November 29, 2010

LIB

Scott Simms

Liberal

Mr. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that the point that is germane to this debate, which the hon. member made on several occasions, is about protecting security and the borders of which we are a sovereign nation. I have no issue with that whatsoever, for reasons that are obvious, as we all do.

The hon. member has put a lot of thought into this, but how does he envision this being enacted as far as enforcement is concerned?

On the east coast where I come from, fisheries policy is major, but it is not just about the legislation. The enforcement is more important.

In the case we had, which was really just the beginning, 152 Tamils showed up on the shores of Newfoundland back in 1986. This is a prime example of why we have to stop it. Ever since then, we have been dealing with situation after situation.

What would the member do to stop that at source? What does he envision to stop these smugglers from perceivably getting away with what they are doing and to make sure they do not make a profit from smuggling vulnerable people?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Permalink
CPC

Mike Wallace

Conservative

Mr. Mike Wallace

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that very good question on stopping the issue at source from the country where the potential migrants are being smuggled by illegal smugglers.

It is an important piece. As a country, part of our diplomatic effort is towards those countries where smuggling takes place and from where we get boat loads of individuals who pay exorbitant prices to illegal smugglers to get to this country. We have to nip that in the bud, at the source, and use all of our diplomatic strength, as a country, to make sure that does not happen.

I like to use the analogy of the drug smuggler who needs customers to smuggle drugs. We need to make sure that those who are potential customers of these human smugglers know that it is not a free ride here in Canada, that there are issues. This is what this bill does. It tries to take away at source the incentive to deal with human smugglers to come here.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Permalink
CPC

Cathy McLeod

Conservative

Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the opposition members earlier, they brought up the St. Louis and the very horrific consequences of what happened there, and they seemed to be trying to liken that to this particular piece of legislation.

For the sake of the opposition, it would be great if my hon. colleague could really explain that this piece of legislation is very different in how it treats the ship. It will not be turning ships away at sea, but it will be providing due process. Perhaps he could describe, in contrast, what happened with the St. Louis and how this legislation would never contemplate such horrific results or actions.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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CPC

Mike Wallace

Conservative

Mr. Mike Wallace

Mr. Speaker, there was an impression left by a previous question that the bill actually entitles Canada to go out and turn ships away at sea, which is absolutely not the case. However, it is important that the bill would enable us to go after the actual human smugglers when they are here and to have a system to deal with the people who are being smuggled here, to make sure they are legitimate refugees.

I get some jeers from our NDP colleagues. I challenge them to take the bill to the kitchen table, which their leader likes to talk about, and talk to Canadians from coast to coast to coast to ask them if we should be doing something about the smugglers and about those who are their customers. They will get the answer that we are getting on this side of the House. This government is acting.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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LIB

Irwin Cotler

Liberal

Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in the matter of Bill C-49, whose formal title is “An act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act”. Indeed the stated intent of the legislation can perhaps best be found in the short title of the act, “Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act”.

In particular, the bill reflects the government's response to two ships full of Tamil migrants who landed on Canada's shores in the past year. It reflects also the larger public concern over illegal immigration and false refugee claims and indeed the need, as the government and our colleagues on the opposite side have put it, to maintain public faith in the immigration and refugee system.

Accordingly, the bill includes harsh penalties for smugglers, which have garnered a good deal of media attention, and not surprisingly, because who can object to legislation that purports to get tough with human smuggling and to deal with such smuggling in the manner required for that purpose? However what is being ignored here is that the government, with co-operative consultation with and indeed the support of the opposition, just five months ago enacted a comprehensive reform of our immigration and refugee law precisely for the purposes of, among other things, combating illegal immigration, false refugee claims and declining, as it put it even then, public faith in the immigration and refugee law system.

This bill, however, while purporting to be the same in its purpose and effect, ends up undermining the very integrity and effectiveness of the legislation that the government itself enacted some five months ago, while inviting, on closer appreciation of the legislation, the very loss of credibility and public faith in our system that Bill C-49 purports to decry, but which Bill C-49 will in fact invite.

Indeed an appreciation of the pith and substance of this legislation, its essential character and effect, invites the characterization of the bill, as a group of refugee scholars has put it, as “the punishing refugees and evading our constitutional and international obligations act”. In a word, the bill does not so much punish smugglers as indeed it punishes asylum claimers.

