It is the subject. It was in the speech of the hon. member who spoke and I am responding to that.
Now, I want to deal with the issue as such, and it is a pleasure for me to do so.
The hon. member raised a very good point as regards children born of a Canadian father and a foreign mother. It seems extremely unfair to me that, currently, the child of a Canadian father and a foreign mother is a Canadian—we are talking about pre-1977 cases—while the child of a Canadian mother and a foreign father is not. From a biological point of view, it is easy to see that this is ridiculous. If anything, it should at least be the contrary. There would then be some semblance of fairness. In fact, some religious denominations—such as the Jewish religion—are based on the principle that the only parent who can always be recognized is, by definition, the mother. It seems to me that there is an element of unfairness in the existing legislation. I mentioned it on several occasions and it should be corrected.
I want to mention the case of a constituent of mine. A child was abducted in my riding. That child was my daughter's friend when she was in school, in junior kindergarten. Her name was Tina Lynn Malette. She is no longer a child, she is now an adult. The child was born in 1978, but that is a coincidence. Imagine a child born one year earlier.
Her father was Tunisian, while her mother was Canadian. The child, who was living in my riding, was abducted by the father on a Sunday afternoon, when he was using his visiting rights. That child was taken to Tunisia and remained there against her will until the age of 18. She is now living in Canada.
Several attempts were made to get her out. A committee was set up. It included some parliamentarians like me, and Max Keeping, from the television station CJOH, in Ottawa, was our honorary president. We collected funds, hired lawyers and did everything we could to get that child back. However, we did not succeed, because according to certain laws of a religious nature in that country, the rights of the father were basically the only ones that counted.
All this to say that, one day, the child was able to come back to Canada after running away from her home, when she was 18, and going to our embassy in Tunisia. Incidentally, I met the official who helped her make it back to Canada. Whenever I see him, I thank him for his help. But that is not the point. Imagine if that child had been born a year earlier. She would not have had the right to come back. She would have had to apply for citizenship, because her father was a Tunisian living in Canada with her mother, a Canadian by the name of Evelyn Malette, in my riding.
So, there is no one in the whole bureaucracy who can convince me that this works. In my opinion, it does not work.
Therefore the bill should be referred to committee for study. I will share a few worries nonetheless. Some will tell us—and we will be hearing this—that there should be a procedure, for example, for people who have been imprisoned in the United States for 20 years or so and who ask, on the day they get out to come back to Canada, a country they have never seen, because they lived here when they were one or two or three years old. That is possible. Perhaps in the parliamentary committee certain amendments will be needed to make corrections.
That does not mean that the bill in general is bad. I think that it has identified a situation that ought to be corrected. In that respect, I agree with the hon. member who sponsored the bill, but I do not agree with his comments about the minister.
Now, for those who say that there is a need to protect those who come from abroad, and perhaps to protect those who were imprisoned right until they decided to return to Canada, there, too, is a problem.
This is my question, right away. Let us take the case of two different individuals, one born January 1, 1977 and the other January 1, 1978. How is it that all this security clearance is needed? They might be friends, they might have been released from prison on the same day, they might have been partners in crime. One of them will require all this security check, and the other nothing at all. I will need to hear an explanation in committee if I am going to understand how Canada is safer for admitting one of these individuals without question, and the other with a security clearance.
Finally, I am curious to know what exactly is meant by this security requirement. “Inadmissible on grounds of security” is a very broad criterion in the Immigration Act as it now stands.
I know of a case. There is a man in my riding who is in his fifties. He came here from Europe, but I will not specify the country because this could identify him, as there are not that many immigrants in my riding.
This person comes here from Europe. He worked for a number of years on a farm in my riding and then applied to change his visa worker status to landed immigrant status, and is refused. He is told that this is because of a criminal record: shoplifting when he was a student. Thirty years later, this person, now probably a grandfather, is inadmissible as a permanent resident of Canada. Let us not lose sight of the fact that he is already living here. I have some reservations about these procedures.
Yes, there may be reason in committee to tighten up certain things in the bill. We must not, however, claim that there are not injustices at the present time. I believe that there are injustices, for all the reasons I have set out in my speech.