunity and to guarantee freedom of speech. These are the ultimate responsibilities of being Canadian. That is what being Canadian is all about and that is why we should spell it out in our oath of citizenship.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Madam Speaker, I must admit that it is quite interesting to see that a member of this House is so passionate about an oath of allegiance.

I have listened to him closely, and he has spoken, of course, of recognizing fundamental values, including freedom of speech and the freedom to have fundamental rights.

Given all that he has said, I would like his opinion on certain clauses found in Bill C-18, particularly clauses 16 and 17, under which a judge has the right, in certain circumstances, to use evidence that would not normally be admissible, and to decide based on such inadmissible evidence. He is in no way required to reveal to the accused what led him to make the decision. Furthermore, this decision is final and may not be appealed.

This, in my view, is nothing like the oath of allegiance he is proposing, in which, of course, there does not appear to be much evidence of this fundamental right to justice, in the situation that I just described.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, the member is pointing out something that is very relevant.

One of the reasons for putting in the commitment to uphold the rule of law and basic human rights is to ensure that legislation always reflects that. The committee must carefully consider the sections that she has alluded to. I am not convinced that they are the ultimate answer for national security. It is really a national security issue for which the government has brought in these changes. It is concerned that it will receive information from foreign security and espionage agencies and not be able to divulge it in open court.

I would suggest that if it becomes absolutely necessary to have those sections, then it becomes all the more important to stress in the oath that we do believe in upholding basic human rights and the rule of law. When judges come to consider those cases, they will have those principles of the charter uppermost in their minds. Whatever they decide and however they decide, they will strike the finest line between the need for national security and the need to respect human rights and the rule of law in the broadest sense.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Lévis-et-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

This debate interests me a great deal. This new bill on Canadian citizenship is the third attempt since 1993 to add new elements to the legislation. During the previous two attempts, as we know, the bills died on the Order Paper at various stages, without being passed. I think that everyone hopes this will not happen again.

I think it would be good to remind those listening that, prior to 1947, Canadian citizenship did not exist. Prior to that, we were British subjects. Canadian citizenship was created in 1947. Canadian citizenship was reformed in 1977, but the same legislation has applied since then.

Having worked on this issue and given it some thought, I would like to say that citizenship, for anyone who lacks it, is a precious thing. When people are born into their citizenship, without knowing it, or thinking about it, they do not understand its importance. However, if we have the opportunity to travel abroad and to see to what extent the fact of having citizenship and having a passport is the way to exist and have one's rights recognized internationally, then we understand just how precious citizenship really is.

It is only normal for a country to monitor its citizenship and impose requirements. For example, it is perfectly normal to require applicants to know the laws of the country and at least one of its two official languages. The level at which these requirements must be met has yet to be defined. As we know, blunders were sometimes made in that regard.

It serves no one's interest if new citizens are not adequately prepared to make a useful contribution to this country and vote. In Quebec, as in other regions of Canada, it goes without saying that Canadian citizenship allows these new citizens to make a full contribution.

We understand the minister's intentions; he wanted to correct certain things which, in his mind and in other people's minds, needed to be corrected. I will mention a few of these things, and also the problems that we anticipate at this stage of consideration of Bill C-18.

The Bloc Quebecois supports the underlying principle of Bill C-18. However, and this is a general statement, a number of its provisions pose a problem and could easily generate controversy, particularly clauses 16 and 17. This means that many amendments will have to be proposed and, we hope, adopted, so as to correct a number of problems with Bill C-18.

The purpose of this bill is to require permanent residents to actually be in Canada during a total of three of the six years immediately preceding their application for Canadian citizenship.

There were two different bodies of case law, one based on the current requirement of actually living in Canada for one year, and the other to the effect that, assuming there were strong ties, there was no requirement to actually be in the country.

The bill is intended to clarify this requirement by making it necessary to have spent three of the past six years in the country. This seems a normal requirement. The only problem is that is it not easy to monitor permanent residence, and there are no means for doing so.

The second change I want to address is the introduction of a totally judiciary mechanism wherby a judge would decide whether a person's citizenship is to be revoked. The intent of this change is commendable, because until now this was a cabinet decision, except that the secrecy surrounding the current legal process and the means available to the judge in this connection make the minister's intended reform unworkable, because it ends up almost back to the old approach of secrecy and discretion.

