Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate on Bill C-84 and the amendments put forward by the Senate. The Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Bouchard) had an opportunity to correct some inequities in Bill C-84. For the benefit of those who are following the debate, Bill C-84 is the refugee legislation.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill now before us reflects the hard-nosed attitude of the Minister of Employment and Immigration who put it forward-it reflects his heartless character. And I will tell you how the legislation led to a couple of further actions by the Minister of Employment and Immigration that clearly prove his lack of understanding and his lack of a humane approach to problems.
It will be remembered that the same Minister of Employment and Immigration put a tragic end to the Katimavik program for the young. The Minister could have said: 1 am curtailing the program, but I am replacing it by something just as significant. But with his obstinacy, his whip-wielding, headmaster attitude, he turned a deaf ear on representations made by the young, Members in this House, even senators, and Canadians generally-he refused to do anything, with the definite purpose of showing who was the headmaster. He clearly showed that although he has an angel face and the outward look of St. Peter, he actually has a heart of stone.
The second remark deals with the second legislation and the Minister's behaviour toward workers, middle-aged workers hurt by unemployment insurance cuts. And no later than noon today, Mr. Speaker, in answer to my questions the Minister said he did not mind if a middle-aged worker that lost his job, for example with Weston and Hygrade, was not entitled to UI benefits because he was getting a pension-that it was all the same to him, there was nothing he could do. His mind is set, he gives nothing.
And today, on the refugee legislation he has the same attitude, the same rigid approach, a basic lack of humane approach to and understanding of individuals.
February 2, 1988
Mr. Speaker, it must be mentioned that we have been recalled in August by the Minister. The Government recalled Parliament in August because it believed a boat load of refugees was coming. It requested guns, planes, F-18's that went hunting over the sea for a ship that would be coming with ten people aboard. All they found was a way to spend taxpayers' money, to have us sit here in August, but he is no better off than before he put the legislation foward. This is nothing but a scenario for prodding the people so they would oppose and fear refugees.
Mr. Speaker, the people in Quebec and Canada are humane people. People in Quebec and Canada are generous. They proved it in the past, and they still are proving it today. Just as the Canadian and Quebec people, Members of the Opposition feel that we should try to stop the illegitimate refugees who are abusing the system. But we should make sure we deal with the real culprit. I suggest that the amendments proposed by the Senate made that possible. The approach of the Minister is, whenever he believes a ship has illegitimate refugees on board, he should order the ship to leave or not enter Canadian waters; according to the Senate's proposal, which is similar to that put forward by my colleague, the Hon. Member for York West (Mr. Marchi), who is doing a fantastic job on this issue, the Minister should say simply. Well, let us take this ship into port. Let us arrest and punish the culprit who has exploited these people. But because of his attitude, the Minister is jeopardizing the lives of the passenger by turning the ships around; the Government is waiting for someone to die in Canada or abroad to become sensible and change the legislation, as it did in the case of paternity leaves.
Mr. Speaker, it seemed to me that this logical, sensible and humane approach sought to discourage those who were taking advantage of people's kindness. Concerning the bill as introduced, my colleague, the Hon. Member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan) was right to mention Nelson Mandela, a South African individual who is fighting to promote equality, eradicate Apartheid, a sort of racism based on colour ... As recently as this morning, during Jean Cournoyer's radio program heard in Quebec, someone mentioned that a person was treated like an animal because of the black colour of his skin. This individual would like to flee his homeland to come to Canada because his life is at risk. Well, the Minister of Employment and Immigration-not with the support, 1 am sure, of a great many Conservative Members who are people of conscience-would return this individual who does not meet the criteria. As a terrorist, he is unacceptable. Yet, it is only someone who wants to fight for his rights. If the Minister of Employment and Immigration had been faced with such a situation, he might have reacted more violently than Mr. Mandela did in his own country. Mr. Speaker, the problem with this Bill is that it does not make any distinctions in dealing with those who abuse the system and illegitimate refugees. It is like taking a canon to kill a fly in a room where there are 100 people. Everyone will be killed because of one fly, because of one little problem.
