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House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, my constituents believe their basic rights of uniting with loved ones have been violated.

Another of my constituents, Marco Moya, said that she just had a baby and she wants her mother to come and meet her newborn granddaughter. Surely we cannot say that these elderly ladies, mothers and grandmothers, are terrorists and will hurt our country. That is absurd. So what is the possible reason for denying them? Is it because of her income, or is it because of the duration of her stay? No, in this case they said it was because the officer was not satisfied that her ties in Venezuela are strong enough.

It is not her fault that my constituent, Marco Moya, is the only child and there are no other children back home, but the mother is the primary caregiver of the grandmother. So there is absolutely no reason for this wonderful mother to be denied entry into Canada.

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to reiterate that these decisions are not made on an arbitrary basis. Decisions on applications can actually affect Canada's ability to ensure that they benefit our economic, social and cultural development while protecting the health, safety and security of Canadians.

Visa officers are our first line of defence in protecting Canada's interests. It is not true as suggested that they work with “no clear criteria, guidelines or standards for entry” or that decisions are arbitrary.

Let me answer the question that the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina just asked again. What is it? The grounds for inadmissibility for foreign nationals are outlined in sections 34 to 42 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These grounds include national security, raising money for terrorist organizations, war crimes or organized crime, just to name a few of what is included in terms of these grounds for admissibility and non-admissibility.

CIC reviews its policies periodically. This is to assess whether provisions in IRPA continue to meet Canadian needs, identify gaps, and recommend necessary updates to policy and operational guidelines or amendments--

6:35 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for St. John's South--Mount Pearl.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, on September 27, I asked why this government had not released about 85% of the spending details on the G8 and G20 summits.

To date, the Conservatives have disclosed only about $200 million of the costs associated with the summits. Now, about one month later, nothing really has changed. Despite the public safety minister's assurances that the government is prepared to release the cost of the summit, we have not received any new information.

In fact, after several meetings on the G8 and G20 summits at the public safety and government operations committees, we have learned that the government really does not know the final costs.

We have been told by the Conservatives that they will wait for the receipts to come in before telling taxpayers the total cost. Are they telling us that they have no real budget assumptions, no tracking of the costs, the overruns, or the matching of those expenses? I find this hard to believe.

Ward Elcock, the Privacy Council Coordinator of the G8 and G20 summits, told the members of the government operations committee, of which I am one, that “until you actually have a plan, you don't know precisely what the cost will be”.

The G8 and G20 summits are over with. I am sure they had a good plan in place. What we need to know is whether or not they actually knew the expenditures, the budget, and the associated costs. Surely they must have had some idea of what they were budgeting, how they were budgeting, and on what they were spending the money, on a go-forward basis.

We know that the Prime Minister's own department, the Privy Council Office, had the final oversight. They are the ones taking all the budgets and doing the integrated review. They have the sign-off on all the expenses and decision-making.

They signed off on $4.1 million to rent a quarry near Huntsville. They signed off on $27.5 million to rent, convert, and dismantle a building in Barrie. And they signed off on $334,000 for sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and bug spray.

I am sure that those expenses have been allocated, noted, and that someone is doing some cost comparison on them. I am sure the Prime Minister is not just handing out blank cheques on these costs.

This morning in the government operations committee we heard from the Chief Superintendent Alphonse MacNeil, the commander of the Integrated Security Unit in Barrie, Ontario. Superintendent MacNeil was quite clear. He said that if an event is done in one place instead of two, the costs will be lower.

That makes good common sense to me. The question becomes, why did the Conservatives decide to host it in two different locations? I think we are going to get some information on that over time, but the Conservatives made some political decisions to host this in two locations.

The other interesting point we should note is how late they were in telling the security people involved in this, the RCMP and the Integrated Security Unit, when the G20 would be held in Toronto. They did not know until just a few months before. In December 2009, they were told the G20 was going to be held in Toronto. They had to scramble. In scrambling, they probably spent money hand over fist to become prepared for a G20 summit that was going to be held in June.

First, why did we not know that we were going to be hosting the G20 summit? Why did Canada not plan to host the G20? Why did Canada not put forward a good process to ensure that the integrated security had time enough to plan properly?

Second, the costs associated with the G20 and G8 summits must be known by someone within government. They must have some details. We have some, about $200-million worth. Now we need to know the rest.

6:40 p.m.

Oxford Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I was at part of the same committee meeting that she was at this morning. The irony is that I heard some definite numbers from the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP, including on the issue she spoke about of $2 million for a quarry. It was $141,000, which is a long way from what she said.

If my friend will recall, a few months ago, the supplementary estimates that were presented to the House did in fact give a global number for the security costs and the cost of the summits.

I think my colleagues on the other side have become so wrapped up and have been so outlandish in some of their comments with respect to the costs that they have lost sight of what the real costs were. We have been hearing those numbers.

The minister has been open and transparent about the costs. We heard again today, as we heard a day ago from the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP, that the RCMP anticipate that its costs will come in a little less or maybe a lot less than what it initially thought the costs for the RCMP would be.

However, with all due respect, there were 21,000 security personnel involved in the two summits, which was a showcase for Canada. Canadians had an opportunity to show Canada to the rest of the world. Great things happened there.

I believe that if my friend were patient, she would understand that some of those security partners are going through a process where they are submitting their invoices for payment. She would not want the Government of Canada to pay, nor would she want to be in the House to think that we were paying for things that had not been submitted in invoices or audited as to actual costs.

There was very tight control over the whole cost structure of the summits. Not only did she hear today from the RCMP Chief Superintendent, she heard from CSIS and the OPP, one of our security partners.

If my friends would just wait a little bit longer they will get all of the accurate costs because the bills will be in and audited and are due by December 1. I think she will be very pleased and happy about what Canada was able to accomplish.

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, yes, I was at committee this morning and my colleague did attend part of that meeting. However, if he had stayed to listen a little further, my colleague from the Liberal Party pointed out that we had received the information on the $4.1 million on the quarry from the order paper responses that we received out of a request from another colleague from the Liberal Party who was asking questions about the expenditures. It is clear in the order paper responses that it cost $4.1 million for a quarry. However, let us not quibble about $4.1 million when we are talking about over $1 billion.

When the member asked me to be patient and asked me to wait until December, maybe January or February to find out those expenses, that is all fine, well and good, but the people of Canada are waiting for an explanation on how over $1 billion of their taxpayer dollars could be spent over 72 hours.

In allocating that amount of money, how in the name of goodness was the government not able to budget for it?

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Conservative Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I think the number is actually less than $1 billion. I know that members opposite keep using some figure of over $1 billion. I believe it is less but I also believe that it will be considerably less when it is all finished.

The real issue is the scope and magnitude of the security operation associated with hosting these two major international summits is unprecedented. This government ensured that the security experts had the resources available to them to develop and implement the security plan that was required to protect the visiting heads of state, Canadians and international guests that attended the summit.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those security people for the wonderful job that they accomplished.

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:49 p.m.)