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House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not know I was that hot.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

I could not resist either.

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We note that the charter does not really apply to potential immigrants trying to come into Canada. If the minister's instruction is to fast track foreign worker applicants from Mexico as opposed to parents coming from India, the charter cannot prevent the minister from doing so. If Tim Hortons decides that it wants workers from the Philippines instead of, say, Pakistan, there is nothing in the charter that would prevent that.

Further, the Conservative government said that the minister's instructions will be transparent as they will be published in the Canada Gazette and on the immigration department's website. The reality is that the publication of these damaging instructions is not subject to debate or approval in the House of Commons. Elected members of Parliament would have no say over the minister's instructions. That is not what democracy is about.

A large number of immigrant groups have said that they came to Canada because of democracy. They want each member of Parliament to have a say over what kind of immigration policies are established across Canada. They do not want the minister to have the power to say yes or no to individual applications, even retroactively. There is just not enough trust for that to happen.

They also say that if the minister is so sure about these recommendations, why not allow the bill to be split? The immigration portion which is clause 6 of the budget bill, should be taken out of the bill and considered at the citizenship and immigration committee, rather than jamming it into the House of Commons finance committee.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that these immigration changes are in a finance bill and at the finance committee. Perhaps the Conservative government sees immigrants as economic units rather than human beings and people who bring families together and people who establish communities. To the government they are just economic units. They are here to work, to give more profit to the employers, to the big corporations so that they could pay less. Those people have less power. They probably would not dare to complain because the minute they got fired they would be deported. They would be asked to leave. They have very little power.

The immigrant groups are saying that if immigrants are good enough to work here, they are good enough to stay here. That is why the immigrant groups across the country find that Bill C-50 is blatantly anti-democratic, secretive and dangerous.

The Conservative government in its PowerPoint presentation said that ministerial instructions will not allow the minister to intervene in individual cases. The reality is that in clause 6 of the bill, by changing the word “shall” to “may”, applicants who meet all immigration requirements, who receive sufficient points and follow all the rules can still be rejected. The more dangerous part is that because of the change in wording, their rejection cannot be appealed to the courts. The immigrants and lawyers have no access to the Federal Court as a last appeal. In fact, according to the Canadian Bar Association and lawyers who are familiar with this change, that is putting the minister above the law, which again is very dangerous.

The Conservatives also say that families would still be united under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. What they failed to say and the reality is that the minister and her officials would no longer have to consider humanitarian and compassionate grounds if the family member is outside Canada.

A few days ago a lawyer with Parkdale Community Legal Services presented the case of a father of a little child. The father is still in Kenya, which is a very dangerous place. The mother of the little child is trying desperately to get the father to Canada. They have applied for the father to come to Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. If Bill C-50 is approved, this case would probably not be considered again.

The Conservatives said that reforms would bring flexibility to visa offices to bring in steelworkers to meet labour needs. The reality is that much of the labour shortage is also occurring in the lower skills sector and these potential immigrants would never have enough points to come to Canada as permanent residents, even though they may have relatives in Canada. Instead, they are being rushed in as temporary foreign workers, cheap labour, and they will never qualify as citizens or be able to bring their families to Canada.

In conclusion, the immigration changes embedded in Bill C-50, a budget implementation bill, are bad for immigrants, bad for working families and certainly bad for Canada, which is why we certainly have to split the bill so we can defeat the immigration portion of the budget implementation bill.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:45 p.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation

It is amazing, Mr. Speaker, when we look at the NDP's record of what that party has been doing for immigration. That party always picks the most negative and extreme portions of anything that is every proposed in the House.

That party voted against reducing the landing fees. That party voted against anything that was done in immigration. Look at the NDP's record. All the time those members talk about how bad the system is, but they never come up with anything that is positive.

Everyone is complaining about the mess in the immigration system created by the Liberal Party over 13 years. That party created the mess that we have today.

Today, it takes almost 10 years for people to come into this country. People want workers to come into this country. The bill addresses all those issues.

The NDP says that nothing has been addressed. Can the NDP not see what a mess the immigration system is in now? Those members should talk to the people. They should talk to my friends. People complain every day about how terrible the system is, how they cannot get their loved ones into this country, how they cannot get workers into this country, how they cannot get skilled workers into this country.

Finally, somebody is doing something, and what do we have? That party is doing exactly what it did on Afghanistan. They do not want to go there. They do not want to do anything. They do not want anything positive to happen in this country. All they want to do is fearmonger.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering why the hon. member is so negative toward the NDP.

