Madam Speaker, I am going to share my time with the member for Calgary Nose Hill. I know members often forget to indicate this and it causes a bit of consternation at the table, so I wanted to mention that off the top.
Just so my constituents know what the debate is about, we are talking about Bill S-8, which would amend paragraph 35.1(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which is affectionately known by many of us as IRPA, because it is just easier to use the acronym, as with everything in government.
This bill would basically change the grounds for inadmissibility to Canada under IRPA to match with our sanctions list. Part of the debate over the last 18 months has been the government having to catch up over time and sanction new people in order to match sanctions to people we do not want to let in as we list new organizations, new people and new events that happen all over the world.
Many of us were gripped by the protests taking place by women standing up for their rights in Iran after the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman whose hometown was Saqqez, if I'm pronouncing it correctly. I am sure my Kurdish friends will correct me by email very soon. She was visiting Tehran, and she was picked up by the morality police. I am sure they noticed on her identity papers that she was not from Tehran and quickly figured out she was Kurdish. They beat her in custody, and she died a few days later. This sparked mass protests in Iran.
Then the government decided to start sanctioning individual bits and pieces of the regime in order to show it was on the side of the protesters. Many Iranians in Canada were asking why the government was still letting in members of the regime; people who have profited from the regime; people who are close to the regime, such as wives or girlfriends; or people close to the regime coming here to study.
I was getting videos and pictures of people landing at the Toronto Pearson Airport who were known members of the regime. Of course I would always tell them, “We don't know what you know, and you should inform the RCMP”. When they would go to the RCMP, they would usually be told the individuals or organizations were not sanctioned and that they had not been found inadmissible to Canada.
This bill would partially close that hole, which many of us and the worried members of our communities have called for in the past. We also know that if we do not enforce the sanctions or inadmissibility grounds, then it does not matter how many people we put on the list. We need a government that has the will to act and actually impose the sanctions on individuals and enforce them through information gathering and information sharing in order to identify these people in Canada.
I will draw the attention of the House to one specific person, and this is one I hear about quite often when I go to Iranian protests and rallies in Canada. Morteza Talaei is a former police chief of Tehran. He was the police chief when Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian Canadian and Montrealer, was arrested. She was beaten and died in custody.
The fact that we do not enforce our sanctions is one of the next debates we will have after this. When this piece of legislation hopefully makes it to committee and beyond and actually passes into law, then government can find the time to enforce it. Not only can the government devote resources to it, but it can also give political direction to the CBSA to detain and deport these people.
I had an Order Paper question given back to me just a few months ago that indicated the government was only following through on half its deportation orders for people who had already been found inadmissible to Canada. It is a shocking number that has gone way down since the pandemic, and that is a very worrying sign to me.
I want to cover what is happening in Iran, speak a little about the People's Republic of China and then cover the Russian Federation and its war of aggression on Ukraine. Those are the three major countries many of us think of when we think of our sanctions regime and the people we would like to be found inadmissible to Canada.
On Iran, I have been a big supporter of the protests. There are individual case files that have come to my constituency office that I have tried to advocate for, both directly with the Minister of Immigration and in working with members from both sides of the House.
I want to mention that I have politically sponsored Mohammad Amin Akhlaghi, who was sentenced to death by the regime simply for the act of peacefully protesting. I also sponsored Amir Mohammad Jafari, who was arrested at school when he was 17 years old. He was taken to prison, tortured and then sentenced to 25 years in jail, followed by exile after his prison sentence was complete. This was for the crime of corruption on earth, which is a broad claim made against many individuals in Iran.
Many of these individuals' family members have contacted me. It is just a broad-based accusation. They can do anything they want. This is through IRGC-controlled courts and a justice system where there is no justice.
Many organizations have been sanctioned. We have sanctioned different bits of the regime. However, in many cases, the fact that we are politically sponsoring them ensures their protection. It shows the Iranian regime that we are looking at individual cases. I track them every few days. I ask my staff, and I look them up to make sure that nothing has happened to them.
The government needs to be doing more. The little bit that we found in Bill S-8 is not, I think, quite enough just yet. The government needs to be defining some people as inadmissible and following up on cases like those of Morteza Talaei and other Iranian nationals who have come to Canada on different visas, who may have overstayed here and who are still here. They should have their visas reviewed as well. I am hoping that this legislation will look after that.
On the issue of the enforcement of sanctions, we had a New Democratic member stand up to correct the record when a member from one of the Winnipeg ridings was speaking on behalf of the government. However, our own shadow minister for international trade had an Order Paper question come back demonstrating that over the last however many years, at our border, the Canadian government has actually stopped zero dollars' worth of merchandise coming from the Xinjiang province in the People's Republic of China because of the use of slave labour.
In comparison, America has actually stopped billions of dollars of merchandise at its border. It is not as though our markets are all that different. We buy many goods. Many companies are buying goods, such as T-shirts, socks and a lot of goods made of cotton.
In Xinjiang, cotton happens to be one of the major products that is made with slave labour. Companies have to ensure that they have an ethical supply chain, but it is incumbent upon the government to ensure that the CBSA is directed to catch these products at the border. It is impossible that it is at zero dollars.
The fact that we received that answer to an Order Paper question proves that the government is not doing enough. I am hoping that after Bill S-8 gets a fulsome debate here, in committee, at third reading and at the report stage, members will get the satisfaction of knowing that the government is actually going to follow through and enforce it.
Lastly, on the Russian Federation, as I rose before to mention, we do not have the strongest sanctions in the world. Again, we have piecemeal sanctions of different bits of the regime.
I have a Yiddish proverb, and it will come at the very end.
We have sanctioned different parts of the Russian regime. In Bill S-8, there are references to the justice for Sergei Magnitsky act. It is a piece of legislation that I worked on at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs when we were debating it at the time.
For those who do not know, Sergei Magnitsky was Bill Browder's lawyer in Russia. He uncovered a $200-million-plus case of tax fraud being committed.
He was a fervent lawyer trying to get to the truth. For his trouble, he was arrested by the Russian regime. He was kept in confinement. He was beaten, tortured and murdered for the simple act of following up on tax law and making sure that the Russian taxpayer was getting their due.
The highly corrupt regime run by President Putin and oligarchs in Russia cannot be trusted. They have now moved to a hot war. The started the war in 2014 but moved to a hot war last year. The piecemeal approach of sanctioning different parts of the regime has not worked. There are many European countries that have much stronger sanctions than we do.
I gave the example of the Republic of Poland before. It has banned not only all coal imports but also the spread of Russian propaganda. It has prevented Russia Today from broadcasting and done many other things.
Many eastern European countries have a much longer history of trying to resist what many of them will call their centuries-long oppressor. This is why many of them joined NATO after the Warsaw Pact fell apart.
I have a Yiddish proverb, because I made myself a note to mention this: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Yiddish is wonderful because it always tries to say something in a positive way but actually means something kind of insulting.
In this particular case, months from now, we will be moving on to other government legislation. I am convinced that the government caucus will be accusing the Conservatives of holding up pieces of legislation because we want to debate things and bring forward issues and individual cases that we think are worth listening to in this chamber. We will be told that legislation needs to be rushed because it needs to be passed.
I will think back to this moment when we debated Bill S-8, when we were debating legislation that many of us agreed with.
It is the government House leader's job to schedule Government Orders and to make sure that the priorities of the government are passed. I note that this legislation started in the Senate instead of the House; so much for a House of sober second thought when we are the ones looking at government legislation from the Senate.