This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

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

Vote #11

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My Loyalist ancestors are rolling over in their graves. This afternoon, in question period, I incorrectly referred to the Queen as “Her Royal Highness” when every schoolboy should know it is “Her Majesty”. I want to correct the record before heading home, so my loyal constituents do not toss me into Passamaquoddy Bay. God save the Queen.

Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am sure the House appreciates the correction.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

June 21st, 2011 / 5:25 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

moved that Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate you on your election.

It is a great privilege for me to rise in the House today with respect to the sponsorship of Bill C-4, the preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system act.

Over the last few months, all of us have heard a great deal about the importance of the legislation before us today, which our government first introduced October 2, 2010, as part of an overall strategy to help put an end of human smuggling.

We have heard from ordinary Canadians that they want our borders to stay open to newcomers who play by the rules when they come to our country, but firmly shut against those who would abuse our generosity, threaten the integrity of our immigration system and pose a risk to our safety and security.

They have told us they want Canada to remain the welcoming country it has always been for newcomers. However, they have also told us that human smuggling operations must be stopped.

The arrival of two migrant vessels from Southeast Asia over the past two years, the MV Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea, have proved the reach and determination of organized human smuggling networks in their efforts to target Canada.

We have heard from experts in the field that Canada is the destination of choice for human smugglers and that criminal networks are evolving and adapting to utilize more sophisticated ways of moving their cargo.

Canada, therefore, needs to be ever more vigilant and more aggressive in cracking down on the ringleaders of this worldwide criminal operation, not less, as some have suggested.

The truth is that human smugglers are not at all interested in helping individuals in need. They do not care about individuals. They do not care about families. They make victims of their passengers, who must pay dearly, and risk their lives to undertake perilous journeys. Human smugglers only care about money and are working every day to increase the profits from their illegal activities.

Most of all, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to continue building on our track record of making our streets and communities safer for everyone by cracking down on criminals and organized crime groups however they may operate and from wherever they may operate.

One way our government intends to do that is by passing legislation this fall to, among other things, tackle organized drug crimes and establish tougher sentences and mandatory jail terms for child molesters and those who use the Internet for this purpose.

We will end house arrest for serious and violent offenders. We will bring measures to ensure pardons can be refused in cases involving serious crimes against children. We will equip our police with new investigative powers designed for the computer age.

Our government was quite clear in our 2011 platform that such legislation would be passed within 100 sitting days of the return of the House, and ours is a government that delivers on its commitments.

We were equally clear in our platform that another way our government would continue to stand on guard for Canada and protect the safety and security of Canadians would be by cracking down on human smuggling. That is why we are here today. Bill C-4 is all about that. It is about delivering on our commitments to Canadians. It is about standing on guard for Canada and taking action to keep our streets, communities and borders safe.

Bill C-4 would, first and foremost, crack down on those criminals who would abuse our generous immigration system and endanger the safety and security of our Canadian communities.

We are providing a strong deterrent to those who are organizing human smuggling operations to jump the queue into Canada and we are ensuring the integrity and fairness of Canada's immigration system for years to come.

Under this act, our government would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of persons as an irregular arrival and make those involved subject to the act's measures. It would make it easier to prosecute human smugglers. It would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on convicted human smugglers. It would hold shipowners and operators to account for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations.

As part of the legislation, designated arrivals would face mandatory detention for up to one year to allow Canadian authorities to determine admissibility and illegal activity. In short, the detention period would provide more time to identify those who had arrived in our country and whether they posed a threat to our national security. Canadians deserve nothing less.

That provision is no different than the provision that occurs on a regular basis inside our criminal court system. Many of us who have been involved either as prosecutors or defence lawyers in the court system understand that if an accused person refuses to identify themselves, or if the court is not sure of the identity of the accused, the accused remains in custody until that determination can be made. The problem is it is so much more difficult when strangers arrive at our shores without any identification and we have no idea from where they are coming or who in fact they are.

Under the act, our government is also reducing the attraction of coming to Canada by way of illegal human smuggling operations. This includes measures like preventing those who come to Canada as part of an irregular arrival, including those who subsequently obtain refugee status, from applying for permanent resident status for a period of five years.

The act would ensure that the health benefits participants receive would not be more generous than those received by other members of the Canadian public. It would enhance the ability to terminate refugee applications of those who would return to their country of origin for a vacation or would demonstrate in other ways that they were not legitimately in need of Canada's protection. It would also prevent individuals who participate in human smuggling events from sponsoring family members for a period of five years.