We have said that there should not be any landing fees. We call it a head tax. We opposed it when the Liberals introduced it. Why did we oppose it? Because the Conservative government only reduced it to half. We believe it should be reduced entirely. There should be no head tax for any immigrants.

On foreign credentials, in January 2007, we had a seven point plan saying that there should be a comprehensive, one stop shop for immigrants before they come into the country, or even when they are in the country, so that they can get all the information about foreign credentials. Lo and behold, the Conservatives adopted a part of the seven point plan. They established some pilot projects in four visa offices overseas, but there are two key areas on which they have done nothing on the foreign credentials. They did not speed up the recognition of foreign credentials.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to watch this lover's spat on the issue of immigration. On one side the NDP wants to separate a portion of a finance bill which has nothing to do with immigration, and on the other the government is trying to justify what it is doing because it thinks it wants to do something about immigration.

Does the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina truly believe in increasing the number of student visas in this country? Does she truly believe in fixing the system? Does she truly believe in family reunification? Does she believe in increasing the numbers? If so, then why did she and her party vote against the positive Liberal plan that was associated with dollars?

Both her party and the Conservative Party voted down a Liberal plan that would have put $1.2 billion toward integration and settlement of those who are here and those who would come here in the future. It would have provided $700 million to increase the efficiency and operation of the system to ensure that we could accommodate those who had come here under plans which might not have been recognized. This plan would have provided another $88 million for foreign credentials recognition and ensure that people with qualifications would be matched to the available jobs. Our plan would have provided an additional $10 million in order to encourage an increase in the number of student visas from 66,000 to 100,000.

Why did her party vote against that?

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member had even read Bill C-50, he would have noticed that the bill does not mention student visas.

We would not be talking about splitting the bill had the Liberal Party of Canada had the courage to stand up for immigrants and vote against Bill C-50 at second reading. Instead, we saw most of those members get up and walk out of the chamber. Where is their backbone? Where is their courage?

For two weeks nonstop we heard negative comments about the bill, which is fine, but those members are all about talk. Where is the action? What happened to standing up for their principles? We would not have to talk about splitting Bill C-50 had the Liberals actually stood and voted against it at second reading last Thursday.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc will support the NDP motion. However, it is important for all members of this House to know that yesterday, the Standing Committee on Finance, including the NDP members of the committee, unanimously adopted a motion asking the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to give its recommendations about the part of the bill that concerns immigration and to report thereon to the Standing Committee on Finance.

Obviously, the motion was put forward because nobody knew what would happen to the NDP motion. Nobody knew whether or when it would be put forward. We had to increase our chances of getting a professional opinion from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. It was the right thing to do. However, if we manage to split the bill up, that would be even better.

I would like to know if my colleague is at least considering the possibility that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration might study the part of the bill that concerns immigration. We have to give the committee the opportunity. Should the Standing Committee on Finance's unanimous motion not go some way toward making that happen?

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member for his support.

I am a member of the immigration committee. We will certainly study the bill and make recommendations. It is very important that we pull clause 6 out of the finance bill, the immigration portion, and study it very carefully.

Bill C-50 was introduced without any consultations or studies. That is why immigrant groups, lawyers, people who work with potential immigrants collectively are saying from coast to coast to coast that the bill needs serious study. It should be done in the immigration committee.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is time for only a very brief question or comment. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me simply say that the whole country saw it as a dirty trick when the Conservatives snuck an immigration bill into the finance bill to try to ram through their radical reform of immigration policy without the scrutiny of oversight or debate or the House of Commons being able to deal with it. I want to thank the member for Trinity—Spadina for giving us at least this brief opportunity to provide some venting on what they are trying to do.

Relying on temporary foreign workers to fill labour market vacancies is not a human resources strategy at all. It is a recipe for social unrest. It should be condemned, not expanded, and I thank my colleague for raising it today.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope the Conservative government allows this motion to be voted on so that we can have a thorough debate about this immigration bill. The budget in front of the finance committee is complex. Certainly there will be a lot of discussion on the complex financial issues. As for having the immigration piece pulled in, given there are so many clauses in it, there really needs to be a detailed analysis.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, who will have about five minutes before statements by members.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the circumstances of today have shortened my response to this motion from the hon. member.

On behalf of the Government of Canada and the Prime Minister, I rise to oppose this motion introduced by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina. I would also encourage all hon. members to vote against this motion to divide Bill C-50 into pieces.

There are more than 900,000 people in the queue waiting to come to Canada. If we do not do something about that staggering number now, it will balloon to close to 1.5 million in just four years.

Canada is a destination of choice for potential immigrants from all over the globe. There are millions around the world who would like to come here and who would qualify to come here. They cannot all come here, though, and that is why we need to manage immigration: to make it a system that is fair to prospective immigrants, fair to their families and fair to Canada.

