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House of Commons Emblem

Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration


NUMBER 084 
l
1st SESSION 
l
41st PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, June 13, 2013

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

  (0200)  

[English]

     I would like to call the meeting to order.
    I am taking a speakers list. Be patient, please.
    The meeting has been convened for 2 o'clock, and I want to say with very little notice. Some people just received their notice as they walked into the room. Considering the time of 2 a.m., I am suspending the meeting until 8:30 a.m.

  (0200)  


  (0830)  

     I am going to reconvene the meeting that we suspended yesterday.
     Mr. Lamoureux.
    I've been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be able to express a few thoughts on the motion, so I'd like to take the opportunity at this point to do so.
    The chair would ask members to be patient. We did not adjourn the meeting yesterday; we suspended the meeting. As a result, I have a speakers list now in front of me from the clerk, and we will be proceeding with that list.
    So that people who want to get on the list can do so, if they're not on it yet...I have Madame Groguhé, Rathika Sitsabaiesan, Mr. Dykstra....
    A voice: Mr. Shory is Mr. Dykstra for now. We just signed him in.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): Okay. Instead of Mr. Dykstra...well, the speakers list says Mr. Dykstra. I'll check into how that works with the order of speakers.
    Then I have Ms. Freeman, Mr. Leung, Mr. Lamoureux, Madam Sims, Mylène Freeman, John Weston, Ted Opitz, Ms. James, and Pierre Nantel. Pierre isn't here because he was subbing in yesterday, so I'm taking that name off the list.

  (0835)  

    Madam Chair, I have a point of order.
    It was Mr. Menegakis who had asked me—Pierre-Luc is back with us—to go through the list, and this is the list we adopted yesterday.
    Yes. I'd like you to clarify that, because we were all here and everybody put up their hands at the same time. You're starting with two NDP speakers. You think it would go left and right, in fairness, back and forth.
    We all put our hands up at the same time, and you start by putting down two NDP speakers. Do you think that is fair?
    The chair started yesterday—
    We all put up our hands.
    Just let the chair make a ruling on your question.
    I'm just asking a question, that's all.
    On your question, a speakers list was provided. We're not starting a new one. We're going back to the one we accepted yesterday and went through. I read out the names as I put people's names on this list.
    No, you didn't.
    What we're going to be doing—
    If you check the record, you didn't read out the names, Madam Chair.
     Well, this is the list we have from yesterday—
    But we all put up our hands at the same time.
    This is the list we have from yesterday. This is the list the chair has and this is the list the chair is going to proceed with.
    I will seek some clarification on a question that was raised.
    We will remember that.
    A voice: [Inaudible—Editor]
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): No, I actually did. I went to Sadia, then Rathika, and Rick had his hand up, and I—
    We all had our hands up.
    An hon. member: We all had our hands up at the same time.
    Actually, I have a point of order.
    Okay. I'm seeking some clarification and I will get back to all of you, so hold on to your points of order.
    The chair now has the clarification. We don't actually have that dilemma to try to resolve because Mr. Dykstra has joined us.
    I saw two hands for points of order, maybe three. I'm going to go to them in the order that I saw them.
    I'm going to start with Ms. James.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I know it's early. I know we had a late night and the meeting was adjourned abruptly, but I distinctly remember—I was wide awake. I saw Rathika's hand go up, my hand went up, and then you actually made a point of saying that we hadn't even started the meeting yet. But I kept my hand up and I believe Ms. Sitsabaiesan kept her hand up. Then the other hands all came up.
    So the fact that you have now indicated that two members of the NDP are in speaking order one and two...I'm a little bit concerned with your judgment and your biased call on the speaking order.
     I would just like to reiterate what my colleague, Mr. Menegakis, has said. It seems a little unfair, unjust, and biased when literally within seconds all our hands went up and you looked over on the left side of the table and acknowledged two of your colleagues, the NDP, over and above everyone else on this committee.
    I'd ask for a little bit of fairness and respect in this committee, and allow at least one member of the Conservatives to go in the top two positions. I will tell you, my hand was up.
    Just to reiterate, whether I go for the Conservative side of this committee or Mr. Dykstra or any of my colleagues, it's irrelevant to me at this point because I know I will get my time to speak, but I think in all fairness, you should allow one of my colleagues to go at least in position one or two today.
    The speakers list I have starts with Madame Groguhé and Madame Sitsabaiesan. Then I have Mr. Dykstra, when I saw that the hands were like this. Then I have Mylène, and then I went to Mr. Leung.
    I noticed, Mr. Menegakis, you got left off the list. I put Mr. Menegakis on the list.
    Is Mr. Shory still a committee member, or has he left?
    He's still here, and I saw his hand up. I presume it was to speak now, so his name is on the list. That's the way it is.
    Mr. Weston, I'm hoping it's a different point of order because the speakers list is—

  (0840)  

    It is. When Parliament begins early in the morning, there's this moment of silence when all members are asked to consider the guidance for the country—
    I just thought it might be a good way to frame a fractious meeting, to do the same thing.
    Yes. Thank you very much. I take that.
    I do want to remind the colleagues sitting to the left of me that if you do want to chatter and carry on conversations, please do so away from the table. When chatter builds up, it starts interfering with committee business. Let's try today to have a meeting that actually deals with the issues, and we will move forward that way. Thank you very much.
    I will be going over a few other procedural things before we actually go to Madame Groguhé to speak.
    Before we open, and we're sort of opening, we should stop, pause, and ask for that moment of guidance for the country and for the committee.
    Okay, sorry. I do apologize. Just hold on a second.
    I have to see if I have unanimous consent for that. Do we have unanimous consent for Mr. Weston's request to reflect and take...?
     Maybe I'll have you say it because I don't want to put words in your mouth.
    Following the model of Parliament that we have,

[Translation]

    …we should observe a moment of silence before the debate begins.

[English]

for guidance for our country and for our committee.
    Are—
    Having heard that, we're not going to debate this. The only thing I'm going to ask is if we have unanimous consent.
    Madam Chair, I didn't hear what was said. He started in French. Not to be disrespectful, but I didn't have the translation on.
    Out of respect for Mr. Lamoureux, I think he has the right to hear.
    Sorry. I just suggested that we begin with a moment of silence for guidance for the committee and the country, just like we do in Parliament.
    It would need unanimous consent...[Inaudible—Editor].
    Do we have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Translation]

    Yes, Madam Chair. Then everyone will be in a much more tranquil frame of mind.

[English]

    You have consent.
    I would suggest that each and every member take a minute to reflect.
    [A moment of silence observed]
    Thank you very much.
    Now I have Mr. Lamoureux on a point of order.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I'm not quite following exactly where we are. When I came in and put up my hand, it was in the hopes of being able to address the committee with my remarks on the motion that has been put forward by Mr. Dykstra related to the 30-day extension request. That was actually what my intent was. Then we got into a bit of an ordeal or question as to who's where on the speaking list and so forth.
    I didn't necessarily hear my name being announced. I went over to ask the clerk where my name was, and I could see the list. Madam Chair, the list that I saw there is a different list from what I would have seen yesterday. What I would humbly request is that we restart the list. I'm prepared to make a suggestion that we might want to consider. Given that I had the floor, I would suggest that it start with me, followed by a representative from the Democrats, then followed by a representative from the Conservatives, as a possible way out. My primary concern is that my name appear on the list.
    Yesterday I had talked about being ahead of Ms. Freeman. Ms. Freeman had generously agreed to allow me to speak before her, so at the very least I should be able to speak before her. I think Hansard would show that this did take place yesterday.

  (0845)  

     I just want to remind my colleagues of what happened last night.
    What happened was that we came back to a meeting that had been suspended, and during the period that the meeting was suspended some conversations occurred between the government side and the official opposition. When those discussions ceased, the meeting reconvened at 11 o'clock; it was the suspended meeting.
    So Mr. Lamoureux is absolutely right. At that stage we had a speakers list, and Ms. Freeman did agree, and so did the rest of the meeting, to switch Mr. Lamoureux to go ahead of Ms. Freeman. That was so.
    I want to remind people that what happened when we came back is that there was a time—and I don't know exactly when, but I would say closer to 1:30 or 2—when the chair, because of the unruly behaviour, had warned people that if the behaviours did not settle down and we got out of decorum again, the chair would adjourn the meeting.
    Based on the decorum at the table, the chair adjourned the meeting. The speakers list and everything died at that stage, with the adjournment of the meeting. Then the clerk received instructions from a chair in absentia, and the chair gave directions for a meeting to be called. A meeting was called, I came back to the chair, and we took a new speakers list.
    This is the list, and you are on it, and we will proceed from there.
    If I may, let me follow up on the same point.
    Madam Chair, I won't challenge.... I respect what it is you're saying. If by chance we adjourn, what I would ask is that at the next meeting it be recognized that I would like to speak, and I promise to have my hand up before the meeting even gets under way, and it will stay up, just so that everyone is aware that my desire is to speak.
    But thank you very much for entertaining my point.
    Thank you very much.
    Now we are going to proceed to Madame Groguhé, who will go back to the continuation of her speech.
    It is the beginning of a new meeting; you're absolutely right.
     Before she starts, I really want to remind people that when we're in a meeting and we are governed by certain rules and procedures, I think it is really respectful—if we are respectful of each other's space when it comes to talking—that we not get comments that make people feel uncomfortable or bullied in any way.
     Also, I'm going to urge people today that if they have conversations they want to carry on—I'm not talking about whispering with our staff, for we all do that—and if the level is such...please don't put the chair in such a dilemma that the chair has to suspend the meeting until we have decorum again. I just don't want to go there.
    That goes for that side as well.
    You know that right at the beginning of the meeting that is where I went to, and I'm going to apply it the same way: it doesn't matter which side of the table you sit on; the decorum rules apply equally to every person in this meeting.
    And because we are in an open meeting, I'm also going to urge people that if you have people coming from, let's say, your party, or coming in to observe or to keep you company or to support you, then please let them know that we expect a level of decorum.
    Thank you.
     Madame Groguhé, you have the floor.

[Translation]

    Thank you for giving me the floor, Madam Chair.
    Once again, we are gathered here this morning for a public discussion about the motion that the Conservatives have introduced. The motion proposes an extension of 30 days to the time allowed within which to submit a request to Parliament to expand the scope of BillC-425.
    Madam Chair, I feel that it is important to point out once more that this government has shown, and, for two weeks. has continued to show, the extent to which it is possible to use procedures for ideological purposes. Canadians have seen this in the House, where a record number of 46 time allocation motions have been introduced in order to reduce and stifle debate…

  (0850)  

[English]

     Madame Groguhé, I am going to interrupt you.
     I do apologize. It's because we have a member who had requested that the meeting be televised, so I'm trying now to seek the unanimous consent of the committee. If I have unanimous consent, we will adjourn for five minutes while the set-up takes place. If I do not have unanimous consent, then a motion has to be moved. Then the person has to be on the speakers list—I'm just letting you know what the rules are—for that to happen.
     Remember, we often sit here and we're televised. Everybody's grandmother loves to watch them on CPAC. What I'm looking for is unanimous consent. This is a public meeting. Do I have unanimous consent?
    Some hon.members: Agreed.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): The meeting will now suspend for 10 minutes while we set up.

