House of Commons Hansard #307 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.

Topics

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was looking at some statistical data from early 2010, just prior to our making some changes to the firearms regulations. At that time, 92% of the police officers across Canada said that the long gun registry was no good. A survey done by a police officer out of Edmonton showed that 2,410 police officers out of 2,631 said that it was a waste of time and it did not work. What is very interesting is that the RCMP, which was in charge of it, did a survey that said 81% were in favour. I wonder if the member would just comment on the numbers, because there was a lot of that in the last day or two.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I am afraid the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound will not have a chance to respond. We will have to take that as a comment rather than a question, because the time has now expired.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the motion that is on the floor, which is to have the Standing Committee on Public Safety travel as part of its consideration of Bill C-71. This legislation is deeply flawed, and therefore it would serve the committee very well to travel across the country to talk to everyday Canadians. The government claims that this legislation is in the interest of public safety, but the reality is quite different. I would like to outline that for the House.

This legislation would create a bunch of useless red tape that will not make Canadians safer. In fact, this bill shows classic Liberal logic. The current government is saying that it wants to keep Canadians safe and prevent gun violence, but this legislation would do absolutely nothing to accomplish this end. Instead, it would target or go after firearms owners who have already gone through extensive background checks and safety courses in order to possess their guns and use them lawfully.

In addition, it would create the failed long-gun registry that cost Canadians $1 billion, and then was scrapped because it was so wasteful and ineffective. Bill C-71 would force retailers to keep transaction records for 20 years on every single person who buys a gun. This would increase the cost that would then be passed on to the consumer, not to mention that it would also make a great shopping list for criminals, should they get a hold of that list and then acquire those firearms based on where they are.

Furthermore, this legislation would remove the ability of licensed firearms owners to transport their registered firearms between their houses and a gunsmith or a trade show, even though they are allowed to transport their guns between their houses and gun ranges. In addition, the legislation would unfairly turn thousands of Canadians into criminals overnight by reclassifying their non-restricted or restricted firearms as prohibited altogether. I am talking about firearms that have been legally imported and sold in Canada for the last 12 years.

There is not a single one of these measures I have listed that would take guns out of the hands of criminals. At the end of the day, criminals do not purchase their guns by going down to Canadian Tire or Cabela's; instead, they get them off the street through illegal means. Through Bill C-71, the government is simply painting law-abiding gun owners—we are talking about farmers, hunters, and sports shooters—as if they are all evil and deserve punishment.

The Liberals' firearms legislation would do nothing to improve the safety of Canadians. There are no concrete measures to combat gang violence or to address the catastrophic increase in rural crime in Canada. Bill C-71 is a flawed bill that would crack down on law-abiding firearms owners and would do nothing to punish criminals who illegally use firearms to commit crimes. This legislation would create a backdoor long-gun registry, requiring an electronic record of the sale of every firearm in Canada. Furthermore, this legislation would remove the ability of licensed firearms owners from transporting restricted firearms to a gunsmith or trade show.

Instead of treating hunters, farmers, and sports shooters as criminals, the Liberals should be focusing their energy on the real criminals, those who actually commit crimes and use their guns illegally. This would be a common-sense approach and the right approach, but the Liberals are not interested in making a positive difference. Instead, they are simply interested in optics. They want to be seen as if they are protecting the Canadian public from gun violence, but in actuality the legislation before the House would do absolutely nothing to this effect.

The Liberals would in fact be making life a whole lot easier for criminals. I will talk about the legislation by which they are doing this. It is Bill C-75. The Liberals are reducing penalties for a massive list of extremely serious crimes, and I will list a few: participating in a terrorist group, trafficking women and children, committing violence against a clergy member, murdering a child within one year of birth, abducting a child, forcing a marriage, advocating for genocide, participating in organized crime. The sentencing for all of these heinous crimes that take place in Canada would be reduced. Those criminals will get off. Meanwhile, the individual who properly owns and registers his or her gun would be punished by Bill C-71, the legislation before the House. That is wrong.