What follows is a summary of concerns respecting this bill, concerns that, for example, are reflected in the commentaries of experts in refugee law, such as Peter Showler, a former chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board, who last week characterized the bill as “littered with charter violations”. Immigration and refugee law and human rights experts have decried the lack of balance between the sanctions against the smugglers and, in particular, the manner in which the asylum-seekers end up being targeted. The critique of a group of law professors from different law schools across this country characterized it as not only being in breach of our charter rights but also in breach of our standing obligations under international law, such as under the international refugee convention.

In effect, this bill amounts to gratuitous punishment of those seeking our protection, in effect a double victimization of those who have been initially victimized by smugglers exploiting them and then end up being victimized when they seek protection on our shores.

As well, the legislation reflects a lack of understanding of what it means to be a refugee escaping civil strife. The legislation says detention is necessary until the identity of the refugee can be confirmed, but for people who understand what it means to be refugees fleeing civil strife, with all that attends it, it ends up being a legislation that punishes people who are illegal arrivals. As one editorial put it, Albert Einstein would have been punished under this legislation.

This brings me now to a summary of the specific concerns and I will do so in an abbreviated fashion for reasons of time.

First, the bill would authorize detention with no independent review for a minimum of 12 months, in clear breach of both charter rights and related Supreme Court jurisprudence that such detention without review is patently illegal. Moreover, the government has the power to detain persons until their identity is established, as I mentioned, or, irrespective of time, under present legislation, be it legislation with respect to the protection of public security or legislation with respect to enforcement of our anti-terrorist laws and, as such, this particular and prospectively illegal provision is as well a gratuitous and unnecessary given our present laws.

Second, those who are granted refugee status are nonetheless denied the right to bring their family members to Canada for a period of five years. Again, arguably that is in breach of our international human rights and humanitarian obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child or international provisions respecting family unification.

Third, there is no right of appeal from the initial rejecting refugee decision, which would not only immunize error in our refugee system, but prejudice the rights of prospective asylum seekers.

Fourth, it would reduce medical benefits. Refugee claims already receive only the most basic of medical coverage, but this type of legislation would reduce that even further in respect of matters pertaining to the use of wheelchairs, canes, walkers and the like.

Fifth, the bill mandates that those coming to Canada as part of a smuggling event, as it is called, will not be permitted to apply for permanent residence for five years. This provides for different rules and standards for migrants smuggled on a ship compared to those who arrive illegally with forged documents by way of an airplane.

Finally, with respect to the overall purpose and effect of the bill, it might in this regard create two classes of refugees based on the means of arrival in Canada. The distinction and its drastic consequences offend foundational principles of international law, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as common sense and decency.

The majority of refugees and those involved in refugee law know only too well. As Peter Showler himself wrote just a short time ago:

The majority of refugees must resort to smuggling networks to escape the country of persecution and cross borders. Canadian and international laws have recognized this necessity and prohibit the prosecution of refugees for the violation of immigration regulations. Boat arrival, as opposed to individual arrival by land or air, does not mean that the refugee claims are more or less valid or that the passengers are a greater security threat: If anything, it is the opposite, since arrival by boat entails far closer scrutiny by the authorities. Boat arrival simply means that it was the only practical avenue of escape for refugees with no good options.

In summary, he says:

Government ministers have justified the punitive aspects of the bill by accusing boat refugees of “jumping the refugee queue” as opposed to “law abiding refugees” who wait their turn for resettlement. There is no refugee queue. There are approximately 13 million refugees scattered throughout the world, over half of them in godforsaken camps with few resources and less hope. Their average time of camp residence is 17 years;...

We should not be enacting legislation that ends up punishing the asylum seekers while not effectively sanctioning the smugglers themselves who exploit them.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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LIB

Keith Martin

Liberal

Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a joy and pleasure to listen to my colleague because he truly has one of the finest legal minds in Canada if not the world.

My question refers to the fact that detention without review sounds a lot like Gitmo and violates many of the laws of our land. Is not the aggressive refugees, in large part, a failure of foreign policy in that these people who are leaving areas of conflict reflects the inability of the international community to deal with these issues? We have a responsibility to protect but we do not have an obligation to act. We have a traditional framework without an enforcement framework internationally.

