Ms. Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, NDP)
Mr. Speaker, tragically, a woman lost her life attempting the dangerous irregular crossing into Manitoba.
I was deeply disappointed, and frankly shocked, when I raised this last night and the member for Ajax stated:
It occurred in Minnesota. The person in question was not near Canada at the time, so I am not sure how that life would have been saved by anything being different.
I am not aware of any cases of people dying of hypothermia while crossing at authorized ports of entry into Canada. I wonder if the member is.
Suspending the safe third country agreement would have meant that people would not be forced to risk their lives to enter Canada.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, in response to me in question period yesterday, said he was trying to discourage people from crossing at unsanctioned ports of entry. Does the minister know that by not suspending the safe third country agreement, he is forcing them to take those great risks?
Bashir Khan, a lawyer in Manitoba, said, “The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Countries Agreement, which took effect December 29, 2004...sealed her fate. I think Canadian law is to be held responsible for that woman's death—for that innocent woman's death.”
The longer the government refuses to acknowledge this issue, the bigger an impact it will have.
In addition, I am shocked to learn that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is on the public record in response to this tragedy as saying, “It is important to follow the rules and cross the border in a legal and regular manner.”
He went on to say, “People should not think that some back door or side door is a free ticket to get into the country.”
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness knows very well that Canada is a signatory to the United Nations refugee convention, which recognize the rights of refugees. Irregular crossings are not illegal. They are not queue-jumping. They will be processed according to our rules as inland asylum seekers.
It is not a free pass. It comes with great risks. This crossing cost this woman her life. I know the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness knows that. To suggest otherwise is unconscionable. It is reprehensible that he is trying to blame the victim.
If the government suspended the safe third country agreement, this tragedy, I believe, would not have occurred.
The Trump administration, along with the rhetoric from the Prime Minister about how Canada welcomes everyone, is fuelling the increase in irregular border crossings. The CBSA and the RCMP have stated that resources are being stretched because of the increase in irregular crossings. Communities are stretched to the limit. What is is needed is for the government to stop hiding and sticking its head in the sand and wake up, open its heart and mind, and match its words with action, because frankly, lives depend on it.
Subtopic: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship