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House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was smugglers.

Topics

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Bar Association and the Centre for Refugee Studies are all opposed to this bill. I would like to ask the hon. member if she thinks that the Conservative government is stubbornly committed to passing this bill for ideological reasons.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. I really think that, with this bill, the government wants to show that it is fighting terrorism and crime. This is totally the wrong approach to the matter, because its way of showing people that it is attacking terrorism and crime is really inappropriate. Instead, it is attacking refugees, people who need help, people who urgently need support in order to get back to a normal, healthy life.

I can go on: many decisions are completely vague and arbitrary, contravening a number of charters and conventions. It is totally unjustified; bill C-4absolutely must be withdrawn so that it can be revised and reworked.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the hon. member for her touching, first-hand account of how some refugees who come here by boat can make very positive contributions to this country.

I would like to ask the hon. member the following question. In her speech, she made a distinction between traffickers, smugglers and those who help refugees. Perhaps she could tell us more about this distinction so that we can fully grasp what happens to those people.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member.

Traffickers are those who bring migrants, refugees and so on to the country in order to make a profit. Smugglers are just those who do so without necessarily profiting from it. There are also those who welcome people once they are here. For example, the Red Cross provided my parents with very specific help when they fled from their country.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, it seems like the Conservative members are extremely confused about the difference between immigrants and refugees. This morning, we heard the hon. member for Burlington refer to his Italian in-laws. By no means do I wish to say anything negative about in-laws—I have wonderful in-laws, one of whom is from the Philippines and also immigrated here—but I am convinced that, in their home country, the member for Burlington's in-laws were not subject to persecution, violation of their human rights, danger of torture or risk to their lives. There is a big difference.

We are talking here about refugees who face grave danger and flee their country to escape these threats to their safety and their integrity. I also heard the government side say that we are facing an invasion of refugees and that we must put a stop to it immediately. The Conservatives are referring to a particular case that occurred in 2010, where Sri Lankan refugees, who had indeed done business with traffickers and smugglers, were arriving by boat and requesting asylum. However, it is important to realize that there were approximately 500 people on that boat requesting asylum. Were these requests to be processed, they would represent 2% of all cases processed by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

In response to another Conservative member who stated that we do not want them to conduct any investigations at all, I would like to say that we simply want all refugee claimants, whoever they may be, to have access to the same system, which would not be the case if Bill C-10 were to be passed.

Bill C-10 also shows the government's contempt for the international conventions and treaties that Canada has signed, for example, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child, not to mention the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which I will come back to later.

Bill C-4 has four problems and should therefore be defeated or at least heavily revised. The first problem has been mentioned several times. The bill separates refugees into two separate categories: refugees whose claims are processed in the regular manner and refugee claimants who could be deemed to be designated foreign nationals. If one person arrives by plane or by boat, he or she is considered a refugee claimant who can request the regular process. If a group of people arrives by boat, under the bill, they must be deemed to be designated foreign nationals.

There are two separate processes for two separate classes, which was a completely arbitrary decision on the immigration minister's part. This particular provision contravenes article 31 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which specifically says that the Contracting States shall not impose penalties on account of their illegal entry or presence in Canada. But that is exactly what the government wants to do. It wants to be able to detain them for a year. That is a violation of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. And it is definitely a violation of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which deals with the rights of every individual, whether Canadian or a refugee, to equality before and under the law. But we are going to have two separate classes that will be subject to two separate processes.

The second problem is the mandatory detention of designated foreign nationals for 12 months. For one thing, that is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, under which every individual has a right to legal counsel and the guarantee of habeas corpus. So it is also a violation of article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires the same thing.

The third problem is that refugee claimants cannot apply for permanent residence for at least five years. That is specifically a violation of article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child because the best interests of the child are not looked after in that decision. It seems the government is looking more after the best interests, the political ones in particular, of the Minister of Immigration. This also poses a problem when it comes to a very current issue, family reunification. After all the nice things the Conservatives had to say about it, now that the time has come to put something on paper to make the reunification process easier, they are putting up barriers blocking it.

That is the case with Bill C-4.

The fourth problem, and I mentioned it a number of times this morning, is the fact that the government is preventing refugees from appealing to the Refugee Appeal Division. For refugees who arrive via airplane, their case will be examined by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. These people have the right to appeal a decision that they deem to be unfair. For refugees who arrive via boat and who are declared “designated foreign nationals,” they do not have that opportunity. That clearly violates article 16 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 16 specifically states that a refugee shall have free access to the courts of law on the territory of all contracting states. In addition, it states that a refugee shall enjoy in the contracting state in which he has his habitual residence the same treatment as a national in matters pertaining to access to the courts, including legal assistance and exemption from cautio judicatum solvi.

