The minister claims that is wrong. He will have the opportunity to stand and explain that. Certainly our interpretation of the bill is that is the case. Giving this particular minister all this power is indeed worrisome.
Allowing the minister to determine which groups were irregular arrivals would give the minister too much discretionary power with very little accountability.
I asked the previous member from the Conservative Party who would outline the safeguards. I really did not hear any safeguards that would amount to a whole lot.
The removal of an appeal process for those originating from a country on the safe list or from those identified as being part of an irregular arrival would not afford due process. We all know that due process is extremely important. We do not see due process in this section of the bill.
Our party is opposed to the lengthy, warrantless detentions coupled with an unfair review process where the first review would only occur after 12 months. The policies proposed really constitute cruel and unusual punishment. There should be balance in this kind of legislation. There does not seem to be balance or fairness in the act in terms of how the bill would affect people's lives. They come here, maybe abused by others in other countries and other systems. We need to protect those individuals. They come here with dreams and could find them so much dashed.
We do believe in reforming the system so that processing times are fair and reasonable for refugees. We do not think the bill does that to the extent that it should. As I outlined at the beginning, the amount of authority given to the minister is beyond.
The legislative proposal of the bill has quite a number of impacts. It would allow the minister to create a safe list of countries identified as being designated countries of origin. Claimants from those designated countries of origin would be subject to specific guidelines, including expedited application processing and denial of access to the refugee appeal division.
It would allow the minister to determine who was part of an irregular arrival, and therefore a designated foreign national. Designated foreign nationals would not have access to the refugee appeals division.
The bill would include all the proposed changes that, if members will recall, were in Bill C-4. However in Bill C-31, minors, those under the age of 16, would be excluded from the mandatory detention. On that we would have to say congratulations for that slight change.
Biometric data would be required from temporary resident visa applications or those applying for a study or work permit.
Refugees would be at risk of losing protection status. Changes would be made through the bill to prohibit individuals from applying for humanitarian and compassionate consideration while awaiting an IRB decision. Failed refugee claimants would not be able to apply for a year following negative refugee decisions. Those are the kinds of impacts that we see in the bill.
As a party, we cannot support the bill. In addition to the humanitarian and constitutional issues raised by the bill, key points which we oppose include the following: the ability of the Minister of Public Safety to unilaterally determine which groups would be irregular arrivals and, as I said, that would give undue power to the minister; and the ability of the minister to unilaterally determine which countries would belong on the safe list and would be designated countries of origin.
Again, what would be the absolute criteria in terms of making those decisions? Maybe the minister, if he does get up, could explain that further. There have to be more criteria than what we see in the bill currently, so that there would not be just political considerations on the part of the minister to make these decisions.
Another point is the lengthy mandatory detentions related to those deemed designated foreign nationals and the lack of a timely review process.
On this, Canadians are concerned, and rightly so. I would say that the government is correct in saying that there are concerns out there. When there are people who enter the country improperly, it does take too long to get decisions made for many in the refugee process. If people have to be removed from the country, it is a long and burdensome process.
Canadians are dissatisfied with that. It needs to be addressed through legislation. It has to be done in a way that is fair and balanced, and includes due process. We are concerned that at the moment it does not.
The last point I would make is that we are concerned about the removal of the appeal process of designated foreign nationals and individuals from designated countries of origin.