The rights of victims and communities must always come first. A young person in my riding, who has the ability to see the smoke and mirrors in Bill C-71, asked this: Why is the government sending the message that it is okay to punish law-abiding citizens instead of going after those who actually commit crimes?

Canadians are rightly concerned about Bill C-71 criminalizing innocent people.

I have the privilege of sponsoring e-petition 1608, which is currently open for signature by Canadians, and I encourage them to sign it. This petition was started by a gentleman by the name of Ryan Slingerland, who is 16 years old and lives in my riding. He was incredibly upset about the negative impact this legislation would have on his family members who hunt. He was incredibly disgusted by the fact that Bill C-71 would do everything to hinder their ability to be law-abiding citizens and use their guns effectively, and do absolutely nothing to go after rural crime in our area, which is skyrocketing.

Since launching this petition, it has gathered national media attention and my constituent, Ryan Slingerland, has done an incredible job fielding those questions. In fewer than two months, this petition has become the second-largest e-petition in Canadian history, being signed by nearly 79,000 Canadians from coast to coast. Twenty-three thousand of these signatures come from Ontario and 5,800 from Atlantic Canada, thus showing that this is a concern of Canadians from coast to coast. It is not just regional.

When I was in Nunavut this spring, I heard the concerns of Inuit hunters about the potential implications of this legislation. Furthermore, at the public safety committee, indigenous leaders were coming to the table and threatening potential legal action because they argue that the bill would infringe their constitutional rights.

It is important for the Liberal government to recognize that it does not understand the impact this proposed legislation would have on Canadians, which is why the public safety committee needs to travel to talk to Canadians from coast to coast. It is the right thing to do.

I am proud to represent a southern Alberta riding. There are many families who enjoy our heritage of hunting and sport shooting. When I talk to my constituents, they are deeply concerned about this proposed legislation. They want to know why the Liberal government is targeting law-abiding, licenced firearms owners and not going after criminals who are using their guns illegally.

I sat down with my youth advisory board members and got their feedback on the bill this week. They asked that I communicate their views to the Prime Minister. First, they wanted to remind the Prime Minister that he is the leader of the country in which they live, and not the leader of a high school drama classroom. They want him to lead with honesty. They want him to function with integrity. They want him to stop attacking those who own firearms legally. They call upon him to use legislation in a way that is common sense, not nonsense. They ask that this proposed legislation not be used as an emotionally charged response to a problem in the United States that unfairly punishes Canadians who rightly own and use their firearms. They ask that I speak out on their behalf and to ask in particular, why is the Prime Minister skewing the facts and telling mistruths in order to pass this legislation that punishes those who lawfully own firearms?

The fact that indigenous people in this country, the fact that young people in this country, the fact that law-abiding citizens from coast to coast in this country are asking the Prime Minister to sit up and listen to their concerns, the fact that they are begging him to this, and the fact I have a petition that is signed by nearly 79,000 Canadians are all facts that say that this proposed legislation is ill placed. They see that this proposed legislation needs more time. They say that the right thing to do would be for this committee to travel and to listen. It is simply good governance, listening followed by action.

Therefore, I am calling upon the House to take this motion into consideration and to vote for it, not for my sake, but for the sake of Canadians from coast to coast who deserve to have a voice on this topic, who deserve to be treated as law-abiding citizens first and foremost. This proposed legislation, in its current state, would not do that, and we can do better.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:35 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, a couple of members from the Conservative Party, even though we are debating a motion to instruct a committee on Bill C-71, mentioned Bill C-75 in regards to hybrid-type offences. That proposed legislation provides for a number of offences being turned into hybrid offences, and the Conservatives are saying that the Liberals are soft on crime.