  (0850)  


  (0900)  

     I'd like to call the meeting back to order. I remind everybody that we are being televised—I know you all wanted to know that—and to let you know that we are here discussing, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(1), the committee's request for an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces) referred to the committee on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. The committee requires additional time to consider the bill. Therefore, your committee requests an extension of 30 sitting days. That's what we are here to debate.
    Before we broke to go live on television so that all our loved ones could watch us, the person who had the floor was Madame Groguhé, so we'll go back to Madame Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    As you have just reminded us, we are dealing with this Conservative motion that is at the heart of our deliberations at this committee. The motion asks for an extension of 30 days to the time allowed within which to submit a request to Parliament to expand the scope of Bill C-425.
    A little later, I will come back to the topic of what may have raised this issue of expanding the scope of Bill C-425. However, I will just point out that this government has been showing us for weeks the extent to which it is possible to use procedures for ideological purposes. In the House, they have introduced a record 46 time allocation bills in order to reduce debate and stifle members of Parliament and Canadians. Once again, at this committee, they are showing an attitude that is inconsistent with our democracy and our work as parliamentarians.
    After going in camera right at the start of the meeting, here they are asking for the meeting to be televised. It is just a trick that I find deplorable: last night, it would have served only to show a blatant lack of decorum and of respect on their part. As my colleague pointed out in her remarks, they went as far as to say that she was playing the victim. That is going too far, in my opinion, and it did not happen here.
    After constant comings and goings, who should appear, at 2:00 in the morning, but the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. If there was ever need for evidence that this bill…

  (0905)  

[English]

    A point of order.
    I'm not sure whether it was a problem with the translation, but I heard the member opposite say that we were playing the victim. If I recall correctly, there was only one person in the committee who was playing the victim and it was because their feelings were hurt, and that was the member from Scarborough—Rouge River, Rathika Sitsabaiesan.

[Translation]

    No.

[English]

     The chair is going to rule. We're actually entering into debate. Madame Groguhé has the floor and I'm going back to Madame Groguhé.
    Please carry on, Madame Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Madam Chair, I would like to clarify that it really is an interpretation problem, I feel, because I did not say that they were playing the victims.
    Madam Chair, if we needed proof that this bill is no longer what it was at the outset, a private member's bill, that is, we had that proof yesterday evening. We certainly have confirmation that it is now a government bill. The 30-day extension in order to expand the scope of Bill C-425 shows the same thing.
    Let us tell those who are listening to us that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is perfectly capable of introducing a government bill himself. It will give him all the freedom he needs to include his own amendments that he wants to make to Bill C-425 and, not to put too fine a point on it, that he wants to impose on this committee.
    Before resuming the remarks that I was making last night, or, perhaps I should say, very early this morning, I would like to insist once more on the importance of the level of decorum and respect to which we as parliamentarians are held.
    As a result of this request for the extension and the amendments submitted during the study on the amendments introduced during the discussion on Bill C-425, this became a question of privilege. I would like to share the matter of privilege with the committee and also the decision made by the Speaker of the House in reply to that request:
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on the question of privilege—which is not truly a question of privilege—raised by my colleague from Toronto Centre. The question has to do with the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which recommends to the House that it:

    ...be granted the power during its consideration of Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces) to expand the scope of the Bill such that the provisions of the bill be not limited to the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Clearly, a question of privilege had to be raised so that we could see if the eighth report could make a claim for Bill C-425 to be extended.
    From the outset, Bill C-425, the bill the committee has been dealing with, was a private member's bill, and I can never remind you of that enough. With the request to expand the scope of the bill, here we are again discussing the procedure.
    I would like to review for you the reasons why the request should be ruled out of order. However, before I do so, I would like to set the record straight about what my colleagues have said up to now.
    When the honourable government House leader, the member for York—Simcoe, spoke last April 25, he misled the House by insinuating that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was asking for:
…the House to debate it for a number of hours and decide whether we think it is within the scope…
    As you know, Madam Chair, that is not the case at all. The report does not ask us to judge whether the suggested amendments are within the scope of the bill. On the contrary, as I will explain later, the committee has clearly demonstrated that it knows the proposed amendments go beyond the scope of the bill. In fact, the bill, which was really limited to recognizing and honouring the Canadian Forces, was all of a sudden fixed up with amendments that clearly went beyond its scope and changed it into a different bill entirely. The report asked the House to empower, or not empower, the committee to expand the scope of the bill, not to pass judgment on amendments that could subsequently be introduced at committee.

  (0910)  

    I must also add that the honourable member for Toronto-Centre clearly did not do his homework by hastily talking about adopting the report before a motion to adopt it had appeared on the Order Paper. Procedure follows procedure and things are moving quickly, but they did not really conform to the legal procedures of the House. This caused some problems and led us to turn to the Speaker of the House.
    So a committee is within its rights to ask for instructions from the House about extending the scope of a bill. In the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc are clear on the matter:
    Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example:…consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.
    That is precisely what the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is seeking to do through its eighth report. However, and I am now getting to the point of my comments, there is a limit to the instructions that the House may give to a committee. Once again, I quote O'Brien and Bosc:
    A motion of instruction will be ruled out of order if it does not relate to the content of the bill, if it goes beyond the scope of the bill (for example, by embodying a principle that is foreign to it …)
    Madam Chair, this passage is critical and fundamental, because it indeed states that the main essence of the original bill will be transformed. I will continue to quote my comments on the matter of privilege:
    That is why, Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that you must intervene and rule that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration's request for instruction is out of order. This request is far too broad and does not allow the House to determine if the committee is likely to include a principle that is foreign to the bill.

    There is some precedent where motions of instruction were deemed to be in order and were debated in the House. However, in each of those instances, the instructions were far clearer than those sought by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration today.
    When I mention amendments that are far clearer, it simply means that, when making amendments, attention must be paid to the nature of the original bill; amendments must be restricted so that they cannot alter the nature of the original bill. We have an example on April 27, 2010, when my colleague, the honourable member for Nanaimo—Cowichan proposed the following motion of instruction:
    That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, that it have the power during its consideration of Bill C-3, An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs) to expand the scope of the Bill so that a grandchild born before 1985 with a female grandparent would receive the same entitlement to status as a grandchild of a male grandparent born in the same period.

  (0915)  

    Madam Chair, that motion was very clear and was rightly ruled to be in order. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development was therefore given permission to expand the scope of the bill, but within very precise limits on the way in which the committee could do it. There were clear and precise instructions to prevent the scope of the original bill from being transformed and diverted away from its original intent. By stating its position on the bill, the House could be assured that the committee would not include in the bill a principle that would be foreign to it.
    Conversely, the motion of instruction that we have before us comes right out and asks the House for the power to expand the bill to the extent that it would not just apply to the Canadian Forces. Exactly what does that mean? How does the committee want to amend the bill so that it would no longer apply solely to the Canadian Forces?
    As it currently stands, the bill allows, among other things, permanent residents who are members of the Canadian Forces to obtain citizenship more quickly. Of course, we are in favour of that. By asking that the bill apply not just to the Canadian Forces, is the committee hinting that it would like to amend the bill to allow permanent residents working in professions that have no relation to the Canadian Forces to obtain citizenship more quickly?
    In our discussions at committee, in the presence of the witnesses we called, we have actually brought up the possibility of extending Bill C-425 to others, not just those who want to enlist in the Canadian Forces. Clearly, this private member's bill was limited to the Canadian Forces and our suggestion was ruled out of order.
    Madam Chair, this is not clear at all. How can the House make a decision about a motion of instruction like this when it is impossible to know how the committee will proceed and whether or not it will try to include in the bill a principle that is foreign to it?
    I would also add that, if this motion of instruction to the committee were to be deemed in order, it would create a dangerous precedent. If we allow a standing committee to expand the scope of a bill without precise instructions, we will be opening the door to very sensitive issues, given the current context. Let us not overlook this majority government's propensity for using private members' business to promote its own agenda. When used like that, private members' bills become a way for the government to get round the rules.
    Catherine Dauvergne, a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia appeared as an individual when the committee was studying Bill C-425. She could not have more clearly expressed the danger of asking for this kind of instruction:
    Second, such a profound change to our Citizenship Act such as the one the minister is proposing must not be done by a process like this, by a private member's bill. That process reduces the time allowed for debate and for this committee to do its work and it protects the changes that the minister is proposing. This is controlling democracy.
    We do indeed find ourselves in a situation where debates are scheduled as if the process were for a private member's bill. Those debates will not have the same breadth and scope as they would if we were dealing with a government bill or a departmental bill to which additional hours of debate had been assigned. This would not be the case for a private member's bill.
    The question of citizenship is essential; it goes so deep that it affects all Canadians. We cannot decide on a whim that we are going to change the Citizenship Act so quickly and with such little regard for the constitution as we would be doing with the expansion that the minister is asking for in order to get his amendments through.
    For the sake of our democracy and our work as parliamentarians, we must have democratic control over our procedures and over the way in which they are used. Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Examination Regulations stipulates the following:
    3. In the case of every Bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a Minister of the Crown, the Minister shall, forthwith on receipt of two copies of the Bill from the Clerk of the House of Commons:

    (a) examine the Bill in order to determine whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;…
    These examinations allow us to establish and keep our bills within a legal framework, so that we can be sure that the provisions are not going beyond the limits prescribed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The examinations are necessary and fundamental.
    By asking standing committees to expand the scope of bills to include suggestions by ministers, the government is avoiding its responsibility to examine legislation as prescribed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Examination Regulations. With the amendments suggested by the minister, we are in a situation where a private member's bill will be expanded. This makes the bill lose its original nature and turns it into a departmental bill.
    With the legal procedure associated with a government bill, we have a legal rationale that allows us to identify the content of any government bill. That is a principle of Parliament and a principle of our democratic roots in the House of Commons.
    The constitutionality of private member's business is studied only at the Subcommittee on Private…

  (0925)  

[English]

     We have a point of order.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Chair, I was just looking at O'Brien and Bosc. I noticed that when this meeting was convened we had I think less than three minutes of notice. By the time I had received my notice of meeting, it was 2:57 a.m., for a meeting that was to commence at 3 a.m.
    I'm sorry, was it at 1:57 a.m.? My apologies.
    Oh, yes, you're right. Thank you for that clarification.
    So June 13, 2013, at 1:57 a.m. is when I received the notice of meeting from the clerk of this committee. That was for a meeting to commence at 2 a.m. on the same day, June 13.
    Looking at O'Brien and Bosc concerning convening a meeting, what I'm noticing is that there is a common practice in general, Mr. Chair. The practice we've been using is to generally give adequate notice to members so that we can participate in the committee meetings that were scheduled and that we're required to be at.
    With less than three minutes of notice, I find it quite difficult for members to be able to be in their seats for a meeting to commence.
    Mr. Chair, you know that even when there are votes scheduled in the House, the bells are rung for half an hour. The general requirement is that if there are proceedings within the House, it's important that people be within half an hour away so that they can make it back to the House for the votes, because the bells ring for half an hour.
    When we have less than three minutes of notice, Mr. Chair, how is it that we are expected to make it on time to be in our seats for the meeting to commence?
    My question to you, Mr. Chair, is whether this meeting is actually in order, because adequate notice was not provided to the members to participate in the meeting itself.
    Thank you.
    Thank you. If there is no other comment on this, I'm prepared to make a ruling.
    At the end of the day, there is nothing within the rule books that provides clear answers as to how much notice is required in order to be able to hold a committee meeting. All we can really do...unless someone can point to somewhere in a rule book that says that x number of minutes or hours or a half hour or whatever is required, I think we have to reflect what have been the normal proceedings of the standing committee.
    I've been informed that standing committees as a general rule have tremendous flexibility as to when a meeting can be called. There have been situations, for example, in which a committee adjourns and within minutes will be back in a new meeting. That has occurred.
    So I would suggest that the meeting itself is in fact in order.
    Having said that, I can sympathize with you. As someone who sits on a committee, it would seem to me that unless there is unanimous consent to go forward with the meeting in a short period of notice of a meeting, as a courtesy there should be some sort of reasonable notice given, especially if there is in fact no meeting going on and it's just like an adjournment followed by another immediate meeting.
    I wouldn't want to be in Winnipeg and find out that five minutes from now there's going to be a committee meeting. I think there's a need for us to be responsible as a committee in the calling of meetings.
    I'll let the committee here determine whether or not there was a responsible timeframe. For now, what I would say is that the meeting is in fact going to continue, unless there is a motion to adjourn it, in which case I would entertain it, and we would have to have a vote for that to occur.

