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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was evidence.

Topics

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague about recommendations 6 and 7 of the report. Recommendation 6 talks about encouraging temporary foreign workers and recommendation 7 talks about Canada encouraging employers to train workers with new skills and to give them a tax credit for that.

In British Columbia we have seen temporary foreign workers brought in on the new rapid transit line in Vancouver, in particular, to do tunnelling. The employer had a new machine that did the tunnelling. It refused to train Canadian workers on how to operate the machine. What can we do to ensure that kind of training takes place?

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. Member for Chambly—Borduas has less than two minutes to reply to the question.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. This is precisely a concern that should be brought to the attention of the House. The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities held meetings in Canada’s provincial capitals last year to investigate two matters.

First, the members of the committee wanted to investigate access to employment and stability of employment. All the stakeholder groups that appeared before us insisted on the importance of putting in place measures that would enable people to adapt to new trades and to meet new standards. The Bloc is in agreement, provided that people are not forced to relocate.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that I will not have much time since we are winding up debate on this motion, which is exceedingly important to the Bloc Québécois, but above all for the regions of Quebec reeling under the full force of the forestry crisis. I represent one of those regions. In the 1960s, there were 45 sawmills and three pulp and paper mills in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. Today there is only one pulp and paper mill and, at most, 20 sawmills still active.

We all knew that a forestry crisis was coming and that the government needed to provide appropriate measures to deal with the crisis. This government was elected two years ago and for two years we have been calling on it to prepare to deal with an unmanageable crisis—the forestry crisis—and to develop appropriate measures. Since the government is incapable of producing such measures, we decided to offer some solutions.

Through the standing committee responsible for this issue, we submitted 11 recommendations. I do not want to go further on that point because I know that I do not have much time remaining. However, I do want to speak about the famous $1 billion that will be held in trust and of which the Bloc will be in favour.

Since October, the Conservatives have been coming into my riding to say how concerned they are about the forestry crisis. A Conservative was even elected in the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, after saying that he would personally deal with this crisis. In my opinion, this member was practically elected on the basis of misleading statements because he is not the one who made the government change its mind. It has taken 10, 15, 20, 50, even 100 members to explain to this government—and especially to the 11 Conservative members from Quebec—that it understood nothing, did not listen to anything and did not want to hear anything. We told the Conservatives that the crisis would strike them with full force.

The Bloc will vote in favour of this trust. Nobody on the other side, especially not the 11 Conservative members elected from Quebec, can say that the Bloc is useless in Ottawa, quite the contrary.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

FinanceCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Accordingly, the vote will be deferred until 5:30 p.m. later today.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 5th, 2008 / 1:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to table three petitions today.

First, I have a petition that has been signed by dozens of people from my home town of Hamilton who are opposed to the so-called security and prosperity partnership.

The petitioners are very concerned about the government's plan for further continental integration because they rightly believe that the SPP is really NAFTA on steroids.

The petitioners believe that this agenda, which was initiated by the Liberals and is now being carried on by the Conservatives, threatens our sovereignty. They are particularly worried about the impact that continental integration will have on undermining Canadian standards related to health, security, energy and food.

They believe that the government is working with the United States and Mexico to put in place a deal that will bypass Parliament and ignore the interests of Canadians. They want to see this deal stopped.

The NDP is the only party opposing the SPP and these petitioners are supporting our call to halt implementation of the SPP.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am also rising to table a petition signed by dozens of people on the subject of the age of consent.

The petitioners are aware that Bill C-22, which raises the age of consent to 16, is currently languishing in the Liberal dominated Senate. They are calling on Parliament to pass the bill without further delay.

TaxationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising yet again to table more petitions on the urgent need for this House to pass Bill C-390, a bill that would allow tradespeople and indentured apprentices to be able to deduct travel and accommodation expenses from their taxable incomes, so they can secure and maintain employment at construction sites that are more than 80 kilometres from their homes.

This time the petitions are signed by members and friends of the building trades throughout Ontario and Nova Scotia. With another federal budget just around the corner, the petitioners are hoping that this time they will get the same treatment that long haul truckers got in the government's last budget. All they are asking for is some basic fairness. Surely, they deserve at least that.

Human RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions that I would like to table this afternoon.

The first is signed by 35 residents of the province of Saskatchewan who are concerned about the protection of transgender and transsexual Canadians. They know that they are subject to discrimination, harassment and violence based on their gender identity and gender expression. They often suffer injustices such as the denial of employment, housing, access to transsensitive health care, and the inability to obtain identification documents because of their gender identity and gender expression.

Therefore, they call on Parliament to immediately implement legislation to update the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Security and Prosperity PartnershipPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by 77 residents of Alberta and a few from Victoria, B.C.

They are calling on the Government of Canada to stop further implementation of the security and prosperity partnership of North America agreement with the United States and Mexico until there is a democratic mandate from the people of Canada, until there is reasonable parliamentary oversight, and until there is consideration of its profound consequences on Canada's sovereignty and its ability to adopt autonomous and sustainable, economic, social and environmental policy.

