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House of Commons Hansard #71 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was immigrants.

Topics

Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, just yesterday we saw the Liberal leader trying everything he could to censor the media that wanted to publish the list of Liberal candidates in Quebec.

Who has something to hide? When asked who authorized this injunction, the Liberal leader replied that it was not him; it was the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party.

The president of the Quebec wing, Robert Fragasso, did not hesitate to contradict him, “With all due respect to my leader, it is simply a matter of reading the action. The plaintiff is clearly the Liberal Party of Canada.”

That hurts my eyes.

Who is the leader of the Liberals if no one is responsible for issuing the injunction? And since when does being publicly acknowledged as a candidate in Quebec ruin a reputation and cause irreparable damage, unless, of course, one is standing as a candidate for the Liberal Party?

I will conclude by saying that, as a Conservative, I am very happy to have a real leader.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, we cannot have a fair and just immigration system without rules, but with a stroke of the pen the minister has written fairness and justice out of the immigration system.

Changing one word “shall” to “may” in the regulations means that immigrants who meet all the requirements may find Canada slamming the door in their face. What a difference one word can make in regulations.

Will the minister admit that with this change she has moved our immigration system out of the realm of justice and into the universe of arbitrary power?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, absolutely not, although I do see today that the Liberal leader is again in full retreat. He has abandoned his court injunction to keep the names of Liberal candidates secret. Apparently somebody over there finally figured out that having candidates swear affidavits saying that they would be irreparably harmed if they were publicly known in Quebec as Liberals would hurt their reputations and that would be irreparable harm. While that may be true, it might be unwise politically.

As for their concerns about the immigration bill, I expect that when it comes time for a vote they will be engaging in a similar kind of retreat.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 27 months this government has done nothing to solve the immigration problem. During that time 100,000 new people filed applications. And then, after 27 months of doing nothing, it comes up with a solution: the minister herself will choose the immigrants she prefers.

When will she admit that arbitrary decisions will never solve the immigration problem?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, that is not true. The Conservative government has an impressive track record.

Our government has cut the landing fees a new immigrant has to pay in half. We have allocated new funding totalling $1.4 billion for newcomer settlement services. We have created the Foreign Credentials Referral Office as part of the foreign credentials recognition program.

We have also offered an official apology to the Chinese community for the head tax that Chinese immigrants were required to pay, a tax that was discriminatory. That track record—

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore has the floor.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder what the House leader has against his own Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is not fixing our immigration system. She is just concentrating power in her own hands. The policy will take away an applicant's opportunity to appeal. The policy will legalize cherry-picking, allowing the minister to choose immigrants with unfettered and final discretion. This is not the Canadian way.

Will the minister admit that what she is really trying to do is give arbitrary discretion the force of law?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, it is no such thing. The minister has actually performed quite impressively since she became minister. As a result, last year we saw the highest level of immigration ever in Canadian history, well not ever, in the past 100 years or so. We have seen family reunification wait times reduced by as much as 40%.

It is a difficult job she has to do cleaning up the track record of the previous government. Does the member know how I know that? I know that because nobody less than the deputy leader of the Liberal Party said the following, “...but I think I have to admit...that we didn't get it done on immigration”. That is that member of Parliament who was speaking.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the president of the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association, Joseph Allen, says that there are other ways of dealing with a backlog besides giving discretion powers to the monarch, and that this amounts to giving the minister extremely broad discretion without in any way defining how far that discretion extends.

What does the minister think about the concerns raised by Mr. Allen? Why are there no limits on the discretion she is trying to give herself?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should read the facts. In reality, the minister would have the power to determine how many people in a class may apply to enter Canada in a year. This affects only one class, and not all individuals, as she would like you to believe.

The Canadian Bar Association said:

...it's the start of creating a fairer system, because the government will be more forthcoming about what types of immigrants the country needs instead of giving people false hopes.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the minister exercises her arbitrary power to limit the number of applications that will be considered, that will limit Quebec’s choices.

How could she guarantee that these orders will be compatible with the objectives of Quebec and those of the rest of the country? How can she say that reducing the number of applications she will accept will not reduce the latitude Quebec has in respect of immigration?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I already assured this House last week that we were in discussions with the representatives of Quebec. We have assured them that there would be no repercussions for the Canada-Quebec immigration accord.

That will continue as it is now. We are going to abide by that agreement, despite the Liberals’ efforts.