  (0930)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I would like to continue with the reminder that the constitutionality of private members' business is studied only at the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business before the bill is debated at second reading, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(1).
    In attempting to expand the scope of the bill after second reading, the government is quite simply bypassing the constitutionality test and seeking to be able to amend private members' bills as it wishes instead of presenting its ideas in the form of government bills that must, as a requirement, go through the Department of Justice's constitutionality test.
    The difference is huge, when one works on the assumption that a private member's bill does not necessarily have to go through the constitutionality test and is revised and studied by a subcommittee. But the principle for a government bill is quite different.
    So I will conclude by urging you to pay particular attention to the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration which, in the opinion of the New Democratic Party, should be declared out of order. A motion of instruction like this is much too broad for the House to be assured that subsequent changes made by the committee will not include concepts that are foreign to the bill and will not conform to the charter.
    Earlier, I was talking about conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and I feel that it is also an essential point in the debate we are having about this motion. Giving so much latitude to a committee will create an extremely dangerous precedent, which will most certainly used by this majority government in a partisan and antidemocratic way.
    Thank you for your attention to my remarks. To help you with your study of this important question, I am going to make available to you the testimony that resulted from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration's study of Bill C-425. I feel sure that, when you examine this testimony, you will also agree that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is out of order.
    So I will now move to the reply given to that point of order by the Speaker of the House of Commons. That reply makes us aware of the legislative principles behind the introduction of a government bill and a private member's bill. The reply also shows us the extent to which it will be necessary to define those two categories of bills, categories that differ in part.

  (0935)  

    So here is the Speaker's reply to the point of order.
    Before moving on to questions and comments, I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on April 25 by the hon. member for Toronto Centre regarding the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, recommending that the scope of C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces)be expanded.

    I would like to thank the hon. member for Toronto Centre for having raised this issue, and the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and the members for Winnipeg North, Saint-Lambert and Calgary Northeast for their interventions.

    In raising this matter, the hon. member for Toronto Centre explained that during its consideration of Bill C-425,…

[English]

     A point of order, Mr. Chair.
    We're just going to stop for a second, Ms. Groguhé.
    I've heard this ruling already. This ruling is on record. This ruling has been read by the Speaker. This ruling has been introduced in the House of Commons. I'm not sure why we'd be just reading a ruling and not speaking to the actual issue of the extension.
    We have Ms. Groguhé on the same point of order.

[Translation]

    I just want to remind my colleague that I read this ruling when the meeting was in camera. We asked for the meeting not to be held in camera. As I mentioned in my introduction, it is important for Canadians listening to us to be informed of the ruling as well.
    If I may, Mr. Chair, I will continue reading. Thank you.

[English]

    Is there any further comment?
    Mr. Menegakis.
    Yes, Mr. Chair. Madame Groguhé just made reference to something that she said in camera. I'd just like to get clarification from you that we cannot refer to anything at all that happened in an in camera meeting.
    She just made reference to something that she said in camera. She said, “I read this in camera.” I don't believe it's proper procedure to do so.
    I appreciate, Costas, the heads-up on that particular issue. I believe Sadia is actually aware of that and she will do what she can to refrain from making comments that would have been expressed in camera.
    We're going to go to Jinny, if she wants to deal with the point of order that was raised, and then we'll go back to Sadia.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
    On the same point of order, in order to argue for or against the extension, which is the motion that is before us, it is very important to put on the record why we're going to be voting one way or the other on that extension. I believe that's what my colleague is doing.
    Are there any other comments regarding this point of order? Otherwise, I'm prepared to make a ruling.
    If we take a look at House of Commons Procedure and Practice, in the second edition, I'm going to cite page 1051, where it states:
This means that, in principle, the number of times a Member may speak in committee and the length of his or her speeches is not subject to any limit.
    I do believe that Sadia was in fact relevant to the debate. How often a member actually repeats something that would have been previously stated is something that, unless it becomes overly abusive, I'm prepared to accept. So my ruling would be that there is no point of order.
    Sadia, you can continue with your comments.

  (0940)  

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    So I will continue to read the Speaker's ruling:
    In raising this matter, the hon. member for Toronto Centre explained that during its consideration of Bill C-425, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration adopted a motion recommending that the House grant the committee the power to expand the scope of the bill in order to allow for the consideration of what he called “amendments that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has asked be added to the list”.
    This is the crux of our current debate. We are genuinely concerned about the expansion of this bill.
    I will continue:
    This led to the presentation on April 23, 2013, of the committee's eighth report. He found this approach to be problematic in two respects. First, he argued that pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, committees examining private members' bills are restricted as to the types of reports they can present to the House. He argued essentially that since the eighth report falls outside these parameters, it is out of order.

    His second argument centred on the impact such a manner of proceeding could have. Specifically, he expressed concern that if committees examining private members' bills were to be allowed latitude to proceed in this fashion, the effect of this practice “will be that the government could, by extrapolation, even add an omnibus feature to a private member’s bill...”
    This is one of our concerns, Mr. Chair. Another concern raised by the possibility of turning it into an omnibus bill is, as I said at the beginning of my speech, all this latitude handed en masse to the minister to take over a bill, thereby making it a government bill.
    I will continue reading the Speaker's ruling:
    The Government House Leader explained that, in view of the differences of opinion expressed in the committee as to whether the amendments proposed were within the scope of the bill, the committee was seeking guidance from the House on the matter. In making this observation, he pointed out that this process would result in a number of hours of debate in the House on the committee report before a decision was taken.

    In his presentation the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons argued that Standing Order 97.1 does not preclude a committee from seeking an instruction from the House in relation to a private member's bill. He further explained that the committee remains seized of Bill C-425 and that its eighth report in no way supersedes the 60-sitting-day deadline to report the bill back to the House.

    At the outset the Chair wishes to clarify what appear to be certain misconceptions about the nature of private members' bills.

    The first of these has to do with the arguments made by the House leader for the official opposition and the member for Saint-Lambert in reference to the constitutional compliance of legislation sponsored by private members.

  (0945)  

    As pointed out by the member for Saint-Lambert, constitutional compliance is among the criteria used by the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business to determine non-votability of private members' bills. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, describes these criteria at page 1130, including one requirement that “bills and motions must not clearly violate the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

    The Chair is not aware of further constitutional compliance tests that are applied to any kind of legislation, whether sponsored by the government or by private members, once bills are before the House or its committees. In addition, hon. members will recall that in a recent ruling delivered on March 27, I reminded the House that as Speaker I have no role in interpreting matters of a constitutional or legal nature.

    Another apparent source of confusion has to do with the difference between private bills and public bills. Virtually all the bills that come before the House are public bills, whether they are sponsored by private members or by the government.

    As O'Brien and Bosc explains at page 1178:

    Private bills must not be confused with private Members' bills. Although private bills are sponsored by private Members, the term “private Member's bill” refers only to public bills dealing with a matter of public policy introduced by Members who are not Ministers.

    Thus both government and private members’ bills are subject to the same basic legislative process, namely introduction and first reading, second reading, committee stage, report stage and, finally, third reading. At the same time, the House has seen fit to devise specific procedures for dealing with public bills sponsored by the government and private members alike.

    For example, Standing Order 73 allows the government to propose that a government bill be referred to committee before second reading after a five-hour debate. The purpose of this rule is to allow greater flexibility to members in committee by enabling them to propose amendments to alter the scope of the measure.

    The procedures in place for dealing with private members’ bills are likewise many layered, and have evolved in response to particular situations faced by the House in the past. This is the case with the provision for a maximum of two hours of debate at second reading, which came about to allow the House to consider more items and thus to allow more private members to have their measures considered. Similarly, Standing Order 97.1 was originally brought in to ensure that private members’ bills referred to committee would be returned to the House and to the order of precedence in a timely fashion.

  (0950)  

    In the present case, it appears to the Chair that the essence of the procedural question before me is to determine whether the House has the power to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a private member's bill after that scope has been agreed to by the House at second reading and, if so, whether this can be achieved by way of a committee report.

    House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, is helpful in this regard. It states at page 752:

    Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill.

    Clearly then, by way of a motion of instruction, the House can grant a committee the power to expand the scope of a bill, be it a government bill or a private member's bill. An example can be found at page 289 of the Journals for April 27, 2010, where an opposition member moved a motion of instruction related to a government bill.

    Having established that the House does have the authority to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a bill through a motion of instruction, the question becomes whether a committee report is also a procedurally valid way to achieve the same result.

    The member for Toronto Centre is correct in saying that the explicit authority to present this type of report is not found in Standing Order No. 97.1, which exists to oblige committees to respect deadlines for reporting back to the House on private members' bills. In that respect, Standing Order No. 97.1 continues to apply.

    However, Standing Order No. 108(1)(a) does grant committees this power under their more general mandate to:

    …examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House [and] to report from time to time…

    In describing the three broad categories of reports that standing committees normally present, O’Brien and Bosc, at page 985, describe administrative and procedural reports as those:

    in which standing committees ask the House for special permission or additional powers, or those that deal with a matter of privilege or procedure arising from committee proceedings.

  (0955)  

    An example of a committee reporting on a matter related to a bill may be found in the Journals of April 29, 2008, where, in its sixth report, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development felt compelled to provide reasons why it did not complete the study of a particular private member’s bill.

    Finally, O'Brien and Bosc, at page 752, further state:

     A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

    This undoubtedly could be done only through the presentation of a committee report to the House.

    What this confirms is that the authority of the House to grant permission to a committee to expand the scope of a bill can be sought and secured, either through a motion of instruction or through concurrence in a committee report.

    O’Brien and Bosc summarizes this well at page 992:

    If a standing, legislative or special committee requires additional powers, they may be conferred on the committee by an order of the House—by far the most common approach—or by concurrence in a committee report requesting the conferring of those powers.

    Later, O’Brien and Bosc explain, at page 1075:

    Recommendations in committee reports are normally drafted in the form of motions so that, if the reports are concurred in, the recommendations become clear orders or resolutions of the House.

    Just as the adoption of a motion of instruction to a committee would become an order of the House, so too would the adoption of a committee report requesting the permission of the House to expand the scope of a bill.

    Of course, it has always been the case that instructions to a committee must be in proper form. According to O’Brien and Bosc, at page 754, such instructions must be “worded in such a way that the committee will clearly understand what the House wants”.

    It is nevertheless clear to the Chair that there is genuine disquiet about the impact of this attempted procedural course of action.
    At this point, Mr. Chair, the Speaker of the House is acknowledging well-founded and potentially genuine concerns about this course of action and about a request of this nature when made through a committee report.
    Going back to the words of the Speaker of the House:
    The Chair is not deaf to those concerns and, in that light, wishes to reassure the House that this manner of proceedings does not obviate the need for committees to observe all the usual rules governing the admissibility of amendments to the clauses of a bill, which are described in detail at pages 766 to 771 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition.
     He mentioned the admissibility of amendments, Mr. Chair. The Speaker of the House made this clarification in order to reply to the concerns raised by the tabling of the eighth report with reference to the expansion of Bill C-425.