Does my colleague think that the Canadian government can do a better job by taking a more proactive response toward dealing with some of the large foreign policy challenges that we face and, in doing so, that would lessen the number of refugees seeking sanctuary on our shores?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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LIB

Irwin Cotler

Liberal

Hon. Irwin Cotler

Mr. Speaker, first, I believe we need to have a proactive policy, as my colleague has put it, and that we need to look not only to the question of sanctioning of smugglers, which this bill in itself would not do effectively, but how we can work to improve the whole refugee and immigration system from a foreign policy point of view.

Second, we should work to stop the human rights abuses abroad that feed and, indeed, generate the refugee flows to begin with. We should at the same time work with transit states to ensure that asylum seekers can obtain meaningful protection abroad, which is now so sorely lacking.

Third, we should create avenues through which refugees in need of immediate protection can get to Canada without resorting to human smugglers.

I might add in that regard that the legislation presupposes that Canada lacks enforcement powers to prevent human smuggling, which is not the case.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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LIB

Derek Lee

Liberal

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough—Rouge River, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will partly reiterate what the member said. If this bill foists upon the shoulders of the most vulnerable the difficulty of our country and many others in enforcing rules against human smuggling, where we end up going after the smuggled and placing the burden of sanctions of this anti-social activity on their shoulders, should Parliament not be monitoring this much more closely?

Also, should we not insist, for example, the provision in clause 4 that says that any regulations being made by the governor in council with respect to this activity, and there are three separate categories of regulations dealing with rights and liberties, that any of those regulations be reviewed by Parliament even after they are made to ensure there is good faith, fairness and compliance with the regulatory scrutiny criteria, which we already have in place?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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LIB

Irwin Cotler

Liberal

Hon. Irwin Cotler

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with my colleague. Not only does it lack the necessary provisions for parliamentary scrutiny and oversight, but in fact it imbues the government with undue discretion to begin with. On the one hand, there is a lack of parliamentary oversight, which is so necessary, particularly in legislation of this kind, but on the other hand, we have the imbuing of the government with undue discretionary authority, let alone the provisions which themselves lack proper oversight, such as the mandatory detention for a year without, as I said, judicial oversight.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I do not imagine that you will be surprised to hear that the Bloc Québécois cannot support Bill C-49. Our disagreement has to do with this government's ongoing desire to move forward with its infamous law and order agenda. This has been clear since the Conservatives took power, and young offenders, among others, have paid the price. Quebec had a very high rehabilitation rate. We reintegrated young people into society. But the Conservative government found a way to try to undermine that and to send 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds to prison, to crime school. What matters to this government is law and order.

There is more proof. In the upcoming budget the government wants to invest huge amounts of money to build prisons in Canada. That will not solve the problem. The Americans tried and made this quite clear. This will not make our society safer. Putting people, and especially young people, in jail is not the answer. I could also go on about the abolition of the gun registry. The government is kind of adopting the American philosophy that you can go around with a rifle in your truck, and if someone threatens you, you can shoot. That is the American vision that is completely embraced by the Conservative Party.

The Khadr case is another prime example of a child soldier turned prisoner. This young man received no support and is still rotting away in a Guantanamo prison. This has been going on for years, and this government has ignored the international treaties that it signed itself regarding child soldiers.

This bill flies in the face of many things. To begin with, it flies in the face of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which I believe to be a very important tool in the Constitution. I feel as though the Conservative government would sometimes like to simply abolish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That way, it could do whatever it likes and Canada could become not a military state, but a police state. The police would address any issues. This government sometimes gives the impression that it is blinded by its obsession with law and order, and we have to wonder why it introduces bills that fly in the face of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Khadr case that I mentioned is a typical example.

All of that is tied in with this government's foreign policy. And the Liberals are more or less on the same page, or maybe very much on the same page. Coalitions often seem to make sense these days, and they are all the rage. When we see that the government's foreign policy is drifting ever closer to militarism at the expense of Canada's traditional image—that of a charitable, open-minded nation and an international mediator—the picture is complete. And that is why, we feel, this bill is in that tradition of law and order. Law and order always comes first.

So, not only is our foreign policy no longer mediatory, but rather militaristic, but Canada is also pulling back. For example, Canada's assistance to African countries has been slashed. On today's news we learned that Canada is thinking of closing six embassies in Africa. And yet people are surprised and wonder why we did not get a seat on the UN Security Council. The answers are right in front of us. When Canada dismisses Arab nations and abandons African countries, and then goes and asks them to vote for Canada to get a seat on the UN Security Council, it should come as no surprise that they said no. So this fits into the same pattern, that is, the notion of law and order.

