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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

Safe Streets and Communities ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Mega-Quarry DevelopmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by a number of people from my riding.

The petitioners wish to draw the attention of all members of Parliament to the proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon Township in Dufferin County, Ontario. It would be the largest open-pit quarry in Canada at over 900 hectares, or 2,300 acres. The proposed mega-quarry would delve more than 60 metres, or 200 feet, deep, which is well below the water table. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten the headwaters of the Nottawasaga, Grand and Saugeen watershed systems and the Mad, Noisy, Pine and Boyne river sub-watersheds, consequently, detrimentally and permanently affecting the aquifers in the area of the proposed mega-quarry. The proposed mega-quarry would put at risk the drinking water of over one million Canadians. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten freshwater fish species, particularly in the Pine River, and would further harm freshwater fish species and their regeneration affecting Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. The proposed mega-quarry would remove from production some of Ontario's best farmland. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten the Grand and Nottawasaga river watersheds, including various freshwater fish species. The proposed mega-quarry would threaten local flora and fauna, including species at risk like the bobolink, a small endangered blackbird. The proposed mega-quarry would initially see 150 truckloads of aggregates leaving the quarry per hour heading south, and 150 empty truckloads returning to the quarry, and other trucks transporting 52 tonnes of explosives to the quarry per day on local roadways not designed to carry such traffic.

Based on the proposed mega-quarry application, there are distinct issues relating to the use of water operations based on NAFTA considerations, which may have a very substantially negative financial implication federally and provincially.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the proposed Highland Companies' mega-quarry development.

Mega-Quarry DevelopmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would remind hon. members that it is the practice not to read the entire petition but just to provide a brief summary thereof.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I bring to the House a petition from Manitobans concerned the Canadian Wheat Board.

As it was pointed out clearly yesterday, tens of thousands of prairie wheat farmers have sent a very strong message to the Conservative government that they do not want the Canadian Wheat Board to be dismantled. This is what this petition is about.

I would ask the government to respond to this petition.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from September 19 consideration of the motion 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, and of the amendment.

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

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The last time the bill was before the House, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta had eight minutes left in debate.

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

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to continue with the points I was making yesterday. Once again I want to express my concern that this piece of legislation is being presented under public safety when the bill actually deals with immigration and citizenship. This is a real issue. Since when have we as Canadians seen the arrival of immigrants in this country as a public safety issue? I urge the government to send this bill to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration as it goes through its committee stage.

Yesterday I mentioned very briefly the impact this legislation would have on families. We as Canadians pride ourselves on being compassionate and caring. The world looks to Canada to be compassionate and caring. People across the world choose to make Canada their home. I am a first generation immigrant. I came from England. I chose Canada to be my home. One of the reasons I chose Canada is its inclusivity and acceptance of people from around the world.

This legislation is going in the wrong direction. The legislation sends the wrong message to refugees. There are people who have spent years in war-torn territories running for their lives, separated from their families, not knowing where they will get their next meal. Some people do not even know where they are going to sleep the next night, whether they will wake up in the morning, or how many of their loved ones they will lose.

The legislation tells refugees that when they arrive in Canada it will take up to a year to examine their designations. During that time they will be in isolation and given a special designation for which the criteria are not clear at all. A lot of power seems to be vested in the minister and there seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors in that we do not know the criteria. Once they have been designated they will not get to apply for permanent residence for five or six years.

This means the individuals who arrive here, who have already been torn from their families and have suffered enough, would not get travel documents. They would be able to work, but they would not have any rights. They would not have permanent residence. We would throw their lives into further turmoil and uncertainty for five or six years. They would not know if the families they left behind would ever be able to join them. They would not have the needed mental relief in knowing they have arrived in a safe haven. We must think about what that must feel like.

Imagine, for example, a young woman with two children who arrives here but her husband and two other kids are still back in Somalia. For six or seven years she cannot apply for permanent residence or for her family to join her. What are we saying to her? We are saying that we are going to provide her with this vacuum for five or six years, but she does not have any of the rights. She cannot apply for permanent residence. By the way, permanent residence does not take place the day someone applies for it. It takes time as well. Imagine the amount of time she will have to wait until the rest of her family can join her. It could take 10 to 15 years, depending on how we do the math.

Surely that is not the kind of image of Canada that we want to project to the world. We want the rest of the world to see us as compassionate and caring.

By creating two levels of refugees and denying appeals in that first year we are saying that we are prepared to break conventions governing the rights of refugees and the rights of children. That concerns me as a Canadian. I know Canadians right across this country will be concerned about that.