Bill C-4 is virtually identical to the legislation our government introduced in the House of Commons last year. There are minor revisions, most notably one which puts the responsibility for designating an irregular arrival event in the exclusive purview of the minister rather than delegating it.

As hon. members know, the legislation which our government introduced in the fall proposed that the Minister of Public Safety would be allowed to designate those who land on our shores, in a way similar to those aboard the MV Sun Sea or the MV Ocean Lady, as an irregular arrival. The minister would make such a designation when he or she had reasonable grounds to believe that establishing the identity or admissibility of the individuals coming to Canada as part of such an arrival could not be carried out in a timely manner or if he or she had reasonable grounds to suspect that the arrival of the group involved organized human smuggling activity.

The legislation before us today retains those provisions and adds another stipulating that the designation must be made by the Minister of Public Safety personally and cannot be delegated.

The measures which our government is proposing are tough, but they are fair. They are fair to those who legitimately and legally wait, or have waited in line for a better life in Canada. It is fair for all Canadians who rightfully expect that our borders and shores are protected and secure and our generous social systems are protected from abuse.

For those who want to jump the queue or target Canada for criminal gain, these measures are a message, clear and direct: Canada will not tolerate human smuggling and if one wants to come here there are fair, legal and legitimate means to do so.

These measures will enhance our ability to crack down on those who engage in human smuggling and try to exploit Canada's generous immigration system. They will strengthen our ability to protect Canada from criminal or terrorist threats and they respect our international obligations to provide assistance for those legitimate refugees who need our protection and help to start a new and better life.

Every year Canada welcomes nearly 14,000 refugees to our country. As a share of our population, that number represents more than any country in the world. Nothing in Bill C-4 changes this. Nor are there any provisions in the bill that would result in Canada returning someone to face torture or risk to their life in their native country.

From coast to coast to coast, Canadians want to help those in need or those who genuinely need our protection, but that does not make us naive and it does not make us pushovers. Canada and Canadians want tough measures to stop those who would abuse our generosity from becoming part of Canadian society.

We know that threats exist and that we must remain vigilant. That is why our government is taking action. That is what our government is doing today, and this is what we will continue to do in the future.

I would therefore urge all hon. members to support the legislation before us today and work with our government to ensure its speedy passage.

I would like to propose a motion to the House dealing with the bill. We are approaching an adjournment, and as you know, Madam Speaker, during the adjournment, we could be faced with another crisis like we faced with the MV Sun Sea.

Therefore, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House for the following: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of this House, Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Does the hon. minister have the consent of the House to propose this motion?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I am quite disappointed that the New Democrats and the Liberals would refuse consent. It certainly is a matter of urgency. However, this is fairly typical of both of those parties. They are more concerned about furthering criminal operations as opposed to actually stopping criminals from gaining access to our country.

The motion was a very reasonable one in moving the bill forward so our law enforcement agencies, our immigration, CBSA and others would be in a position to help secure our borders and determine identity in a timely fashion so human smugglers could not take advantage of our country.

It is unfortunate the New Democrats and the Liberals would oppose that unanimous motion, but this is a democracy and that is the rule of the House.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, a 12-year-old child with her mother, flying in from Haiti tomorrow, could be designated by the minister as coming in irregularly because the child and the mother may not have any documents. The child and her mother could be jailed for at least a year and she would be prevented from becoming a landed immigrant and/or from helping to bring the brothers and sisters over from Haiti, or from Syria or from whatever country for at least five years.

I have several questions for the minister. What criteria would he use to designate irregular arrival? Would flying in be termed as irregular arrival? Does it have to come from boats?

The minister also talked about a group of people. Two persons, in my dictionary, is not a group of people, but under this law, he would have the right to designate two persons coming by air, which is the majority of the people coming across the border. How would he justify this kind of designation?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, let me deal with some of the preamble. The criteria the minister must consider to designate are set out in the act. If those criteria are utilized in unreasonable fashion, having consideration for all of the circumstances, then that is obviously reviewable in the superior court by way of judicial review. Therefore, the minister has to address his or her mind to all of the circumstances and look at the criteria in the act. I would commend those criteria to the member's attention.

In respect of a 12-year-old child, there is a specific exemption in terms of vulnerable individuals in these groups who can be released earlier. The purpose of the detention is in order to determine identity, which takes some time to determine when individuals have, for example, arrived in our country without any identification documents at all.

Many times individuals get on to planes, for example in that circumstance, with identity documents and, assuming those circumstances, they get off the plane without identity documents. That, in my opinion, raises a suspicion that something is wrong. Whether that is irregular arrival or not is something else.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I think I distinctly heard the minister say that those people who were opposed to passing this bill in all stages as quickly as possible were in fact in favour of, or were interested in furthering criminal activity.