And what did the Conservatives do with regard to immigration, the matter before us now? As everyone knows, a ship arrived in British Columbia with about 500 Tamils on board.

So the Conservatives decided to tighten up the law and are indeed making it quite strict. They invented a new category of immigrants or refugees, known as “designated foreign nationals”. At present, approximately 500 of these designated foreign nationals are languishing in jails. So this is the new approach to immigration. Once again, they are tightening the nuts and bolts of law and order even further. It is really unfortunate, because it goes against the traditional image of Canadians and Quebeckers as very welcoming.

The way this was handled was not complicated. When the boat arrived, the first order of business was to demonize these people: there must have been terrorists on board somewhere. A type of phobia was created and public opinion was manipulated. Then, they tabled a harsh bill, which confirms the fact that the public finds this quite odd. Not only is the government creating a new category of immigrants, but it is going one step further and saying these people may be spending 12 months in prison. What a fine category of immigrants. These people flee one country thinking that Canada is a welcoming land. They arrive here and are put in prison for 12 months. They are no better off than they were at home. How does this look to the international community? This is what the government has done by demonizing these people. It has added unbelievable restrictions.

If those who fall into this new category are given refugee status, they will have to wait five years before applying for permanent residency. As far as the family reunification policy is concerned, a legal void is being created by this case. What will become of these people? What will they do while awaiting permanent resident status? What will their legal rights be? In the meantime, their applications will be reassessed and they might get sent back to their country if they are deemed unacceptable. They will not be able to travel outside Canada, either, or to apply for permanent residency or Canadian citizenship. Accordingly, the family reunification policy no longer applies because that right is being taken away from them.

Designated foreign nationals whose claim for protection is dismissed will be able to appeal only to the Federal Court, not to the Refugee Appeal Division. There are all kinds of new things here. They are pushing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act even further and creating ways to keep people out. All of this is based on how people arrive in Canada, not on rulings in individual cases. Usually, each case is ruled on individually. Each case is investigated, and those who are granted refugee status can stay here until they are granted permanent residence. They will not have access to the same health care benefits as other people, which is yet another legal vacuum. They will exist in a kind of no man's land. Nobody knows exactly how this whole thing will turn out.

Unbelievably, at this very moment, 350 men are imprisoned in the Fraser Centre in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Another 50 are in the Alouette facility, and some 100 women and children are in jail too. Yes, it is a minimum security facility, but it is still a jail.

That is why the Bloc Québécois cannot support this kind of bill, which would restrict freedoms, create a new class of refugees and further tarnish Canada's international reputation. The international community will think that Canada is no longer a welcoming country, that we are no longer mediators, but that we are people who care only about law and order. That is how it has been since the Conservative Party took power. It is a shame that the Liberals are inclined to join the Conservatives in their tendency to do battle rather than honour the long-standing Canadian way: negotiation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Permalink
LIB

Keith Martin

Liberal

Hon. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in countries where we have an egress of refugees, 90% of the refugees come through our airports and only 10% or less come by ships in the dramatic way we saw this past summer.

Would a possible solution be for the Canadian government to work with OCHA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which has processing centres in those areas where there is an egress of refugees, so people can be identified, evaluated and processed to determine those who are true refugees from those who are not? That would simplify the system, give people an easier way to be assessed by countries in a safe environment away from the prying eyes of their country. In doing so, it would make the situation more efficient and not put people's lives at risk when they have to travel across the very dangerous ocean in very rickety boats. This would be one solution to help deal with the situation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Liberal member, who has done a great deal of work on this file and suggested ideal solutions. The solution he is proposing is very good. The problem is that there is no political will on the other side of the House to implement this type of initiative.

What policy does the other side of the House wish to implement? If a suspicious vessel arrives in Canada, all of the passengers are first put in prison for 12 months, then we take the time we need to see if we can grant them refugee status. They also do not have the right to obtain permanent resident status until they have been in the country for five years. Women and children are currently being held in prison, a minimum security prison, I concede, but it is still a prison.

I urge the Liberal member to present his solutions since they are material. However, if the Conservative government is not at all receptive to these solutions, then we are back to square one. They are applying their law and order approach, and their increasingly strict laws are tarnishing Canada's reputation with the rest of the world.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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BQ

Christian Ouellet

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Christian Ouellet (Brome—Missisquoi, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Saint-Jean on his very clear speech.