We pride ourselves on our family values. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming nation. I urge this House not to support this bill because we would be sending a message to the world that we are becoming a much colder, less caring nation when we see legislation such as this bill going through.

Let us see who is opposed to this legislation. There is the Canadian Council for Refugees. I talked to some of my constituents. When I phoned them they said, “This is ridiculous. It is not a problem.” If we are worrying about smugglers, we already have a life sentence for smugglers. In Canada that is the highest penalty that can be given.

This is actually more punishment for people who have already suffered atrocities and difficulties that most of us in this chamber cannot even imagine.

As a counsellor I had the privilege of working with children who arrived here as refugees after spending years in detention camps or in very unsafe and volatile living conditions. Dealing with those children is extremely challenging. Now we are leaving those same children in a vacuum for five, six or seven years, maybe even longer.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is opposed to this legislation, as is Amnesty International. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has taken a position, as have the Canadian Bar Association and the Centre for Refugee Studies. What keeps coming up over and over again is that this bill is a draconian piece of legislation.

I urge all members to look at what it is we are trying to address. If we are trying to address the smugglers, let us focus on enforcement, provide extra resources and go after the smugglers. Let us not punish people who have already been victimized.

Let us all put ourselves in the position of a refugee. Let us imagine how we would feel reaching a safe haven called Canada and then being faced with detention and uncertainty.

I ask members to please defeat this bill.

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

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising some of the very serious concerns that we in the NDP have about this bill.

I would like to ask the hon. member about another issue we have heard a lot about from people. Certainly as members of Parliament we deal with the process of appeals for humanitarian and compassionate applications. This is something we all are quite familiar with. It is an underpinning of the fairness of Canada's immigration and citizenship system.

Under this bill we know that designated persons would not be able to make such an application for five years. It is certainly removing a provision that normally has been part of the system, and has been there as a safeguard to ensure that legitimate applications based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds can come forward.

I would ask the member to comment on that. Also, does she think this bill is removing an element that has been very much a part of our system of evaluating applications and that compassionate and humanitarian grounds are very legitimate?

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

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, as Canadians we pride ourselves on fair, open and transparent processes. However, this legislation would establish a process whereby those who are designated would not have access to the appeal process. That is absolutely wrong. It goes against the very fabric of who we are as Canadians. It violates some international conventions on the rights of refugees. To detain refugees for a year as they await designation without access to an appeal process is disturbing and very un-Canadian. Is the first lesson we want to teach those who arrive here from volatile and dangerous conditions or war-torn countries that a world-respected country like Canada will not offer them an appeal process?

The fundamental problem with this legislation which purports to address human smuggling is that it does not address human smuggling. Human smuggling will continue. The only way to stop it is not by punishing the victims who have already suffered enough, but by providing funding and additional resources to enforcement agencies to allow enforcement officers to do their job.

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

10:20 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I checked yesterday's information because I am baffled by the government saying that as a developed, industrialized country we have provided more support for refugees than any other industrialized country. According to the minister, we will be accepting 14,000 refugees next year. However, according to Amnesty International's website, Germany and the United States each provides support for one-quarter of a million refugees.

I am baffled by this claim and I wonder if the member has any further information about it.

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

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I will certainly be examining those figures more closely. This legislation is not about how many refugees will come to this country. Rather, it is about how we will treat those who land on our soil. Once again I want to focus on who we are as Canadians and how we wish to treat those people who have suffered through war, persecution and very difficult environments. We can all use numbers to confuse, but as parliamentarians we have a responsibility to ask ourselves from a humanitarian point of view what the bill is attempting to address.

Smugglers do not live on the boats or planes that transport refugees here. They are probably living very comfortable lives. This bill would not reduce the amount of money they charge people for transportation. Rather, it would lead to further persecution of victims. Let us enforce the excellent legislation and laws presently in place to target smugglers. We do not need this law against smugglers.

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

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Madam Speaker, we all know where our hearts are on many of these issues and I share many of the thoughts and comments of the hon. member.

Coming back to what the bill should do, which is to deal with those involved in human smuggling, I would like to hear the member's suggestions and comments on what is required in order to discourage human smuggling and, most importantly, what kind of actions we should be taking.

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

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, what is key is the existing legislation. Rather than looking for a new kind of photo op and public safety issue where there is none, let us look at the existing law and enforce it. We have heard in the past that the enforcement agencies do not have enough staffing. Therefore, let us put additional resources in place to target those who are engaged in human smuggling instead of victims.