I was proud on March 14 when our government introduced its budget and proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the IRPA. I am proud that this government is taking positive steps to improve Canada's immigration system.

Let me address why the government has proposed amendments to the IRPA through provisions to implement the budget. Several precedents already exist in which previous governments have used budget bills to make changes to several pieces of legislation and not just to the Income Tax Act. What we are doing is not unprecedented.

As well, like any bill, the budget implementation act is a public document. It will be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Finance and the proposed amendments must be approved by Parliament and receive royal assent before becoming law.

The proposed changes are being sought in a transparent manner. As the House well knows, immigration is a key factor for the Canadian economy and figures prominently in this government's “Advantage Canada” priorities.

Finally, we should consider that the IRPA was passed in 2002, one of the few times, I might add, where major changes to the immigration system were made through wholesale changes to the act and also brought forward through the House of Commons and not done solely through cabinet.

The consultations and parliamentary debate that took place may have allowed for such discussion, but during the time of these discussions, over one million people applied to come to Canada in order to get in under the old rules. This is the genesis of the backlog that we have today, which is why a lengthy public debate on this matter might not help the problem that we are aiming to address. This is not to say that we are opposed to public debate about these proposals, as our efforts here today demonstrate.

I would like to expand on why these measures are important to Canada. I see my time is up, but I want to emphasize the fact that we will not be supporting this motion.

Sitting ResumedBudget Implementation Act, 2008--Bill C-50Routine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings on the motion at this time. Pursuant to Standing Order 66(1), the debate on the motion is transferred under government orders.

We will move on to statements by members.

HockeyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is hockey season in the Upper Ottawa Valley.

We extend congratulations to Pembroke's own Junior A hockey team, the Lumber Kings. For a second year in a row, the team has clinched the title as champions of the Central Junior A Hockey League. As the defending champions of eastern Canada, our boys look forward to travelling to Pictou County, Nova Scotia, to defend the Fred Page Cup. Then it will be back to eastern Ontario, to Cornwall, this year's host for the nationals and Royal Bank Cup.

Not to be outdone, our girls, the Pembroke Lumber Queens, are the this year's peewee and midget champions in their respective divisions in the Ottawa Valley District Girls Hockey Association.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that you will want to congratulate the Ottawa Valley Thunder bantam girls after they defeated their season-long rival, the Kingston Ice Wolves, in the gold medal round last weekend, to be crowned Ontario provincial champions.

Next week, Arnprior and the Ottawa Valley Titans play host to the Telus Cup national midget championships. The Ottawa Valley boasts Hockey Town Canada in Pembroke and the birthplace of the NHL in Renfrew.

We say “well done” to all this year's participants in Canada's national game.

World Malaria DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, April 25 is World Malaria Day, a day to acknowledge the global effort to effectively manage and control malaria around the world.

Malaria continues to affect 40% of the world's population, infecting more than 500 million people per year and claiming the lives of over a million.

Today is an opportunity for malaria-free countries such as Canada to learn about the disturbing consequences of the disease and join the global fight against malaria.

Most importantly, it is a chance for affected countries and regions to learn from one another and their experiences and to strengthen their collaborative efforts to control the disease.

I urge all members of this House and Canadians alike to engage in local, regional or global efforts to combat this devastating but preventable disease.

United, together we can become the solution.

World Malaria DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, malaria is one of the worst diseases plaguing humanity. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and kills over one million people a year, mostly children. Every 30 seconds, a child dies from this disease. It is terrible.

April 25 was declared World Malaria Day at the 60th World Health Assembly in 2007. This is an opportunity to raise public awareness about this serious preventable global health problem and to urge the international community to find a solution.

This government must do more to prevent malaria-related deaths. Every one of us can help by buying a mosquito net from an agency like BUY-A-NET, which distributes the nets in African villages. Let us all do our part and save lives.

Social HousingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, East Vancouver has suffered from years of government neglect on housing and homelessness. The buildup to the 2010 Olympics has made things worse. Since 2003, 1,300 single occupancy rooms have been lost, eliminating most of the last market housing available to Vancouver's poorest residents.

The federal government has shown again and again it does not care. It pledged another $25 million for the Olympics in the budget, but there was no new money for affordable housing.

People have had enough. This week, the Carnegie Community Action Project, the Impact on Community Coalition, the Pivot Legal Society and UBC students launched a formal human rights complaint to the United Nations. It exposes how the federal government has failed to uphold the basic human right to housing.

The Conservative government must heed the urgent calls from the community and act now to ensure that existing low income housing is protected and new social housing is built.

