Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to debate Bill C-43, the faster removal of foreign criminals act.
Since 2006, our Conservative government has welcomed the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history. On average around 250,000 immigrants have come to Canada every year, and the vast majority of these newcomers are honest, hard-working and law-abiding. They expect their fellow newcomers and all Canadians to be the same.
While Canadians are open and welcoming toward immigration, we also insist on vigilance against people who seek to abuse our generosity and openness. One of the basic requirements for newcomers to stay in Canada is that they respect our laws. This is the very least we can expect from Canadian citizens, and the vast majority of us do so. Therefore, when we ask newcomers to respect our laws, we are not asking too much of them. It was in this spirit that we introduced Bill C-43, which would prevent foreign criminals from abusing our generosity.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act clearly states that should foreign nationals fail to respect our laws, they will be sent home. What prevents the timely removal of foreign criminals is the fact that they have access to the Immigration Appeal Division as long as their sentence is less than two years. Should their appeal fail, they then file an application for leave and judicial review with the Federal Court, and the process can go on for years and years. Many foreign criminals deliberately use these multiple avenues to delay their removal, even though they know they have no chance of staying here permanently. While they prolong their stay in Canada, many foreign criminals go on to commit more crimes.
Over the course of this debate, the House has become aware of the case of Clinton Gayle. He delayed his deportation for several years by using the appeal mechanism, which Bill C-43 would shut down for foreign criminals. The fact that he was able to delay his deportation for so long should disturb all Canadians. What is most distressing of course is that during that time, the Jamaican national murdered a Toronto police constable. While there were differences between the immigration legislation in force at the time and the situation now, we want to prevent a similar situation from happening again in the future by preventing foreign criminals from roaming our streets before being removed. If Mr. Gayle had been deported to Jamaica when he should have been, this horrible crime could not have happened in the first place. What is more, Canadian taxpayers are also on the hook for his crime, paying for him to subsist in a Canadian prison while he serves a life sentence. Foreign criminals have too many opportunities to stay in Canada and we must put a stop to this.
Another example is the case of Geo Wei Wu. He came to Canada from China as a student and gained permanent residency as a spouse in 1990. Over the next two decades he was convicted of a series of crimes, including attempted theft, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, criminal harassment, assault causing bodily harm, break and enter, fraud and the list goes on. He served time for each of these convictions and by 2008 was found inadmissible and a removal order was issued. Under the current rules, he was entitled to appeal this order. The appeal process took almost two and a half years and ultimately failed. Wu's appeal was dismissed. Wu then disappeared. After failing to show up for his pre-removal interview, the CBSA posted his information on its wanted website last summer. This past summer, the media reported that he is now wanted by Peel Regional Police in connection with the kidnapping last year of two men in Mississauga. He is still at large.
The cases of Geo Wei Wu and Clinton Gayle underscore the need for Parliament to support Bill C-43, which would streamline and accelerate the removal process for serious foreign criminals.
By limiting access to the Immigration Appeal Division, the government estimates that the amount of time certain criminals might remain in Canada would be reduced by up to 14 months. If the bill's measures are implemented, there would then be no chance for convicted criminals like Clinton Gayle or Geo Wei Wu to remain in Canada for years beyond their welcome while they gum up the justice system with appeals and, potentially, commit more crimes.
Canadians do not want our doors to be open to people who endanger our national security and the safety of our communities. That is why the government is unwavering in its determination to safeguard national security and protect the safety and security of the Canadian public.
Also, in order to maintain Canadian support for immigration we must ensure that our immigration system is characterized by the consistent application of fair rules. This means that we must protect our system from those who would seek to abuse Canada's generosity by violating our laws. In other words, we must stop placing the rights of foreign criminals before those of Canadian citizens, meaning that we must be able to deal with cases of this nature more efficiently.
I ask my fellow members to think of the victims. Think if it were one of their own family members victimized by a serious foreign criminal allowed to stay in Canada for several years through endless abuse of the process. Imagine if Todd Baylis, the Toronto police constable who was murdered by a convicted foreign criminal appealing his own deportation order, was a member of one's own family. We would then think it were a serious problem needing to be fixed.
The passage of Bill C-43 would send a strong message to all newcomers in Canada that if they commit a serious crime they will be sent home.
Bill C-43 would reinforce the integrity of our immigration system and public confidence in it, and ultimately help maintain public support for immigration in Canada.
I support Bill C-43 because it is fair, necessary and a long overdue piece of legislation. For these reasons, I urge my fellow members of the House to do the same. I urge them to listen to the police associations, the victims associations, the immigration lawyers and experts who support the bill. I urge them, for once, to stop putting the interests of criminals first and instead put the rights of victims and law-abiding Canadians and the safety and security of Canadian families at the forefront.