House of Commons Hansard #284 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

April 24th, 2018 / 2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have no doubt that their plan is more expensive. Our problem is also that it is less effective. We are getting the worst of both worlds: a higher cost for a less effective border system.

According to an anonymous briefing from government officials reported by Global News, the plan the address the illegal migrant situation is still “days and weeks” away from being ready”. This situation has been going on for over a year. Meanwhile, families here in Canada who are waiting to be reunited with a loved one or refugees facing real danger have to wait longer because of the government's inaction. Why?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think people will be forgiven for rolling their eyes when the Conservatives talk about supporting refugees or accelerating the process for family reunification. Their cuts left us with significant backlogs. They tried to get rid of backlogs by using the delete button.

Instead, we invested significantly in ensuring that we have a robust immigration system that is able to handle asylum seekers and irregular arrivals. We will continue to make sure that Canada is a strong and open country that applies the rules of its immigration system.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is just so patently false. The reality is it is completely unfair and unjust to tell people who have waited years to come to Canada that their family members now have to wait longer just because some people want to jump the line.

The Conservative government had a generous and welcoming immigration policy that was based on rules to ensure that legitimate refugees facing real danger and those waiting to be reunited with their families could do so.

Why is the government prioritizing those who skip the line?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives cut funding for refugees and immigration processing. The Conservative government cut funding for refugee health care. On top of that, this supposedly law and order party actually cut $400 million from the CBSA in their capacity to police and control our borders.

We will take no lessons from them. What we will do is continue to ensure the integrity of our immigration system, of our refugee system, and of our borders.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Regina—Qu'Appelle Saskatchewan

Conservative

Andrew Scheer ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is no surprise that a government that has an $18-billion deficit has as the only metric for success how much money it is spending. The reality is, the Liberals' system is broken. They are forcing people who want to come to Canada the right way to wait even longer as they prioritize those who are skipping the line. Why are they doing nothing after this situation has been building up for over a year?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the families who have been waiting for years are waiting for years largely because of the cuts in processing and immigration services that the previous Harper government brought in, which they are continuing to double down on.

We have made significant investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in improving our immigration processing times and accelerating family reunification, all the while ensuring that we live up to our international commitments to treat asylum seekers with the rules-based approach they need to have.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now have a media report claiming that the process to approve Kinder Morgan was rigged, following lobbying from a Texas oil company. The report quotes government officials as saying that after the resources minister met with Kinder Morgan, the government rushed the review process and instructed staff to find “a legally sound basis to say 'yes'” to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Was the Prime Minister aware that members of his government pressured officials to rush the review and produce a positive result for Kinder Morgan?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we still have a political situation in which two of the parties in this House think there is a choice to be made between the environment and the economy. We were elected on a commitment to both grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time, because, quite frankly, 10 years of the previous government not protecting the environment actually left us with the lowest economic growth rate since the depths of the Great Depression.

We are moving forward on both building pipelines and bringing in protections for the environment at the same time. It is what Canadians expect of this government, and it is what we are delivering.

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Prime Minister understood the question. Officials from his government have publicly said that the government had to find a way to expedite the process or find legal ways to say yes. The Prime Minister promised us a new, more rigorous environmental assessment process, but it is becoming clear that Kinder Morgan was able to get on the inside track. It is as though the CEO of Kinder Morgan had a direct line to the Minister of Natural Resources.

How can the Prime Minister continue to lead people to believe that this was a balanced process when it is becoming increasing clear that the dice were loaded from the start?

Natural ResourcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what is interesting about the NDP is that its members and their leader cannot even agree on this project. The NDP leader said that he might be able to agree to the project, while the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has said that his party could never agree to it. We made a decision in the national interest that includes a world-class oceans protection plan, because we know that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. While the NDP is trying to decide what position to take, we will act in Canada's national interest.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for over a year now, we have been asking the government to suspend the safe third country agreement so that asylum seekers can go to official ports of entry, which would be safer for them and for Canadians. The government needs to come up with a concrete plan to manage the situation, and suspending the agreement has to be part of that plan if it is going to work.

Will the government finally suspend the safe third country agreement?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to supporting a sound refugee system and protecting the integrity of our borders and the immigration process. We are investing $173 million, $64 million of which will be used to speed up refugee processing. Wait times for work permits have been reduced from three months to three weeks, and we are looking at other ways to enable asylum seekers to fill labour shortages. We will not do what the Conservatives did, which was to slash funding and create unnecessarily long delays.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, border communities are bracing for another spike in irregular crossings. We know what the Conservative plan is. It is to follow Trump by shutting down the border and turning away refugees. However, we have not seen any plan from the government.

