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House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. minister for making himself available for half an hour to discuss why we should not be limiting debate on a bill of this importance.

I would like to ask the hon. minister if he does not think that a bill of this magnitude and importance would be improved by ensuring that when we bring forward sweeping changes to refugee and immigration law, the government has the support of those people most intimately involved and most knowledgeable? I refer to groups like the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and the Canadian Bar Association. We should have legislation which we are sure would meet any charter challenge before we pass it.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contribution to debates in this place, but I could not disagree with her more strongly on this particular point.

There is a widespread consensus that the current asylum system is dysfunctional. Yet there are certain discrete special interests, including the so-called refugee lawyers association, that are the core special interests who want to protect the status quo. They are opposed to any meaningful reform. Frankly, any model of refugee reform that that organization supported would continue the dysfunction of the asylum system.

What we are proposing in C-31 goes above and beyond our legal and humanitarian obligations under both the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN convention on refugees. It proposes an asylum system that would be universally accessible and that would respect absolutely our obligation of non-refoulement of people deemed to be in need of our protection. It would provide access to a full and fair hearing at an independent quasi-judicial body, which again goes above and beyond our charter and UN convention obligations. It would create for the first time a full and fact-based appeal at the refugee appeal division, accessible to the vast majority of failed asylum claimants who lose at the first instance.

This is something that I think any reasonable person could support. However, we will not allow ourselves to be blocked from meaningful reform, to provide protection to real refugees by the special interests who have helped to create the problems in the first place.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed to see the government invoking time allocation for the 18th time in the very short life of this Parliament.

More than that, I am a bit dizzy watching the minister flip-flop back and forth on this issue of the value of debate in this House. There was a time, it seems, when the minister did not use filibuster and debate in this House as synonyms. I go back to the debate around Bill C-11. The minister is on record and I would like to quote his comments about the development of Bill C-11. He said in June 2010:

I am pleased to report that the proposed reforms in the original version of Bill C-11 received widespread support. However, many concerns were raised in good faith by parliamentarians and others concerned about Canada's asylum system. We have, in good faith, agreed to significant amendments that reflect their input, resulting in a stronger piece of legislation that is a monumental achievement for all involved.

I would like to hear from the minister how he reconciles those comments made in June 2010 with his support for time allocation today.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, yes, we are pleased with the outcome of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act in the previous Parliament. We continue to be proud of the work done by all parliamentarians.

However, I make no bones about the fact that the ultimate outcome was not optimal in terms of protecting the integrity of Canada's immigration system. Since the adoption of that bill, we have seen a huge and growing wave of unfounded asylum claims coming particularly from the European Union. It is bizarre to see a situation where now, since the adoption of that bill two years ago, we are getting more asylum claims from the European Union than we do from Africa or Asia.

I think any sensible person would say that is bizarre, particularly given that virtually none of the European asylum claimants even bother to show up at their hearing. Virtually all of them, of their own volition, abandon or withdraw their own claims. However, almost 100% of the claimants show up at the initial interview that is required in order to get the status document to qualify for welfare and other social benefits.

This is a huge gaping hole in the integrity and fairness of our immigration system. it is the responsibility of Parliament to act. Yes, to debate it, but ultimately to act.

We have already had 100 speeches on the human smuggling provisions included in Bill C-31. That clearly indicates the intention of the opposition to continue an endless filibuster.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to say it does not want any more members of Parliament to debate Bill C-31. It will allow for two or three or whatever number works, but there is a limit. It is trying to prevent members of Parliament from debating the bill.

The minister tries to justify it by saying we have had endless debate on human smuggling over the last year. The minister is fully aware that Bill C-4 is non-existent now. Bill C-31 not only replaces it, but it adds a whole new aspect to the bill.

It is an issue of affording MPs the opportunity to debate. This is something this new Conservative majority government has refused to do 18 times. This is but one example. The government killed the Canadian Wheat Board, with which I know the minister is familiar, using time allocation.

My question is why is the government, time and time again, resorts to time allocation as a way to prevent legitimate, honest debate inside the House of Commons, thereby stealing the voices of Canadians--

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. minister.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are proposing five days of debate at second reading, a fulsome opportunity for members to participate. This is in addition to 73 speeches in this Parliament on many of the major provisions of the bill, and 27 speeches in the previous Parliament.

This never typifies the problem. I remember appearing at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration a few months ago. The hon. member used his entire five minute allotment for questions to complain about not having enough time to ask questions. That is precisely the problem.

Yes, Canadians want debate, as I do in this place, but they want debate to lead to meaningful action. This government has a commitment to Canadians to stop the human smuggling and to protect our asylum system. We must act in that respect.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The member for Richmond—Arthabaska for one last question.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now know how this government operates. To this government, winning a majority spelled the end of debates and the beginning of installing its ideology. It figured it had four to four and a half years to pass everything it was unable to pass when it had a minority. We know that.

Now, the public is suffering the consequences. Workers are seeing their rights violated. We see what the government did with Air Canada. It has gotten to the point where special legislation is introduced before there is even a dispute. That is pretty bad; it is unheard of.

I imagine this government will never cease to amaze us, even if, here in Parliament, we are less and less surprised.

My question for the minister is quite simple. He was the one who ensured that the opposition parties and his government could manage to work together to draft a bill on refugees, namely Bill C-11, that was acceptable to everyone. Then he simply decided to scrap the whole thing and come up with Bill C-31.

He accuses the opposition of wanting to stall, but why did the government not reintroduce Bill C-11? Everyone agreed on it and there would have been no systematic obstruction.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, one of the important commitments we made was to take action against human smugglers. That was a promise we made before the last election. We debated this issue for days. The opposition prevented the adoption of legislative measures to combat human smuggling.

We renewed this commitment during the election campaign. We were elected on a mandate to take action on this and we introduced Bill C-4, which was again blocked by the opposition's stalling tactics. At some point, after dozens of speeches, we have to put words into action and allow the committee to study at length the legislative measures we are proposing to combat human smuggling.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time for questions has expired.

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

All those opposed will please say nay.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Bill C-31--Time Allocation MotionProtecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

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

Vote #152

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I declare the motion carried.

The member for Random—Burin—St. George's on a point of order.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills arrived after the government whip had taken his seat, so his vote should not be counted.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, a week or two ago I clarified what the rules were. After I sit down, there may be a gap of time, but the key point is when the Chair says the motion. The Chair did not say the motion and therefore he can vote.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, my understanding of the rules is that as long as members are in their seats before the Speaker gets up to read the motion that is being put, all is in order. I am surprised the whip for the Liberal Party was not aware of these rules that had been clarified only recently in the House.

Protecting Canada’s Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I specifically recall that the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills had taken his seat before I rose from mine. I believe that clarifies the matter.

The House resumed from March 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, the Marine Transportation Security Act and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle has five minutes.