However, I would like to mention a hybrid offence that has existed for quite some time, which is sexual assault. It is one of the worst crimes I can think of, but it was a hybrid offence during 10 years of the Harper government. Is that because the Conservatives were soft of crime or is it because it was good public policy? Which one was it, and can the hon. member have it both ways?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, a portion of Bill C-75 is well done, the part of the bill that would go after those who would sexually assault another person. It would protect women and the vulnerable, which is a good part of Bill C-75. However, the bill has many other parts that would allow people who participate in terrorist activities to go free. It would allow people who participate in forced marriage to go free. It would allow people who participate in or promote genocide to go free. It would allow people who participate in infanticide to go free. By “free”, I do not mean that they would walk out the door, though that is possible under the way Bill C-75 is structured. I am talking about significantly reduced sentencing, and that is basically free.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from the other side gets up and misleads this House about what is in this legislation. Can she point to any part of Bill C-75 that would allow people to get off those particular types of offences? If she can show it, which she cannot, I will vote against it.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand in this place as a member of Parliament. I was elected by the people of Lethbridge to represent them. I was elected to stand in this place and to respectfully participate in debate, and in response my colleagues in this place should treat me with respect. The hon. member fails to do so, and so his question does not deserve an answer.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess it is my job tonight to possibly calm the place down, but more importantly to bring the time up to 12 midnight as the person who is probably the last speaker this evening.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. On occasion, there is tit-for-tat back and forth, but when I hear the member over there mocking my colleague who is standing up to speak in the House, it is totally inappropriate and an apology is in order.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I call upon colleagues to refrain from commenting when someone else is speaking. I remind members that the hon. member for Saskatoon—University has the floor.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, as I was reflecting on this legislation and listening to the debate tonight, some of which I enjoyed and some of which I think the House could do without, the one thing that came to my mind was, “Where are the government's priorities? Where are the government's priorities when it comes to legislation, when it comes to protecting the lives of Canadian citizens?”

This is one of the criticisms that was directed earlier tonight at one of the Conservative members: that our arguments were about the waste and the misappropriation of money, and the fact that this will add expense to firearms owners.

I was thinking about that today when I was reading about the opioid crisis that we have here in Canada. Let us compare what this legislation, Bill C-71, is attempting to deal with. In the year 2016, there were approximately 50 homicides with rifles and shotguns. That is what this legislation is really about, dealing with rifles and shotguns and homicides. There were 50. That same year, just under 3,000 Canadians died of opioid drug overdoses. For the year following, the numbers we have, which have not been fully compiled yet, rose to around 4,000.

Let us just think about that. We have legislation. We have a major government priority here to effectively try to deal with 50 homicides. I do not want to, in any way, diminish the value of those human lives. Every human life is precious. However, we need to think about what our public policy priorities are, where we are putting our energy, and we are putting our legislative efforts.

Is it 4,000 people or 50 people? We can and we should try to help people in both categories, but this is something I think the government members should perhaps think about. While they are looking to deal with this smaller issue, perhaps they need to put a more proportionate effort into dealing with the larger issue.

That brought me to ask, “Why is the government actually trying to deal with an issue of approximately 50 homicides per year?” I struggled to come up with an answer. Again, one is too many, so perhaps that is an argument, but the only real answer I could come up with as to why the Liberal government was doing this is the real understanding that the United States has been having its own gun control and firearms issues and the real understanding that when we go door-knocking to constituents and when we talk to them, many Canadians do not understand the differences between firearms legislation and debate in the United States and firearms legislation and debate in Canada.

To me, that is really the only reason that I could come up for why the Liberals are dealing with a comparatively minor problem while at the same time ignoring a much more major problem. I understand that. A lot of Canadians get their news and confuse American with Canadian policy and politics, and that becomes a problem. I would urge government members not to fall into that temptation of just trying to do something to window-dress for a problem that actually does not exist in Canada.

Specifically, today we are dealing with a motion to try to encourage the committee that is dealing with this legislation to get out there, to travel, and to listen to the views of Canadians across the country on this legislation. If we listen to committee members, we hear that they have had a a very abridged debate in dealing with this issue. I think it is important on this legislation.

However, the point has been well made by members of my caucus from urban areas that there are a large number of Canadians, myself included, who live in urban areas and possess firearms and hunt, and lawfully and quite proudly use their firearms. There are very large cultural differences in how firearms are used.