  (1000)  

    Going back to the Speaker's ruling:
    In particular, granting a committee permission to expand the scope of a bill does not, ipso facto, grant it permission to adopt amendments that run counter to its principle. Were a committee to report a bill to the House containing inadmissible amendments, O’Brien and Bosc at page 775 states:

    The admissibility of those amendments, and of any other amendments made by a committee, may therefore be challenged on procedural grounds when the House resumes its consideration of the bill at report stage. The admissibility of the amendments is then determined by the Speaker of the House, whether in response to a point of order or on his or her own initiative.

    For all of the reasons outlined, I must conclude that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is in order. I thank all hon. members for their attention.

[English]

     Chair, I have a point of order.
     I'm noticing it's 10 o'clock. Would it be possible for us to take a comfort or a health break so that committee members can get some fresh coffee and use the facilities, and come back in five or ten minutes?
    Ms. James, on the same point of order.
    Actually, as Ms. Freeman, the member opposite, knows, any member of this committee is free to get up and help themselves to coffee. We found that out yesterday. Actually, the chair vacated the seat multiple times, so we know that's possible. And yesterday the same member left the room to use the facilities, so there is no reason for a comfort break.
     I find this discussion very interesting and I suggest that we continue moving forward. If the member desires a 10-minute break, she has other colleagues at this table who can carry on.
    Jinny, on the same point of order.
    Chair, first, to put something on the record, the chair got up exactly twice to go and get hot water, and it is not unusual for the chair of this committee to do that. I wanted to put that forward and not leave the impression that the chair was running backwards and forwards on some kind of exercise program while she should have been in the chair.
     I think the request, in polite terms, was more for a comfort break, and I think my colleague was trying to present it in such a way. But I also....
    Are the bells ringing? What is happening? I suddenly saw the lights.... Oh, the House is convening.
     I think, Chair, it would not be unrealistic for the meeting to be suspended for five or ten minutes for people to take a comfort break.
    Thank you.
    Mylène, on the same point of order, and then Sadia.
     I do want to clarify that, yes, we could all get up and leave à tour de rôle, but if every couple of hours we were to take a five- to ten-minute break, I think that would be to the benefit of all the members of the committee. We are all pretty sure we're going to be here for quite a while. None of us is going to stand down on this. If we're going to keep doing this, I think it would be to the benefit of all members of this committee if every couple of hours we were to break, simply to let everybody stretch their legs at once, so we aren't going back and forth, everybody getting up and walking around, for the next week. That would be a little less organized.
    I suggest that in order to keep our longevity going, that's what we should do.
     We'll go with Sadia, followed by Mr. Opitz, Ms. James, and then Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Sadia.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I have a simple question that follows on my colleague's comment. When a committee debates a motion, isn't it possible to ask for a break, even if just for physiological reasons?

  (1005)  

[English]

     I will make a ruling on it the moment I've heard from everyone who wants to contribute to this particular point of order.
    Thank you, Sadia.
    I have Mr. Opitz.
    Mr. Chair, we're all individuals on this committee. We're all on other committees as well. It's incumbent on individuals to regulate themselves, as we do, and as the member demonstrated yesterday. She was free to conduct personal activities outside the boundaries of this room, or stand up and get a coffee, as the chair did twice last night, and that's fine. We can do these things without having to interrupt the proceedings in kind of an all-inclusive exercise where everybody has to go to the bathroom together.
     I think that's not something that's valid, and we've just burned up valuable time debating bathroom breaks.
    Thank you.
     It's good of you to point out just how much time we have spent on the point of order.
    We still have another three people. Ms. James, Ms. Sitsabaiesan, and Mr. Shory have all indicated...so we'll continue.
    Ms. James, on the point of order.
    Thank you.
    I just want to reiterate to this committee that the reason we're here is that the government is seeking an extension to actually consider amendments to this bill. We are being delayed and obstructed through adjournments and suspensions of committee meetings by the opposition. Now we're hearing that they need comfort breaks.
     I just want to say—
    I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    Yes. We have to—
    I'm actually on a point of order.
    It's okay. We'll finish up the current point of order.
     Ms. James, perhaps you could, relatively quickly, draw your words to a conclusion. Then we'll put Ms. Sims on.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Now that I'm hearing that the opposition is calling for comfort breaks every couple of hours, it just goes to show that they want to delay this. They want to obstruct.
     Agreeing to an extension of the time for this particular bill so that we can examine the amendments is absolutely outrageous, considering that 80% of Canadians are in support of this legislation. They are in opposition to most Canadians.
    If the member is feeling so uncomfortable that she needs a comfort break, there's an easy solution. We can actually just put this to a vote right now and then she can take the break she so desires and she can rest. But if we want to debate this.... If the opposition is truly interested in talking about this particular issue, they will not try to suspend/adjourn and now take comfort breaks.
    What I'm not going to do is try to limit the discussion. I can understand and appreciate why it is people want to contribute to this issue.
    That being said, I already have a good sense in terms of what I'm going to be saying on it. For now, what I would like to be able to do is say that we'll take a five-minute suspension so that we can have that comfort break. But in the future we'll have some discussion during that five-minute break as to what might be appropriate going forward.
     Unless a government member wants to add to it, I'm just going to suggest that we go with a five-minute suspension for a comfort break.
    We'll have a five-minute suspension.

  (1005)  


  (1015)  

     We're back in session.
    Ms. Groguhé, you have the floor.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I mentioned the Speaker's ruling, which takes us back to the very heart of Bill C-425. I would now like to continue talking about the whole process, not just the procedure, that led to what happened with Bill C-425 during our committee discussions and witness testimony. Clearly, expanding the scope of this bill has raised various questions and concerns.
    As I said, this is not the first parliamentary manoeuvre brought forward to expand the scope of Bill C-425. In the spring, the government submitted a committee report to the House that was not unanimous in order to expand the scope of Bill C-425 at that time. That first attempt was subject to a point of order, to which I will probably come back later.
    The fact remains that today's manoeuvre is not the first one to unilaterally expand the scope of Bill C-425. As I mentioned, on May 21, the Speaker of the House ruled that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was in order, strictly speaking.
    However, he expressed major reservations about expanding the scope of the bill and he pointed out that there was no explicit case law on the matter. He reminded members of the dangers associated with this situation.
    Before I continue, I would like to go back to the substance of the bill and therefore provide you with the content.
    First, I will start by putting things into context. As was mentioned before, Bill C-425 proposes three main reasons for granting or revoking the citizenship of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, under the Citizenship Act. The bill provides for the following two points. First, it provides for a new ministerial power to reduce the length of residency in Canada required for members of the Canadian Armed Forces to obtain citizenship. Second, it provides for the following two things:
    (1.1) A Canadian citizen who is also a citizen or a legal resident of a country other than Canada is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.

     (1.2) A permanent resident of Canada who has made an application for Canadian citizenship is deemed to have withdrawn their application if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.
    To turn to the explicit content of Bill C-425, I will read amendment G-1, which proposes:
    That Bill C-425, in Clause 1, be amended by replacing lines 8 to 29 on page 1 with the following:

    e.1 is not a person to whom subsection [9(1.2)] applies:

    [...]

    (2) Section 5 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

    (1.2) Paragraph (1)(c) does not apply to a permanent resident who, within the period referred to in that paragraph, completed a number of years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces that is equal to the length of residency required under that paragraph less one year. However, that paragraph...

  (1020)  

    I am sorry, Mr. Chair; I think I made a mistake.

[English]

     On a point of order, Mr. Chair.
    Ms. Sitsabaiesan on a point of order.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    When I raised a point of order earlier as to whether this meeting is in order, Mr. Chair, you mentioned that it was, but if I may refer to O'Brien and Bosc in chapter 20, page 1047....
    Before I read the citation, I would like to say that you also mentioned earlier, Mr. Chair, that we do follow the written rules exactly, but when the written rules themselves do not stipulate something, precise details of X or Y, then we follow common practice and precedents that have been set by practice. This is how jurisprudence is also followed, how the legal system follows it. There's the written law and then there's the common law that judges have created over the years based on precedents they have set, based on legal decisions they have made and that become part of common practice.
    So I'd like to cite O'Brien and Bosc, second edition, where it says:
In the absence of written rules, a committee can refer to practice when the members are uncertain as to how to proceed on a particular issue. Practice may also be used as a factor to be taken into consideration by a committee Chair who is required to make a ruling. The starting point in these circumstances is to examine how the committee proceeded in the past. If the analysis must be carried further, the committee can then examine the practice of other committees of the House and the practice of the House itself, if it can be applied to the committee's proceedings.
    That's the end of the quote I'd like to read. I don't want to sit here and read the entire O'Brien and Bosc to you. Clearly, in our House of Commons Procedure and Practice manual or book, it states that when the rules itself don't provide exact certainty on a particular issue, practice is what we turn to, what we rely on. For committee meetings, the practice is that they are previously scheduled. For example, for our committee in this current rotation we meet every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:45 a.m. until 11:45 a.m.
    However, we all know that special circumstances could arise and there are ways of convening a meeting. So the chair in absentia convened a meeting. However, Mr. Chair, I do note that a three-minute notice is not what the common practice is for a new meeting to be called in this place. Looking at the practice of this committee itself in this parliamentary session from my own personal experience, and looking at the other committees of this House—just as O'Brien and Bosc says, you look at the previous practice of that committee, you look at the previous practices of other committees of this House, because the committees, of course, are creatures of the House—if those practices are not sufficient, you look at the practice of the House itself.
    For other committees, we know that notice has traditionally been more than three minutes, and we know that the practice for the House itself is a minimum of 30 minutes' notice whenever you're being convened, whenever you're being called to the House. The unplanned calling to the House is generally for a vote when the bells ring, and those ring for 30 minutes. However, Mr. Chair, this time what we had thrown at us, in our faces basically, is a three-minute notice period.
     Mr. Chair, now that I've presented some new evidence to you, I'd like you to please clarify for me if the notice of three minutes that was given to us by the chair, through the clerk, at 1:57 a.m. for a meeting to commence at 2 a.m....if that practice of three minutes' notice is actually in contravention of our House of Commons Procedure and Practice. I'd like you to provide some clarification on that, please, Mr. Chair.
    Thank you.

  (1025)  

     We will go to Mr. Opitz next, and then Mr. Leung.
    Generally speaking, I will take points of order. I'm providing a great deal of latitude in explaining the points of order, but I will also afford the same luxury to both sides of the committee so that members can feel that they can be thoroughly engaged in giving the advice on the point of order.
    Mr. Opitz, go ahead.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm having difficulty in understanding the relevance of the member's point of order, because she brought up the same point of order previously. You had been expertly advised by our clerks on that point of order and gave guidance at that time.
    In doing so, she in fact interrupted her colleague with something that I considered to be a frivolous point of order, something that had been dealt with earlier. We should be dealing with the issues in this bill, and in particular dealing with those people who would do harm to Canada's soldiers, sailors, and airmen—the Canadian Armed Forces—in potentially committing acts of terrorism against our troops and our forces at home and abroad.
    I would ask and urge the member—I'm delighted that she's learning about O'Brien and Bosc and learning the procedures of the House, but this isn't the appropriate place to do so at this time. We have clerks who can provide that expert opinion, and we should be proceeding to deal with the particular issues of—
    Chair, I'm not sure this is a point of order.
    Chair, I thought I was going to get the same latitude.
    Yes. As a courtesy, I did indicate that we'd give the same latitude for all members in being able to express themselves thoroughly. What we have is—
    An hon. member: Stop bullying.
    I was just about to wrap up.
    We'll follow then with Rathika, and then we'll go to Jinny.
    Mylène, did you put up your hand to say you wanted to address this too?
    Yes, Chair, I—
    No, not right now. Did you put up your hand?
    Ms. Mylène Freeman: Yes, please.
    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Lamoureux): Okay. That's been noted.
    Mr. Chair, I would urge, as a previous chair said, that there be decorum. Decorum is something that finds itself in using procedures, or potentially using procedures, frivolously, as with the previous member who called for a comfort break and then didn't even leave her chair.
    Mr. Chair, I would urge the members opposite to please stick to the point, to allow Madame Groguhé to carry on with the discussion of the important issues at hand—those important issues that pertain to our former colleagues serving in the Canadian Forces today—and deal with this important issue for which Canadians expect us to do the work here in Parliament, and not to be frivolous.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Leung, go ahead.
     Chair, on the same point of order, I don't think there's any precedent that says three minutes, or any amount of time, is a requirement to call a meeting. As we've experienced in the last two or three weeks in the House, votes were taken right at 3 p.m., immediately following question period, for which there is actually no time given in between.
    Therefore, I respectfully ask the opposition to quickly come and debate this point and then bring it to a logical conclusion.
    Rathika, did you want to add a comment?