I absolutely believe that those who are engaged in these illegal activities need to be brought to justice by way of our judicial system. It is a good system with appropriate laws in place. The maximum sentence for human smuggling is life imprisonment, the highest punishment conferred in Canada. In that context, let us concentrate on enforcement by targeting where smugglers live and how they operate. To detain refugees once they arrive in Canada is draconian.

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

10:25 a.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Newton—North Delta for her excellent and very relevant speech.

My question has to do with the provisions of the bill that prevent refugees from appealing to the appropriate authorities. We know what happened. Yesterday, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism made reference to Australia. But in Australia, the supreme court intervened and invalidated the provisions that prevented refugees from appealing.

What does my colleague think about these provisions in Canada? Does she think that they could also be invalidated by the Supreme Court of Canada?

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

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, in Australia the appeal process was overruled. If this bill passes as is, I expect that it will be overturned here as well.

As Canadians, we respect international law and have signed many United Nations conventions. Therefore, it makes no sense to attempt to put legislation in place that we know will be overturned. It would be akin to giving oneself a black eye, which makes no sense.

I question the purpose of the bill and why it comes under public safety. This is an immigration and citizenship issue. However, the government is putting it forward as a public safety issue. Let us look at it for what it is rather than tarnish our reputation in the eyes of the international community.

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

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-4 today. However, as this is my first time rising in the House since the election in May, I would like to take one moment to thank the voters of Burlington for sending me back here with 54% of the vote. It was a very nice election.

I want to congratulate all members, whether new or returning to the House. As well, I believe it is important to welcome the pages who are just starting out this week. Remembering everyone's names and idiosyncrasies is a tough job. They do a great job and I thank them. I hope they have a great year.

I am pleased to stand in the House today to speak in support of the bill. It will go a long way to making our nation safer by cracking down on the illegal and dangerous activity of human smuggling. The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act is a critical piece of legislation that responds to a critical need.

The smuggling of people is not a new crime. In fact, it has been happening around the world for many decades. I am sure all hon. members have heard stories of people paying a fee to bypass legal and proper immigration processes to sneak across the Mexico-United States border.

My riding of Burlington is not that far from the U.S. border, and on a weekly basis a number of people come to see me regarding the issue of crossing the border illegally.

When I was first elected, I was amazed that individuals in discussing with me how they came to Canada eventually would admit that they got here illegally. They did not follow the legal process. They claimed refugee status when they arrived at the border. Then they would come to my office because they wanted me as their MP to help them continue the illegal process they had started.

Out of respect for the office I hold as a member of Parliament, I told those individuals that I would not interfere in any illegal activity that they had undertaken. I instructed them to follow the legal and appropriate processes to immigrate to Canada, under the refugee system and the immigration system. Often we would call those people a few weeks later to determine what they had decided to do, but they would be hard to find and in some cases we could not find them at all. It does happen. It happens in Burlington. It happens across this country and has been happening for many years.

It may come as a surprise to some that this problem is not new to Canada. Every year thousands of people seeking asylum try to enter Canada illegally by air or by land through the help of organized criminal smuggling networks.

As well, illegal immigration by sea is not new to Canada. In 1999, close to 600 immigrants from China's Fujian province arrived on Canada's west coast in four different vessels. What has changed is that Canadians are aware now of the direct impact this criminal activity is having on our nation. Canadians have received a wake-up call that Canada is being increasingly targeted by organized human smugglers based out of Southeast Asia who view our immigration system as a very generous system to be exploited for profit.

Two events in recent years have served to raise the profile of this issue in the minds of Canadians. One is the ship that recently came to British Columbia. My constituents have been asking what we will do to stop this from happening in the future.

Last August, 492 Sri Lankan Tamils arrived in British Columbia aboard the vessel the MV Sun Sea. This occurred less than one year after the arrival of the MV Ocean Lady, which carried 76 Sri Lankan Tamils.

These two events are an issue in my riding. Although we are in Burlington, thousands of miles away from where the activities took place, Burlingtonians and all Canadians are concerned about how we could allow those events to happen.

While these two vessels landed on the west coast, this is an issue that, as I said, extends across the country. In the past, Canadian border authorities have also dealt with cases of human smuggling in eastern Canada, including at the Port of Montreal.

This is a growing transnational issue that threatens our national security. It also raises significant concerns regarding human rights and the rule of law here in Canada.

These human smugglers are making huge profits by promoting illegal immigration. They are not immigration consultants. They are not helping people with the actual process. They are taking thousands of dollars from individuals and putting them on inappropriate ships and sending them to countries, including Canada, where they think they can get away with bypassing the immigration system. They are charging individuals large sums of money to transport them to a country and advising them to claim asylum, refugee status, when they arrive. This unlawful activity has implications for our country. Ultimately, it affects our system and all Canadians across this country.