I come from a farm background, so I am comfortable with this. I remember specifically when I worked in Nunavut in the far north. As I have told the House before, I used to be an exploration mining geophysicist. For us, firearms were not just a toy or something to be played with on the weekends. We had to deal with a grizzly bear in one situation, in one area where I was working. In some situations we would have one gun on the block, and, if necessary, a variety of people had to learn how to use it.

I remember one member of my crew, when I was doing an induced polarization survey, telling me how his aunt had actually been mauled to death by a polar bear.

Anything the government or this legislature does to inhibit or discourage the use, sale, and ownership of firearms in the north and in rural areas of Canada can have safety consequences. Widespread ownership of firearms is actually something that makes people safer. While people who live in downtown Toronto or Saskatoon do not often see wildlife that is dangerous, where I worked in the northern territories, this was very much a real and serious issue.

The Liberals are very proud of the Charter of Rights. If a judge invokes the Charter of Rights, the Liberals absolutely follow that path and do not consider using the notwithstanding clause or looking at different interpretations. Looking through my briefing notes, one of the things that came up was the concern that this legislation may have charter issues. For the Liberal Party, which is always concerned about the charter of rights, which they view as one of their great contributions to Canadian debate, I have to wonder why they are not more open to discussing, looking at, and possibly amending this and going on the road, listening to witnesses, and listening to testimony to deal with it.

The political part of me is somewhat glad the Liberals have introduced this legislation, because it reminds Canadians what they did the last time they tried to introduce comprehensive firearms legislation. They ended up wasting millions of dollars and irritating law-abiding firearms owners across the country, something that eventually, as my colleague, the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, pointed out earlier, cost them many seats. On the political side of my mind, I think this is a good thing. The brain trust of the Liberal Party's PMO will end up costing them seats. It is the same group of people who brought them things such as changes to small business taxes, the Prime Minister's trip to India, and the summer job attestation.

Having said that, this is bad legislation. This is legislation that will continue to harass and cause hindrances for people who want to use firearms for sport, hunting, and their livelihoods in rural areas. That is why I urge all members of the House to vote for this motion to go out across the country to listen to different people, people from different communities in different parts of this country, from Newfoundland to British Columbia and from Yukon to southern Ontario. This is a motion asking Parliament to listen to something that has an impact on millions of Canadians in their day-to-day lives, something that while it is important, maybe has been given higher priority than it should here in Parliament, compared to things I mentioned earlier in my speech.

We are getting close to midnight, and I have another seven minutes to have some questions and comments, because I am not planning to come back to finish my speech on another day.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

June 4th, 2018 / 11:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to admit that I anticipated a Liberal getting up to ask a question, but seeing as it is me, my congratulations to my colleague on his well-formulated remarks. I would ask an obvious question.

When he compares what the Liberals are doing by focusing on the rights of legal gun owners, or trying to restrict their rights, with their relative lack of interest in dealing with those who use firearms illegally, what is the policy calculation they are making? It is obvious to me as a rural MP that this alienates the people I represent. What are they targeting? Who are they trying to seek out, and whose votes do they think they are getting by doing this?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think I caught members of the House napping a little bit.

I do not think the calculation is all that sophisticated. Very simply, the government saw a news item from the United States, and it realized that a lot of Canadians confuse American legislation with Canadian legislation. We have a very different firearms regime here in Canada, particularly with handguns. I think the government was trying to capitalize on that perceived need.

The other thing is the obvious political calculation that has been made here. The Liberal Party is trying to squeeze out the NDP on the left, thinking this is the sort of legislation that it can take votes from New Democrats in parts of the country and therefore push those votes. The PMO has calculated that some Liberal MPs are expendable, the ones in rural areas, so the government will get rid of them in exchange for capturing more seats from the NDP.

While my hon. colleagues do not appreciate being written off in the next election by their own leadership in the Prime Minister's Office, I think that is the calculation that has actually been made.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is never too late to do the right thing, but this evening we have certainly heard both positive and negative perspectives. On the one side are those who absolutely want to protect the rights of gun owners, and on the other side are those who think, rightly or wrongly, that gun owners often have criminal impulses. This is completely untrue, but it is what people sometimes think.