  (1030)  

     Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.
    For votes that are prescheduled directly after QP that don't have any bells.... That's my point, Mr. Chair: they are prescheduled votes, so they're not votes that require our being summoned from elsewhere into the chamber; we're already in the chamber, and that's why there are no bells for those votes.
    But, Mr. Chair, when a member opposite says that you have already ruled on this point of order and that I am being frivolous in trying to respect the rules of this place...I find it interesting that a member of the Conservative Party thinks it's frivolous to follow the rules. I am trying to follow the rules that are outlined for us. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, written by O'Brien and Bosc, is what we follow. I'm reading it to you and asking you for clarification, for interpretation, because that is your duty as the chair. I think I'm within my rights to ask the chair of a committee meeting to follow the rules outlined for a committee meeting and for the practices to be followed.
    I don't appreciate the credibility of the point of order or the credibility of a member of Parliament trying to follow the rules of Parliament to be questioned or to be laughed at.
    Once again, Mr. Chair, what I request is for you to provide some clarification as to whether this meeting is in order, and also to provide some clarification as to whether three minutes' notice is actually following what our common practice is.
    As written in O'Brien and Bosc, in the absence of written rules, a committee should refer to practice. There are no written rules is what you had advised me earlier, and I haven't been able to find any written rules just yet. I might be able to in a little while because I'm going to continue reading, but I want to know if this is our common practice, to provide three minutes of notice for members to be summoned to a committee meeting.
    Thank you.
    We're going to go to Ms. Sims, Mylène, and then Devinder.
    Just so committee members are aware, I already have a good sense of how it is I'm going to be ruling on this matter, but I don't want to limit at this point. I will consider limiting, but at this point I won't. If people can keep their remarks relatively short, that would be appreciated, but I'm not trying to put time constraints per se.
    Ms. Sims.
    I'm going to pass because I'd like to get back to hearing what Madame Groguhé has to say on this—after you have ruled, of course.
    Ms. Freeman.
     Chair, I understand that we want, obviously, to get back to the debate. That being said, in reaction to having heard my colleague say that this point was frivolous, I felt it was important. My constituents elected me to come here to speak on behalf of them, and in order to do so, I need adequate notice when I am going to be called to a meeting or called to a vote.
    I don't think this is in any way, shape, or form frivolous. If we as members are expected to show up just anywhere within the parliamentary precinct with three minutes' notice, I very much doubt that it is a practice any parliamentarian in this House, past or present, would agree with, without prior consent or having been informed prior to that three-minute notice.
    I genuinely believe that this is a point that we as members have a right to come back to, have a right to look at and continue debating; that it is nowhere near frivolous but actually gets to the crux of what it is to be a representative, a politician, an elected MP in this House and in these committees: whether or not I am able to come to the meetings I am supposed to be at.
    Let's say I was in 131 Queen Street and had to come to Centre Block. There is absolutely no way I would make it in three minutes. I think that is something that all members here understand, and without any prior consent or information, I cannot plan for it. Something we are currently doing, right now, is to look into that, because this is not something that I think is going to be acceptable for any members of this House.
    For my colleagues to have called it frivolous is genuinely very insulting. To say that my ability to come and sit on this committee, as I am a member of this committee, and to only receive three minutes of notice.... I barely had time to walk down the hallway of Centre Block at 2 o'clock in the morning when this happened.
    For my colleague opposite to say that it's frivolous really gets to whether or not he thinks I'm a legitimate member who has a right to sit at this committee. I genuinely am very insulted by that. I believe this is an issue we should continue to think about.
    I really do appreciate, Chair, that you have given me the time to talk about this and that we can continue to look at whether this is really a question of our privilege as members.
    Thank you.

  (1035)  

    Thank you, Ms. Freeman.
    Mr. Devinder Shory.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I won't make a long speech, because I know that the Canadians watching these proceedings at this point want to know why the NDP is blocking my private member's bill, which is seeking amendments to strip the citizenship of violent convicted terrorists. That is the issue here.
    I understand, Mr. Chair, that we as members of Parliament have the right to call points of order as many times as we wish and that chairs also have some rights to adjourn, cancel, or suspend the meetings unilaterally. I just want to put on record, in the point of order about the three minutes' notice or thirty minutes' notice, so that Canadians know how this evolved, that the NDP chair unilaterally suspended the meeting. Without consulting, she adjourned the meeting previously. She basically, in my view, abused the process and abused—
    I would like to speak on a point of privilege, Chair.
    Let me just have everyone stop for a moment while I confer with the clerk.
    Ms. Sims, we'll have to allow Mr. Shory to conclude his comments. If things start to pick up in terms of emotions or whatever it might be, what we'll probably end up having to do is ask that points of orders and comments be very short and concise. I'm prepared to do that, but for now, Mr. Shory, if you could, think about somewhat winding down your comments—
     Chair, if I may—
    Jinny, we'll have to put you on—
    Chair, with your indulgence, I really feel that our intentions have been implied and stated. I take a great deal of concern around that. As to what was motivating the chair, what happened, I am quite prepared to go on record and explain exactly why the chair did what the chair did. I am prepared to do that after the point of order.
     After we're done with Mr. Shory, we'll let you speak on the issue or raise another point of order.
    Mr. Shory, you can continue.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'll wrap up by saying that I urge you, the chair, to cut down the time on points of order. Of course, we all have the right, but we should limit the point of order. As you have seen, and as I have been seeing, whenever this side of the table is speaking on a point of order, the other side interrupts right in the middle of that point of order.
    Please, let's respect the taxpayers' time, let's respect the House proceedings, and let's get to the point. The NDP should tell Canadians their position. Why do they want to defend the citizenship of convicted terrorists? That is the issue. I'm very interested in listening to Madame Groguhé and other NDP members clarifying their position. Rather than talking about the procedure, etc., they have to come clean.
    Thank you for hearing me.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Menegakis, and then we'll go to Ms. Sims.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    Simply to put some perspective on the situation, Mr. Chair, we were all meeting here in this very room last night when the meeting was abruptly adjourned by the chair and reconvened a number of minutes later. I believe the impression that members opposite are giving is that somehow they were being called in here and they had to come from...I heard a member opposite say 131 Queen, possibly, or from home, or whatever, as if to give the impression that this was a meeting that was abruptly called in the wee hours of the morning so that people didn't have a chance to get here.
    In fact, Mr. Chair, I want to remind honourable members, certainly on both sides over here, that not only were the members present in the building and within a minute's walk away, but.... As you know, we're staffed quite well at these meetings. Our staff is here, and I can personally attest to the fact that NDP staff was present in the room for the entire time, even when some of the NDP members—I believe all of them—walked out of the room. You yourself, Mr. Chair, were here in that period of time.
    These delays and these games are in fact frivolous.
    What is definitely correct in the statements I heard is that we're all here to represent our constituents. As my constituents want to know why I'm here in the wee hours in the morning, I'll explain to them the reasons why I'm here, some of which Mr. Shory quite eloquently expressed when he seriously raised the question as to why there would be any opposition, really, to a bill that seeks to strip citizenship from those who perpetrate crimes against our own Canadian troops, for example, as this bill so correctly does.
    Mr. Chairman, in coming to my conclusion, while I appreciate that there's a great amount of partisanship here and people want to jostle their positions and pretend they're fooling Canadians...Canadians are not fooled in any way, shape or form. We've been sitting in this meeting, which has been convened now for the better part of the second day. We sat until the wee hours of the morning. Every member knows that these are procedural games that are being played by the NDP to suspend, to adjourn, when they're standing outside the door, conferring with their staff in the corners, in meeting rooms, in the lobby.
    To suggest in any way, shape or form that a meeting was convened and in some way a member's privilege in representing their constituents was somehow violated because it's possible they would not have been near the precinct at 1:57 a.m. is untruthful, disingenuous, and definitely frivolous.
     I wanted to go on the record and say that to this particular point of order.
    Thank you.
    Right now we have Ms. Sims.
    Before Ms. Sims speaks, I have an appreciation in terms of the process and what has been happening over the last 24 hours in regard to the committee. Having been a parliamentarian for over 20 years, I understand process. I understand it quite well.
    This time round, I'm being very generous in allowing members to speak at length on the point of order, so that we can provide ample opportunity for people to be able to express themselves, believing that in future points of order I will be a lot more concise and to the point. So I allow this opportunity. It will be the last opportunity where I am going to allow individuals to go on at great length on points of order.
    Right now I have Ms. Sims, and then after Ms. Sims we'll be going to Ms. Groguhé. And do understand that I already know how I'm going to be making the ruling.
    Ms. Sims, the floor is yours.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I just want to stress that, absolutely, we started our meetings on Tuesday morning at 8:45, and yesterday we did suspend, with the consent of all parties, to see if we could find a resolution. A resolution could not be found, and it was with the agreement of the parliamentary secretary that we reconvened at 11 o'clock last night. During that time, let me say that members of the committee were rather rowdy and the behaviour lacked decorum, to put it politely. The chair had to, and did at one stage, suspend the meeting for five minutes in order to bring back decorum. There were members who insisted upon speaking even after the chair had hit the gavel and asked for order, and the chair made it very clear, on more than one occasion, that if decorum did not return and people were not prepared to listen.... And I'm not going to go into each and every thing I said, though I could, because I really do want to get back to listening to what Madame Groguhé has to say. At that stage, after giving fair notice, I was left with no choice as a chair but to adjourn the meeting.
    At that time, the government—I'm presuming it was the government representatives—phoned the chair, who was on a trip with the Prime Minister, and knowing that there are two chairs here, two vice-chairs, they bypassed the vice-chairs, went to the chair, and got the chair to direct the clerk to call another meeting. That meeting was called, and we went into that meeting. So a new meeting started at that time. It was not a suspension. We came back into the meeting, and when the legitimacy of that meeting.... There were some concerns around some of those issues, and at that time I suspended.
    We've come back. We've been in this meeting now, I would say, since 8:30 this morning.
     I just wanted to get that on the record. This particular parliamentarian, while in the chair, was not, and would never be, frivolous with the responsibilities of the chair and did not adjourn on frivolous grounds. I would say she adjourned on grounds that any chair would be the most reluctant to adjourn on, and that is because the behaviour of the members lacked decorum and was not what it should have been.
    Thank you.