They also urge the government to conduct a transparent and accountable public debate on the SPP process involving meaningful public consultations with civil society and a full legislative review, including the work, recommendations and reports of all SPP working groups, and then a full debate and vote in Parliament.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise before the House and discuss Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Canada has a long and honoured tradition of welcoming people from all over the world. Each year we admit more than 95 million people to our country, including 260,000 new immigrants. The vast majority of these people are individuals who enrich the fabric of our society through new visions, beliefs, languages and cultural backgrounds. However, some people try to abuse our openness and pose a danger to our country. Canadians insist on vigilance against these people who pose a danger to our nation, and in some cases, to other nations around the world. Such people cannot be allowed to stay in Canada.

This government wants what Canadians want. That is why we are unwavering in our determination to safeguard national security and to protect the safety and security of the Canadian public. This government has taken its commitment very seriously.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act provides the government with a process to remove non-Canadian citizens who are inadmissible on grounds of security, violating human rights, spying, or serious criminality or organized criminality. Through intelligence and investigation, Canadian authorities determine the risks posed by various individuals and recommend whether they should be allowed to remain in our country.

During these investigations, authorities must protect confidential information, such as sources, third party and foreign agency information and methods of operation. For example, some individuals have ties to larger organizations that are under ongoing investigation by our national security agencies. These investigations do not simply stop after the arrest of one person. Investigative techniques should not be disclosed as this could expose the investigation.

Furthermore, as human sources are often used during these types of investigations, revealing their identity could jeopardize not only the investigation but the safety of the source or even the source's family. As such, when the removal of a dangerous foreign national from Canada is sought and confidential information forms part of the case against the person, the security certificate process is relied upon if the person is unwilling to leave voluntarily. Such a process has existed in one form or another for decades.

Bill C-3 responds to the Supreme Court ruling in the Charkaoui case. In February 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the use of security certificates generally. However, it did find aspects of the security process that required legislative improvement.

Bill C-3 introduces important new measures that will help better protect the rights of individuals subject to security certificates. There are three major components of Bill C-3: the new special advocate function; the new detention review rights awarded to foreign nationals; and the new rights of appeal in relation to federal court decisions.

In the Charkaoui case, the Supreme Court found that the government must do more to protect the interests of a person subject to a security certificate during closed hearings where confidential information is presented.

The first major change proposed by Bill C-3 is the introduction of a special advocate into the security certificate process and certain other proceedings under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The special advocate's core role is to protect the interests of the subject by challenging the government's claim to the confidentiality of information, as well as its relevance and weight. The special advocate will also be able to make written and oral submissions to the court and cross-examine witnesses.

We realize that every case will be different and every case will have different needs. That means we cannot anticipate every twist and turn. That is why we are also adding a catch-all clause, section 85.2(c). This section authorizes the judge to provide the special advocate with any further powers that are necessary to protect the interests of the individual.

The public safety and national security committee reviewed Bill C-3 and after hearing from many witnesses, agreed to include several amendments related to the special advocate section of this bill. The amendments to the special advocate role enhance the fairness of the security certificate process.

The Minister of Justice will establish a list of persons. The public safety and national security committee has set out specific criteria to establish who may act as a special advocate.

Some of the qualifications include: membership in good standing of the bar of a province; relevant litigation experience; appropriate security clearance; and that their independence from the government as well as having no conflict of interest is ensured. The special advocate is a party to the proceedings to protect the interests of the subject and there should be nothing that impairs this ability.

As well, when a judge appoints a special advocate, he or she will have to consider the preference of the person subject to the certificate. When a person subject to a certificate requests that a specific individual be appointed as a special advocate in his or her case, the judge will have to appoint that person, unless satisfied that the appointment would unreasonably delay the proceedings, would place the individual in a conflict of interest, or would create a risk of inadvertent disclosure of information or evidence that could harm national security or endanger the safety of any person.

The special advocate will be able to communicate with the person who is subject to a security certificate without any restrictions before he or she sees the confidential information. An unclassified summary of the case would be provided to discuss with the individual. This should substantially assist the special advocate in preparing for the closed proceedings.

Once the special advocate is privy to the classified and confidential information, he or she can no longer communicate with anyone about the proceeding while it is ongoing, except as specifically authorized by the judge. This is to avoid any inadvertent disclosure of confidential information to the subject.

Again, I urge members to remember the importance of safeguarding such information to protect our national security and ensure the security of various sources.

However, even after seeing the confidential information, the special advocate can apply to the judge for permission to communicate with the person subject to the certificate. If the judge grants the request, the judge may impose conditions on the communication to ensure that confidential information is not disclosed.

Although the bill states that a person subject to a certificate does not enjoy a solicitor-client relationship with the special advocate, an important amendment was made by the committee. The change states that communication between the two individuals is to be protected as if a solicitor-client privilege existed between them. The amendment also states that the special advocate is not a compellable witness in any proceeding. This change further protects the interests of both individuals.

The second major change proposed by Bill C-3 is related to detention reviews. Under the security certificate process, a judge of the Federal Court reviews the detention of a person subject to a security certificate and determines if it is still warranted.

Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling on a security certificate in the Charkaoui case, permanent residents were entitled to detention reviews within 48 hours after their initial arrest and every six months afterwards. However, foreign nationals were only entitled to a single review 120 days after the certificate was found to be reasonable.

The court ruled that foreign nationals should have the same detention review rights as permanent residents. Bill C-3 enacts this ruling into law. All detention reviews will take place within the first 48 hours after arrest and every six months after the conclusion of the previous review.

Detention pending removal in a security certificate case is based on periodic assessment of the danger to public safety or national security. The person may be kept in detention until such time as he or she leaves the country or is removed from Canada. The security certificate process is about removing non-Canadian citizens from Canada because they represent threats to public safety and national security. Let me again stress this important aspect of the security certificate process, that a person would be released from custody if the person agreed to leave this country.

The last important change I wish to explain today is that of a new right of appeals. As it currently stands, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act contains what is called a privative clause. A privative clause is contained in legislation that limits judicial review.

Bill C-3 will eliminate the privative clause. Appeals would only be allowed against the final decisions of the court on the reasonableness of the certificate and only if the judge decides a serious legal issue has been raised for the consideration of the Court of Appeal. This requirement, called a certificate of a question, is consistent with the way other decisions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act may be appealed.

Finally, Bill C-3 proposes transitional provisions that would allow for cases in progress under the current legislation to recommence under the new legislative regime if new certificates are signed by ministers. The transitional provisions are designed to ensure appropriate and ordered change from the old legislation to the new and would provide the benefits of the new legislation to the individuals subject to a security certificate.

If a new certificate is signed, the case would be referred afresh to the court to determine the reasonableness of the certificate. Special advocates would participate in the new court proceeding. Detained individuals would continue to be detained and would have the right to apply for new detention reviews with the benefit of participation from a special advocate.

Similarly, cases before the Immigration and Refugee Appeal Board where confidential information is relied upon would also benefit from the special advocate provisions. Bill C-3 gives thoughtful deliberation to the Supreme Court's concerns and takes into consideration the recommendations from several House of Commons and Senate committees.

Security certificates are a vital national security tool. We have a responsibility to our citizens and to the international community to make sure we do not become a safe haven for individuals with links to terrorism, serious criminality or organized crime or those who wish to spy in our country or who have violated human rights.

We also recognize that we have a responsibility to ensure that we do this in a manner that demonstrates clearly the Canadian values of justice, fairness and respect for human rights. Bill C-3 achieves this necessary balance. I encourage the hon. members of the House to support Bill C-3.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the intervention in the third reading debate on Bill C-3 regarding security certificates. It is a piece of legislation that we in this corner of the House have very severe problems with, given the way it compromises some of the fundamental principles of our justice system.

I would like to ask the member specifically why he would be in favour of an immigration process to deal with some of the most severe crimes that can be contemplated against society and our country, to deal with questions of terrorism, threats against national security and espionage. Why would he propose dealing with them through an immigration process which only, ultimately, would remove those people into another jurisdiction and never see them charged or punished for those very serious crimes?

Why would we not want to insist on some kind of criminal proceeding against people who undertake those very serious crimes, prove it in court and make sure that they are punished for those crimes, rather than just to see them removed into another jurisdiction, never to be punished for engaging in that kind of activity?

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, that question opens up the whole area that the NDP has somewhat resisted in Bill C-3. It really only deals with people who wish to come to this country, who are not Canadian citizens and who represent a danger or threat to Canada's security and safety. Many of these situations are not as a result of crime in Canada, which is where we could lay charges, but they result from associations with criminal acts and a whole host of things that are off of our shores to start with.

These are people who, for safety and security reasons, are not welcome in Canada. They should be removed. Under the Immigration Act they would have been removed but they have used our court system to argue that they should remain here for a variety of reasons.

This act itself does not deal with Canadians who have committed crimes in Canada. It does not deal with foreign nationals or others who have committed crimes in Canada. It could but it does not deal with those people. Generally speaking, it has do with their inadmissibility here in the first place.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have heard from a number of constituents in my riding of Simcoe North on this very important topic. Often they are alarmed and seized by the notion that the process for security certificates involves secret trials. I am sure Canadians would be interested to know why in these rare circumstances there have to be confidences kept in the process.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could expand a bit on why that needs to be the case and assure Canadians that this is an important confidence that needs to be kept in these rare circumstances.

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason for secrecy deals with the issue of the protection of a number of other people. It may very well be the protection of people in Canada, or it may be the protection of people outside of Canada or other agencies.

As I indicated, with some of the individuals, it is a long-standing, ongoing investigation. To reveal, in public, all the sources and witnesses would put others at risk. It would also put at risk investigations that may be ongoing in our country and also in other countries around the world. Therefore, there is need for secrecy.

It is not like a criminal trial, where one individual is on trial. These hearings determine whether people should remain in the country or be removed. There is a whole litany of reasons why it is necessary to keep the information confidential, to protect both individuals and other agencies.