I wonder if the minister would reconsider those words and consider what in fact he is saying about members of Parliament who have a different point of view from him, and apologize to all of us and to the House.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, let me clarify my remarks. I certainly did not mean any intention to commit a criminal offence by this member or any other member. However, it is a consistent pattern by both those parties that they put the rights of criminals ahead of the interests of victims or law-abiding Canadian citizens.

In fact, in 1971, I assume that was in the Trudeau cabinet, one of the predecessors to this office, Solicitor General Goyer, said in effect that in this country we have considered the interests of public safety far too long and we will now consider the rehabilitation of criminals as paramount, at that point standing the entire criminal justice system on its head.

What our government does in marked contrast to Liberals and New Democrats is put the justice system back onto--

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order please. On a point of order, the hon. member for Toronto Centre.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I distinctly asked the minister whether he would withdraw language which is not only unparliamentary, but if he said it outside it would be the subject of a lawsuit.

I would like to ask the minister, is he prepared, yes or no, to withdraw the absolutely unfair and disgraceful accusation that somehow members of the opposition, who disagree with him, are in favour of furthering criminal activity. Will you withdraw those words, yes or no?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I understand that he directed that to you, whether you would withdraw the words.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, on the same point of order. Let the minister play around as much as he wants. He and members on his side claim they want to be civil, they want to be decent and they want to respect decorum, yet each and every day he comes into this House and says things which are preposterous. Now he has gone too far.

I would like to ask the Speaker, will you rule clearly, Madam Speaker, when somebody accuses other members of participating in criminal activity, is that something the Speaker of this House is going to allow or not?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:40 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I thank the hon. member for raising the issue. Indeed, if a member or members are accused directly of criminal activity that would constitute unparliamentary language.

What I will suggest is that I will review the script. I did not hear the exact word. I will review the script and, if necessary, come back with a ruling on this issue.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, on a point of order. The Minister of Public Safety misspoke. I want to make sure the record is clear that the Green Party stands with the NDP and the Liberals opposing this bill.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments. The hon. member from Kitchener—Conestoga.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I certainly enjoyed the speech by the minister. He certainly did a good job of outlining the parameters of the bill. In my riding people are very supportive of the measures that this bill contains.

Many of us in this House, probably all of us, have had the opportunity of either sponsoring refugees or working with refugees in our own ridings. I certainly have had that privilege and I have also had the honour of attending many citizenship ceremonies where Canadians are taking that oath of citizenship for the first time and it is a really moving experience.

I have found that in relation to this bill it is many of those previous refugees who are now citizens, or new citizens who have just come to this country in the past three to five years, who are in fact some of the most supportive people when it comes to this bill.

I am wondering if the minister could confirm that he has also experienced that kind of support from new Canadians.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, I can confirm the concern that many Canadians, including new Canadians, have. Many new Canadians have family members who are waiting in the queue, so to speak, to come to this country.

Canada is a very generous country. Under our government we accept record numbers of immigrants and over 250,000 refugees. On a per capita basis, Canada accepts more refugees than any country in the world. We are very proud of that.

It must be very frustrating to many of the new Canadians when they see criminal organizations bringing individuals here who jump that waiting time.That is disappointing for many Canadians who say that they are playing by the rules and are carrying out what they are required to do. They want to know why this is being allowed to happen.

This is a response to keep the integrity of the immigration system and target criminal activity.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Madam Speaker, the Canadian Council for Refugees has expressed its deep disappointment at the reintroduction of Bill C-4 because it violates the rights of refugees. The government says the bill is aimed solely at smugglers, but it is the people who are fleeing persecution—including children—who will be punished if this bill passes. There is therefore little or no deterrent effect on smugglers.

Can the minister tell me when the government will decide to go after just the criminals, and not the migrants?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, the difficulty is that when a ship arrives at the border of our country at a port and there are 100, 200, or 300 people without identification. There is no way of determining who is the criminal, who is the legitimate refugee and who is an economic immigrant.

That determination has to take place over a period of time. These measures are designed in order to ensure that Canadian authorities can determine who these individuals are. That is what Canadians expect, that those who arrive at our borders, if they do not have appropriate documentation for one reason or another, that in fact there is a mechanism for ensuring that those who come to our country do not come with evil intent.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

5:50 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, there is one word to describe Bill C-4 and that word is cruel. The dictionary defines cruel as inflicting pain or suffering, and that is exactly what the bill would do. It is designed to punish refugees. If passed, the bill would inflict pain and suffering on the most vulnerable people trying to get to our shores.

