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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was commissioner.

Topics

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Unfortunately, it is 5:30 p.m. and it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings on the motion at this time.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for unanimous consent to concur in the motion before the House today.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Accordingly, the debate on the motion will be rescheduled for another sitting.

The House resumed from June 12 consideration of the motion that Bill C-513, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (foreign military mission) be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-513 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #158

National Defence ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from June 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-505, An Act to amend the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (non-application in Quebec), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-505 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #159

Canadian Multiculturalism ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from June 17 consideration of the motion.

Public Safety and National SecurityCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the third report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #160

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Pursuant to Standing Order 92, a private members' item may only be considered by the House after a final decision on the votable status of the item has been made.

Although Bill S-204, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, is scheduled for debate in the House today, no report on the votable status of the bill has been presented and concurred in as is required before the bill can be debated.

I am therefore directing the Table Officers to drop this item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence. Accordingly, private members' business hour is suspended today.

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, as there are no items to be debated under private members' business, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Private Members' BusinessRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have the opportunity to speak on this issue today. Some time ago, I asked the minister why in many cases the same immigration officer who analyzes an application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds also conducts the pre-removal risk assessment or PRRA.

At the time, I was told that this was normal procedure. I do not feel that this is normal at all. It should not happen, because it reduces the likelihood of a fair and equitable decision. It would be like appearing before a judge who ruled against us, then appealing and having the appeal heard by the same judge. Even though the provisions of the act that apply are not the same, the fact remains that the same person will rule on the same case twice. The Bloc Québécois believes—and this opinion is widely shared—that the same officer should not analyze both cases.

First, I would like the minister to tell us whether it is an official, documented policy of the government that the same officer conducts the PRRA and analyzes the application for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. I wanted this information, but I did not get it.

I would also like to know something else. Since this measure eliminates the possibility of an appeal and there is still no refugee appeal division, does the government plan to put pressure on the unelected Conservative senators who are stalling Bill C-280 in the Senate?

The Liberal and Conservative senators have reached an agreement on the refugee appeal division so that the bill will not take effect until one year after it receives royal assent. This is all well and good, but if an agreement is reached, it should be referred to the House as quickly as possible so that we can make a decision. The Conservatives are stalling this bill in the Senate. They are so critical of the unelected Liberal senators who block, delay or amend Conservative bills. Now, what is happening? The Conservatives themselves are using the Senate to delay a bill that was duly passed in this House by a large majority of members.

I would like to know why the government is doing this. This is important because the refugee appeal division is critical. It would ensure that nobody's fate is determined at the whim of the member responsible for reviewing his or her case.

Take, for example, the case of Abdelkader Belaouni in my riding. His case was assessed by Laurier Thibault, a member who, at the time, rejected 98% of the applications he evaluated. If any other person had to appear before a judge who was known to convict 98% of the people he or she tried, that person would not feel that justice had been served. That is why the refugee appeals division is so important, and that is why the government should not let it drag in the Senate. The government should respect the democratic will of the elected members of this House and the agreement that the Conservatives and Liberals reached in the Senate. When an agreement is negotiated in good faith, the parties to it must fulfill the terms of that agreement.

When will the Senate's amendments to Bill C-280 be considered in this House?

6:15 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would ask this member to pay attention and he will hear what the government's position is on this matter. One person can make a decision on two separate issues that are different from each other.

I certainly appreciate this opportunity to respond.

The Government of Canada is fully committed to a well managed and efficient immigration system, one that helps those who are legitimately in need of protection, because Canadians expect their refugee system to help and protect legitimate refugees.

Amendments to the former immigration regulations in 1993 created a safety net for failed refugee claimants who could face serious risk of harm if sent back to their country of origin.

While laudable, these amendments created a lengthier and more complex process and did nothing to quash allegations that failed refugee claimants were being denied meaningful opportunities to present their cases fully and fairly.

In response, Citizenship and Immigration Canada created a model called the “single decision-maker”. Under this model, officers with particular expertise in the assessment of risks were given responsibility for assessing humanitarian and compassionate applications that raised questions of hardship based on those risks.

These officers, now called pre-removal risk assessment officers, use their expertise to examine these applications rather than having them assessed by generalist officers of CIC.

In addition to making a humanitarian and compassionate application, those who feel they would be at risk can apply for a pre-removal risk assessment, or PRRA, before they are removed.

This pre-removal risk assessment allows for new evidence to be brought forward beyond what is heard initially at the Immigration and Refugee Board. The applicants have the right to remain in Canada during these proceedings.

The pre-removal risk assessment officer examines the pre-removal risk assessment application and considers, separately and completely, all factors that are raised in applications made on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, including hardship in the country of origin.

In assessing both applications simultaneously, single decision-makers examine all aspects of the alleged risks from both perspectives. The factors assessed in a humanitarian and compassionate application are much broader than the risk element considered under the pre-removal risk assessment, and the legal tests are different.

The government is committed to the principle of evaluating each case on its own merits and each individual's circumstances.

The single decision-maker model was put in place to ensure more efficiency in the process and to improve the quality of humanitarian and compassionate decision making. The pre-removal risk assessment officers are trained for both applications and are well aware of the differences between each of them.

As to the question of the appearance of bias, a 2006 Federal Court of Appeal case judge ruled:

--there is nothing in the record to suggest that the officer could not be neutral or that a reasonable person, fully informed about the facts and circumstances of the decision regarding the appellants, would fear that the officer in question lacked objectivity.

In another 2004 landmark case challenging negative decisions, the judge concluded that the applicant failed to produce any specific evidence of bias or conflict of interest and found the process involved in the pre-removal risk assessment and the humanitarian and compassionate applications to be sufficient.

There is no question that on two different issues the same person can make decisions on an objective basis. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It has nothing to do with the Refugee Appeal Division that the member refers to, which was not part of his question to the minister. Not only are these positions held by this government, but they are approved by the Federal Court as well.

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a little surprised that the parliamentary secretary, who is so well prepared, does not have an answer to such a simple question about the refugee appeals division.

He forgot to mention that applying for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds is a process often used by refugees whose first application for permanent residence has been denied. As such, it has everything to do with Bill C-280, which is dragging in the Senate.

In the absence of a refugee appeals division, people are looking for another option for victims of bad decisions. That option is applying for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. The current process is questionable indeed.

Let us return to the first question I would like him to answer. What are we waiting for to ask the senators to send back the amendments they made to Bill C-280? It is not that complicated; we do not need—