What is true is that Bill C-71 does nothing to address the threats to public safety, such as street gangs, crime, criminal gangs, and the fact that customs officers are not able to quickly detect weapons as they cross the border. This bill ignores these realities, which we must absolutely address if we truly want to prevent tragedies caused by criminals with guns.

Does my colleague think that Bill C-71 ignores the issues that must be addressed if we want to keep all Canadians safe? Does it ignore the issues at the heart of the purported problem with guns and the criminals who use them for nefarious and completely unacceptable purposes?

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks that my hon. colleague has made. He has touched on a good point, both specifically and the broader principle.

Specifically he points out that this legislation is about a lot of bureaucratic changes to essentially harass law-abiding firearms owners. That is not the problem. The problem is the criminals, the people who have no intention of taking their PAL down to the local Cabela's and buying a 22, a 270 Savage, a 12-gauge Remington, or something like that to go hunting. This legislation harasses those people who want to do it honestly. It would not do anything to the gangs, to the criminals, the people who buy their firearms on the black market, who buy sawed-off shotguns or small handguns.

The bill speaks to the broader philosophy that is often present in the Liberal government's legislation, that it is not the criminal who is responsible for the crime, but it is broader society. We need to do something to punish or harass broader society to go after the individual criminal. That is a philosophical premise that I do not share.

For people who commit the crimes, who break the laws, their rights should be curtailed. They are the ones who should be punished. We should not try to curtail the rights of broader society, of people who are following the law.

That is the philosophical problem that the Liberal government has whenever it approaches, not just this legislation but any legislation dealing with criminal law.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member on his speech. He does not speak often in the House, but his speech was of great interest, and I listened intently.

The opposition keeps tying this legislation to gangs, saying that they will always have their guns. They probably will, but there is the other side of it as well, the law-abiding people who are allowed to have guns and the domestic violence that goes with it.

I mentioned earlier a jilted boyfriend who decided to shoot his ex-girlfriend and her fiancé, and later that night took his own life with a gun. Police at the time did not know the full extent of the guns or the ammunition that he had.

Could the member please tell me what is wrong with trying to provide that information as well when police are getting involved in certain domestic incidents? There have been numerous cases of gun violence.

Instruction to Committee on Bill C-71Routine Proceedings

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Mr. Speaker, for the amount of effort it would take, what would it actually help with? As I said earlier, we have an issue of 4,000 people per year dying of opiate overdoses in this country, and the government is not making it a priority. We have 50 homicides with rifles and shotguns. Again, that is 50 more than we want, but where is the proof that the bill would actually do anything to help address those 50 homicides?

11:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

In accordance with Standing Order 38, a motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been moved and seconded. Therefore the question is that this House do now adjourn.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, Midnight

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for recognizing me. It is midnight on a Monday night, and we are now beginning what is known as the late show. This is a chance for the opposition to repeat a question that was asked during question period but not answered to our satisfaction. I suspect I will once again receive a stream of indigestible platitudes from the government, but I am going to try asking my question anyway, because it concerns Canadians and people who are being misled right now.

I would like to begin with a quote from the director of the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, Stephan Reichhold. A year ago, he wrote, and I quote, “I do not want to alarm anyone”—and I would add, particularly just before bedtime—“but it is quite possible that next year will bring more of what we are seeing right now, with waves of people arriving at the border”. An immigration expert told us a year ago that the situation would likely be just as bad this year.

I have some sad news for Mr. Reichhold. The situation is four times worse than it was last year. Some 2,500 asylum seekers crossed the border irregularly at Roxham Road in April. It is now May, so this is very recent. That number is four times higher than it was last year. Mr. Reichhold said that things were bad last year, and now the situation is four times worse. We did not have a problem before the current Prime Minister sent a misleading tweet to the entire world saying, “Welcome to Canada”. Since then, Roxham Road has become an international attraction.

