House of Commons Hansard #192 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.


Fisheries and OceansAdjournment Proceedings

11:05 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I really appreciate the Government of Canada signing on to international treaties but the problem is that it is missing in action. It is great to talk about an oceans protection plan and $1.5 billion but when a spill happens, a marine debris spill of the magnitude that we saw on Vancouver Island, and the government is invisible, it is really hard for people to have faith in the credibility of the Government of Canada and its oceans protection plan.

I will ask the member point blank: is ocean plastics and marine debris eligible under the coastal restoration fund?

People would like to know. I would like to get a commitment from the member that we are going to bring stakeholders together so that we can find a way forward. This is not just about signing treaties. It is about doing something about it and having real action.

Fisheries and OceansAdjournment Proceedings

11:05 p.m.


Terry Beech Liberal Burnaby North—Seymour, BC

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to protecting our coasts and oceans and keeping them healthy for future generations.

Canada is an active participant in global efforts that contribute to the prevention and reduction of marine litter from land and sea-based sources.

The first UN Ocean Conference concluded last week and Canada joined many countries in pledging to take action to protect our oceans. As part of the over 1,000 voluntary commitments by participants, Canada committed to join the UN clean seas campaign. This campaign will raise awareness and mobilize action to address marine pollution. Plastics are of a particular concern as they are now showing up in the most remote areas, including the Arctic Ocean.

Marine litter poses a threat to marine ecosystems. With the longest coastline in the world and bordering three oceans, Canada recognizes the importance of preventing and reducing marine litter to keep our oceans healthy for the benefit of future generations.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 2017 / 11:05 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the government has a real issue when it comes to identifying vulnerable communities for refugee selection.

I asked a question earlier about the fact that we know there are certain communities around the world that face ethnic cleansing and genocide. It is important that our refugee policy be able to identify those communities and ensure that we are indeed taking the most vulnerable.

I note in this context that in many cases, there is a challenge for those most vulnerable communities to actually even access the refugee certification process. Very often they may not feel safe in refugee camps, where even in those situations, they may be vulnerable to persecution. This is something we have heard, in particular, about Yazidis and Assyrian Christians.

The government has accepted the principle of accepting the most vulnerable, at least when it comes to Yazidis. We are still waiting for it to even address the issues affecting Christian communities in the same region.

I want to share with the House a particular exchange from a technical briefing given by immigration officials to reporters at the end of 2015 on the refugee program.

The question was, “Last week at the briefing one of my colleagues asked about breakdown by religious minority. You said you didn't track that. I want to ask you again if you have that information because you had access to it under the previous government.

“Back in September we had numbers to that effect. Both you as the bureaucrats and the ministers keep saying Canada wants to help the most vulnerable. We all know those are the religious minorities. How are we to believe that you don't track that if you say you're there to help the most vulnerable?”

The official response was, “I can't comment about leaks of confidential documents under the previous government. Our standard processes and our standard systems do not track anyone's ethnicity or religion. We don't put it in the system, therefore we can't get it out.”

In the follow-up question, the reporter said, “Two things off that. One, how did it exist before? You said you can't comment on leaks of documents but obviously it existed if it was leaked. Two, if you're not willing to track that you said you want to make helping LGBT get out of the area a priority. It seems odd you're willing to track that but not are you a persecuted Christian. What's the difference?”

The official response was, “With regards to your first question, information that may have been available for a small sample of cases does not reflect the standard processes of the government of Canada in our refugee resettlement cases. We do not ask people at interviews are you a Sunni, are you a Jew, are you a Christian of which denomination and record it in our systems in a systematic way.

We don't have data fields for it.”

The government thinks it is standing on some kind of virtuous principle by saying that it does not track and it does not discriminate when it comes to different communities. The reality is that in the regions we are looking at, people are specifically vulnerable because, often, of their membership in a religious minority community. They are being targeted for that.

I am sure the parliamentary secretary knows that the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, to which Canada is a party, defines a refugee as someone who has fled his or her country owing to:

....well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

It is fundamentally relevant what someone's religious background is, because it likely informs their degree of vulnerability in the context from which they are escaping. It is also a good practice in terms of basic data collection. If the government is not even collecting data about which vulnerable communities people come from, then it may well be that they are unintentionally being completely excluded from the selection process, yet the government has no way of knowing it.

I challenged the government, and I challenge it again, to step up and provide a better and credible answer about how we ensure that we take the most vulnerable, those facing genocide, like Yazidis and Assyrian Christians, and how we ensure that those people are not being excluded or, at the very least, are being included in our refugee selection. What is the government doing for persecuted religious minorities, and has it finally fixed its data fields?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

11:10 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick


Serge Cormier LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his important question tonight, and I also thank you for the opportunity to respond today.

As we know, there are over 60 million refugees and displaced people around the world. When making referrals for resettlement, the United Nations Refugee Agency uses assessments of protection needs and vulnerabilities. For example, it identifies refugees with legal, medical, or physical protection needs, survivors of torture or violence, women and girls at risk, and children and adolescents at risk.

In addition, Canada is helping meet the essential needs of people affected by conflicts in Syria and Iraq and is responding to other crises in the region with humanitarian aid funding.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship recently provided an update on our efforts to resettle 1,200 survivors of Daesh atrocities. This includes Yazidi refugees and other survivors of Daesh, such as Christians and other minorities.

The situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar, including that of the Rohingya, remains troubling. Our government has been proactive in advocating for change. In particular, it has encouraged the government of Myanmar to lift restrictions on freedom of movement and broaden access to education and health services.

Last week, the Prime Minister met with the Myanmar State Counsellor, and the two leaders spoke about Myanmar's transition to democracy and the support Canada could provide for the reforms that are under way in Myanmar. The Prime Minister encouraged Myanmar to step up its efforts to protect human rights, particularly those of women, children, and religious and ethnic minorities, such as the Rohingya.

The humanitarian aid that we provide through the High Commissioner for Refugees has been pivotal in supporting advocacy with government officials on issues relating to displacement and statelessness.

Canada will continue to show leadership by welcoming refugees. However, we also need to continue to do more to support countries that are significant recipients of refugees and do what we can to counter the strife and conflict giving rise to so many refugees and displaced populations.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

11:15 p.m.


Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the attestations of the parliamentary secretary, but they do not in any way answer the specific question, so let me keep this tied in and really clear.

For the parliamentary secretary, are they now tracking the numbers of religious minorities that are coming in? He said they are taking members of religious minorities. Are they tracking the numbers? If so, how many Yazidis and how many Assyrian Christians have been brought here through the refugee process? If they are not tracking the numbers, then how can they know that they are accepting the most vulnerable, especially recognizing the problems minorities have in accessing the UN certification system? How can they know that they are actually succeeding in doing it if they are not tracking the numbers?

I would like answers to those specific questions.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

11:15 p.m.


Serge Cormier Liberal Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, once again, as I said earlier, in line with the internationally agreed upon approach to resettlement, Canada’s resettlement program is designed to provide protection for refugees who are outside their country of origin.

The Government of Canada relies on its partners, such as the United Nations Refugee Agency, to identify refugees in need of resettlement, who will then come to Canada as government-supported refugees.

Once again, these determinations of vulnerability and protection needs are made regardless of religious or ethnic backgrounds, gender identity or sexual orientation, or other characteristics.

Canada will remain a leader and continue to show leadership as we welcome refugees.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

11:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 11:17 p.m.)