The Quebec NationOral Questions

April 3rd, 2008 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government says that it recognizes the Quebec nation. In Quebec, the official language is French, and the language of work is French. However, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages did not even tell us that bilingualism takes precedence in federal institutions and companies governed by the Canada Labour Code, such as banks and telecommunications companies.

My question for the Minister of Labour, who does not think the fruit is ripe, is this: Does he realize that what he is proposing to Quebec workers who fall under the Canada Labour Code is bilingualism?

The Quebec NationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that the Canada Labour Code does not cover language of work any more than the Quebec Labour Code or any other province's labour code. The Canada Labour Code covers health and safety in the workplace, labour relations and labour standards.

The Quebec NationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Minister of Labour that Bill 101 applies throughout Quebec and that the federal Official Languages Act applies across Canada.

We are asking the minister to make an exception for Quebec with respect to language of work. If an exception is not made, then Canadian bilingualism legislation applies, and that is not what Quebec wants. Quebec wants the language of work in the province to be French, regardless of whether workers are governed by the Canada Labour Code or the Quebec Labour Code. I think that is easy enough to understand.

The Quebec NationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, my department is one of the large organizations that falls under federal jurisdiction. Whether they ship merchandise by train, by air or by boat, or provide telecommunications services, large corporations often have head offices in different provinces. As a result, their employees sometimes have to work in the other official language when the need arises.

In Quebec, some people speak English and need services in English, while others speak French and need services in French. We provide services to meet those needs.

Fiscal ImbalanceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives refuse to take action with regard to the concrete recognition of the Quebec nation. Furthermore, they are incapable of keeping their own promise with regard to the fiscal imbalance. The government has announced on several occasions that it will table a bill to limit its spending power in provincial jurisdictions. It has yet to materialize.

When does the minister intend to table his bill and thus keep the promise made by the Prime Minister to Quebec in December 2005?

Fiscal ImbalanceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

The fiscal imbalance issue was dealt with in 2006-07. I am pleased that we have arrived at fiscal balance in Canada between the Government of Canada and the other governments, not without substantial increases in the transfer payments for the provinces and territories which have taken place.

The witness to this now is that when the provincial premiers and territorial leaders get together the one subject they do not talk about is the former fiscal imbalance which is now fiscal balance in Canada.

Fiscal ImbalanceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I will try again.

To limit the federal spending power in Quebec's jurisdictions, the government need only table a bill which provides Quebec with the right to opt out—with no strings attached and with full financial compensation—from any new or existing federal program, whether cost-shared or not, which interferes in its areas of jurisdiction.

Does the government intend to meet Quebec's expectations and finally table a bill as promised by the Prime Minister?

Fiscal ImbalanceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there are lots of instances where the Government of Quebec receives compensation.

Just yesterday, I think it was, the hon. member raised the question of the GST and Quebec's involvement in that.

In fact, Quebec administers its own tax, as well as the GST on behalf of the federal government, for which the federal government paid Quebec approximately $130 million in 2006-07.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives talk about reducing the backlog of immigrants who have applied to come to Canada but the fact is that the Conservative government simply cannot be trusted.

The changes that are proposed here would do irreversible damage to family reunification. It would hurt families in a way that cannot be undone later. One of the changes would actually give the minister the sole decision making power to shape Canadian society and to make those decisions arbitrarily, behind closed doors.

We hear laughing from the benches. This is a serious matter and the NDP will do everything to stop this unfair practice. Will the government separate it from the--

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. government House leader.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader mischaracterizes entirely what is being done. He obviously was not listening earlier.

When it comes to family reunification, we have taken action already and, as a result, wait times for family reunification have been reduced by as much as 40%. That is a commitment for results that we are delivering on. We are solving a problem created by that party over there and that party will never get a chance to do it.

The reason we are bringing in these changes is that we need an immigration system that works for immigrants, that works for the Canadian economy and that allows us to get the skilled help that this country and this economy needs to be as prosperous and successful for--

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

Human RightsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, a video tape from a party some years ago was released today in Regina that includes Saskatchewan Premier Wall, former Senator Berntson and the current Conservative member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre who allegedly states on the tape, “Let me put it to you this way: There are As and Bs. The As are guys like me. The Bs are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails who transmit diseases”.

Will the government ensure that the member makes an immediate, unequivocal apology to all members of the gay community and all Canadians for these ill-informed, hurtful and unconscionable remarks? Will it take all appropriate action?