Why are we in this situation? First, there are 320,000 foreign nationals in the United States whose temporary status could expire, so one can only imagine the potential pool of people who heard about the hole in the Canadian border. What is more, we now know that people are travelling from Nigeria, Africa, to New York and then on to Plattsburgh, where they receive brochures explaining how to enter Canada irregularly by crossing the border illegally and then file a claim for refugee status. That is the situation we are currently dealing with: 320,000 Americans plus the smugglers who come because of contraband, of course.

The problem is that this is more than just a migrant crisis; it is also a humanitarian crisis. A former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Mr. Handfield, told us that the false information being circulated on the Internet and in the community is complicating the task, that the idea that all those who enter Canada will be given refugee status and allowed to stay is a myth, and that Canada has very strict criteria. Meanwhile, the provinces are the ones who are paying the price. Last week, the Government of Canada offered the provinces a pittance, given that they are the ones who are currently covering the cost of housing the illegal migrants and providing them with services until they receive an answer regarding their claim, which can take up to several years since the system is clogged.

My question is very simple. First, will the Liberals admit that they are the ones who created the problem, because of the Prime Minister's tweet? Second, what are they going to do to address the root of the problem? Right now, they are sticking the provinces with the bill. The provinces are the ones who are paying the price for this Liberal government's and the Prime Minister's mistakes.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, Midnight

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am glad for the opportunity to respond in detail to the question from my hon. colleague.

As the minister has stated, Canada has international commitments in respect of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. If someone claims asylum in Canada because that person is fleeing persecution, war, or violence, we have a legal obligation to review that request according to international conventions and Canadian laws. Those with legitimate claims to need protection have the right to make an asylum claim, because removal to their home country would subject them personally to danger of torture, a risk to their life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

While Canada remains an open and welcoming place for displaced and persecuted people who are in need of protection, our government also remains committed to ensuring an orderly and efficient immigration process.

Although it is an unusual situation, Canadians can be confident that our government is working closely with our partners to ensure that all laws are followed, that the safety and security of Canadians is protected, and that the process of evaluating asylum claims is carried out efficiently, effectively, and with no effect on the processing time of other immigration applications.

As the hon. member is well aware, there is no guarantee that these individuals will be able to stay in Canada. Indeed, if officials from the independent Immigration and Refugee Board determine that they do not have a legitimate asylum claim, they will be removed from this country.

It is also important that this situation is approached through a rigorous but efficient and fast, process. Providing adequate resources for front-line operations is essential.

That is why our government is strengthening our border security and speeding up the processing of asylum claims, through an investment of a further $173.2 million, including $74 million for the IRB. These investments are necessary after the Harper Conservatives cut $390 million from border security.

As described numerous times by our government in the House, we have a plan in place to address this situation. However, Canada will not abandon our responsibilities toward the global community under international conventions. Nor will we forsake our country's long-standing humanitarian and compassionate tradition.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 12:05 a.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said, those are platitudes and, unfortunately, falsehoods about an unusual situation. Never in the history of this country have we seen anything like this.

The Canada-United States border is becoming porous. The parliamentary secretary mentioned torture, but this is the United States we are talking about, an allied country, our top trading partner, and our partner in the safe third country agreement. The parliamentary secretary is talking about the border as though the country on the other side were not trustworthy. That is not a very respectful way to talk about our American partners.

As to the falsehood, I have here a Library of Parliament document. There were cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Liberals were the ones who made those cuts. I know what I am talking about because I was the public safety minister. According to this document, the budget was $2 million in the Conservative government's last year in office and $1.7 million in 2016-17.

That is a $300-million cut, courtesy of the Liberals. The Conservatives did not have this problem at the border. That is not all. The budget for immigration officers was cut by $30 million—

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 12:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Order. The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Immigration, Refugees and CitizenshipAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 12:05 a.m.

Liberal

Kamal Khera Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated, Canada has international commitments to respect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Those with a legitimate claim to need our protection have a right to make an asylum claim, and that is what makes the asylum system fundamentally different from all other areas of our immigration system.