I am sure that hon. members can well imagine how conducting identity and admissibility examinations of over 500 individuals arriving on a single boat can significantly tax our immigration and border security systems. Let us be frank about it: we are not set up for mass immigration or mass asylum seekers in that format.

Sadly, the costs of human smuggling to society are more than can be measured on balance sheets. Often this illegal transport means great misery, illness and even death for many of the individuals involved, who are transported thousands of miles in very unsafe conditions.

This was clearly seen in the terrible events that occurred off the coast of Australia's Christmas Island in December of last year. Thirty people lost their lives when a wooden boat operated by suspected human smugglers was destroyed in stormy weather. The Christmas Island example in Australia is just one of many incidents that have happened around the world.

Further, human smuggling is fundamentally unfair to those who follow the rules and wait their turn to come to Canada, which we all see in our offices. We all sympathize with those who are following the rules and are trying to become Canadian immigrants by following the legal procedure.

I am a sixth or seventh generation Canadian, but my in-laws came here from Italy. They came through the legal route. They had to wait their turn to get here. They followed the process. They did not come on a boat and claim refugee status after paying a smuggler thousands of dollars to escape from Italy. They followed the rules. They expect everyone else to follow the rules. They welcome immigrants, obviously. In my family, particularly through marriage; people in my in-laws' family are almost all immigrants. They have been very successful. Canada has been good to them. Canada is the better for their arrival and their contribution, but they did it the legal way, and that is what this bill is about.

Canada welcomes thousands of new immigrants and refugees every year through one of the most generous and fair refugee systems in the world, but when Canada is forced to deal with the arrival of a vessel filled with hundreds of illegal migrants, the resulting backlog of work means that those who go through the proper immigration channels get pushed back in line. This is not fair to them, their children or their spouses.

We will not stand idly by while criminal organizations target our country and our generosity. That is why our government took action in October of last year and first introduced this legislation to send a clear message to human smugglers that Canada will not tolerate them. That is why we have reintroduced this legislation in this session. We believe that the passing of this bill cannot come soon enough.

This issue is not going to go away. We must act now. We must be responsible parliamentarians.

With this legislation we are taking firm and reasonable action to defend the integrity of our borders. We are determined to protect our immigration and refugee system from abuse and to prosecute human smugglers to the full extent of the law.

While Canadians are, by and large, supportive of a generous and open immigration and refugee system, we also understand that every sovereign country has a responsibility to protect its citizens and the integrity of its borders. This bill clearly shows that we will not tolerate abuse of our immigration system, either by human smugglers or by those unwilling to abide by the rules. At the same time, it will allow us to continue offering protection to legitimate refugees.

The new legislation will enable the Minister of Public Safety to declare the arrival of a group of persons as an “irregular arrival” and make those involved subject to the bill's measures. The bill recognizes the gravity of this decision by stating in clear terms that only the Minister of Public Safety can make this decision and that it cannot be delegated to another official.

The legislation will also make it easier to prosecute human smugglers, establish mandatory minimum prison sentences for those who are convicted of human smuggling, and hold shipowners and operators to account for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations. This bill reduces the attraction of coming to Canada by way of an illegal smuggling operation.

The legislation contains measures to prevent 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 at least five years, including those who obtain that refugee status.

We want to enhance the opportunity to rescind the refugee status and remove from Canada those who return to their country of origin for a vacation or who demonstrate in any other way that they are not legitimately in need of Canada's protection. We must prevent individuals who come to Canada as part of a designated human smuggling operation from sponsoring family members for a period of up to five years.

Many of Canada's global allies and partners have found themselves the target of organized human smuggling ventures. This is an international problem, and it must have an international solution. No nation can solve illegal smuggling by acting purely on its own. That is why we have appointed a special adviser on human smuggling and illegal migration, Mr. Ward Alcock, to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to this issue. Mr. Alcock's role allows us to engage other international partners with a common voice to find ways to prevent these vessels from departing from their home country in the first place.

Since his appointment in October of 2010, Mr. Alcock has met with officials in Australia and a number of other states in southeast Asia, as well as with representatives at the United Nations, to discuss approaches to managing irregular immigration that is happening around the world. He has also attended several meetings of the Bali process, which is a regional forum that brings together more than 50 countries and international organizations that are developing practical measures to combat human smuggling and related crimes in the South Pacific region.

