Mr. Speaker, the tragic events of the Komagata Maru were a regrettable chapter in Canada's history. That is why the Prime Minister was the first prime minister to officially apologize for what happened to the passengers of the Komagata Maru on behalf of all Canadians.
Our Conservative government worked with the Khalsa Diwan Society to build the Komagata Maru monument in Vancouver, and we have funded other projects to educate Canadians about what happened to the Komagata Maru; and thanks to the member for Brampton—Springdale, there was a stamp released to commemorate the Komagata Maru just last week.
Mr. Speaker, this was, indeed, a disgraceful act, and we are pleased that the Vancouver police are investigating it further.
The tragic events of the Komagata Maru were a regrettable chapter in Canada's history. That is why we worked with the Khalsa Diwan Society to build this important monument and fund other projects to educate Canadians, and thanks to the member for Brampton—Springdale, Canada Post will issue a commemorative stamp to commemorate it. That is why this Prime Minister was the first to officially apologize for what happened to the passengers of the Komagata Maru on behalf of all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, if you will indulgence me a little, for more than six months, our committee has been looking at the electoral boundaries from coast to coast. I would like to thank the committee for its hard work and its teamwork on this project.
I would like to thank our clerk, Marie-France. She is the best. Michel and Andre, our analysts, got the report right and in as good a form as we possibly could. I would also like to thank our junior analyst, Charles, who was there for one day. All of the other committee supports and translations have been superb throughout the whole long process.
I would like to thank the more than 100 MPs who presented to our committee, and I would also like to thank the members of the committee, the members for Louis-Saint-Laurent, Hull—Aylmer, Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Toronto—Danforth, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Oxford, Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, Brampton—Springdale, Richmond Hill and Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley. They are a heck of a team, and they got it done well.
I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 61st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in relation to the report on the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud the member for Brampton—Springdale for all his efforts to protect youth and for bringing forward this important legislation.
I am proud as well to say that the government will continue to support this important legislation because it is consistent with our efforts to crack down on crime and make sure that our communities are safe.
Unfortunately, this approach is ideologically opposed by Liberal members. Members will remember, of course, their efforts to fight our laws to better protect Canadians against drug traffickers. That said, I call on them for once to do the right thing tonight and support this important piece of legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Brampton—Springdale for a great overview of some of the initiatives in our jobs and growth plan for prosperity. It hearkens back to our initial 2006 advantage Canada, where we focused on tax relief, on red tape reduction, on supporting innovation through post-secondary education and so much more that he mentioned and at which he did a great job.
I want to emphasize that since that 2006 economic plan, we have not only tabled budgets but successive budget implementation acts, which means that we have had days and days of debate in the House and now, with this particular budget implementation act, we are actually going to have multiple committees take a look at it. This is going to be a robust debate on these initiatives, where democracy is really going to flourish. At the same time, we need to make sure these initiatives get enacted, so we support this economy and do not have the kind of experience as has happened in Europe and south of the border.
How important is it to get these initiatives in place so they can get working to stimulate our economy and continue to create jobs for Canadians?
Seeing no other member rising on debate, I recognize the hon. member for Brampton—Springdale for his right of reply.
Madam Speaker, I was very happy to see this U.S.-based report that noted that the United States of America must, as a priority, be more proactive, both by recruiting students, post-doctorates and scholars and by following the practices of other nations, such as Canada, and that the U.S. should create a program similar to our Canada Research Chairs.
We continue to invest in science and technology, and I want to thank the Prime Minister and my Conservative colleagues as well as the member for Brampton—Springdale for voting yes to science and technology.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Brampton—Springdale for introducing this legislation and for all that he does on behalf of his constituents.
We, too, are concerned about those who would actively attempt to recruit youth into gangs and other criminal organizations. This is why I am pleased to announce to the House that we completely support the member's efforts to crack down on those who would recruit people into criminal gangs. This is consistent with our efforts to crack down on criminals and stand up for law-abiding Canadians. We are getting the job done, and I thank the hon. member.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to represent the incredible people of beautiful Langley, British Columbia.
I thank the member for Brampton—Springdale for his commitment to improving the Canadian immigration system. He is an inspiration to all of us in this House. I wish more people had the passion that he has to ensure we have an immigration system that is well protected.
This is a great opportunity to speak to this bill before us today. We do need to protect Canada's immigration system and I believe that Bill C-31 would allow us to do just that. This legislation would help us maintain the faith that Canadians have in our immigration and refugee system. Our great nation has been built on the hopes and ambitions of people from other countries who choose Canada as a home and we continue to depend on contributions of newcomers to help preserve our prosperity and the wonderful quality of life that we experience in Canada.
For that reason, Canada opens its doors to more than a quarter of a million immigrants and refugees every year. In fact, since 2006, our Conservative government has welcomed the highest sustained average of immigrants in Canadian history. Is that not incredible? We have a well-earned reputation around the world for the generosity of our immigration and refugee system.
Unfortunately, though, this generous reputation has made us a target for criminals who want to abuse our system for their own gain. I am talking about the crime of human smuggling. I am sure all members have heard of and recall the irregular arrival of the Sun Sea in our waters off British Columbia in August 2010 with its 492 passengers. That incident and others have shaken the faith of Canadians in our immigration and refugee system. They fear some immigrants may have links with organized crime or even terrorist organizations. Canadians wonder if authorities can assess and expedite the entry of so many people into Canada at once without making a mistake. They might well ask that because, frankly, our current system is not designed to process quickly such an influx of people or complex cases arising from transnational, sophisticated human smuggling ventures.