There is reference to authorizing the governor in council—and everyone knows this means the government—to refuse citizenship to those who are in flagrant disregard of democratic freedoms and values. We can be in favour of this in principle, right off, except that there are no definitions for this flagrant and serious disregard for the principles and values underlying a free and democratic society. Hence the possibility of discretion, which would mean potential abuse of the use of this procedure by the government.

The minister may swear that his intentions are good. But even if we believe him, there could be another minister, in another government, who could use this provision, which might open the door to numerous violations of what could be called a basis right.

Another change that would have a big impact on Quebec and should be changed again to avoid being unfair to Quebeckers is the fact that children adopted abroad by Canadians could become citizens before first becoming permanent residents. Adopting a child is costly and time consuming. Parents prefer a procedure whereby they can adopt in a foreign country as long as they follow the rules of their province, since adoption falls under the responsibility of the provinces, Quebec in our case.

The problem for Quebec is that the Civil Code, which was unanimously passed, as we know, provides that international adoptions must be finalized in Quebec by a Quebec court. If the bill as it currently stands is not amended, Quebec parents would be heavily penalized. If I may, I would like to point out that when it comes to international adoption, Quebec parents are way ahead of parents in other provinces. Indeed, of the 2,200 adoptions in Canada, 950 were in Quebec.

Finally, since I am running out of time, I will add that the government intends to change the oath of allegiance to allow for a direct expression of allegiance to Canada, without removing the allegiance to the Queen. We believe this should be changed. I am happy to hear that members on the other side believe that the oath of allegiance to the Queen belongs to another era.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

It is an anachronism.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

My colleague is whispering to me it is an anachronism. Therefore, it should be changed. In conclusion, I will say that this new statute must allow all new citizens to exercise every right they are entitled to in this country, be it in Quebec or in Canada.

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member for Mercier what she thinks of the new procedure whereby, in order to acquire Canadian citizenship, an applicant would have to pledge loyalty, and I mean loyalty and allegiance, not only to the Queen, but also to Canada. The hon. member alluded to this earlier, and this is something that I personally object to, for all sorts of reasons.

I would like to know what the hon. member thinks of the government's intention to include in our political and constitutional context the word “Canada”. By including only the term “Canada”, the Canadian government is once again denying the existence of the Quebec nation within Canada.

So, I would like the hon. member to tell us where, in her opinion, we stand. As we know—and this is what I am concerned about—there is no right to appeal the decision made in secret by a judge. There is no right of appeal in this whole immigration process.

What would happen, and this is what I am worried about, if a new Canadian citizen has pledged loyalty and allegiance to Canada and then, realizing the existence of the Canadian and Quebec realities, and the merits of the claims made by Quebec sovereignists, becomes a sovereignist in Quebec, lives in a region or in Montreal, joins the Bloc Quebecois, the Parti Quebecois, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal or a national society, and becomes persona non grata in the eyes of the Canadian government, which closely follows this whole thing? The current minister of immigration made extremely harsh and unfair comments about our former colleague, Osvaldo Nunez, when he referred to deportation.

So, what would happen to an immigrant who becomes a sovereignist in good faith, under our democratic rules? Is there not a danger that a witch hunt will begin and that the government will invoke futile reasons, in secret, to revoke that person's Canadian citizenship, under the legislation, simply because that person is a sovereignist? Is there not a danger that the person could be sent back to his country, because he unfortunately became a sovereignist in Quebec, that is a good citizen of Quebec?

I would like to know what the hon. member for Mercier thinks of the government's intention to include the term Canada in the bill?

Citizenship of Canada ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, many other Quebeckers will surely have concerns about the question my hon. colleague just asked.

What I have to say is quite simple. Canadian citizenship gives new Quebeckers the same rights as those enjoyed by all Quebeckers, whether they are native born or new immigrants.

The law makes it possible, legal and even legitimate--as the Supreme Court ruled in answer to a question put by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs--to seek sovereignty.

So, if the minister's motivations are not all above board, legislation in Quebec and in Canada gives new citizens full access to the protection provided by our legal, judicial and legislative tradition. I do hope that the minister's motivations are pure, because, as I have said previously about another part of this legislation, other ministers will be appointed after him.