  (1045)  

    Thank you, everyone, for participating.
    I do want to conclude where I picked up the last time I discussed this issue, and that is that unless someone is able to demonstrate a clear rule within any of the rule books we often resort to in being able to raise the point of order...I don't believe there's anything that says the committee has to give x minimum number of minutes' or hours' notice, ultimately, in this context. Committees are masters of their procedures and proceedings. There is, I suspect, a great deal of frustration on both sides of the House as to what has transpired over the last 24 hours.
     I'm going to rule that the committee should just continue on. Ms. Groguhé had the floor, and we'll go to her and continue to listen.
    On points of order in the future I would ask that you start by giving me a citation, and then limit it to, let's say, a minute. Thank you.
    Ms. Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I will continue then. Perhaps I should first remind you of what I have been saying this morning, since I was interrupted.
    If I may, Mr. Chair, I will go back to Bill C-425, which is a private member's bill. I will first remind you of its purpose and provide you with a little background. In this context, I will also talk about its substance and remind you of the bill's title, which is quite telling in terms of the bill's scope. If the bill were expanded to include the amendments introduced by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, even the title would no longer fit the proposed content. Let me remind you that the title of this bill is An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces).
    The bill introduced by our colleague Mr. Shory was definitely talking about acts of war, not of terrorism. In fact, the minister's amendments are so broad that they would have a significant impact on Bill C-425, by creating two classes of citizens. I think that is an important point we need to keep in mind. However, that will have little or no impact on terrorism. Actually, if we include the additional amendments, Mr. Shory's bill will no longer promote citizenship, but it will devalue the fact of having dual citizenship. Quite clearly, that goes against the principle of fairness in law and it brings in an arbitrary component, as well as an idea of discrimination, as I mentioned before.
    In terms of the context of this bill, let me remind you that Mr. Shory wants to reduce from three to two years the required years of residence in Canada for a member of the Canadian Armed Forces wishing to obtain citizenship. In so doing, the bill proposes that a citizen or a legal resident of a country other than Canada who has another citizenship and who engages in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship. In addition, a permanent resident of Canada who engages in such an act of war is deemed to have withdrawn their application for Canadian citizenship.
    I will therefore read what the bill says:
    
    1. (1) Subsection 5(1) of the Citizenship Act is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (e) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

    (e.1) is not a person to whom subsection 9(1.2) applies; and

    (2) Subsection 5(4) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    (4) In order to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada, and notwithstanding any other provision of this Act,

    (a) the Governor in Council may, in his discretion, direct the Minister to grant citizenship to any person and, where such a direction is made, the Minister shall forthwith grant citizenship to the person named in the direction; and

    (b) in the case of any permanent resident who is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who has signed a minimum three-year contract and who has completed basic training, the Minister shall, on application, reduce by one year the required years of residence in Canada for the purposes of paragraph (1)(c) or subsection 11(1).

    2. Section 9 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

    (1.1) A Canadian citizen who is also a citizen or a legal resident of a country other than Canada is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.

    (1.2) A permanent resident of Canada who has made an application for Canadian citizenship is deemed to have withdrawn their application if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.

    3. Subsection 11(1) of the Act is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (c) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

     (c.1) is not a person who has ceased to be a citizen by virtue of subsection 9(1.1); and

  (1050)  

    Mr. Chair, if we take a look at Bill C-425, we see that the first page is the cover page that mentions the title of the bill. On the second page, there is a short summary. On the third page, we see the subsections of the Citizenship Act and the desired amendments.
    Mr. Chair, when this private member's bill was referred to the committee, we quickly reached a unanimous conclusion about its scope and limitations, as well as the need for clarifications and amendments to improve it. That is actually why it was referred to committee before second reading. Of course, we had no idea then that the amendments that the committee and various parties were ready to bring to this bill would go beyond its scope and purpose, which is to honour the Canadian Forces.
    We discussed it and listened to witnesses before reaching the unanimous conclusion to appropriately recognize our armed forces. One way to recognize and honour the armed forces is to make it easier for permanent residents to obtain citizenship so that they can strengthen the number of our military men and women serving our nation.
    That said, Mr. Chair, when the minister himself appeared before us and told us that he might propose additional amendments to Bill C-425, we obviously wondered about the new scope of the bill. Mr. Chair, I stress and reiterate that we were concerned right away about the possibility of new amendments being added to the bill to include measures that no longer corresponded to the initial bill at all. That is why we in the official opposition have expressed our deepest concern and clearly pointed to the magnitude of the changes made to the initial bill through these new amendments. We are simply noting that, by continuing down this path, making additional amendments will distort the bill to such an extent that this bill will no longer be a private member's bill, but rather a government bill altogether.

  (1055)  

    I would like to remind you that, since this bill is no longer a private member's bill, but rather a government bill, from a minister in this case, the minister could himself prepare a government bill with the amendments he wants to make to Bill C-425.
    So concerns and questions definitely come to mind. The motion we are debating today dealing with the 30-day extension of the bill is not in order. In that context, I will continue to refer to some of our discussions in committee on Bill C-425.
    Initially, we supported this bill with good will. We actually voted to have it sent to committee to be amended and to move forward the way it was supposed to in the beginning, with a view to honouring the Canadian Forces. The goal of the bill was to create another pathway to integrate permanent residents, to underscore the incredible worth of Canadian citizenship and to honour the contribution of our brave men and women in uniform. Clearly, we could not be against the intent of a bill like that, on the contrary.
    This diversity is one of our country's characteristics. Canada's diversity is incomparable to other countries and I think we are fortunate because of that. Initially, this bill was supposed to specifically allow permanent residents, who represent this diversity, to enrol in the Canadian Forces. Under those circumstances, we were in agreement. We were all for bringing this diversity to our military. We actually supported the idea of fast-tracking Canadian citizenship to reward the dedication of permanent residents who serve in the Canadian Forces. We were also in favour of Canada's diversity being reflected in the Canadian Forces.
    But now some aspects of the bill dealing with applications for renunciation of Canadian citizenship and the withdrawal of applications for Canadian citizenship are problematic. As stated, the bill proposes that a citizen or a legal resident of a country other than Canada who engages in an act of war against the Canadian Forces is deemed to have made an application for renunciation of their Canadian citizenship. Similarly, a permanent resident who engages in an act of war will be deemed to have withdrawn their application for Canadian citizenship. However, the bill does not clearly indicate whether legal proceedings are needed to determine whether someone did engage in an act of war and does not specify who would make that decision. That is one of the bill's shortcomings. We talked about that issue in committee. We were supposed to explore it further and decide on amendments that would address this shortcoming.
    In addition, some key terms were not defined. For instance, the term “act of war” is not defined in Canadian law. Likewise, the term “legal resident of a country other than Canada” is not defined.

  (1100)  

    We still had to deal with a bill that, as I have just described, had a great deal of limitations and shortcomings. In a way, we had to take a second look at the bill and its limitations in light of its purpose of honouring the Canadian Forces, instead of extrapolating under the pretext that the minister wanted to make amendments to this bill. But there was so much extrapolation that the initial bill clearly became a government bill. Let me remind you that the minister will have full latitude to introduce a bill like that if he wants.
    I also wanted to stress the fact that the major changes made by the Conservatives to the Canadian immigration system have not made it more effective or fair, unfortunately.
    The NDP supports the idea of Canada's diversity being better reflected in the Canadian Armed Forces. However, the circumstances under which Canadian citizenship could actually be revoked or an application for citizenship withdrawn must fully comply with the law and follow the normal legal process. Yes, it is true that some witnesses talked about the concept of natural justice, where anyone can have an opportunity to defend their own situation or case, since that is provided for under the law. Since many aspects of Bill C-425 had limitations, the justice system would not be allowed to have a say in a measure dealing specifically with the potential withdrawal of citizenship.
    Witnesses clearly told us that this was an arbitrary way of doing things. This is really a situation where the rule of law has no place, which is not normal. Let us not forget that, constitutionally speaking, we have the charter to give us the necessary benchmarks so that every individual has a right to a defence and to an appeal under any circumstances.
    In addition, we must not forget that this bill will create two classes of citizens, those with only one citizenship and those with more than one citizenship. Those with more than one citizenship would quite simply run the risk of losing their Canadian citizenship, even if they were born in Canada and have never gone to those other countries whose citizenship they have.
    If we take into account those considerations, it is clear that statelessness is a possibility. When we talked about the implications, witnesses told us that we really had to be rigorous and pay attention to potential situations of statelessness resulting from a bill like this, since it makes it possible to withdraw the citizenship of people who, for whatever reason, would not be able to establish their second citizenship.
    They also mentioned that there were similar measures in other countries that could also lead to statelessness. One of the witnesses clearly mentioned that this was likely to lead to a race between countries to revoke citizenship. It would simply be a matter of which country would be first to revoke the citizenship of a person who committed a particular act. As a result, we were told that an actual bidding war for withdrawing citizenship could take place between various countries.

  (1105)  

    Another very important dimension is the risk of children being forcibly enlisted in the army by adults who give them weapons and allow them to play soldiers in the same way an adult enlisted in the army would. Those child soldiers can therefore also be affected by a bill like that. Actually, their citizenship could be revoked for having participated in acts of war in the past, while they are not responsible for being forcibly enlisted in the armed forces.
    Statelessness was therefore at the heart of our debates on Bill C-425.
    I would also like to go back to the issue of citizenship. By having two classes of citizens, those with Canadian citizenship only and those with dual or multiple citizenship, this bill imposes an additional penalty, which is not related to the crime, but rather to the fact of having dual citizenship. That creates an arbitrary and discriminatory concept. As a result, individuals could be charged with crimes they have not committed, just because they have dual or triple citizenship.
    I found the comments of one of our witnesses very wise. He drew a parallel and said that citizenship was not like a driver's licence that could be revoked from any offender who went over the speed limit or caused an accident. We really must keep that in mind. Citizenship is much more than a driver's licence, and our role is not to revoke it from offenders in any way, shape or form.
    In addition, this bill is discriminatory since some people are not even aware that they have dual citizenship. What will we do with all those people? In this case, witnesses told us that some people don't know that they have dual citizenship.
    This bill is arbitrary because it imposes a penalty that cannot be applied to everyone, by stripping some people of their citizenship. This bill is also dependant on what other countries in the same situation as ours do and on many other factors such as the number of citizenships that people have.
    As I said, distinctions are being encouraged between individuals. Of course, the content of Bill C-425 is not complete. The limited scope of the bill means that there are a lot of gaps that need to be filled. However, by making additional requests and proposing amendments to completely change the bill, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism seems to go beyond the mandate of this committee.

  (1110)  

    The bill also provides for discretionary powers. Once again, we find a provision in a bill that allows for additional discretionary powers. In fact, appeals will not be governed by specific rules and will depend on a political will.
    Granting discretionary powers through a bill means ignoring all our legal and court benchmarks, which I think is dangerous. The government will grant itself the power to interfere in decisions, to take the position of a judge or a court and to decide whether or not to revoke the citizenship of a given individual. In addition, the right to appeal, which is a legal procedure, is not even proposed in this case. Under these circumstances, clearly, the line between politics and the law is being completely erased. We are at a point where the minister can give himself the power to make rulings on cases, which should be the responsibility of the courts.
    I would also like to turn to what witnesses told us about the scope of Bill C-425. Clearly, we applauded the possibility of fast-tracking the citizenship applications of permanent residents. However, the remarks of some witnesses enabled us to understand that the number of permanent residents affected by this bill would be minimal.
    It goes without saying that questions come to mind. Given that approximately 15 permanent residents are recruited annually by the Canadian Forces, why would we have a bill that has a negligible impact? Its purpose is to honour the Canadian Forces and to give them an opportunity to be more open to diversity, but given those numbers, we are wondering whether the objective actually corresponds to the intent expressed in this bill.
    It was important to look at that together in committee. The bill being limited in its application, the honouring of the Canadian Forces became purely symbolic. So are we still talking about symbols, are adjustments being made or are we going to continue to debate the substance of this bill? Our witnesses told us nonetheless that, with a limited scope, the result would be a symbolic honouring of the Canadian Forces rather than a genuine honouring, which was the intended effect.