That is why a key provision of Bill C-31 would allow us to bring in new rules to deal with irregular arrivals. Currently, for example, an immigration officer can detain a foreign national entering into Canada. This would include where the officer is not satisfied or not certain about the person's true identity. The Immigration and Refugee Board reviews these kinds of detentions within two days. If the person is still in custody, the board will look at that case again within seven days. Subsequently, it can look at it every 30 days after that.
Our current system is not meant to deal with mass arrivals in one location, which is what can often happen with human smuggling. As a result, authorities do not have adequate time for complete and proper identity, admissibility and security checks. We have a problem then. Depending on the complexity of the case, a security check can take days, weeks or even months. If a person arrives with no documentation, as is often the case with people who arrive en mass, the process can literally take years to complete. The reality is that the people carrying out human smuggling know this is how our system works.
I hope that all members, particularly those in the opposition, will change their minds and support this legislation.
Under this proposed legislation, the Minister of Public Safety would declare the arrival of groups as irregular in two situations: one, if the minister believes the identity or admissibility of the arrivals cannot be determined in a timely manner; two, if there are reasonable grounds to suspect criminal elements or terrorist groups are engaged in human smuggling for profit or for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization or terrorist group.
If the minister does designate the group as an ”irregular arrival”, then authorities would detain all the individuals who have arrived under these circumstances. These individuals would remain in detention until the Immigration and Refugee Board determined they were refugees. Under the proposed changes to our asylum system, this would take only a few months in many cases. If, after a year, an individual still has not been identified and is still in custody, the board would review his or her case and decide whether there should be continued detention or release.
I want to stress that the legislation would give the minister power to order early release in exceptional cases. I also want to point out that those under 16 years of age would be exempt from detention. I want to ensure the members of the opposition hear that. This is an important change from the previous human smuggling bill, Bill C-4. The opposition members do not like to hear the truth, unfortunately, but they have heard the truth and I hope the truth will set them free.
The proposed changes would give authorities the time they need to do proper background checks into identity and admissibility. This is absolutely crucial. When individuals with ties to organized crime or terrorists slip into our country they put the safety and security of all Canadians at risk.
On one hand, these incidents reinforce Canada's reputation as an easy target for human smugglers. On the other hand, they undermine the faith of Canadians in their immigration refugee system.
Our country needs newcomers to keep us strong. We can ill-afford for Canadians to lose trust and confidence in how we welcome immigrants and refugees. Our government is determined to address these challenges head on.
Centuries ago, when the first newcomers came to our shore, they harboured no thoughts about organized crime or terrorism, as some do now. They simply wanted a better life for themselves and their families. This same wish has drawn many people to Canada ever since. In 1906, my grandpa, my gido and baba came from Ukraine to Canada for a better life. As newcomers continue to take advantage of all our opportunities, they also contribute to our collective wealth in all sense of the word.
Together, to the envy of the world, we have woven a fabric that is a model of tolerance, compassion and prosperity. We cannot take this achievement for granted though. Indeed, as I speak, human smuggling is pulling at the fabric and threatening to unravel.
Irregular arrivals, like those on the Sun Sea, are making many Canadians question the merits of our immigration and refugee system. It will be a sad day indeed if our country loses faith in the merits of what new arrivals can bring us, so we must guard the vision of Canada closely. We must refuse to let criminal elements exploit our goodwill for their own ends. We must reassure all Canadians that we are ready to strengthen our immigration and refugee system. We must act now.
The provisions I have highlighted would give authorities more tools to manage large influxes of irregular arrivals. Officials would be able to do the necessary checks into immigration security and identity in order to protect Canadians. Other provisions would hold shipowners and operators accountable for their actions, including increasing the penalty for offences under the Marine Transportation and Security Act.
There are also proposed changes to our smuggling offence, including the imposition of mandatory minimum penalties for persons convicted of smuggling. We know the opposition does not support getting tough, including mandatory minimums, but the courts need that guidance. These changes would go a long way to keep smugglers from doing their evil deeds in Canada.
We all need to get together and support this legislation. I thank the world's best environment minister for the incredible job he has done.
Mr. Speaker, I have been paying attention to the speeches this evening. I found one of the comments from my colleague, the member for Brampton—Springdale quite interesting. He said everyone in the House understands the difference between federal and provincial jurisdiction. Listening to the speeches tonight, I do not think that is true. It is obvious, for anyone who knows the jurisdictional issues, that Health Canada has a regulatory obligation to approve drugs sold in Canada, determine the appropriateness of the drugs to be sold in Canada and ensure that where the drug is manufactured is safe.
We have been hearing this evening that we should be regulating, regulating, regulating. However the truth is we cannot really regulate supply. We cannot mandate supply. I was listening to my colleague talk about reporting. We have a voluntary system in place and we are monitoring that. I wonder if he could explain to us what the federal Liberal regulations would look like so that Canadians would know?
The electoral district of Brampton--Springdale (Ontario) has a population of 131,797 with 84,239 registered voters and 221 polling divisions.
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