We will then have to fiercely protect the rights of new and native born Quebeckers.

Senior of the YearStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, retired general surgeon, Dr. John Moffat was recently named senior of the year by the City of Cambridge.

Dr. Moffat is chairman of the Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation, a former chairman of Wilfrid Laurier University and a founding father of the annual Can-Amera Games.

Never one to seek the limelight, Dr. Moffat's generosity, kindness and tireless community involvement has touched the lives of many people in my riding of Cambridge.

I join all members of the House in congratulating Dr. Moffat on receiving this award. I wish him all the best and I encourage him in his volunteer efforts to make Cambridge the best city in Canada.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Madam Speaker, we all know how important it was for Canada to join the coalition that broke the grip of terrorist and repressive forces in Afghanistan. However our responsibility cannot stop there. A year ago the fresh breezes of freedom began to blow in Afghanistan. Now, a year later, ominous clouds are on the horizon.

The school programs for girls, which sprang up due to the courage and conviction of many people, are now literally under fire. Last week alone, four of these schools were hit by the rocket attacks of Taliban related forces who want to crush the newfound freedom of this new generation of the Afghan people.

Valiant Canadians, like Sally Armstrong and the women's groups working with her, are alerting us to the need of a Canadian presence in Afghanistan to visibly work with agencies there to restore and protect these school programs to see young girls and boys educated and given the tools to help them work for a future of hope.

Canada was there shoulder to shoulder with our allies to liberate Afghanistan. We must now be there heart to heart and person to person to help build and maintain the programs that will make liberation in Afghanistan a reality for generations to come.

The Queen's JubileeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, the year 2002 marks the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty the Queen. It is an opportunity to reflect on the role she has played in the past 50 years, as well as an opportunity to look to the future of our nation.

As a way to commemorate the jubilee anniversary, the Golden Jubilee Medal was created to honour Canada's most extraordinary citizens. Twenty of these exceptional individuals are from my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac. These recipients have exemplified what makes Canada such an outstanding nation through their selfless giving of time and talent.

Today I am pleased to honour the following individuals from my riding: Rosie St-Onge, Roméo Lafrance, Noé Levesque, Morel Ouellette, Phillip Sharkey, Nina Briggs, Sister Evangeline Poirier, John Larsen, Teresa Madore, Michael Blanchard, Samuel Perkins, Eloise Craig, Roland Perry, Pauline Forrest, Hazen Craig, Dawn Lockwood, Harold Hatfield, Robert Simpson, Dr. Stephen Hart; and the 20th medal will be awarded posthumously to the late Dr. Joseph Cyr.

I once again congratulate all these deserving recipients.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Madam Speaker, the oil and gas industry has joined with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in an effort to create a detailed atlas of spawning and nursery areas for commercial fin fish and shellfish species on the Scotian shelf off Nova Scotia.

Using industry levied funds, DFO scientists in the maritime region will identify and map both spawning areas and key nursery and larvae concentration areas. The atlas will also include the times of the year when spawning occurs. Currently there is no single, comprehensive source of information regarding the locations of sensitive spawning and nursery areas for the Scotian shelf.

The atlas will be an important planning tool for industry and government in helping to identify marine areas that are sensitive to offshore oil and gas activities. Knowing the locations of biologically sensitive areas will greatly assist in the development of strategies to minimize or eliminate the potentially harmful environmental effects of proposed offshore oil and gas activities.

Work on the atlas is expected to be completed by early 2004.

Minority Official Language CommunitiesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Madam Speaker, on October 16 I had the great pleasure of announcing on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage funding of $44,917 for the Megantic English-Speaking Community Development Corporation to help finance its initiative to keep youth from the anglophone community in the region.

This project is intended to encourage young anglophones from the Frontenac—Mégantic region to stay or return to live in their community by offering them a lifestyle and professional environment adapted to their needs. Local employers are participating in this program as well, and a presentation will be shown to all high school students.

The Megantic English-Speaking Community Development Corporation demonstrates once again that it is by combining our efforts that we can encourage the full participation of official-language communities living in minority situations.

Congratulations on this marvellous initiative.

