Mr. Speaker, when I left off earlier I was telling the hon. members here that under the current law a foreign criminal may be ordered deported if they could receive a maximum sentence in Canada of at least 10 years for their crime, or if they receive an actual sentence of more than six months.
The problem is that under the current law, as long as the sentence is less than two years, a permanent resident can appeal their deportation to the immigration appeal division. If they lose that appeal, they may then apply for leave and judicial review of that decision to the federal court.
As a result, serious foreign criminals, even violent and dangerous ones, are often able to take advantage of a sentence of two years less a day to delay deportation from Canada for many months, even years on end. Not surprisingly, those serious convicted foreign criminals have all too often gone on to commit new crimes in Canada and to victimize even more innocent Canadians.
Let me give just one example of how convicted foreign criminals have made a mockery of our judicial and immigration systems, while endangering the safety and security of ordinary Canadians. As Canadians have read in the media, Patrick Octaves De Florimonte arrived as a permanent resident from Guyana in 1994. Within two years of his arrival he was convicted of a serious crime, assault with a weapon. Less than a year later, he was convicted of two more crimes, theft and possession of a narcotic. One year later, he was convicted once again of assault. Just six more months passed and he had already faced yet another conviction for uttering threats.
Members can imagine where the story goes. In December 2005, Mr. De Florimonte was convicted of five counts of trafficking in crack cocaine. For this crime, he received his first sentence of longer than six months. Shortly after serving his 13-month sentence, he was convicted once again of assault with a weapon and for uttering threats. Mr. De Florimonte was reported for criminal inadmissibility in October 2006, but he was able to delay his removal when he filed an appeal with the immigration appeal division. His appeal was declared abandoned after he failed to show up for his hearing, but he was then able to reopen his appeal.
The immigration appeal division ultimately dismissed his appeal but he was able to further delay his removal once again when he asked the federal court to review the decision. The court denied his request in March 2011, and in October 2011, when he failed to report for his removal, a warrant was issued for his arrest. That was five years after he was initially reported for criminal inadmissibility.
Enough is enough. This has to stop. It is time to send a clear message to foreign criminals, such as Mr. De Florimonte, that if they commit a serious crime in Canada, we are going to give them a one-way ticket out of Canada as fast as we can. With Bill C-43, we are doing just that. We are putting a stop to convicted foreign criminals who rely on appeal after appeal in order to delay their removal from Canada during which time they continue to terrorize innocent Canadians.
Living in Canada is a privilege and we require very little of people to maintain their permanent residency. One of the very few things, however, that we do require is that they do not go out and commit a serious crime. We do not think that is too much to ask of someone who we have welcomed into our country with open arms. If people do commit serious crimes, they will get their day in court because everyone, even a foreign criminal, deserves that.
With Bill C-43 foreign criminals would still get their day in court, but what they will not get is years in court. Abusing our process is a desperate, last ditch effort to delay their removal from Canada. In other words, foreign criminals deserve due process but not endless process.
Shortly after its tabling, media commentary and editorials were enthusiastic in their support of Bill C-43. The Globe and Mail wrote that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism had made a convincing case for a new law allowing the swift deportation of convicted criminals. The tiny share of immigrants and refugees who lack citizenship and are convicted of serious crimes on Canadian soil forfeit their right to be here. Sun Media columnist, Lorne Gunter, meanwhile wrote that Bill C-43 is “so sensible it will probably surprise most Canadians that the new policy isn't already the law of the land”.
We think that virtually every Canadian would agree with the need to implement the fair and reasonable measures found in the faster removal of foreign criminals act. I am confident that my hon. colleagues in the House share this sentiment and will express this by supporting the bill.