Why do I say that? I say that because the bill would not punish smugglers. Under our present legislation, a smuggler would be jailed for life. We have the most severe punishment for people convicted of smuggling. What could be more severe than putting them away for life? We cannot get more severe. The bill is not really about the smugglers. It is about the refugees.

This legislation would require the mandatory detention of all people arriving in Canada, including women and children, whether they arrive by foot, by boat or by air. A mom and a two year old child, a five year old child, or a baby, would be jailed a minimum of 12 months. After they serve that 12 months they might receive some consideration. They would also be denied permanent residence or family reunification for at least five years.

Let me use as an example a dad who leaves a troubled country and his wife and children are left behind in a refugee camp. He arrives in Canada by himself and gets designated by the minister. The minister could not even explain a few minutes ago what criteria he is going to use. He mentioned those individuals who do not have documentation. Most refugees who come to Canada do not have documentation. How can we expect people who live through an earthquake or arrive from a war-torn country to have identification? A lot of refugees arrive at our shores without identification. They could be designated. More than two refugees who arrive on our shores could be designated as a group.

Let me revert to my example of the dad who arrived in Canada after fleeing from a war-torn country. Under this rule he would be sent to jail for at least a year. Let us say that he goes through the process and is determined to be a genuine refugee. For five years he would not be able to sponsor his wife and children from a refugee camp. What does that mean? It means that he will be separated from his family for at least seven years. These refugees will have to determine whether or not they want to leave their loved ones behind because they will not see them for at least seven years. Do they want to come to this country alone or do they want to make a dangerous journey together? That is why I say the bill is cruel. But that is just the beginning.

If these people do become refugees they have no chance to go to the United Nations to speak in a criminal court against a dictator who inflicted war crimes against them. For example, a woman who has been raped by the militia could not go to the UN to explain to the court what happened to her. Even though she is determined a genuine refugee, she will not be able to travel anywhere for at least five years. This means that she would not be able to go to the UN to bring war criminals to justice.

Why would the Conservatives bring forward a bill like that? The minister nailed it right on the head. He wants immigrants to think that there are all kinds of queue jumpers. There is in fact a huge amount of frustration from the immigrant communities. They are frustrated because they are waiting at least 6 to 10 or 13 years before they can bring their loved ones to Canada. When they try to sponsor their fathers and mothers, they are told that it will take 5 or 10 years. They wait and wait.

I will give some statistics. The backlog for parents who are waiting to come to Canada is in the hundreds of thousands. Why? It is because the number of visas for parents and grandparents issued this year has been reduced to close to 44%. It is getting longer and longer. This year there are only 11,000 parents who can come to Canada, which is a reduction of 9,000 because the 2005 and 2006 targets were 20,000. It is now only 11,000.

Immigrants are resentful because they are waiting longer and longer to bring their loved ones to Canada. Then they are told that there are people jumping the queue. These people are not jumping the queue because they are refugees and there is no queue for them to line up in. If they are in danger, they have to leave, unlike their parents, which is a completely different class of applications.

On top of that, the Conservative government claims to have cut the backlog of skilled workers. I do not know whether members will recall that a few years ago Bill C-50 got stuffed into a budget bill that was passed in the House of Commons with the help of Liberals supporting them. That bill was called fast, fair and efficient in cutting the backlog. Actually, the backlog for skilled workers grew. In 2005, it was 487,000 and now it is 508,000. It has grown by 173,000.

This so-called clearing the backlog is not working for skilled workers and it is not working for parents and grandparents. There are hundreds of thousands of people waiting patiently, some not so patiently, to come to Canada. It is under this failed immigration policy that the Conservatives try to find a scapegoat. Immigrants are really upset that they have to wait so long. The Conservatives try to find a scapegoat and say that it is not their fault. They say that it is not due to the Conservatives, that it is really the refugees' fault, which is why this bill was introduced, to my mind.

Let us look at the details in this bill. The mandatory detention for people arriving in Canada without any chance of review is at least 12 months, children or not. By the way, I do not know whether members of Parliament have read psychological studies of children being detained but studies done in the U.K. show that, even in just a few months of detention, what happens to a child is tragic. They wet their beds, some become mute, others stop learning, they become withdrawn, they are not able to go to school because they cannot focus, some lose a lot of weight and some eat much less. Psychological scars are inflicted on children who are being jailed for not just a few weeks or months, but we are jailing them for at least a year. It is totally unjustifiable.