Project Red RibbonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, on Monday I participated in the launch of the Project Red Ribbon by the Vancouver chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Flying the red ribbon is a commitment by Canadians to drive sober. It is a highly visible, community public awareness program that depends on volunteer participation. It promotes the message that deaths and injuries resulting from impaired driving are needless tragedies and are totally preventable.

Each year, from November 1 to the first Monday after New Year's, volunteers ask motorists to tie a red ribbon to a visible location on their vehicles. This simple public display is a sign of respect for the thousands of Canadians who have been either killed or injured by drunk drivers.

Everyone can support the Project Red Ribbon by tying a red ribbon to their vehicles. It also serves as a reminder to drive sober at all times, not only during the upcoming holiday season.

By tying a red ribbon to our vehicles, we make a personal commitment to not drink and drive.

Veterans WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the numbers tell the tale: 7,000 in the Boer War; 650,000 in the first world war; over a million in the second world war; almost 27,000 in Korea; and some 125,000 in peacekeeping missions. These are the number of people who have served us over the past 100 years. Well over 100,000 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting our values of peace and freedom.

Our veterans gave us a country we are proud to call home. They gave us what one great leader called “the last full measure of their devotion”. For that we remain eternally grateful.

It is our job to impress upon a new generation of Canadians the length and breadth of their heritage. It is their birthright. Just as we owe our veterans our gratitude and remembrance, we owe our young people their history. In turn, we call on them to carry the torch of remembrance. In doing so, we meet the demands of the theme of this year's Veterans Week to remember our past so that we might preserve our future.

Izzy AsperStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, at a conference in Montreal, the president of CanWest Global, Izzy Asper, addressed a private meeting of 400 where no journalists were admitted, except for the one from The Gazette , which is owned by Izzy Asper.

The president of CanWest Global attacked universities and the media in general, accusing them of spreading anti-Semitic messages, calling them lazy, stupid and ignorant of history, insinuating that only he is right and everyone else is wrong.

Why did the Minister of Canadian Heritage not challenge the inaccurate and contemptuous remarks made by Izzy Asper?

The president of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec quite rightly took strong issue with Izzy Asper's remarks, his slanderous criticism of the media and the fact that he used one of his journalists to spread his message throughout the country.

This confirms our fears of seeing a handful of owners use the media to push their own ideas.

Bette MacDonaldStatements By Members

November 7th, 2002 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to rise in the House to pay tribute to one of my constituents, Bette MacDonald.

Bette MacDonald is a well known Cape Breton entertainer who has been a household name for the past 15 years. During her time with the Summertime Review she became well known for her famous character, Mary Morrison.

I also had the opportunity to be in a commercial with her, which is quite the experience.

Not only is she a household name in Cape Breton, but she is also known throughout the country. She is now the star of Rideau Hall , a hit comedy series seen on Friday nights on CBC.

I, along with all Cape Bretoners, are very pleased that she was recently honoured with a Gemini Award for best individual performance in a comedy program or series.

She is a proud Cape Bretoner and a proud Canadian, and we congratulate her on her success.

Child PornographyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it has been reported this week that the provincial and territorial justice ministers have asked that the common use of conditional sentences be reviewed, especially for those charged with sexual assault against children and those in possession of child pornography.

In Calgary on October 9, James Wilson pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, assault and obstruction of justice. The sentence for these crimes was one year of community service.

On October 17 in Winnipeg, the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned a nine month jail sentence given to Leonard Elder, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to distributing child pornography. The new sentence for this crime, a 15 month conditional sentence to be served in the community.

On October 5 in Ottawa, Arthur Tremblay was sentenced to a six month conditional sentence and two years probation. He had accumulated over 30,000 pornographic images. The crown prosecutor asked for a jail sentence to reflect the seriousness of the crime.

It is very apparent that our children are in very real danger when our courts are the only thing standing between the pervert and our children.

Order of the Legion of HonourStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, this evening, Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier and Mrs. Gisèle Lalonde will receive the Order of the Legion of Honour from the French government. On the same occasion, Jean Poirier will be promoted within this order, and made an Officer of the National Order of Merit.

This is one of the most prestigious honours in the francophone community. It is well deserved by these three individuals who have been devoted to the Canadian Francophonie for many years.

