Mr. Speaker, I have to catch my breath because we have just seen a political spectacle that is absolutely unbelievable, Liberals rising to kill their own legislation and trying to explain it. They are killing the legislation to save it. It is absolutely bizarre.
I am rising to speak to Bill C-50 which would kill what the Liberals were promoting a few weeks ago. I would like to comment on what the Conservative government is doing now that it has been given essentially a blank cheque by the leader of the Liberal Party to do whatever it wants to do in the House of Commons. We saw it with the SPP, the security prosperity partnership going on behind closed doors, allowed by the Liberals.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that I am splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg North. She will be equally tender, I think, to members of the opposition who are being hypocritical.
We have seen with climate change the refusal to take any meaningful action on the environment supported by an appallingly weak Liberal leader. There is the tax cut agenda. Corporate tax cuts were just shovelled off the back of a truck, billions and billions of dollars, when there are crucial crying needs in Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast that are not being met, again supported by the Liberals.
Now we see with Bill C-50 that because the Conservatives have a functional majority, a blank cheque from the Liberal Party to do whatever they want, they have decided to tuck in to a budget bill substantial changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They are substantial changes that are going to have an impact on communities throughout the country. They are doing it because of the acquiescence of the Liberal Party.
Normally a bill of this nature would be brought to the House of Commons. It would be debated if members of Parliament agreed that it should continue on. Very clearly in this case because the legislation is so appallingly bad, members would say no. But if there were agreement in principle on the legislation, it would go to committee for close scrutiny clause by clause so that we could be absolutely certain that the legislation actually did an effective job. Then it would come back to the House.
However, because the Liberal leader is so appallingly weak, the Conservatives just threw in this legislation and they are expecting the leader of the Liberal Party and every single Liberal member of Parliament, who even though in oral questions they will raise questions, are refusing to vote against the bill. The Conservative government is expecting that the Liberals are going to adopt the legislation. There will be no scrutiny. There will be no parliamentary hearings. There will be no scrutiny of substantial changes that turn back the clock on our immigration process.
We have already seen over the past decade what Liberal and Conservative cuts have done to our immigration system. In fact, in the last two years alone, the waiting lists have grown from 700,000 to 900,000 because the immigration system frankly has broken down. It is like a hospital; if we do not adequately fund it or bring in nurses and doctors, the system is not going to work.
The immigration system, I can say from personal experience representing Burnaby—New Westminster, has broken down. The system is not working in the interests of Canadian families. It is not working for new Canadians. Everyone in Canada is paying the cost of that negligence.
I represent a community where over 100 languages are spoken. It is the most diverse part of Canada. Indeed, it may be the most diverse part of the entire planet. Over 100 languages are spoken. There are substantial centres of faith, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Baha'i and Hare Krishna. Throughout our community we have attracted people from all over the world. We have a substantial community of people of Chinese origin, from both mainland China and Taiwan and also Hong Kong, an Indo Canadian community from the Tamil south but also from the Punjab north of India.
Historically we have people from Scandinavia, England, France, Germany and eastern Europe as well. It is immigration, wave after wave, that has created our community. Issues about the immigration system and how those families abroad are treated are of fundamental importance to our community.
Now we have these amendments that have been thrown in by the Conservatives only because of Liberal acquiescence, only because of a lack of Liberal backbone that will mean profound changes and that the system will even get worse. What are the changes the Conservatives are proposing?
They are proposing changes that simply give new powers to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in a system that is already dysfunctional, to simply make decisions on the minister's own around deciding, for example, the types of applications that are accepted and disposing of current immigration applications. That is important because the Conservatives have tried to pretend that they have dealt with the mess that was left by the previous Liberal government, but they have not.
As I mentioned earlier, the waiting lists have grown by 200,000 and only in two years. Now we see a political situation where the solution by the Conservatives will simply be to strike off those legitimate applications. They will simply do what they did with the softwood lumber sellout. The Conservatives killed the softwood industry in order to save it. We all remember the Minister of International Trade saying that essentially the softwood lumber agreement was going to save the softwood industry. What we have seen since is the death of thousands upon thousands of jobs and the closure of dozens upon dozens of mills across the country.
If that was the solution to the softwood lumber crisis, we can imagine what these Conservatives are going to do to the immigration system. They are simply going to erase applicants. These changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act permit them to do that.
They will also put in place queue jumping measures that simply are not in keeping with the impartial access system that we have, that allows the best of applicants from around the world to come to Canada.
There are also limits on humanitarian and compassionate categories. This is an extremely important element. This is perhaps the most egregious element of what the Conservatives are introducing with Liberal support. It is important to note that the Liberals and Conservatives are working together on this issue. They are simply giving the minister additional powers to deny visas to those who meet all the categories, the immigration criteria. This is no longer subject to legal appeal.
By putting in a budget bill a few lines on the immigration act what they are essentially doing is eliminating the legal avenue that people have when the immigration ministry screws up. It screws up enormously because of underfunding, because of Liberal cuts, because the Conservatives have simply not addressed fundamental management issues. They are not very good at management. They are only good at corporate tax cuts it seems. They have done nothing for the health care system, nothing for the lost manufacturing jobs. I could go on and on.
Essentially, the Conservative Prime Minister learned his administration from a book. He had never actually administered anything when he became the leader of the Conservative Party. As a result of that we can see how poorly they act in public administration.
If the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the ministry are incapable of handling appropriately a legitimate file, there is no longer any legal appeal on it. This is of fundamental importance. What the government is doing is removing that legal avenue when it screws up. I can say that not only in this area, but in a whole host of other areas there have been screw ups. For example, in the case work that I deal with in my riding with the Canada Revenue Agency, that agency makes mistakes. There has to be a legal appeal.
When the ability for individuals to go through the legal system when the government screws up is taken away, we are eliminating one of the fundamental rights of democracy. That is exactly what the government is doing here. It is eliminating that legal appeal.
These are not small changes. It is a testament to Liberal hypocrisy that even though the Liberals are speaking in this House against this bill, they are prepared to vote for it. They are prepared to give the Conservative government a blank cheque when it comes to these fundamental changes in the immigration system.
This bill is not going to improve our immigration system. This is not the prudent and smart approach of rebuilding the administration that was gutted under the previous Liberal government. This is essentially giving political direction to the Conservative government to eliminate folks the Conservatives do not like, to eliminate lists they do not like, and to ensure that there is no legal avenue for those who are appealing bad decisions by the government.
We would not want to see this in immigration. We would not want to see this with Revenue Canada. We would not want to see this in any sector of public life, because the reality is when government screws up, we need to have those legal methods of appeal.
That is just one of the very many reasons why the NDP, in this corner of the House, is not just going to be talking about this bill, but we are actually going to stand up as members of Parliament and we are going to vote against this budget bill when the time comes to vote for or against it. That is our responsibility.