There is mandatory detention for 12 months. There is a denial of the right to apply for permanent resident status until five years have passed, and that is after a favourable determination of their protection claim. These are genuine refugees. I am not talking about the bogus ones. If there are those who are determined to be bogus, deport them, that is fine. I am talking about genuine refugees. They are not even allowed to assimilate to Canada because they cannot become landed immigrants.

They also would be denied access to relief based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. They cannot get temporary resident permits or refugee travel documents for five years or longer. They are not given the right to appeal to the refugee appeal division, which is unfair. On top of that, the minister has the discretion to designate foreign nationals. It is not limited to mass arrivals. It could be two, three or four people and it could be applied retroactively to March 2009. This bill could be passed in 2012 but it could be retroactively applied to a few years before. I do not know how that could be called fair.

As I said earlier, the arrival or two or more persons by irregular means could attract designation.

Much has been said about the denial of detention reviews, because it is mandatory that they be jailed for at least a year, which breaches sections 9 and 10 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because these rights are supposed to protect people against arbitrary detention and the right to prompt review of detention.

If we look carefully, why is it that we need to protect them? Why are we jailing them? Normally a person is jailed because they are a danger to the public or that person is a flight risk and could disappear.

In these circumstances, when we jail a child, a refugee or these people, the government does not have to prove that the person is a flight risk or endangering anyone. A person would be detained even though they are not endangering anyone in this country or not trying to fly anywhere and disappear. They would still be jailed for at least a year without access to any appeal whatsoever.

We know that this kind of behaviour not only breaches sections 9 and 10 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but it is also in conflict with our obligations under the convention relating to the status of refugees and the international covenant on civil and political rights.

It is interesting that this bill makes no reference to the human smuggling issues. Just a few months ago, the immigration committee dealt with several bills. It dealt with Bill C-35, which cracked down on crooked consultants. At that time, on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I expanded the amount of time that we could go after people who are smuggling from 6 months to at least 10 years.

We already closed the loopholes, because it used to be that we could only go after them for six months. If we could not catch them and prove that they had committed an offence, then we could not go after them after six months. We expanded it for a long period of time.

As I said earlier, if convicted it means life imprisonment, so this has nothing to do with going after smuggling.

The amendments in this punishing refugees bill would affect permanent residents and foreign nationals regardless of how they arrived in Canada. What it does is it expands the grounds on which the port of entry officers can detain permanent residents and foreign nationals, it would expand the grounds on which permanent residents can be kept in detention while the minister takes “responsible steps” to inquire if they are suspicious.

Lastly, it would remove the appeal rights from the Refugee Protection Division. This would apply to permanent residents also, not just refugees. Therefore, this bill is not just punishing refugees, it is punishing permanent residents as well.

Another problem with the bill, and the minister, by not answering my question, alluded to it, is that it would give tremendous power to the minister to designate people coming into this country. Anyone coming into the port of entry by any mode of travel could be called an “irregular arrival”. Actually, most refugees arrive in Canada irregularly.

In the 1930s, the S.S. St. Louis carried a large number of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany to Halifax. They came without a lot of documentation and arrived on the shore of Halifax and Canada sent them away. Some of them died at the hands of the Nazis.

With this bill, we are not sending a ship away. We could assume that if a ship like the S.S. St. Louis arrived on the shore of Victoria instead of Halifax, the women, children and the entire family would be detained in jail for a year. They would then be subjected to a search of their documentation to ensure they were really from Germany. They would then go through the process. Assuming that all of them would be declared refugees, they would not be able to bring any of their loved ones to Canada safely for five years. This is the kind of treatment we would be putting refugees through in coming to our shores.

I want to point out that most refugee claimants coming to Canada obtain documents from agents and sometimes these documents are not necessarily their real identity. For some of the genuine refugees this is the only way they can leave their country and come to safety. It is because there is no other way they can get on commercial carriers. With this bill, any group of two or more claimants leaving a country that is homophobic, for example, or they are being pursued, when they arrive here they could be designated as an irregular arrival and be subjected to that kind of treatment.

There are other aspects of this bill that are extremely draconian. For example, after the 12 months of detention, refugees are then allowed some kind of hearing every few months. However, that would also be very difficult. It means that they could face an indefinite detention.

In summary, this bill is not designed to prevent human smuggling because we already have laws that do that. It is designed to distract the public and put the blame for the long wait list that immigrants now have to endure in order to bring their loved ones to Canada on people who are desperately trying to leave a dangerous situation. It is unfair, cruel and not worthy of our support.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the member. She made reference to the St. Louis, which made its way from Hamburg, Germany in 1939. She claimed that the people on-board the St. Louis had no documentation. Does she know that as historical fact, or was that just conjecture on her part?