Mr. Speaker, I will wrap up by illustrating a few points on how our system is abused.
I will cite five cases. One is the case of a Nigerian who was deported from the United States after spending more than a year in a U.S. jail for importing heroin. Another is the case of a former refugee from El Salvador who was convicted of numerous criminal offences, including breaking and entering and assault. Then there is a man from the former Yugoslavia who was sentenced to four and a half years in a Canadian prison for trafficking and possession of drugs. There is also a refugee claimant from Honduras who walked into British Columbia after being deported three times from the United States following three jail terms for trafficking cocaine under assumed names. There is the case of an HIV positive Guatemalan refugee who was twice convicted of trafficking drugs in British Columbia, once after being caught with 42 rocks of cocaine.
Apart from being convicted criminals, these men have several other things in common. First and foremost, they would not have gained access to the country if there had been effective safe third country practices in place.
Second, they were all determined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to be a danger to the public and were thus subject to deportation. In each case, the federal court overturned the ruling of the immigration department for exactly the same reason: the men were not provided with written explanations, called reasons, for the so-called danger opinions issued against them. Most of these men will remain in Canada while their cases work through the courts in an appeals process that may keep them living at taxpayers' expense for years to come.
Other countries learned long ago that it is essential to prevent illegal entrants from accessing the refugee determination system if they are not coming directly from the country where they claim persecution. They must be stopped at the point of entry and quickly removed. Dozens of countries are already doing this, making Canada a very attractive destination, for obvious reasons.
The rationale behind the idea of a safe third country is that genuine refugees fearing persecution will apply for refuge in the first safe country of arrival. Unless they have a good reason why they could not have applied in that first country, they are refused access and returned to the country from which they came. Might I say that a good reason is not that of coming to Canada to take advantage of our lenient and, I might add, litigious refugee determination system.
Article 31 of the UN convention makes a distinction between imposing a penalty on refugees entering illegally who come directly from a territory where they are threatened and those who enter illegally but are not arriving directly from the country of alleged persecution. Thus the convention itself recognizes that difference and we would not in any way be working against it.
I will close by reiterating the fact that I am truly disappointed that the motion will get only one hour of debate and will not have the opportunity to be voted on by all members of the House, which brings me back to my opening remarks about private members' business. Last week we voted on two private members' bills which were automatically made votable because they originated in the other place. As elected representatives of the people of Canada, I believe most if not all of us bring forward legislation that is important and relevant to our constituents. We must speak up about the way in which our private members' business is handled.