June 15, 1972

PRIVILEGE

MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH

LIB

Bryce Stuart Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration)

Liberal

Hon. Bryce Mackasey (Minister of Manpower and Immigration):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of personal privilege based on responses I gave in the House on June 9 and June 12 to the hon. members for Edmonton Centre (Mr. Paproski) and Hamilton West (Mr. Alexander), as reported on pages 2993 and 3036 of Hansard, with regard to the death of Mrs. Alicia Wiercioch.

After a complete inquiry into her case I find that the information on the basis of which I answered the hon. members was not entirely correct and that my response was ambiguous and would tend to mislead the House and members of the media. This is why, Mr. Speaker, I trust you will allow me this opportunity to briefly set the record straight.

Mrs. Wiercioch applied for landed status on September 30, 1968, one month after she arrived in Canada on a six month visitor's visa. Because of procedures which were in existence at the time, her husband had to fill out an application form on his own behalf so that the entire family could be processed. This caused a delay since her husband was in Poland and had to be processed through our Geneva office which was the regional headquarters for Europe at that time.

During this delay Mrs. Wiercioch accepted work without permission after signing a written statement that she would not do so. Once she informed my department of this, she immediately could no longer be a successful applicant for landing. The department sent her a letter asking her to depart voluntarily, failing which she would be ordered to an inquiry to decide whether or not she should be deported. She had her inquiry on September 24, 1970, at which time she was ordered deported but given permission to work after she stated that she would pursue an appeal to the Immigration Appeal Board.

On March 15, 1972, the Immigration Appeal Board dismissed her appeal against deportation and declined to exercise their discretion to allow her to remain on compassionate grounds. Her attorney then made a motion to the Federal Court to have the time limit extended for submission of a motion to seek leave to appeal. This motion was still before the Federal Court at the time of her death. Because the case was sub judice the department had no intention of effecting deportation when Mrs. Wiercioch died.

I regret, Mr. Speaker, that I stated to the hon. members for Hamilton West and Edmonton Centre that she was not ordered deported for working illegally. I can assure the

House that I did not give this information in bad faith but based it on the preliminary information then submitted to me by the department, which I have now found contained errors that are being investigated. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to set the record straight.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please, I see the hon. member for Hamilton West seeks the floor in order, I assume, to discuss this important matter. I am not sure that the matter was raised correctly by way of a question of privilege. Perhaps it would have been better had it been raised by way of a statement on motions, which would have permitted the hon. member for Hamilton West to respond. With the consent of the House, perhaps we might deem that the minister's statement was made on motions, which would allow the hon. member for Hamilton West to speak in reply.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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PC

Lincoln MacCauley Alexander

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Lincoln M. Alexander (Hamilton West):

Mr. Speaker, I think it is in order for me, on behalf of my party, to thank the minister for setting the record straight. Unquestionably there was a conflict of evidence which raised many questions in the minds of many people about our whole immigration procedure. Because of what has happened, and because of the outdatedness, if I may use that expression, of our immigration procedures, especially those relating to deportation orders, I hope the minister will make sure that there will be early implementation of those amendments that he believes will make the Immigration Act more acceptable so that in the long run equity will prevail and the act will work more expeditiously.

I would hope that the minister has learned how his departmental officials work. I do not know what action he intends to take, but he has certainly been misled. I notice the minister has drawn his thumb across his throat, indicating that someone is in trouble. It is right that this should be so because of the seriousness of this matter in that this person, who had great respect for this country and wanted to live here in freedom, decided, because of the hangups in the present immigration laws, to take her own life.

I again thank the minister for attempting to set the record straight with regard to this matter.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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NDP

Francis Andrew Brewin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Andrew Brewin (Greenwood):

Mr. Speaker, I, too, thank the minister for his statement, but I think this tragic episode underlines the necessity for a thorough review of the whole question of immigration procedures. A serious problem arises, as the minister knows, owing to the fact that in large urban communities such as Toronto there is a lengthy delay following the decision of an immigration officer in the special inquiry to which a person is entitled.

25319-14J

June 15, 1972

Immigration Regulations

I know the minister is making moves to deal with this problem, but I think the whole policy regarding the issuance of work permits to people while they are waiting, through no fault of their own, for these lengthy procedures to determine their rights should be reviewed.

I suggest to the minister that the time has come to review the policy of allowing the final discretion as to clemency in these matters to remain with what is in effect a court of law. I think that Parliament made a mistake when it deprived the minister of the final right to extend clemency in especially hard cases. I hope that the whole situation will be reviewed because the present situation is entirely unsatisfactory. It is unfair to immigrants and I think it is unfair to the people of Canada.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. Real Caouette (Temiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, I fully agree with the remarks that the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Brewin) has just made about the minister's statement concerning immigration. Indeed, immigration regulations should be revised and carefully considered in order to enable immigrants to identify themselves quite easily with our society and prevent undesirables from entering Canada.