  (1115)  

    The government keeps throwing around the possibility of making Canada safer and the deterrent effect of this bill. Mr. Chair, we know full well that this bill will not have any real deterrent effect on terrorist acts or any other crimes. Witnesses told us so. We also know that, in the U.K., for instance, 13 revocation procedures have been brought forward since 2002. Basically, there is no real reason for making those amendments to the bill.

[English]

     I'm sorry, Ms. Groguhé....
    [Inaudible—Editor]...cancel your flight tomorrow.
    Excuse me, Chair. Is there a point of order? There is chatter going on while we have a member speaking.
    Sorry. My apologies.
    Ms. Sims has a very good point.
    I think we're getting close. I understand that the bells have actually been ringing. At this point we'll have to suspend until after the vote.
    I appreciate your comments, Ms. Groguhé. They were succinct and you were very passionate.
    We will remain in suspension until after the vote.

  (1115)  


  (1210)  

     We are going to reconvene at this time.
    Sadia has the floor, and I would ask that people pay attention as she delivers her speech.
    Sadia, the floor is yours.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I will continue then. I was talking about the shortcomings of Bill C-425 and the repercussions of the provisions in the bill.
    I would first like to go back to the two classes of citizens, which I mentioned. Clearly, according to this bill, Canadian citizenship can be considered a privilege and can be revoked just like a driver's licence can. However, we are not talking about a traffic violation for which someone's driver's licence may be suspended. We are talking about people's citizenship, after all.
    Let us look at the legal aspect. Bill C-425 imposes a double penalty on those affected by the initiative, because a legal penalty might be combined with a revocation or withdrawal of the Canadian citizenship. That is commonly known as a double penalty. Obviously, people with dual citizenship would be subject to a harsher ruling than those who solely have Canadian citizenship.
    To substantiate my comments, I would like to refer to some presentations that were given at our committee meetings. They clarify in a very relevant and meaningful way all the discussions that we had in committee regarding Bill C-425. They also provide additional information on whether this bill is appropriate and whether it is appropriate to expand its scope.
    I will start by reading the comments made by the Canadian Bar Associations regarding Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces):
    Dear Mr. Tilson:

    I am writing on behalf of the National Immigration Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA Section) regarding Bill C-425, Citizenship Act amendments (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces). The CBA is a national association of over 37,000 lawyers, notaries, students and law teachers, with a mandate to promote improvements in the law and the administration of justice. The CBA Section comprises lawyers whose practices embrace all aspects of immigration and refugee law.

    Citizenship and the rights and obligations that flow from citizenship are the fundamental cornerstones of a democratic society.
    I think those comments are fundamental because they really place the concept of citizenship in a context of paramount importance for our democratic societies.

  (1215)  

    Bill C-425 would amend the Citizenship Act to deem dual citizens who “engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces” to have applied to renounce their Canadian citizenship. The CBA Section opposes such a significant alteration of the nature of Canadian citizenship without a greater opportunity for discussion and participation in the drafting process.
    As you can see, the section emphasizes that we are dealing with a major amendment to the very nature of Canadian citizenship. As I said earlier, it is not the same thing as having your driver's licence suspended because of an offence. We are talking about a fundamental precept of our society.
    The Bill proposes to create two classes of citizens. Dual citizens would risk losing Canadian citizenship in certain unclearly defined circumstances, even if they were born in Canada and had lived their entire lives here.
    What is this bill trying to do? As the Bar noted, someone born in Canada who committed any wrongdoing would lose their citizenship de facto. As a result, this type of designation would create a category of first-class citizens, if you will, and a category of second-class citizens. This principle is completely and utterly in disagreement with the very concept of citizenship, according to which, in principle, an individual who is a member of a nation is a full-fledged member.
    Although it is implied in some of the public discourse on the Bill that it targets naturalized citizens, it does not in fact make that distinction. A naturalized Canadian who does not have another nationality or had renounced their other nationality would be protected from loss of Canadian citizenship. A citizen born in Canada who had acquired another nationality through their parents or other means would, however, be at risk of losing their Canadian citizenship even if they had remained in Canada since birth.
    Earlier, I mentioned that some people were not even aware that they had dual citizenship. This means that they would be caught off guard if this provision of the law would inadvertently left them without their Canadian citizenship.
    The CBA Section is troubled by comments from the government suggesting that substantial additions could be made to the Bill in the review by this committee. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has suggested that the Bill may be expanded to include loss of citizenship for individuals connected to certain acts of terrorism. Without these proposed amendments, it is difficult for the CBA Section to comment, although our experience with the breadth of the “terrorism” sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act gives reason for concern.

  (1220)  

    In the opinion article, the Minister says ”there should be a high legal threshold for triggering deemed renunciation of citizenship, with appropriate legal safeguards.” We agree. However, the Bill provides neither protections nor clarity. The concept of “act of war” is not defined in the Bill, nor is there a clear reference to a definition elsewhere. Given the nature of contemporary warfare, defining the limits of an “act of war” could prove to be a challenging task. Considering that even the most egregious criminal offences would not put Canadians at risk of losing their citizenship, the precise nature of activities that might carry such a penalty should be very clearly defined.

    Should the government wish to make a critical change to the nature of Canadian citizenship, it would be more appropriate to do so by presenting its own Bill to Parliament...
    Mr. Chair, this relates to the key issue that we started with a private member's bill that was expanded only to become a government bill. Our questions and concerns have also been shared by our witnesses. As illustrated in what I just read, the Canadian Bar Association also refers to this aspect. In addition, the CBA feels that:
    ...it would be more appropriate to do so by presenting its own Bill to Parliament and providing the time and opportunity for adequate consideration and public discussion.
    Mr. Chair, in this context, the legislative procedures that usually take place must be followed. In other words, debate must take place and the same amount of time should be allocated to debating this issue as the amount of time usually allocated to debating a government bill. That would make it possible for everyone in the parliamentary precinct, for every member of the House to debate a very sensitive and important concept and dimension of our society. As a result, the debate, in this case a public debate, can be conducted properly, as the Canadian Bar Association suggests:
    Informed debate and discussion are at the core of the democratic process of legislating.
    Mr. Chair, let us remember that the democratic process is an essential process for our House of Commons without which we would not have a reason to exist or we would not be able to represent our constituents. Without this process, we would not be able to make public some important changes that are part of such a broad context that, democratically speaking, we need to be able to discuss them freely.
    Yours truly,

  (1225)  

    I will continue by reading the very enlightening comments sent to us by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG). The comments were submitted to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on April 17, 2013.
    The ICLMG is a pan-Canadian coalition of civil society organizations that was established in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The coalition brings together 39 NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups, environmental organizations, human rights and civil liberties advocates, as well as groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada. Active in the promotion and defence of fundamental rights within their respective sectors of Canadian society, ICLMG members have come together to share their concerns about the impact of new anti-terrorism legislation and other anti-terrorism measures on civil liberties, human rights, refugee protection, minority groups, political dissent, governance of charities, international co-operation and humanitarian assistance.
    Mr. Chair, that shows the magnitude of the issue and all the ramifications of these new legal provisions that could be implemented. They could have a major impact on the granting or retention of Canadian citizenship.
    In the introduction, the monitoring group says:
    Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces) is a private member’s bill, introduced by Devinder Shory, MP. The bill would allow permanent residents who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces to obtain Canadian citizenship more quickly, and would provide for Canadians to be stripped of their citizenship if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces.

     Bill C-425 is currently before committee. On 21 March, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration told the committee that he is proposing a number of amendments to the bill. Among these is an amendment to have the power to strip citizenship of people who have been convicted of various terrorism offences.
    Mr. Chair, the monitoring group provides the following explanation in a footnote:
    The exact wording of the amendment was not tabled, but the Minister proposed that citizenship could be stripped from “those who've served as a member of an armed forces of a country or as a member of an organized armed group that was engaged in an armed conflict with Canada; or have been convicted of high treason under section 47 of the Criminal Code; or have been sentenced to five years or more of imprisonment for terrorism offences, as defined in section 2 of the code, or equivalent foreign offences for terrorism; or have been convicted of offences under sections 73 to 76 of the National Defence Act and sentenced to imprisonment for life because they acted traitorously; or have been convicted of an offence under section 78 of the National Defence Act and sentenced to imprisonment for life; or have been convicted under section 130 of the National Defence Act for committing high treason punishable under section 47 of the Criminal Code or for committing a terrorism offence and it is defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code and sentenced to at least five years in prison.”

  (1230)  

    The comments I just read indicate that the minister also proposed that citizenship be stripped only from dual citizens so that people would not be left stateless.
    Here are some concerns raised by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. First of all, according to the ICLMG, all citizens must be treated equally. I was just talking about this fundamental issue and about not discriminating between a permanent resident and a Canadian citizen. Yet this type of rhetoric is brought forward and the monitoring group is concerned about that:
    1. All citizens must be treated equally

    It is unfair and discriminatory to have citizens face different consequences for committing the same crimes. Creating separate rules for dual citizens creates a two-tier citizenship, with lesser rights for some citizens.
    That is where we are at, Mr. Chair. We are faced with an important decision in light of the amendments that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism brought forward to expand the scope of this private member's bill. In so doing, instead of pursuing the initial objective of the bill, we would replace it with considerations that are basically not consistent with fundamental human rights.
    The second concern expressed by the ICLMG is as follows:
    2. Vagueness of terrorism definition

    The term “terrorism” is problematic because it is vague, broad and politicized. In fact, there is no consensus on its definition at the United Nations, nor are there any definitions of the concept in any important international instruments such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
    That means that there are benchmarks and we cannot legislate based on a concept that would make us ignore those restrictions or pretend that they no longer exist. We would be interfering with the issue and proposing changes to the Citizenship Act that go far beyond those national and international benchmarks.
    Earlier, I referred to the charter that no longer limits our laws in a meaningful and necessary way. The definition introduced...

  (1235)  

[English]

     Mr. Chair, can I just interrupt for a second?
    I want to flag this now. The mumbling in the room is getting slightly louder and louder by the minute. I noticed it a couple of minutes ago, and it's just getting louder and louder. Obviously, this is really making it difficult for us to continue in this way, so I would like to be able to flag it right now.
    I understand that members are obviously going to have discussions while we're here, but that being said, let us take the time, when it happens, to raise it with the committee, to make sure that all members are being quiet.
    I believe this is a very echoey room. It's a lovely room—we love the Railway Committee Room—but it's... I don't know what it is, but it's marble, and the sound bounces.
    I don't know what it is. It's limestone, isn't it? It doesn't matter. It bounces sound.
    As a result, let me sincerely request from the chair that we make sure to keep the sound to a minimum. I would genuinely appreciate that.
    I appreciate the point of order.
    I believe Ms. James would like to contribute to the point of order at this time too.
    Actually, I heard everything and I'm okay. I can hear.
    Having said that, I appreciate....
    Monsieur Pierre.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I just wanted to bring up another point.
    It is another point, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    It's on a different point?
    Just on this particular point of order, it's always nice when there is a decorum such that not only other people can listen to what's being said, but individuals who are speaking can hear what it is they're saying themselves.
    We just need to be cognizant, and I appreciate the heads-up on it.
    Pierre, you have the floor, for a new point of order, I understand.

