Bloc and NDP attack security certificates in Parliamentposted on December 14, 2004 | in Category | PermaLink
Ms. Monique Guay (Riviere-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today, on International Human Rights Day, the government needs to examine its conscience. In 2002 Parliament modified the composition of the Immigration and Refugee Board, reducing the number of board members from two to one, and creating an appeal division. The appeal division is still not operational and the minister does not understand how urgent it is that it be implemented. How can a government that denounces the democratic deficit tolerate this delay in carrying out the will of Parliament and what is it waiting for to implement the refugee appeal division as called for by law? [English] Hon. Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this is only one part of the refugee process. We are looking, as a department, at the whole refugee process. There are many components of it that we feel need to be dealt with. There is going to be a complete review of the refugee process, including Iran.[Translation]
Ms. Monique Guay (Riviiere-du-Nord, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the appeal division is a very important part of the legislation. Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and many other groups condemn and denounce Canada's refusal to implement the refugee appeal division.
Will the government take the opportunity of this International Human Rights Day to announce the implementation of the refugee appeal division?
Hon. Hedy Fry (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a refugee process that needs reviewing and we are reviewing it. There is no point in cherry picking by taking one piece out of it today and doing another tomorrow. We are looking at the refugee process and we are reviewing it. This will be done. It is being worked on already.
Ms. Meili Faille (Vaudreuil-Soulanges, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the security certificate process causes suffering for families who see one of their members imprisoned and threatened with expulsion from Canada, as part of an unfair process which upsets the balance between security and individual rights. The current procedure includes serious infringements of basic human rights, in particular, hearings at which the accused is not present and the lack of appeal.
Does the government intend to completely review the legislation governing security certificates and stop sanctioning a legal system completely devoid of the fundamental right to the presumption of innocence?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, security certificates are one of the measures used to remove non-Canadians from this country when they pose a threat to national security. It is an exceptional measure.
Since 1991 some 27 security certificates have been issued. In fact, the security certificate, as a tool to protect the national security of Canadians, has been reviewed by the highest level, the Supreme Court of Canada. It has been found to be constitutional in terms of striking the right balance between national security and human rights.
Ms. Meili Faille (Vaudreuil-Soulanges, BQ): Mr. Speaker, is the government insensitive to the human drama of those jailed through an unjust process and does it realize the urgency of changing the security certificates to put an end to this intolerable situation in a society that calls itself democratic?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, as I said, security certificates are one of the tools we use to protect the national security of Canadians. Security certificates, while obviously controversial in the minds of some, have been reviewed by the courts. The Supreme Court of Canada has indicated that the security certificate, as a tool, is constitutional. It does strike the right balance.
I would hope that the hon. member is not suggesting that we should not use, in the appropriate circumstances, all the tools available to us to protect the security and safety of Canadians.
Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on this human rights day, serious concerns are being raised about the security certificate process. This process allows for arrest and detention using secret evidence. It suspends normal court rules, preventing cross-examination and accepting evidence by torture. It allows deportation to persecution. At least five men have been detained under this process, some now for up to four years.
Will the Deputy Prime Minister act now to protect basic human rights, end detention without charges and ensure that no one is deported to torture or persecution?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises the issue of security certificates. I have already addressed that in the context of them being one of the tools we can use to protect the safety and security of Canadians.
However, this is an exceptional remedy. That is why it has been used very infrequently since 1991 when it was first legislated. I will also point out to the hon. member that we in this country have not deported anyone to any country where they would face a substantial risk of torture. We have not done so.
Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday a student and women's activist was deported from Vancouver to Iran. This woman, who had previously been jailed in Iran for her political activism, today stands charged in an Islamic revolutionary court for leaving Iran illegally. She could face the death penalty on this charge. Her immediate family members all live in Canada.
How can the Deputy Prime Minister justify this deportation given that just last month Canada tabled a resolution at the United Nations about Iran's unacceptable human rights record and its treatment of women?
Hon. Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we have one of the most generous systems as it relates to immigration and refugees anywhere in the world, but we expect people to obey the rules. In fact, if people come here illegally they are obviously requested to leave. They have the opportunity to have a pre-removal risk assessment done. That risk assessment takes into account what the individual will face in all likelihood if deported to a particular country. At the end of the day, we have a system...