Immigration Act, 1976
There is another aspect. I believe that the Minister is determined to show that he is a proud man who does not give in to pressure, but in fact, he is gaining nothing. In real life, there is nothing to gain by thinking that you are right and everyone else is wrong, because the Official Opposition is not alone in denouncing the Bill introduced by the Conservative Government, and the Senate is not alone either. I believe that everyone knows that I do not hold the Senate in such a high esteem, but the Senators have played an important role in this issue and they are earning their pay. They are paid to study the Bills passed by the House of Commons and to return them to us. The Minister has to recognize that the Senators have done a good job because he was forced to accept amendments on points he had not noticed before. This shows that the Senate did a good job. Then, there are all the groups concerned, all the church groups, whether they are Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, all the pressure groups, all the people who work closely with refugees, because a refugee is not someone who has just won $100,000 in a lottery. He does not behave the same way as other people. He is fleeing his country because he is being threatened. He might have suffered for years. He might have seen his father and mother getting killed, he might have children, brothers and sisters, but he was able to escape.
We are not talking about someone who happens to teach the children of the Prime Minister. If someone else than Mulroney had been elected, that teacher would not be here. But as he teaches the Prime Minister's children, he has his papers. However, he was not being threatened in France. A refugee is someone who has to use desperate means and rely on other people who want to help him. I read in the speech made by my colleague that if such people succeed in escaping by boat, they will be refused and returned to their country of origin. However, if they succeed in finding a plane, it is a different matter and their claim will be considered. Have you ever seen such stupidity or such a double standard? "If you are a good refugee, you will come by plane, but if you are a bad refugee, you will come by boat."
Before pushing this Bill through, I believe that the Minister of Employment and Immigration should reconsider in view of the three major blunders he has already made, first, as concerns young people by cancelling the Katimavik program, then in the case of older workers by cutting back unemployment insurance benefits, and now in the case of refugees. With respect to immigration and refugees, I think that he should heed to the advice and listen to the suggestions and comments of my colleague for York West (Mr. Marchi). I think that in his comments, recommendations and claims my colleague is advocating control measures. Of course, he is suggesting an approval, but also some assistance and more humane measures instead of shooting or striking the first ones to arrive on the spot. The Senate has proposed or recommended that those who are really guilty should be punished and those who deserve help should obtain it.
February 2, 1988
Immigration Act, 1976
Mr. Speaker, before concluding, I hope that some Tory members are compassionate and not merely interested in financial matters. I know that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) is only interested in financial matters, that the dollar and not the human being is essential for him. 1 call on the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Bouchard) who is the member for Roberval and was a school principal. Perhaps as a school principal he had to be tough. He belongs to a generation where the strap was still in use. Nowadays, things have changed. We now communicate and exchange. The most brilliant children in school are perhaps the most boisterous ones. They used to be those who worked hardest, but things have changed.
Today, some people will make their mark, will innovate, because they wanted to do so and went ahead. They did not fall in line and stick to the rules. And I think that if we consider history, there were many refugees in Canada who were troublemakers. The past is a warrant for the future. Something happens all of a sudden because the Minister of Employment and Immigration thinks all refugees coming to Canada are bad people. That is false. If the Minister is heartless, insensitive, I dare hope that some of the 210 Conservative Members will prove to be humane. I am sure Conservative Members have one or two refugees in their ridings; we all have some. Before voting against the amendments and passing the Bill, they should sit down with those refugees and ask them: "Now, tell me how it was. What did you go through in your country and why did you not stay there? Why did you choose to come in as refugees and not follow the normal immigration procedures?"
After hearing the story of those people, perhaps Conservative Members will see things differently and ask the Minister to change his position and accept my colleague's amendments. Mr. Speaker, I hope this will happen in the next few days.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: IMMIGRATION ACT, 1976 MEASURE TO AMEND-CONSIDERATION OF SENATE AMENDMENTS