Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about Bill C-43. We completely agree with the underlying principle of this bill. Non-citizen criminals must be deported. I want to be very clear about that because the Conservatives are so quick to say that the NDP supports criminals. That is not true. It is our responsibility to spot flaws in bills and fix them. That is what all parliamentarians should do as part of their job in the House.
Bill C-43 does many things, which I will summarize briefly. It gives more powers to the minister by giving him the authority to rule on the admissibility of temporary residence applicants. This means that the minister will have the power to declare a foreign national inadmissible for up to 36 months if he is of the opinion that it is justified by public policy considerations.
Furthermore, Bill C-43 will remove the minister's responsibility to examine humanitarian grounds. I would like to emphasize this point, because this is quite serious. Currently, the minister has the obligation, at the request of a foreign national or on his own initiative, to review any humanitarian considerations related to the case of a foreign national who is deemed inadmissible on grounds related to security. As a country that is recognized for its humanitarian standards, we cannot send someone back to a country where we know what will happen to him or one that could be dangerous.
Furthermore, the bill grants the minister a new discretionary power to issue an exemption for a member of the family of a foreign national who is deemed inadmissible and amends the definition of “serious criminality” to restrict access to the appeal process following an inadmissibility ruling. By doing so, it removes the right to appeal if the prison sentence imposed is six months or more. This aspect really needs to be considered.
The bill increases the penalty for misrepresentation and clarifies the fact that entering the country by resorting to criminal activities does not automatically lead to inadmissibility.
We see some shortcomings. This bill gives the minister considerable discretionary power, which is very troubling. Australia, whose legislative system is quite similar to ours, did the same thing. The Australian Migration Act gave the minister enormous powers. The minister could summarily dismiss the claims of someone who has appealed a decision. That is also being proposed here. However, in many cases, Australian immigration ministers have reversed decisions handed down by tribunals and deported individuals without a trial. That is not exactly my idea of democracy.
The Australians are in the process of correcting their mistakes. So, as a country and as parliamentarians, we must move forward, learn from others' mistakes and ensure that we have suitable laws and systems in place. We should not do what other countries have tried only to find that it did not work. I realize that the context may be different depending on the country and the legislative framework; however, with this bill, we are heading in the wrong direction.
We want to work with the government and the other parties to make this a good bill. I repeat: we completely agree with the principle of removing foreign perpetrators of major crimes from Canada. It is not a good idea to keep them in Canada. However, the things I have outlined cause problems and often generate concerns. My colleagues, who work very hard on the immigration file, presented nine amendments.
These nine amendments would have fixed the flaws in this bill, so that it would represent a positive for Canada. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Conservatives reject anything that comes from another party. They say that we always vote against their bills, but they also vote against our suggestions, even when they are good.
I want to point out that the minister said that one of the amendments we had proposed was something that should be considered. So it does not make sense that he would reject the amendment.
These amendments would limit the powers granted and would restore a fair process for trials and possibilities for appeal.
First, I would like to give an example and speak about the negative picture that the government is painting in Canada. The government always talks about extreme cases. Yes, there are extremely tragic cases. I hope these types of things never happen in our country, in my community or in any other community. These extreme cases are not a fair representation of the immigrant community here in Canada, in my community and in communities throughout the country.
Immigrants come to Canada and make a tremendous contribution to our society and our communities. They enrich our country, the province of Quebec and my community. At a luncheon that was held on Saturday in my riding, I had the honour of congratulating new Canadian citizens who had just received their citizenship. It was really wonderful. I was able to meet new citizens who are fitting into the community very well. They have good jobs. They care a lot about their community and are very dedicated to it. They are truly outstanding citizens.
It is truly misguided to portray all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants as criminals who are not good for Canada. We should really be making it known that immigrants enrich our communities and are very positive.
Another point should be made. In the last budget, the Conservatives made $143 million in cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency. They want to prevent criminals from coming to Canada and committing crimes. Logic dictates that these people should be prevented from entering the country. However, such deep cuts to services obviously limit the ability of border services officers to prevent these foreign criminals from entering Canada.
I see that I am almost out of time. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the NDP agrees 100% that serious criminals who are not Canadian citizens must be deported. However, we disagree with some of this bill's measures. We would like to work with the other parties to create a bill without flaws and shortcomings that is positive for Canada.