Does he believe that such a law indicates that the Conservative government thinks that there must be criminals among every group of immigrants that arrives? Should immigrants have to arrive alone, lining up one by one? We get the impression that there must be criminals among the passengers of every ship or plane that arrives. I would like him to clarify this point.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his insight.

The minister has created a new category of immigrants, which will allow him to designate an arrival as irregular. That is what will probably end up in the bill. This irregular arrival will trigger all of the restrictions and enforcement mechanisms that I mentioned earlier. This is what the Conservatives did with the arrival of the Sun Sea. They immediately thought that there were terrorists or Tamil Tigers aboard. So they created panic across Canada to justify a bill that takes things even farther than usual and that is in line with their law and order approach.

My colleague is absolutely right. The government has managed to demonize these people. That is why it has introduced such a tough bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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CPC

Daniel Petit

Conservative

Mr. Daniel Petit (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate today and to speak in favour of this important bill.

One of the aims of Bill C-49 is to protect the integrity and the fairness of the Canadian immigration and refugee protection systems. That is what I would like to talk about today.

Most Canadians are in favour of a generous and open immigration system. They also support protecting asylum seekers who enter Canada through the usual channels and who are true refugees. Canadians also support the resettlement of refugees who are victims of persecution. Our government is honouring its commitments in each of these areas.

However, Canadians are not naive, and the actions of people who enter the country without going through the usual channels are an affront to people's sense of fairness and respect for the rule of law. While leaving the door open to immigrants and refugees, our government is resolved to protect the integrity and fairness of our immigration and refugee protection systems by identifying and combatting fraudulent activities.

That is why we recently proposed legislative changes to crack down on consultants who take advantage of people by making them pay for bad advice or who help them enter the country or obtain their citizenship in a fraudulent manner. As everyone knows, these crimes take place in every country. Criminals often work in more than one country at the same time. For that reason, Canada is encouraging other governments to co-operate and prevent such abuses, mainly by cracking down on consultants who exploit people trying to immigrate to Canada.

All too often, those who fall into the trap realize too late that they have been duped and have lost their money. Human smugglers are ruthless profiteers.

As members know, we recently passed the Balanced Refugee Reform Act in order to improve the Canadian asylum system by speeding up the process that affords protection to those who really need it and the removal of those whose claims are denied.

However, it is important to remain vigilant with respect to new threats to the integrity of Canada's refugee protection system and abuses of that system, such as the recent arrivals of large numbers of immigrants by boat.

It is unfair for them to jump the queue ahead of those who are playing by the rules and waiting their turn to immigrate to Canada. It is completely unacceptable that people are abusing Canada's generosity to fraudulently profit from it. That is what it comes down to.

Canada welcomes and will always welcome those who wait their turn to come here in search of a better life. These brave and hard-working people from the four corners of the world have been enriching our magnificent country and our culture for hundreds of years.

Yes, Canada is a welcoming place. Canada welcomes thousands of new immigrants and refugees each year thanks to one of the fairest and most generous systems in the world. Our hospitality is a source of pride for our government as well as for the Canadian people; it is a testimony to the generous nature of our nation. However, our government has clearly stated that we cannot tolerate abuse of our immigration system, be it by human smugglers or by people who are not respecting the rules.

That is why our government has introduced a bill to keep smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system. Through these amendments, our government is targeting criminals who smuggle people, abuse our generous immigration system and put Canadian communities in danger. We are creating a significant deterrent to those who would consider using a human smuggler to avoid having to wait to come to Canada. We are also ensuring the integrity and equality of the Canadian immigration system for years to come. We are also sending a message to criminal networks and groups that facilitating human smuggling will not be tolerated in Canada.

Specifically, Bill C-49 will make it easier to prosecute human smugglers, will impose a mandatory minimum sentence on convicted human smugglers and, finally, will hold shipowners and operators accountable for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations.

The amendments proposed by our government will allow us to ensure the safety of Canadian communities through a maximum one-year mandatory detention of individuals who enter Canada illegally.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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CPC

Bev Shipley

Conservative

Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, last week I received a letter from my constituents in Grand Bend, Ontario. It reads, “Would you please go to bat for our military and tell the opposition that our air force needs the new jet fighters and helicopters for marine rescue? We feel badly that we are so dependent on the United States for our protection. Our military men and women are at such a disadvantage when trying to fulfill their duties to keep us safe”.