It is clear that this bill creates two classes of asylum seekers, which completely goes against the principle of equality that should guide the legislators in this House.

I would like to raise one last point regarding the issue of appeals. Yesterday, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism held Australia as an example to follow.

The immigration minister failed to mention that in November 2010, the Australian supreme court issued a ruling in the case of a Sri Lankan refugee, in which it was deemed unconstitutional, under the Australian Constitution, that he did not have access to the appeal courts. Thus, the Australian supreme court invalidated these provisions. The same thing will happen in Canada, for the same reasons.

I think it is clear that the government has no respect for its international obligations—obligations that Canada agreed to and signed off on. It is clear that the government is trying to politicize the issue of refugees for its own purposes by using sheer populism to attack victims of persecution who are trying to seek asylum in Canada. By refusing equal treatment to all asylum seekers, it is clear that the government has no respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

For all of these reasons, I am unable to support Bill C-4, a bill that I believe is unfair, that punishes people who are already victims and that will certainly have very few consequences for human traffickers.

I would remind the House that under current Canadian legislation, human traffickers, or smugglers, already face the maximum sentence they can be subjected to, that is, life imprisonment. This bill includes a few additional factors that would have absolutely no deterrent effect.

This bill's intention is clear. Taking a closer look, we can see that nearly half of the bill simply discriminates more and creates different classes of asylum seekers. Thus, the bill is misnamed. This bill does not address human trafficking. This bill does not tackle the main problem, that is, smugglers who abuse the situation and take advantage of the desperation of people facing persecution, human rights violations, or even torture or death. The bill simply aims to discriminate against various groups of asylum seekers and allow the Canadian government to treat people differently in a very serious situation. This will reflect poorly on us internationally.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister introduced Bill C-4, he said the primary purpose of it was to target the profiteers and to go after the smugglers. It is interesting that the member talked about punishing the victims. That is a point we really need to pick up on.

In the bill the government is zeroing in on the profiteers, and the number of profiteers who are going to be penalized by this bill is zero. On the other hand, I want to pick up on the point of who is actually being punished. Individuals are landing on our shores, whether by plane or boat, and for the most part are seeking asylum because if they stay in the countries they originate from, their lives could be shortened. There are threats of torture and all sorts of other horrendous acts.

Would he not concur with me that they are already victims, and now they will be victims a second time because of the government's action? Would he concur with that?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North for his very pertinent question.

Indeed, that would be the case. Clearly, this bill does nothing more to address the issue of smugglers. The current Criminal Code already sets out a maximum sentence. As for the other aspect of the bill, concerning asylum seekers, they are persecuted and the victims of human rights violations. They often have to risk their lives and flee their country in order to ask for protection. This bill would have them treated like second-class asylum seekers, compared to today's asylum seekers. This bill completely flies in the face of the Canadian spirit that led to the signing of international conventions to protect the rights of refugees. With this bill, the Conservative government seems to be making a mockery of those rights.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Denis Blanchette NDP Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. He made several references to our international obligations with respect to this problem. I would like my colleague to speak more about the measures that the House could adopt to deal with the problem of trafficking while meeting our international commitments.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is very pertinent, and the answer quite simple. We must provide the people responsible for law enforcement—the coast guard, the police, the courts—with the means to do their job, together with our international partners, in order to get rid of smugglers, the vultures who take advantage of people's despair to turn a profit.

A bill such as this one will not solve the problem. With regard to the other part of the bill, which deals with handling asylum seekers, the solution is simple. The necessary resources must be allocated to the existing body, the Immigration and Refugee Board. This body takes into account many elements when deciding whether or not to grant refugee status, and the process should be available to all asylum seekers, whether they arrive by boat or other means.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, again today we have misinformation being given by both parties on the other side. Yesterday, one of the members indicated that 99% of the refugee claimants, asylum seekers from the Ocean Lady and the Sun Sea, had been processed. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Again today members opposite are implying that on this side of the House there is a lack of compassion. We have increased the number of refugees who can access Canada by 2,500 a year.

Is it not reasonable that our border and security officials have access to know whom they are dealing with and to determine whether these people are simply fleeing persecution or could, in some cases, be fleeing prosecution?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member does not seem to have heard my presentation. The Immigration and Refugee Board already has a process for investigating smugglers and examining claims for asylum. We are asking that all refugees, no matter how they arrive here, have access to the same process, not that the government create two separate processes because that is how it has decided to score political points.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I must tell the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso that I will have to interrupt his speech at 2 o'clock for the usual statements by members.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that overwhelming sound of indifference from my colleagues when they heard that my speech would be cut short.

