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House of Commons Hansard #90 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Export Development CanadaRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Abbotsford B.C.

Conservative

Ed Fast ConservativeMinister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Corporate Plan Summary 2012-16, prepared by Export Development Canada.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled, “Cutting the Queue: Reducing Canada’s Immigration Backlogs and Wait Times”.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the backlog in Canada's immigration system is an issue that greatly concerns the New Democratic Party of Canada. There are over one million applications currently in the queue. This represents an increase from the 850,000 applications in the backlog in 2006. Notably, backlogs are present in all three immigration categories: economic, family and refugee.

The presence of backlogs has a direct and negative effect on the amount of time it takes to process an application, and indeed wait times have reached patently unacceptable levels. Unfortunately, we believe that the majority report misses the mark in making progress in this important area. New Democrats have provided a supplemental report that we believe will provide many effective solutions to this very serious matter.

The situation is pressing. There are very real impacts on individuals and families. Significant application fees are being held for years on end. Families remain separated. Employers are frustrated and our economy suffers. We all need to work together to fix these pressing problems.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Only the official opposition is allowed to give a dissenting comment on a committee report.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I can appreciate that we cannot verbally give a dissenting report, but it should be noted that there is a dissenting report from the Liberal Party of Canada. I understand it is to be attached to the committee report also.

Temporary Resident Visa Processing Requirements ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-404, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (denial of temporary resident visa application).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill which, if adopted, would bring transparency to the temporary resident visa or visitor visa process. I want to thank the hon. member for Saint-Lambert for seconding my bill.

Every day in this country Canadians learn that their friends or family members have been denied a visa to come to Canada. This disappointment is often compounded by bewilderment because they are not given detailed reasons for the denial.

One in five applications for a visitor visa is denied, but when we look at various Canadian missions around the world, we see a great disparity. For example, in Lagos and Nairobi, 45% of the applications are rejected. In Chandigarh, India, over half of the visitor visa applications are denied.

The very least we could do when denying a visa to visit Canada is tell people why the application was denied. This initiative would help Canadians and people around the world understand our immigration system better, provide transparency and greater accountability. I look forward to working with the government to try to improve this very necessary system.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-405, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (appeal process for temporary resident visa applicants).

Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country of immigrants, and Canadians have roots in every country in the world. For many Canadians, gathering together with family for holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, and other special events, this means receiving visitors from overseas. Unfortunately, as I have just stated, one in five visitors will have his or her application rejected and in numerous embassies around the world, over 50% will be rejected.

I rise today to introduce a bill that would establish an appeal process for temporary resident visa applicants who have been refused a visa to enter Canada.

The visitor visa approval system is, by design, subjective and often comes down to a judgment call on behalf of the visa officer. The lack of clear criteria is confusing to many prospective visitors and rejections can be arbitrary, erroneous and unfair.

This bill would provide an appeal so that there would be transparency and clear standards for all applicants. Such appeal tribunals are already available to visitors in England and Australia. It is time to bring fairness and transparency to those who want to visit Canada and their Canadian friends and relatives.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from all over Canada who are concerned about the proposed megaquarry in Melancthon township in Dufferin county. It would be the largest open pit quarry in Canada at over 2,300 acres.

The petitioners are concerned with a number of things. The megaquarry 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 megaquarry.

Canadian International Development AgencyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by a number of residents of St. John's, Newfoundland and surrounding communities. I also see signatures of people from Kenora, Ontario, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and Victoria, B.C.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to exempt the Canadian International Development Agency from any budget cuts in the 2012-13 federal budget. The petitioners suggest that CIDA only accounts for 2% of the federal budget and its budget has been frozen for two years. This results in a cut of 5% in real terms when measured against inflation.

The petitioners praise the work of CIDA.

The signatures were obtained by an Oxfam group at Memorial University which is concerned about international aid. The petitioners want the government to take heed of this petition.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 6th, 2012 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition requesting the creation of a royal commission on the environment and health.

The petitioners come from across the country. They are concerned about the thousands of chemical products which contaminate our air, water and food.

As a result, they are asking the government to direct a royal commission to examine all aspects of the environmental and health impacts of Canada's industrial activities.

The petitioners also request that the government apply the precautionary principle in protecting health and the environment from uncertain risks.

Republic of the Fiji IslandsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, petitions keep coming in from thousands of Canadians who would like to see a high commission or consulate opened in the Republic of the Fiji Islands.