When it comes to making sure our brave men and women will keep us safe, the record of our government is clear. Whether it is our combat mission in Afghanistan, humanitarian relief in Haiti, search and rescue in Canadian waterways, or staking our claim to Arctic sovereignty, we will never play political games. We will make sure our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to do the job.

My constituents get it. Canadians get it. Our troops get it. It is time the opposition parties got it.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Canadian Forces
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LIB

Larry Bagnell

Liberal

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Yukon, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Canada's pantheon of world-renowned comedic actors lost one of the great ones yesterday with the passing of Leslie Nielsen, brother of 30-year Yukon MP and deputy prime minister Erik Nielsen.

Born in Regina, Leslie Nielsen lived in Fort Norman, which is now known as Tulita, NWT, where his father was an RCMP officer, and later in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.

At 17 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as an aerial gunner.

Nielsen's acting career began in dramatic roles, including Forbidden Planet, The Swamp Fox and The Poseidon Adventure.

His real fame came later when he switched to comedy roles, including in the movies Airplane!, Police Squad, The Naked Gun, and as RCMP Sergeant Buck Frobisher on Due South.

Film critic Roger Ebert put it succinctly when he called Nielsen “the Laurence Olivier of spoofs”.

Nielsen appeared in over 100 films and 1,500 television programs, portraying 220 characters.

He was always deeply proud of his Canadian roots, once saying, “There's no way you can be a Canadian and think you can lose it”.

Leslie Nielsen was rightfully honoured with the Order of Canada in 2002.

Surely the world of cinema is greatly diminished with the loss of Leslie Nielsen, but as he would say, “don't call me Shirley”.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Leslie Nielsen
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BQ

France Bonsant

Bloc Québécois

Ms. France Bonsant (Compton—Stanstead, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, on November 16, 2010, Stéphanie Couture, a recent graduate of the floral design program at the Centre de formation professionnelle de Coaticook, won the Prix de la Relève awarded by the Fédération Interdisciplinaire de l'Horticulture Ornementale du Québec and La Coop fédérée.

Ms. Couture created the Académie St-Élie, an innovative project that offers workshops, courses and seminars on floral design and gardening to clients and their children. Ms. Couture is well-known within the Serres St-Élie organization for her perseverance, her cheerful personality and her entrepreneurial spirit. The jury was very impressed by Ms. Couture.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and the Compton—Stanstead community, I would like to warmly congratulate Stéphanie Couture, a dynamic young woman who is helping to keep the Eastern Townships' entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Stéphanie Couture
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NDP

Malcolm Allen

New Democratic Party

Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, in the communities of my riding where thousands have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate is among the highest in the country at over 10%, less than one-third of those unemployed in Ontario qualify for employment insurance benefits.

Add on the fact that energy costs are skyrocketing and what we see are desperate families and seniors in Niagara who are struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table. A record 870,000 Canadians are using food banks, 80,000 for the first time, only to find many of the shelves are bare.

That is why we have called on the government to drop the 5% federal sales tax on home heating costs and to reinstate the additional five weeks of EI benefits to all regions, based on their need and unemployment rate.

Families and seniors in Niagara are already tightening their belts, and the soaring home heating costs this winter mean things will only get worse.

With temperatures set to drop across Canada, it is time for the government to act and take these first steps to end the affordability crisis for all Canadians.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   The Economy
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CPC

Bruce Stanton

Conservative

Mr. Bruce Stanton (Simcoe North, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, in the days ahead, the newly elected and acclaimed mayors and councillors of the eight municipalities in my riding will be sworn in for a four-year term.

I would like to take this occasion to congratulate all of the people in my riding who were elected and thank all who campaigned as candidates. In each contest they elevated the debate and got more people out to vote than in recent memory.

To our new councils, I share the best wishes of our community for their successful deliberations in the term ahead. The responsibilities of local governments continue to grow in volume and complexity. They are assuming a crucial role toward the betterment of our communities, and I look forward to working with them all in the term ahead.

Finally, I would like to thank the residents of the city of Orillia, the town of Midland, la ville de Penetanguishene, le canton de Tiny, and the townships of Severn, Tay, Oro-Medonte and Ramara, who turned out in big numbers to make municipal election 2010 a resounding expression of our democratic system.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Municipal Election 2010
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November 29, 2010