This has been a very enlightening debate. Many of the speakers have brought very important points forward today throughout the course of the debate, certainly in the presentation that was presented by our leader, the member for Toronto Centre. In light of his vast experience on this topic and what he has done and seen over the course of his career, he sees a government that has certainly missed the mark in bringing forward this legislation.

We have seen it time and again, regardless of the issue such as the omnibus justice bill presented today. With regard to legislation on immigration before us now, the government has taken the approach that it first wants to soften the ground. It wants to scare the Canadian public into thinking that there is some type of crisis in our midst, that there is this onslaught of illegal refugees who are towering on our shores.

In the debate earlier today we heard from the member for York West, a former minister of citizenship and immigration. She had never dealt with a case like this during her tenure. Several of those involved in the debate today spoke with reference to the fact that there had been no significant increase, yet it has been put before the Canadian people that there is a degree of urgency because of an onslaught of refugees.

We see the same thing with the omnibus justice bill, which was presented and will be debated later in the House, that there is a crime wave sweeping across the country. When that fear is created, the government then is in a position to move forward with its ideologically driven mandate and agenda. That is the whole focus right now of the government.

I look forward to resuming, and I know all members in the House are looking forward to the remainder of my speech once we come back after question period.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The member for Cape Breton—Canso has seven minutes remaining in his remarks when we resume debate on the motion and five minutes for questions and comments.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. This year alone, 5,100 Quebeckers will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and, unfortunately, roughly 840 of them will lose their battle with this terrible disease. However, in some cases the cancer can be treated successfully if it is detected and treated in the early stages. That is why it is essential to increase and support prevention and research efforts to eradicate this terrible disease.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, I would like to send a word of encouragement to those who are fighting this cancer and to their loved ones. My sincere thanks go out to all those who spend their days raising public awareness about adopting healthy lifestyles. All the people who devote themselves to this cause, whether they are volunteers, caregivers or doctors, are truly remarkable, and we want to acknowledge them today.

Track and FieldStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the achievements of Jenna Martin from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, in South Shore—St. Margaret's.

Jenna won the Canadian women's 400-metre title at the national track and field championships this past June in Calgary. She participated in the World Track and Field Championship in South Korea and also finished sixth in the women's 400-metre final at the World University Games in China. She has been an NCAA All-American, as well as a Canadian junior athlete of the year. Now Jenna is preparing to train for the 2012 Olympics in London.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Jenna, as well as her long-time coach Charles Scarrow, also from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. I congratulate Jenna on all her accomplishments so far and wish her the best of luck to bring home the gold for Canada and Nova Scotia in 2012.

National AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate some NWT residents who have received national recognition this year.

Fort Smith Slave River Journal was awarded the best all around newspaper from the Canadian Community Newspaper Association in its circulation category.

Dr. Curtis Brown from the South Slave Divisional Education Council was given the Canadian Association of School Administrators Award as the best school superintendent in Canada.

Sylvia Clement, a 29-year-old single mother of two, was awarded the Council of the Federation 2011 Literacy Award for her work.

Di Ann Blesse was the winner of the Canadian Teachers' Federation Outstanding Aboriginal Educator Award.

Paul Bennett, principal of Yellowknife's J.H. Sissons Schools, was chosen as one of Canada's 32 outstanding principals.

Buffalo Airways won two Gemini Awards for the reality show, Ice Pilots.

All over the vast NWT, our residents work hard to build our territory. The results are exceptional, and these national awards recognize that.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, new figures from the Mining Association of Canada estimate that approximately $136 billion worth of investment is projected over the next five years for the Canadian mining industry, including both new projects as well as expansions to existing operations.

Multi-billion-dollar investments are planned in virtually every province and territory of Canada. Indeed, global demand for commodities is creating opportunities not seen since the postwar boom of the 1950s.

Canada is among the most attractive jurisdictions in the world for mineral exploration and new mine investment. As this government focuses on the economy and jobs as its number one priority, continuing to work in partnership with the mining industry is one of the ways we can keep Canada's economy strong.

Mining in Canada is truly the $136 billion opportunity, creating jobs and bringing hope from coast to coast to coast.

Prostate Cancer Awareness MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, with over 25,000 new diagnoses this year alone. Of that, 4,100 men will die this year.

Yet prostate cancer is preventable. Early detection and screening can result in a 90% cure rate. However, because this disease is asymptomatic in the earliest stages, regular prostate exams and PSA levels, where appropriate, are essential.