In my opinion, the proposal made by the hon. member for Greenwood is fully justified and I suggest that the government and the minister should follow up that matter as soon as possible.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MACKASEY-CORRECTION OF PREVIOUS ANSWERS CONCERNING SUICIDE OF ALICIA WIERCIOCH
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MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"

PC

Robert Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Robert Muir (Cape Breton-The Sydneys):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting all members of the House, particularly those from Atlantic Canada. It relates to a publication, sponsored by the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro), produced at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer and distributed free of charge by Information Canada and the Department of National Health and Welfare.

The publication in question is entitled "On The Road" and is supposed to be "a guide for youth travelling Canada." The news release that accompanied this booklet states as follows:

The booklet has been designed to present helpful hints, in a comprehensive but simplified manner, to Canadian youth on the move ... whether the trip is long or short, whether walking, driving or riding a bicycle, Canadian youth will find the map section of particular value.

My question of privilege deals with the information contained in the map section of the booklet. On checking the maps of the Atlantic area, I was absolutely astonished to see that the city of Sydney, in my constituency on Cape Breton Island, is designated as being over 300 miles away on mainland Nova Scotia in the historic Lunenburg area. Having removed the city of Sydney, they attempt to eliminate Cape Breton Island by disposing of the Canso causeway. I want to tell the Minister of National Health and Welfare that efforts to ignore us will in no way eliminate us. I might also add there were fears expressed at the time the Canso causeway was constructed that the remainder

[Mr. Brewin.l

of Canada might try to swallow our island as Jonah was swallowed by the whale.

In view of the fact that I have mentioned Sydney, Lunenburg, the Canso causeway and Cape Breton Island, which are all part of Canada's ocean playground, I should like to inform those who prepared the booklet that I am somewhat dubious about some of the instructions. For instance, on page 4 the booklet states: "Drowning is unhealthy".

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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PC

Robert Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir:

We in Cape Breton consider it fatal. It would be bad enough if the only mistake made was to remove Sydney from Cape Breton Island and put it on the south shore of Nova Scotia, but that is not all. They have taken the town of Truro and moved it from the Minas Basin to the center of Nova Scotia where Mount Thom was when I was last there. They have taken the Scottish heritage from New Glasgow and, apparently aware of the recent controversy over the sale of Grassy Island to an American, they have replaced the Scottish name with a bovine heritage and named it New Glas-cow!

I would like to stop there if I could, Mr. Speaker, but I cannot. Dalhousie has been moved from New Brunswick and appears to be in Quebec. Newfoundland has a new abbreviation-N.F.-apparently in keeping with the government's policy toward that province. I assume it stands for "No fish."

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member's question of privilege is obviously receiving a very sympathetic response from all hon. members, and I would not want to limit unduly his right to express his views with respect to the matter he is bringing to our attention. Nevertheless, to this point I find some difficulty in recognizing the question of privilege, in other words, precisely how the hon. member's parliamentary privileges have been infringed. I hope the hon. member will not pursue the matter much further. I gather that he is coming to the end of his statement.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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PC

Robert Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I truly respect your opinion, as you well know. I shall not take much more of the time of the House in outlining the shocking discrepancies in the map section, but I must refer to one other inexcusable inaccuracy which appears on page 31 of the booklet in reference to hospitals in Nova Scotia. The booklet lists only two hospitals in Nova Scotia and they are both mental institutions.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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PC

Robert Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir:

This makes me wonder whether the author of the book felt any of the youths visiting our province would require this type of treatment. It might also suggest that when the individual or individuals concerned were preparing the booklet they were on a trip of the variety examined by the Le Dain Commission and not the type of trip I hope the youth of today will be making this summer. Still further, the mental institution referred to in the city of Halifax is not given its correct name, nor is it located at the address given. If anyone were to try to find this

June 15, 1972

institution, he would certainly need its facilities before he finally got there. It would be amusing if it were not so serious.

In recent days there has been growing concern about the usefulness of Information Canada. If there was ever an example of its uselessness, this booklet is certainly it.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member is now arguing a case against Information Canada. I wonder how this can be related to parliamentary privilege. Hon. members must realize that parliamentary privilege arises from a very special case which might be made out successfully at times by hon. members. A responsibility rests on hon. members who believe they have a valid question of privilege to state what the privilege is as quickly as possible.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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PC

Robert Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir:

I fully agree, Mr. Speaker, with the statement you have made, but I am sure you will agree with me that no more grievous blow could be dealt a Member of Parliament than to remove the largest city from his riding and reflect on the people he represents. Day after day the evidence piles up. It is appalling that Canadians should be so irresponsibly misinformed. I believe that not only the people I represent in Cape Breton-The Sydneys but other people in Cape Breton Island, in the Province of Nova Scotia and, indeed, in Atlantic Canada have been outrageously insulted.

It is because I am utterly opposed to the operations of Information Canada that it is my intention to file with the House a notice in opposition to vote No. 25 of the Department of Supply and Services appearing in the estimates for the fiscal year 1972-73, which involves the expenditure of $10,354,000 for the operation of this agency.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. The hon. member has given notice of his intention to file a notice on the order paper. That, I assume, would be the remedy that he is seeking. Therefore the Chair will have to rule that the matter cannot be pursued further as a question of privilege. I am sure the hon. member will agree with that ruling.

Topic:   MR. MUIR-INACCURATE INFORMATION IN BOOKLET, "ON THE ROAD"
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June 15, 1972