People are risking life and limb to cross the border, but the Prime Minister has refused to suspend the safe third country agreement. We are seeing troubling comments from the Prime Minister, suggesting that some migrants are trying to game the system. Will the Prime Minister stop trying to look like a global humanitarian and just act like one?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Papineau Québec

Liberal

Justin Trudeau LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has continued to play its games of division, and I am worried that the NDP might be trying to stoke fears as well.

The fact is, we have a rigorous immigration system that we are able to apply. We are ensuring the security of Canadians with our controls at the borders and within our borders through the work the RCMP is doing. Canadians can have confidence in the capacity of both our immigration system and our border agents and security services to ensure the safety of Canada and its communities, while remaining open.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, weeks and months are going by and nothing is changing. The number of people crossing the border illegally continues to rise, and so do the costs associated with that.

Meanwhile, refugees across the country who are following the rules have been waiting for their turn for months and, in some cases, years. It is now crucial that the Prime Minister offer Canadians some solutions to address this problem, which, I would remind members, has been ongoing for over a year.

What does the Prime Minister plan to do to solve this problem, which he himself exacerbated with his now infamous tweet in January 2017?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, our position is clear: we will always be a welcoming country, but we have also put eligibility rules in place. I also want everyone to know that anyone who crosses the border irregularly will be arrested and subjected to a criminal background check. As many experts have pointed out recently, I would ask my opposition colleague to choose his words carefully, because misinformation and inflammatory language only fan the flames of fear and—

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alain Rayes Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the minister opposite that I got these words directly from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

Although unsustainable pressure is being placed on border officials in Quebec, this situation is not even close to being resolved. Summer is coming, and right now, over 400 people are crossing the border illegally every day, as indicated on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website. This was a problem last year, and it is a problem again this year. It is not going away.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for? When will he clarify the rules?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Marc Garneau LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as Mr. Leman-Langlois, the director of Université Laval's international security centre, said, the message that is currently being sent by political parties lends credence to the myth that immigrants are treated better than Canadians. He said, and I quote:

I think it is rather dangerous.... They are normalizing the attitude that there is reason to be suspicious of immigrants and that it might not be a good idea to let a large number of immigrants come into Quebec in a short period of time.

I encourage my colleague opposite to choose his words carefully.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

This is bananas, Mr. Speaker. All we are doing here is standing up and asking the Prime Minister to run a planned, orderly, and safe immigration system. Over 50,000 people are projected to illegally enter the country this year. That is not planned, that is not safe, and that is not orderly.

The Prime Minister has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this issue and has only made the problem worse. This raises the question of whether the Prime Minister thinks it is wrong to illegally enter the country. If so, can he unequivocally state so here today?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite is calling for Canada to withdraw from its international obligations with respect to refugees, she should come out and say so instead of beating about the bush.

We are making the necessary investments. When her party was in power, it was against making investments to protect vulnerable people; it was against making investments to secure our border, and it was against making investments to fast-track refugee processes.

When we decided to make those investments, the Conservatives voted against them. They voted against additional resources for border security. They voted against additional resources for refugee processing. Finally, they voted—

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot even bring himself to utter the words, “it is wrong to illegally enter the country.” If he cannot even do that, how can anybody trust him to put forward a plan that is going to maintain Canada's immigration system?

All we are asking to do today with our opposition motion is to have a safe, orderly, planned immigration system. I am going to ask him a very simple question, which I think would fix this problem. Will the Liberals designate the entire Canada-U.S. border as a technical official point of entry for the purpose of enforcing the safe third country agreement?

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

York South—Weston Ontario

Liberal

Ahmed Hussen LiberalMinister of Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the proposals emanating from that party are simply not credible. Its members at times have called for the Canadian military to be deployed at the border. Now they are calling for the entire border to be made an official port of entry but have not presented a plan to ensure that there would be adequate resources for that process.

We are dealing with this issue responsibly. We are making the necessary investments, putting money in place for more border security operations, and processing refugee claims faster. The fact of the matter is the opposition members can run from their record, but they cannot hide.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister seems incapable of addressing the crisis created by the influx of thousands of people illegally crossing into Quebec.

His failure to take action is jeopardizing Canadians' safety and undermining the Canada-Quebec immigration agreement. Furthermore, genuine immigrants are being bumped to the back of the line by people who are not obeying our laws.

Will the Prime Minister finally propose a plan to deal with the chaos at our border?