Citizenship and Immigration

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, anyone who has visited Saanich—Gulf Islands will know that it is an extraordinarily beautiful riding, but it is not known for being particularly multicultural or ethnically diverse. Therefore, I find it astonishing that 85% to 90% of the constituency cases that I have relate to immigration matters because the system has become increasingly complex. As the member for Vancouver Centre just said, the system has become increasingly focused on picking and choosing people who are wanted for a commercial basis. We have abandoned family reunification.

I have one constituent whose wife, who came from Australia, had been waiting for quite a long time for her permanent residency. In fact, it was to the point where she was exactly nine months pregnant. Immigration Canada told her she had to get back to Australia. Medically, it was not safe for her to fly at that time.

We hear heart-wrenching, horrible cases all the time, even in my riding which is not particularly ethnically diverse. These cases take up most of my constituency staff’s time.

It would be an inefficiency to make this system so extremely arbitrary and so extremely unfriendly to family reunification and to new Canadians who want to live here. I would ask my friend for her comments.

Hedy Fry: Mr. Speaker, indeed, Vancouver Centre has large new immigrant populations that have been coming from eastern Europe, from parts of Africa, from Latin America, and we see this. I have one staff member in my constituency office and that is all he does. We have watched the number of cases triple and quadruple since the government came to power and most notably within the last three years.

The stories really are heart-rending. Canada is becoming known as a country with no compassion. It used to be that we were a country of compassion. It has become a country in which people feel we are not fair, that we want to keep certain people out and we want to bring certain people in.

I do not think this will not bode well for us as we try to increase trade with certain countries that today are down, but tomorrow will be up. Even if we looked at it from a purely pragmatic and economic point of view, that ability to trade with other countries depends on how they view us.

Do they see us as that kind of gentler nation? Do they see us as that compassionate nation? Why do people want to come here? It was because of the reputation that Canada had as a place where people had opportunity, they could grow and they could be anything they wanted to be. They could bring their families and put down roots. They could be the prime minister, a minister or anything they wanted to be.

This Canada is fast losing that reputation. It is very sad. I came here because I believed in this country, and I am finding myself feeling extremely sad about what is happening.