Adding weight to this international discussion, the Prime Minister has urged leaders from the APAC nations to work together to find concrete solutions to the problem of human smuggling. Last fall, the Prime Minister met with international allies at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum highlighting the critical need for stronger and more effective laws to crack down on this global problem. This ongoing collaboration is critical to shutting down human smuggling operations and will send a very strong message to would-be smugglers that their illegal activities will no longer be tolerated.

The measures we are introducing today will substantially improve our ability to crack down on those who engage in the illegal activity of human smuggling. These measures respect our international obligations and commitments that provide assistance and sanctuary for those who are legitimate refugees and who need our protection. Canada opens its doors to make sure they have the quality of life and opportunity that they all deserve so that they are able to start a new and better life here.

We call on all hon. members to support this legislation and help us pass this act as soon as possible.

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

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Madam Speaker, I would ask the hon. member for Burlington how the bill would address the human smugglers' criminal activities and how it would prosecute them.

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

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question and I congratulate her on her election to the House.

I will use an analogy that will make the point.

Those who are active in illegal activity, whether human smuggling or other illegal activity, need customers to be able to provide this illegal activity. In this case, the human smugglers look at Canada as a place where they can bypass all the rules. They look at Canada as a place where they can get people in to claim asylum; Canada will treat them like gold, and there will be no issue. Therefore, if they pay the $10,000 or whatever it is, the smuggler will get them here, and they will be fine. Of course, the smugglers do not live here. They live in their own countries.

With this legislation we would make Canada's borders less like a doormat. We would let the global community know that we have a system that gives fair treatment to true refugees who come through a legitimate process but that we will not tolerate boatloads of illegal, illegitimate refugees coming from human smugglers. This would take away the opportunity for the human smugglers to use Canada as a doormat. It would discourage them from putting together boats of people to come to Canada. That is what this legislation does. That is how it would tackle human smugglers who are the core of the problem.

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

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Madam Speaker, I do not think that the hon. member opposite answered the previous question from the NDP member, who asked what, exactly, the government was doing about the criminals who exploit these immigrants to bring them here.

In my opinion, this bill still goes after the victims instead of those who traffic these immigrants. The bill requires some major amendments. In addition, I believe that the entire bill still focuses more on criminals than on victims. The government wants to invest money in prisons and give additional penalties, but what will it do for victims in terms of support, follow-up and assistance?

I wonder whether the member would agree to split this bill into several parts, so that we can examine the many provisions that it contains. I think most of us would agree on half of the measures in this bill. There are some very good measures, but some are unacceptable, especially those that affect Quebec's traditional values and that go completely against what the Government of Quebec and Quebec society have always advocated.

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

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member on his re-election. I believe he is the longest-serving member in the House.

The answer is, no, I do not think we are interested in splitting up the bill. It is a package and it works better as a package to discourage human smugglers from using Canada as a place to deploy illegitimate refugees.

The last point was about the values of Quebeckers. I believe the values of Quebeckers are the same values as all other Canadians, whether they live in British Columbia, Burlington or Nova Scotia, and their values are about fairness. A fundamental piece of our immigration and refugee system is fairness and appropriateness for those who are coming here through the legitimate system that exists. We have a generous and well-respected immigration and refugee process that is recognized around the world and it is fair. What is happening is that human smugglers are trying to take advantage of the system and circumvent it. Whether one is a Quebecker, an Ontarian or a British Columbian, people think it is fair. This legislation puts fairness first and foremost in our immigration and refugee system.

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

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan NDP York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, the member opposite suggested that this bill was somehow fair. If I were a refugee, it would not matter to me how I got here but it matters to the government how a person gets here. If the government decides that refugees got here by a method it did not like, such as having to pay somebody to travel, a method that has been used for centuries to come to North America, how does it decide that it is fair to treat refugees who it deems to be illegal different from refugees it decides are legal? How is it fair that there are two classes of refugees, both of whom are equally refugees?

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

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, in his question he answered his own question. Do most Canadians not think it is fair that the legal process that is available in that country is followed? That is what fairness is. It is taking the legal route. Is it fair that we put criminals in jail if they do something illegal? Just because they do it illegally, do we not treat them fairly?

We have a system that treats legal refugee claimants fairly. Why would we bend the rules of our legal system for those who come here illegally and turn a blind eye to it? Do we say, “They got here illegally. So what?” That is not fair to the thousands and thousands of immigrants who come here through legal channels and the legal refugee process. That is what fairness is. That is why this legislation brings fairness to our system, continues to treat refugees fairly and goes after human smugglers who are trying to use Canada as a doormat.