No one should be homeless in this wealthy country of Canada.

Conservative Party of CanadaStatements By Members

April 17th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve to be represented by members of Parliament who show up and provide a vision for the future.

Since I was elected over two years ago, I have been part of this team led by our Prime Minister, who has provided tax relief for all Canadians and support for families, northerners, farmers, victims of crime, our troops, immigrants, and all new Canadians.

All we know for sure is that the Liberal opposition leader, if given the chance, would strip it all away. What would he do instead? Who knows? He has no plans. He has no vision. He has no consistent policy.

Leaders stand up and represent at every opportunity. In this House, the Liberal leader has had countless opportunities to stand up and be counted, but again and again he ducks out, dodges and runs for cover. To cover his shameful track record, the Liberal leader tells fairytales and dreams of made-up scandal.

While the Liberal leader forces his MPs to sit on their hands or run for cover, I can tell members that on this side of the House we are going to continue to stand up for our constituents, do our jobs and get results.

World Malaria DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, World Malaria Day was instituted last year at the World Health Assembly, and endorsed by the World Health Organization.

Malaria, which is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito, is one of the worst diseases known to mankind. Each year this disease kills over one million people, the majority of whom are children.

Malaria also curbs economic growth, hinders development, and is a huge drain on many countries' health services.

A malaria awareness day shows how this worldwide scourge could be avoided with a concerted effort by all governments.

In Africa, a mother loses a child to malaria every 30 seconds. We can and we must do more to save people from the clutches of this disease.

I urge my colleagues to join me in calling on this government to take a leadership role in the relentless fight against malaria.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 26th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Today also marks the 23rd anniversary of the coming into force of the section 15 equality provisions of the charter, which took place on April 17, 1985.

Today, as we recognize these two anniversaries, we should take a long, hard look at the fact that there are still Canadians who are not treated equally under a Canadian law inspired by the charter.

Last November, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development introduced Bill C-21. This bill will right a wrong that should have been addressed many years ago. It will repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and guarantee that Canadians living on reserve benefit from the same access to the act as those living off reserve.

Unfortunately, the opposition parties have watered down the legislation and have taken away the full benefits provided under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Three years or three months: both are too long to wait. In the spirit of the charter and the equal treatment of all Canadians, our first nations deserve better.

Earth DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 22 the entire planet will dedicate a day to celebrating Earth.

Using as its theme “Planet Earth is suffocating… Let’s WALK to help her breathe”, a group in my riding, Eco Cowansville, is organizing a walk through the city. Participants will be able to visit green information booths, test their eco-knowledge and attend a talk by writer Serge Mongeau, author of a book titled La simplicité volontaire, plus que jamais..., and founder of the Quebec publishing house, Les Éditions Écosociété.

The mandate of Eco Cowansville, founded in January 2007 by citizens concerned about the planet, is to make area residents aware of the devastating effects of global warming and to engage its volunteer members in green activities. The Bloc Québécois wishes long life to this organization.

On Sunday, I will be walking for Earth and for a better future.

World Malaria DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, experts believe that one of the many deadly consequences of global warming is a rise in the rate of infectious diseases such as malaria, but as usual when scientists speak the Conservative government does not listen.

In fact, instead of acknowledging the link between global warming and infectious diseases, the Conservative government has cancelled $1.5 million that was meant to help developing countries meet their Kyoto targets, countries where the threat of malaria is greatest.

It is shameful that this government would cancel a commitment to aid nations where malaria is among the top three killers of children under five.

On World Malaria Day, April 25, we call upon the government to take real action to support international efforts to mitigate global warming and all international efforts to eradicate malaria.

Greg AthansStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay recognition to the late Greg Athans, who will be inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame this evening.

A native of Kelowna, British Columbia, Greg was an accomplished alpine and water skier, becoming the only Canadian to win gold medals in both winter and summer Canada Games. When he turned his talents to freestyle, Greg won a number of World Cup event victories, four World Cup titles and became the World Cup champion in moguls in 1980.

An ambassador of the sport as well as a humanitarian, Greg gave back in many ways. He worked to see the inclusion of freestyle skiing in the 1980 Olympics and supported young up-and-coming skiers to ensure the sport's longevity.

In his private life, Greg was much loved by family and friends for his keen intellect, quick wit and dry sense of humour. Greg is missed especially by his wife Peggy, daughters Carly and Zoe, his brother Gary and his mother Irene, who are here with us today.

Through his family, we congratulate Greg Athans, an outstanding athlete and an outstanding Canadian, on his induction into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, and we give him our thanks.