Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (Bill C-31)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do think we recognize, as the hon. minister pointed out, that this is specific legislation dealing with a specific area of immigration policy, and that there have been changes accepted.

Those changes are improvements but I am still not able to support the bill as it now stands because I believe we cannot treat a class of refugees, simply because they arrive by boat, differently from how we would treat anyone else. We could legitimately have an entire boatload of people escaping religious persecution. It would not matter the reason they had arrived on our shores, they would go to detention.

That is my understanding of the bill. I would ask my hon. friend if she thinks I have misunderstood the government’s intent?

Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, actually, Amnesty International has raised this as an issue about looking at how a group of refugees comes. It cites article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which reads:

Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. 

The same article stipulates that anyone who is deprived of his or her liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court and so on.

Other organizations are also raising concerns about how we are targeting refugees, on how they arrive in Canada and on how we are treating them differently.