Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member a question about Canadians’ reaction to refugees in Canada.

I remember a situation, about 10 years ago, where a refugee ship arrived on the coast of Nova Scotia. Many people from the village, near the small town of Chester, I believe, went to the shore with hot tea and coats in order to help those people who had no clothes and no food. That was a truly Canadian response. However, Canadians’ response to MV Sun Sea was a bit different when the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Justice said that there might be terrorists aboard.

I am a little worried. What is the reaction toward legitimate refugees who are going to be detained with their families for one year under this bill? How does it reflect the generosity of Canadians? I think that is how Canadians would truly respond to young people threatened with political sanctions in their countries.

André Bellavance: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question.

Therein lies the problem. We have always said that the values of this Conservative government do not reflect Quebeckers’ values or, in many cases, Canadian values. She gives the example where people, the general public, welcomed refugees in a very humane way. That is what she described. This is not the image that the Government of Canada is going to give to rest of the world with Bill C-4.

I am also reminded of when I was younger and what we called the boat people arrived from Vietnam. They were at my school and in my class in Victoriaville. They came from Vietnam and integrated. They were refugees. I do not think that the solution or the way to welcome these people at the time would have been to take them, put them in prison because they arrived in a group and immediately and arbitrarily regard them as criminals. That is not the way to do things. Obviously, we want to avoid having individuals from terrorist or criminal groups turning up here and leading others to believe they are refugees. This happens in close to 2% of cases. Of course there are potential solutions to prevent these kinds of criminal groups from entering Canada as much as possible but, most of the time, the people who come here really are refugees. And we must welcome them.