We are all grateful for the work that Senator Gauthier, Mrs. Lalonde and Mr. Poirier have done.

I regret not being able to attend this evening's ceremony, which the embassy has described as an opportunity to pay tribute to the entire Franco-Ontarian community.

I wish, however, to thank these three French Canadians from Ontario for their involvement and to congratulate them on this well-deserved decoration.

RamadanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Canada's New Democrats I wish to extend our very best wishes to Canada's 650,000 Muslims who have begun their annual spiritual journey of Ramadan.

This ninth month of the Muslim calendar is considered to be a particularly holy time, during which worship and reflection are meant to bring peace and illumination to the mind and purity to the soul.

Tragic international events have led to misrepresentation and false characterizations of Islam here in Canada. It is my hope that during Ramadan Canadians of all faiths would take the time to learn about the rich culture and heritage of their Muslim neighbours. Let us all recommit to better understanding of diversity to promote international peace and harmony at home.

May Allah, peace be upon him, bless all who seek his guidance.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a report published this week, the Canadian Council on Social Development demonstrated unequivocally that not only has the 1989 promise to eliminate child poverty not been respected but, in fact, the situation has gotten worse.

Since the report came out, the Prime Minister has not said one word about the dismal failure of his policies to fight poverty. Why? Because he knows perfectly well that he is the main reason children and their parents have gotten poorer.

After slashing the employment insurance program that was built on 60 years of collective efforts, after going after the source of funding for our hospitals and social programs, now the government would rather dole out millions of dollars to its cronies than transfer to Quebec and the provinces the funds needed to keep children from going to school on an empty stomach.

This is a sad and sorry legacy for a head of state who is more concerned about saving a sinking ship than caring for hungry children.

Mayor of VancouverStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an extraordinary man, His Worship Philip Owen, the longest serving consecutive-term mayor in the history of Vancouver.

During his nine years at the helm, Vancouver maintained a triple A credit rating and was judged for the last three years on the William Mercer Index as the best city in the world in which to live.

However, the distinguishing feature of Philip Owen's career as mayor is his vision and courage in implementing an innovative solution to the growing open drug problem in our city. Modelled on the successful approach of some large European cities, he treated substance abuse as a health problem and established a comprehensive, integrated strategy with four pillars: prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. With 90% community support he brought together three levels of government under the Vancouver Agreement to implement this plan.

He raised his voice for the forgotten and voiceless of our city. In recognition he recently received the B.C. Provincial Health Officers Award, given for the first time to a non-medical professional.

Mayor of VancouverStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Dauphin--Swan River.

Canada-U.S. BorderStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, on October 11, Michel Jalbert, a francophone Canadian, was arrested for buying fuel at a U.S.-Canada border crossing, which is a local custom. He was charged with entering the United States without an inspection at customs and with possession of firearms.

Mr. Jalbert has not been offered any sort of plea bargain or help, does not know a word of English, has a pregnant wife and a five year old daughter and is not expected to be home by Christmas.

What is the value of being a Canadian citizen? Why does the minister not intervene in times of need like this? Why has the minister not been in contact with the American ambassador to protest in the strongest terms this abuse of a Canadian citizen?

The rights of a Canadian citizen living next to the Americans and the rights of landed immigrants appear to be of little interest to the Liberal government.

TerrorismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the transnational terrorist networks of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah share a common identity and purpose. Each seeks, by its own acknowledgment and assertion, the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews everywhere. Each partakes of a culture of incitement, the teaching of contempt and the demonizing of the Jew, that is the most proximate cause of terror in the Middle East and beyond. Each issues religious fatwahs proclaiming Jews and Judaism the perfidious enemy of Islam, distorting Islam in its demeaning of Jews. Each seeks the destruction of peace while repressing Palestinians who seek peace or report on repression, as in the recent Hamas assault on Palestinian journalists. Each, as CSIS has reported, operates in Canada.

Astonishingly enough, none has yet to be named to Canada's list of terrorist entities, while the political wing of Hezbollah terror is sanitized. It is past time for Canada to do the right thing, to name terrorist networks as terrorist entities, as mandated by our undertakings under UN Security Council resolutions and domestic law.