Canadians of Fijian descent number over 100,000 and currently their consular needs are only able to be serviced from Sydney, Australia. The petitioners note this causes inordinate delay and inefficient services for tourist, visa, business and immigration issues, both for Canadian and Fijian citizens.

The petitioners note that the United States, Australia, New Zealand and China all have embassies or high commissions in the Republic of the Fiji Islands. They call upon the government to open such services to better serve this important community as soon as possible.

Canada-EU Procurement AgreementPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to submit a petition signed by a significant number of Canadians, most of whom reside in my riding of Guelph.

The petitioners add their voices to the thousands across Canada and 16 municipal governments across the country calling on the House of Commons to urge the government to exclude all sub-federal governments and their public agencies, including municipalities, from any Canada-EU procurement agreement.

Municipalities like Guelph are rightfully concerned that they will lose the right to have independent procurement policies as Canada's government negotiates away the ability to buy local materials and services. These restrictions would cripple the ability of municipalities to stimulate local innovation, foster local community economic development, create local employment and achieve strategic public policy goals.

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present four petitions this morning.

The first one relates to the proposed Enbridge project. The petitioners are primarily from the communities of Comox and Courtenay, British Columbia. I note that it is relevant that recently Prince Rupert city council voted unanimously to oppose this project, as did the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

The petitioners in this instance ask that the government cease and desist from promoting the project and allow the hearing process to take place in a full, fair and transparent fashion without undue political pressure.

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I wish to present is somewhat related. It relates to the challenge of the climate crisis. The petitioners are from within my riding of Saanich--Gulf Islands, primarily from Sidney and Saanich, as well as from the islands of Mayne and Saturna. They ask that the government act on a previously taken declaration through an act of this House to reduce greenhouse gases by 25% against 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% against 1990 levels by 2050.

Last night I happened to be at a session at the University of Ottawa where scientist Paul Beckwith urged that all parliamentarians address this as an urgent matter, given the potential catastrophic effects of delay.

Security CertificatesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from residents of Ottawa and Toronto. It relates to human rights infractions relating to the fact that Canada continues to use the security certificates that violate the rule of law, our charter rights, and indeed rules that have gone back to the time of the Magna Carta, rules of habeas corpus, the right to know the case against a person and the opportunity to defend oneself in open court.

The petitioners ask that security certificates be set aside and that anyone currently under a security certificate not be deported.

HousingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last petition is on the subject of affordable housing. Petitioners from my riding, from Sidney, Saanich and Mayne Island, ask that the government, particularly the Minister of Finance, revisit those measures that used to be in place to encourage developers to build purpose built apartment dwellings for rental units to increase the stock of affordable housing.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians from all across the country who call upon Parliament to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known. In fact, more Canadians now die from asbestos than from all other industrial causes combined.

The petitioners also point out that Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world, spending millions of dollars subsidizing the industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to ban asbestos in all its forms and to institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities they live in. They call on the government to end all government subsidies for asbestos in Canada and abroad. The petitioners call it corporate welfare for corporate serial killers. They also call on the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I see the hon. member for St. John's East is rising again. He has already been recognized on presenting petitions. Does the House give its consent for the member to present another petition at this time?

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for St. John's East.

Search and RescuePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I forgot I had a second petition. This petition is on a different subject.

This petition is in connection with the marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's. The government has announced its closure. The petitioners are asking the government to reverse its decision to close the Newfoundland and Labrador marine rescue coordination centre in St. John's. We have heard from other petitioners before on the same topic.

The petitioners are urging the government to acknowledge and understand that the closure of the centre will mean services will suffer and lives will be put at risk. This is related to the fact that the rescue coordinators have a special, unique knowledge of the ocean and the areas of the coastline that are involved and are familiar with the people who are involved in the work on the ocean, as well as the language and dialect. This is important in times of panic. They indicate that the Newfoundland and Labrador region has the highest proportion of distress incidents in Canada, responding to an annual average of 500 incidents involving 2,900 people, and saving the lives of 600 people in distress every year.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 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

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Veterans AffairsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Anders Conservative Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my sincere apology for my comments with respect to Mr. Lowther and Mr. David MacLeod.

Further, I want to apologize for any offence my comments may have caused veterans or anyone else. I have, and continue to have, enormous respect for the men and women who have sacrificed in the service of our country. I recognize the democracy we have today is, in large part, attributable to them.

Veterans AffairsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for that point.