While Canada remains an open and welcoming place for displaced and persecuted people who are in need of protection, our government is also committed to ensuring an orderly and efficient immigration process.

That is why our government is strengthening our border security and speeding up the processing of asylum claims, through an investment of a further $173.2 million, including $74 million for the IRB, after the Harper Conservatives cut $390 million from border security.

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 12:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, agriculture production is absolutely essential to the economic well-being of my riding, and not only to my riding but to all of Canada. As Conservatives, we recognize the role farmers play in putting food on our tables and we will always stand up for Canadian farming families from coast to coast. Unfortunately, we do not see that same level of commitment from the current government. This shipping season has been absolutely disastrous for farmers, and the Liberals are partly to blame for that.

Currently there is a blockage in moving grain to market. We are talking about grain for people's consumption as well as grain for animals' consumption, such as livestock. When grain does not get shipped out, farmers do not get paid. If farmers do not get paid, then new crops are not planted; if new crops are not planted, then we do not have the food sources we need for people and for livestock.

Just last week, the Prime Minister was saying he would not use back-to-work legislation if CP Rail went on strike. This left farmers who are dependent on rail shipment high and dry. This is turning into an absolute disaster of epic proportions. Some farmers were not able to plant their spring crops, as they have not been able to sell their grain from last fall. Others struggle to find money to feed their own families without the revenue from their previous harvests. I have heard from many people in my riding and from across Canada, who are becoming more and more worried as to how they are going to provide for their families if the government does not take action.

Not only does this affect our farmers; it also impacts the worldwide reputation of Canada as a grain producer. If we are not reliable in our ability to ship out grain, our reputation reflects that. With each passing week, Canadians are becoming more aware that our Prime Minister is simply not concerned about whether our grain is properly transported or how we are perceived on the world stage when it comes to marketing our produce.

This is not the first time Canadian farmers have faced grain backlogs. In 2014, a similar situation occurred. The difference is that then it was resolved, and fairly quickly, when the previous government issued directives to the rail companies and they began to move grain once again. The Prime Minister and his cabinet members do have the power to speak up and to solve this issue should they have the will to do so. It has been done before and it can certainly be done again. If the government cares about Canadian farmers or Canada's agriculture industry at all, it would step up and do something. It would take action on behalf of the women and men across this country who produce for those of us who then consume.

My question is simple. When will the Liberals start listening to farmers and get the grain moving once again?

Rail TransportationAdjournment Proceedings

June 5th, 12:10 a.m.

Brampton West Ontario

Liberal

Kamal Khera LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the rail transportation challenges faced this year by farmers and shippers of multiple commodities, including grain. That is why we took action to ensure that railways had a plan in place to recover their service levels and to get grain flowing to market. We wrote to the railways, requesting their plans for restoring service levels, and we have since sustained improvements in the system. We continue to monitor rail performance to ensure that service improvements continue and are sustained over the long term and that the farmers and shippers are able to get their goods to their consumers.

Last year we introduced Bill C-49, because our government is taking action to resolve systematic challenges, not just for this year but for the decades to come. Unlike the Band-Aid solution put in place by the Harper Conservatives, which had an expiry date, we put in place long-term solutions to address challenges facing the freight-rail transportation system and its users. We held extensive consultation with stakeholders from a variety of industries across Canada, including the grain sector. We listened to stakeholders, we heard their concerns, and we came up with a bill that responds to the needs of rail system users across the country. The new and updated measures in Bill C-49 would provide important tools for the grain sector and rail shippers. These include the ability to apply penalties to railway companies who do not fulfill their engagements. The bill also introduces long-haul interswitching, a measure that would increase access to rail services, increase competition among rail companies, and provide more shipping options for grain farmers.

With all these good measures that would directly help our grain farmers, I was disappointed to see that the Harper Conservatives, including the member opposite, voted against this bill. I hope that in future they will put aside their partisan games and work with us to better our transportation system for all our farmers.