HANSARD: Bill S-8 Immigration and Refugee Act debate and comment on Conservatives’ political tricks

Debates of June 13th, 2023, 3:40 p.m.
House of Commons Hansard #212 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session.
Immigration and Refugee Act
Government Orders

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise to enter into debate with respect to Bill S-8. People may ask what Bill S-8 would do. The bill would make changes to sanctions related to immigration enforcement by bringing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act into line with the SEMA. It would make sanctioned individuals, including previously sanctioned individuals, inadmissible to Canada.

Ukraine has also asked Canada to take this step with regard to Russians on our sanctions list. At present, the great breach of international peace and security is the primary mechanism that Canada is sanctioning Russian individuals under, and that does not currently trigger the inadmissibility provisions. That is why we have Bill S-8 before us, which is meant to fix this.

I should note, though, that what Bill S-8 would not do is address the absence of parliamentary oversight of our sanctions regime or enforcement in areas that are not immigration related; that is, the seizing of assets. Therefore, a lot of work needs to be done to fix our sanctions regime if Bill S-8 is to pass.

The bill would not fix the challenge of clarity either, for example, why the government adds some names but not others and for what reasons. Further, public communication and access to sanction lists is still subpar. We need a comprehensive review of Canada's sanctions regime. The NDP has proposed a study at the foreign affairs committee on Canada's sanctions regime, and we hope that study will take place this winter.

Canada's foremost expert on sanctions policy, Andrea Charron, has said:

While there is nothing wrong with highlighting in the Immigration and Refugee Act that inadmissibility due to sanctions is possible, this repeats a pattern whereby Canada tinkers on the margins of legislation without addressing core policy and process issues. If we are to continue to sanction autonomously with allies, we need to fix fundamental issues of policy and process.

This has been put on the public record by experts, so the bill is a step in the right direction, to be sure.

We are debating a bill that is supported by all the parties in the House, but what is happening is the Conservatives are trying to use parliamentary tools to delay progress of the work in the House. Not only are we debating this bill that everybody supports and wants to get done, but the Conservatives have moved an amendment to change the title of the bill. This is a tactic. In fact, at this moment, what we are technically debating is a motion to change the title of the bill. I have seen this play over and over again in this Parliament.

Last week, we had debate on the child care bill. What did the Conservatives want to do? We were debating the child care bill until midnight, a bill that we wanted to move forward to ensure that child care provisions were made available to Canadians. Instead of doing that, we were debating a motion to change the title of the bill. That is what we are doing again.

I find it distressing that those are the tactics on which the Conservatives repeatedly rely. The sole purpose of that is not to talk about the substance of the issues and the importance of the issue and how we can improve the legislation or how we can improve the situation for the people who need the changes, but, rather, it is a tactic that is deployed by the Conservatives to upset progress in the House, all for partisan politics. It is all for the Conservatives' own political motivation. It has nothing to do with the work that is really important for the people.

With respect to the issue around sanctions, why is this so important? We need to ensure that inadmissibility is in place. We are talking about Russians who have waged this illegal war against Ukrainians. We are also talking about other countries that are faced with sanctions as well.

However, the ineffectiveness of our sanction regime has been highlighted over and over again. In addition to the inadmissibility piece, we need to also look at the issue around sanctioning that applies to assets as well. So far, what we have seen with respect to that arena is that very little effort has been made. It has not been effective.

We are now talking about foreign interference as it relates to China. For members of Parliament, including myself, who have been targeted by the Communist Chinese Party, there is a question about sanctions applying to China as well that needs to be in play. There are a number of different countries for which we need an effective sanctioning regime.

I would urge the members of the House, the Conservatives included, to stop playing games. Let us get on with the work. We are here to do this work and move forward. It is important to pass this bill and bring forward accountability measures for sanctioning regimes.

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I appreciate a number of the member's comments. For me, it is very much about human rights and the role that Canada can play in regard to that.

What I have witnessed over the years is that Canada far exceeds, based on the population, the type of influence we have on the international scene. That is one of the reasons why it is important we support legislation of this nature and provide the sanctions.

Could the member provide her thoughts on that issue?

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, we need to actually get the proper sanction regime and one that is effective. Bill S-8 is a step in the right direction. Canada plays an important role, not just in the situation with Russia but for other countries as well, such as addressing, for example, Iran, the Iranian regime and the atrocious human rights violations. We need to bring those measures in place for other countries, such as South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and I could go on with a list. It is very important for Canada to get our sanctions regime in order.

Philip Lawrence Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Madam Speaker, my question related to Bill S-8 is on my private member's bill, Bill C-281. The NDP, supported by the Conservatives, introduced the idea in the amendment to have an international human rights strategy. Unfortunately, the Liberals decided to shoot that idea down. I still think it is a great one. Does the member agree with me?

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, there is much work to be done. Of course, my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, is the foreign affairs critic. She has been doing this important work at committee. She intends to bring forward additional work through the committee. I hope that the motions she will be bringing forward, the ideas that she has proposed on the floor there, are followed up on and studies are completed, so we can move forward in completing this important work.

It does not matter what party we are talking about. We are talking about human rights and it is above partisan politics. Let us put our minds and hearts together to do the right thing.

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for her speech on the important bill we are debating, Bill S-8.

Of course, I agree with her that we must try to raise the level of debate and move away from partisanship, particularly when it comes to important bills.

Where I tend to disagree with her is on the moralizing we hear from the New Democratic Party. Today they are telling us that we should stop playing games. I would remind people and parliamentarians present in the House that the NDP helped the Liberals pass 26 time allocation motions to shorten the debates.

This shows a lack of consideration and respect for democracy and for the parliamentarians who are elected to do that work. Our job is to come and talk and debate bills.

My question for my colleague is simple: Does she think democracy is a game?

Jenny Kwan Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, that is precisely it. Some parties in the House are filibustering debate.

What we are talking about here is a motion to change the title, adding time to the debate so that we are taking away important time to deal with other issues. This is repeated ad nauseam, over and again, to the point where we have to move forward on things, for example, the budget bill, to ensure that people get the dental care supports they need and the various other supports included in the budget. That is the reality.

We do not like to cut off debate, but in the face of some parties wanting to play partisan games and delaying the passage of important bills, we have no other choice. We have to get the job done. Therefore, I urge all members of the House to stop playing games. Let us get on with the job we are supposed to be here to do and get the bills passed.

If members have legitimate questions to ask, they should ask them and debate them, not play games to delay the passage of bills for the purpose of partisan politics.

Kevin Lamoureux Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, there is the odd occasion in which I agree wholeheartedly with what the member opposite says inside the chamber. I really appreciated her comments on why it is so incredibly important that we recognize legislation for what it is and, yes, have some debate on it. However, to intentionally prevent the passage of legislation does not do a service to Canadians.

Bill S-8 is a good example. My understanding is that we are going to get fairly good support for Bill S-8, whether that is from the Conservatives, Bloc members or New Democrats. I am not too sure about the Greens on Bill S-8, but I assume they are supporting it. I get a thumbs-up from the leader of the Green Party. I believe there is fairly wide support for the initiative.

Even on legislation the Conservatives support, they want to push the envelope in preventing the legislation from passing. The Conservative Party members are familiar with that particular tactic. When they were in government, the Conservative majority government instituted time allocation all the time.


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