Mr. Chair, the lack of civility in this place has been caused by that minister and the comments he made that were referred to by my colleague were completely out of line. He should have resigned and he should still resign.
I will talk about what I have seen in my 12 years as a member of Parliament. I was first elected in 1993. At that time, we had an immigration system that was functioning quite well in many areas, but had its problems. Twelve years later our system is much worse in every area than it was back then. Yet we have had minister after minister stand up and make statements like the minister has made all night, statements that sound grand and great and that everything will get better. Hon. members can understand my frustration with 12 years of hearing ministers make those same kinds of statements. That is frustrating.
The best demonstration that the system has got worse, and members of Parliament on all sides knows this, is that in every one of our offices, even in a rural constituency like mine, more and more of the time of my staff is spent dealing with problems that should be dealt with by the minister's department.
I do not blame the employees of the immigration department. The minister and the government are to blame because they have not provided the resources and they have not provided law and rules that allow the system to work better.
I have a centre in Vegreville—Wainwright in the town of Vegreville. Those employees make that system work and the place work in spite of the difficult situation they are put in by the government. That simply is not acceptable.
The MPs offices are not supposed to be doing work that should rightfully and correctly be done by the minister's department. That simply has to change. We do this work because every one of us as members of Parliament wants to make the immigration system work.
I do not think there is a member of Parliament in the House who does not understand the importance of immigration to our country, to our communities. Out of desperation to make a broken system work, a system which has deteriorated more and more over the 12 years I have been here, we do what we have to do. We have our staff do what we have to do to just make it work in some fashion.
I want to get to a situation in my constituency. I often get people coming to our office who have had difficulty getting their parents and grandparents into the country. We were having a particularly large number of problems in this area, so back in November, my staff phoned one of the major offices in the country. There are some very good people inside the department who help our staff. We had several of these cases in a row. There was one situation where a family desperately tried to get their parents into the country, but nothing seemed to be happening. They were at the point where they were to be charged the fee again because of the department's delay in processing their application.
Department delays go beyond the time limit for medical checks, security checks and that kind of thing, so the fee is charged again,due to the breakdown in the work of the department. This family was coming up to one of these deadlines. My staff phoned the department and finally an employee, and I will not name him nor say from which office he is, said very candidly that sponsoring parents and grandparents was a zero priority with the government. That was the exact term he used.
I asked a question about this in the House back in November. I got no answer at all from the minister at that time. That is the kind of thing we are facing. Bringing parents and grandparents into our country is a zero priority. In other words, do not even both trying.
The Liberals claims they have fixed it. Forgive me for doubting that when I have seen for 12 years these same kinds of promises being made. Forgive me for doubting that they will fix it now, because they will not . The only thing that will fix the system is a change of government. It has come to that.
We can stand here tonight and listen again. We have had immigration ministers in these kinds of committees before. We can stand here all night, ask these questions and get no answers from the minister of any substance. He keeps saying things are great. They are not great. They are not going to be fixed by the government.
The minister should have resigned because of the comments he made. That is a demonstration of the lack of goodwill on the part of the government. We have to replace the government. That is the bottom line.
I really would like to ask some questions. I know my time is limited. I do not know if there is any point actually. I came here tonight intending to ask short questions so I would get short answers, but it is not going to happen. Therefore, in the two minutes I have, I will make some more comments.
One of the most common problems we have in our office is citizens, constituents, who marry outside the country and then want to bring their spouses, their husbands or wives, into our country. I heard the minister say awhile ago that 60% were processed within six months or something. I do not believe him because it does not happen. From all of my colleagues who I have talked to about this, it just does not fit. Six months is some number the Liberals have made up. They have it fudged somehow because that simply is not the case.
How cruel and uncaring on the part of the government, when a husband and wife are separated such as people in my constituency and in some cases for years because the government cannot do its job. It is not because they are a security risk or they have health problems. It is nothing like that. The government will not put the rules in place and will not give the resources to the good people we have working in our immigration departments. That is why it is not working.
Again, there is no use asking questions. We have to replace the government and we will do that as soon as we can.