As a physician, I have worked to raise awareness about prostate cancer and to encourage my male patients to have early exams and tests when they reach the age of 40 and yearly afterwards.

There are hereditary factors that can lead to prostate cancer, but there are also dietary and environmental factors that play a role as well.

All men out there over 40 who have not had a prostate exam should take charge of their health and go get a checkup.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

September 20th, 2011 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, last week the leader of the Palestinian Authority announced his intention to unilaterally approach the UN Security Council this Friday to seek recognition of a Palestinian state.

Today, Canada's foreign affairs minister is in New York to ensure that Canada's views are widely known. Canada does not see this action as helpful in bringing peace to the region. Such action will make the resumption of peace talks more difficult and will raise expectations in the minds of all Palestinians.

Canada supports a two-state solution achieved through negotiations for a permanent peace. It is well known that the UN will likely veto any application for UN member state status.

Our government encourages the Palestinian Authority to abandon such action and to return to the peace talks.

Karel MayrandStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share with everyone my pride in the remarkable citizen engagement of Mr. Karel Mayrand, who is originally from Rimouski.

Mr. Mayrand is the David Suzuki Foundation's director general for Quebec and was recruited by former vice-president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore to be a presenter for his Climate Reality Project.

The only francophone presenter chosen by Mr. Gore, Mr. Mayrand participated in the 24 Hours of Reality event in New York to make people aware of the serious consequences of climate change and the urgent need to take action to counter its effects. You can watch his presentation, in French, on the Climate Reality Project Canada site.

His background is impressive and inspiring. He wanted to become an agent of change and, through his involvement, effort and perseverance, has achieved that goal and now works with the most influential people in the field.

Congratulations, Mr. Mayrand. We hope that your commitment will set an example for those who also want to make a difference.

Prostate CancerStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. It is the third leading cause of cancer death and will claim an estimated 4,100 lives this year alone, including many in my hometown of Oshawa. Most prostate cancers can be cured if detected and treated in their earliest stages.

We are extremely proud of our work to accelerate progress in cancer research, prevention and treatment for Canadians. Funding of $250 million over five years will be renewed for the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to continue its excellent work. Last year alone our government, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, invested an additional $159 million in cancer research.

Early detection, and leading a healthy, active lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Through the combined efforts of both the government and Canadians we can make a difference and save lives. Please join me in recognizing Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians can count on this government to keep our streets and communities safe.

As part of our commitment to crack down on crime, our government took the important step of bringing to Canadians' attention the 32 most wanted criminals, including Shameer Allie. This individual had been on the run since January, when CBSA had ordered his deportation after he had been found guilty of numerous criminal offences, including assault.

Despite the opposition's complaints, we went ahead with our approach, and it is delivering results. So far, six of those 32 dangerous criminals have been arrested.

Our government will continue to take action to protect Canadians and to make our streets and communities safer. I know that my constituents in Etobicoke Centre will definitely appreciate this.

Rail TransportationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call for action on high speed rail in Canada.

My former leader and friend, Jack Layton, assigned me the Quebec City to Windsor high speed rail portfolio to increase the use of passenger rail and improve the service in that corridor.

Well known to all, Jack expected us to not just criticize or be in opposition, but to build a plan and see it through.

With that in mind, I have been researching and reaching out, and last week launched the Need for Speed campaign. My first goal was to determine interest in a Quebec City to Chicago route that would link Canada to the United States. I went to Michigan and met with elected members and bureaucrats alike. With $200 million in upgrades from Detroit to Chicago currently happening, Americans at all levels of government are interested in a future rail connection with Canada.

In Canada I met with the private sector, elected officials and others who see the merits of higher speed rail. The problem in Canada is that we see study after study, but no action.

I have asked the Minister of Transport to create an inclusive working group of municipalities, provinces and the public and private sectors to develop a long-term business plan, ultimately bringing Canada into the modern rail age.

I miss Jack. He was a big supporter of high speed rail. It is projects like this that keep his legacy alive.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, on May 2 Canadians gave us a strong mandate to keep the streets and communities safe.

As part of that mandate, we made a promise to re-introduce important law and order legislation that would keep Canadians safe from coast to coast to coast, legislation that was opposed by the NDP and the Liberal Party. We said we would pass it within the first 100 sitting days.

I am very proud to say that today the Minister of Justice tabled the Safe Streets and Communities Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation that will keep Canadians safe, legislation that will protect our children from sex offenders, eliminate house arrest and eliminate pardons for sex offenders and give law enforcement officials, courts and victims tools they have told us they need.

We promised Canadians that we would be taking this action, and today we are delivering on that promise. I call upon members of the opposition to support these important law and order measures.