Hon. Jason Kenney: Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her constant due diligence. I know it is a particular challenge to effectively be an independent member and yet participate in an informed way in debates on virtually all bills in the House. We all admire her for that even if I do not agree with the substance of her intervention here.
We did consider opposition amendments. The member does not have an opportunity to sit at every committee. However, had she been at the immigration committee during its consideration of Bill C-43, she would have heard a huge number of witnesses supporting the bill in its various aspects.
Let me just address a couple of the points my colleague raised. One was the inadmissibility of family members. In one respect the bill would make it easier for family members of people who are currently inadmissible to come into Canada. If one of the family members is medically inadmissible, currently all members of the family cannot come into Canada. We would end that broad reach of inadmissibility through an amendment in the bill, because we do not think family members should be penalized because of the sickness of one of them.
However, what we are seeking to do on the restrictive side is to render inadmissible family members of those foreign nationals who have committed human or international rights violations or been involved in organized criminality. The member says there is no public policy rationale for this, but in point of fact there is.
In the last Parliament the government was hammered by the opposition for allowing the admission into Canada of close family members of the former Tunisian dictator, Belhassen Trabelsi. There is a reasonable expectation that close family members of a dictator or a mafioso, for example, have profited or benefited from, and are certainly conscious of, the crimes that have been committed. This is one example of where there is a very sound public policy rationale to make sure that the wives and children of dictators, major human rights violators and mafiosi, do not come into Canada. Would the member not agree that is a reasonable public policy?
Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, again the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has picked the extreme examples, but the terms of this legislation are going to catch quite a lot of other people.
The disallowing of family members visiting the country is overly broad, particularly without giving them the opportunity to establish why they should be considered admissible for a family visit. We know that one person’s dictator one day is someone else’s best friend the next. I am not suggesting that we want dictators allowed into this country, but many Canadian businesses were doing a lot of business with Colonel Gadhafi and helping out his family members.
I am not suggesting that we open up our immigration system to family members of dictators, but organized criminality as a class, and particularly some of the language that is used here, is overly broad and would not apply to the Colonel Gadhafis of this world or the Trebelsi of this world, but to family members who might have a very clear reason to visit Canada and who should not be deemed inadmissible because another family member has been deemed so.