[Translation]

    It is not really a point of order, but rather a request for information. Since we are getting lunch, could you tell me who authorized the expenses of the committee to buy the food?
    That is a good question.

[English]

    Well, technically it's at the discretion of the chair to ensure that members and individuals who have a desire to eat have something to eat. I think having some sandwiches is a reasonable lunch.
    So just on the point of clarification, it would have come through the chair.
    Ms. Groguhé, if you will, continue.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I was referring to all the national and international benchmarks that enable us to legislate by giving consideration to the necessary and important precepts underlying the fundamental issue of citizenship.
    Here is what the ICLMG thinks about this:
    The definition introduced in the Criminal Code by Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act in December 2001 provides a vague, imprecise and overly expansive definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist activity” that could be interpreted arbitrarily to encompass forms of dissent and/or violent behaviour that have little to do with terrorism, thus threatening civil liberties and the right to legitimate political dissent. For instance, several democratic countries have recently invoked anti-terrorist laws to prosecute opponents and protesters against resource development projects. Recent Public Safety and CSIS reports also blur the line between “dissent” and “terrorism”. Under the proposed amendments, Canadians with dual citizenship who are environmental defenders or who protest at international summits and are convicted of terrorist-related offences by a foreign country, or by Canada itself, could be stripped of their citizenship.
    Yes, it is necessary and vital to work together and define measures in a draconian way, measures that are very broad in this case. Yes, that is a concern. Yes, it is a well founded and fundamental concern, because that can simply lead to abuses. God only knows how fast abuses can happen. Through history, we have seen men and women threatened with imprisonment or the loss of their freedom because we had not set enough benchmarks and restrictions to be able to limit some things.
    The ICLMG adds:
    This would be a grave Charter violation of the right to free expression of certain Canadians.

     Another problem with such a sweeping definition of “terrorism” is that it fails to distinguish between criminal terrorist entities and freedom fighters or liberation movements, whose legitimacy can shift depending on the time period and the dominating political interests at stake.
    Those distinctions are clearly necessary. They would certainly make it possible for us not to mix everything up. They would prevent people, who could legitimately defend some things, from being faced with decisions that might be made within a legislative framework and because of which their citizenship would be revoked altogether. We must really pay attention to these concerns and we must not exaggerate by going outside the legislative framework which is not sufficiently limited and goes beyond honouring our Canadian army, as I said on various occasions.
    I will continue to read from ICLMG's submission:
    Under Canada’s current definition, Nobel prize recipient Nelson Mandela and Rigoberta Menchu would be considered terrorists.

  (1240)  

    You can imagine that, if we were to refer to Nelson Mandela as a terrorist today, that would make no sense at all; it would be completely absurd. Imagine what would happen if these amendments were not defined or really reconsidered. That is why I would like to come back to that. It is crucial. I think this is really at the heart of our debates.
    I will go back to the motion. This private member's bill, Mr. Shory's bill, makes no reference at all to what I just talked about. As I said before and as the title tells us, the purpose of this bill is all about honouring the Canadian Forces. But we are seeing the complete opposite. The minister is coming in with his heavy boots. He is bringing in amendments. Based on the remarks I am reading, we can clearly see that these amendments are completely changing the Citizenship Act, gutting the initial bill to turn it into different bill.
    That said, as some witnesses mentioned, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has all the latitude he needs to propose a government bill. We could then have a democratic parliamentary debate, which is obviously needed. That would give us an opportunity to set most of the legislative foundation...

  (1245)  

    I have a point of order.

[English]

     On a point of order, Monsieur Dusseault.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I see that a member of the committee is on the phone. Could you please remind the members of the basic decorum rules, including that talking on the phone is not permitted while sitting at the committee table?

[English]

    I think that generally speaking there's always a certain level of interaction that will occur around the table. There are certain behaviours that are more acceptable than others. If you want to use your telephones to be able to send messages, texts, e-mails, and so forth, that's one thing. It's another thing to actually be carrying on a conversation on the telephone while you're sitting at the committee table. If you want to carry on a conversation with your telephone, the most appropriate thing to do would be to go off to the side of the table so that it's not disruptive. We wouldn't want to have eight, nine people on the telephone talking while we're supposed to be listening to what the speaker is actually saying.
    So it is a point of order. Thank you, Mr. Dusseault. I believe the matter has been resolved.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair...

[English]

    Madame Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Since I have the floor, I would like to go back to the point of order that was raised. The fact that a member of the government is on the phone while I am talking about a motion moved by the government denotes a total lack of respect, in my view. I greatly appreciate your answer. I hope the members of the committee will take that into account and, as a result, pay a little more attention to my comments.
    Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    Thank you, Ms. Groguhé.
    You have the floor to continue on, and I'm sure people will refrain from using their telephones as a conversational piece.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I was saying that, for some Canadians, this would be a serious breach of the right to free expression protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We can extrapolate and see what is currently going on in some countries where the right to free expression and freedom are obstructed. I'm talking about certain countries. Take the Arab Spring, for example. The people decided. Young people, women and students decided to go to the public square to tell the government in power that they no longer supported what it was doing. Mr. Chair, would these people be considered terrorists? I don't think so. All they did was express freely and democratically what they were experiencing. It's important to consider and protect it.
    The ICLMG states the following:
    Another problem with such a sweeping definition of terrorism is that it fails to distinguish between criminal terrorist entities and freedom fighters or liberation movements, whose legitimacy can shift depending on the time period and the dominating political interests at stake.
    I mentioned Nelson Mandela, who unfortunately has pneumonia. My prayers go out to him. I hope he gets better.
    Take Nelson Mandela, for example. He spent over 30 years in prison on the grounds that he was a terrorist. He was convicted by the government in power at the time. We understand the scope of certain legislation and the decisions it may unfortunately lead people to make. Anyone, because they wanted to simply defend their rights or exercise their right to expression, right to equality, right to fairness, could pay the price for legislation that might run counter to this absolute and fundamental right of all citizens.
    The ICLMG's third concern is the following:
    3. Foreign convictions may be unfair

    It is especially troubling that people could be stripped of their citizenship based on a foreign conviction. Criminal proceedings in some countries are routinely unfair; cases relating to terrorism are particularly vulnerable to proceedings that violate the principles of natural justice. The proposed amendment does not offer a fair and independent process in Canada for the person to show that the foreign conviction was unjust.

    Maher Arar is a Canadian dual citizen who was unfairly suspected of terrorism and jailed in Syria. Fortunately, he was able to return to Canada, and as a Canadian citizen, he was able to advocate for his rights, leading to the O'Connor Commission which cleared his name.
    Mr. Chair, we unfortunately know of situations in our history where unfair and unjustified accusations have been made in certain countries that are quite comfortable with being undemocratic and with convicting someone who might be against the government in power or against the laws proposed by that government. This example shows that we need to be extremely careful and vigilant so that we do not get stuck in situations that could lead to unjustified imprisonments.

  (1250)  

    If the proposed amendment is passed, a Canadian in a situation similar to Mr. Arar in the future could be unfairly accused and convicted of terrorism abroad, and stripped of his Canadian citizenship, while still in jail abroad.
    Mr. Chair, the consequences are enormous. The Maher Arar case shows us just how far we may stray with the amendments proposed by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. We need to be careful. As I said, to make sure no Canadians are harmed, it is our duty as parliamentarians to continue to hold democratic debates and exchanges, without time allocation motions muzzling us and reducing debate on key issues.
    Having said that, I will move on to the ICLMG's fourth concern:
    4. Amendments send a negative message

    No one anticipates that the power to strip citizenship would be used in large numbers of cases. Nevertheless, the symbolic importance is significant.
    We were talking about the impact that symbols may have. We know quite well that they can have both a very positive impact and a very negative impact. When it comes to a case like the one we are facing and it involves expanding a private member's bill, it is clear that the symbolic aspect is important and that it needs to be taken into consideration.
    In fact, the proposed amendments send a message that Canadians are not all equal. Imagine a message like that. Our country is recognized as an essential force, a true leader when it comes to human rights and freedoms. Canada has built a reputation in this respect and it is important to preserve that. Internationally, Canada has made its mark with these principles. It continues to do so but, unfortunately, in an increasingly harmful way because the government is making decisions that, I repeat, go against national and international provisions, and that is not normal.
    The amendments we are looking at today ensure that we are creating a message, a symbolic one, but we know…

  (1255)  

[English]

     Name one. Name one.
    You can't name one.
    Chair, some order, please.
    I somewhat anticipated that was going to come up.
    Ms. Freeman, were you wanting to explain your point of order, or would it suffice for me to just say that Ms. Groguhé has the floor?
    I understand there's a level of interest in what she's saying. Some members do not feel comfortable if they're being heckled. I will suggest that at this point maybe we could calm down a little bit so she can continue on with her comments.
    If there is a need for us to have a point of order—I see Ms. Freeman does have her hand up. She would like to comment on a point of order, I trust.
     Yes, Mr. Chair. I do find it really offensive sometimes when we're shouting at each other while another person is speaking over this table. I think it's unfortunate that the division in this House has come so far as to be so poisoning our committee that the parliamentary secretary is shouting at my colleague while she is speaking, while she is making very interesting points, trying to explain to him why it is that she cannot support this private member's bill that was brought in and is evidently turning into a government bill.
    It is obviously a very complex issue that we did not spend enough time on, and I'm glad we are now able to make sure those points are out. But if we've gotten to the point where we're heckling just because we disagree with each other, Mr. Chair, I would respectfully ask if we could make sure that stays to a minimum.
    Mr. Dykstra, were you wanting to comment on the same point of order?
     Yes, I'd like to respond.

  (1300)  

    By all means.
    I've been listening very closely to Sadia's speech and her comments. She has indicated there are a number of areas where human rights have digressed in Canada. I was simply asking her—I wasn't shouting, I was asking her—to list examples, if she's going to make a broad and sweeping statement. She's not listing any of the examples.
    That was my question, and I hope she's going to do that.
    Otherwise, you shouldn't say it if you can't actually prove it.
    I think that going forward in the future, Ms. Freeman is correct....
    Is this on the same point of order? Or do you want me to finish making the ruling first, and then if you feel that—

[Translation]

    I want to comment on that.

[English]

    We have a list, so we're going to go to Mr. Menegakis next.
    I have a different point of order, so I'm waiting until you finish this one.
    It's a different point of order.
    Who would like to speak to this particular point of order?
    Pierre.

[Translation]

    I simply want some clarification.
    What powers can you exercise, Mr. Chair, when decorum is not maintained in the room? Can you expel a member who has made it practically impossible for another member to continue speaking?

[English]

    In an extreme situation—I haven't witnessed such an extreme situation in the last couple of years on the Hill—I suspect that I would likely be more inclined to suspend as opposed to expel a particular member. Everything depends on the context of what's being said, what kind of heckling is going on, and so forth. So as long as people are being relatively reasonable in their behaviour, I'm quite content just to continue going forward. I think expulsion from a committee should be taken very, very seriously, and I don't believe I could envision myself doing something of that nature.
     I haven't asked the clerk, nor will I ask the clerk, because I suspect I would never expel someone from committee.
    Is there anyone else on the same point of order? Otherwise, I'm going to rule that there is a point of order....
    Sadia, you wanted to—

[Translation]

    Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I think we need to clarify something. At the outset, I suggested going back over certain testimonies. I will now say that these testimonies are at the heart of Bill C-425 and of what the amendments have in relation to its expansion.
    I will continue to provide clarification that I feel is essential. It will make it possible to fully understand our position and the arguments that explain why today we are opposing a motion that was tabled by the government and that we do not agree with. I would therefore like to be able to continue to present those arguments in the manner I see fit.
    When the government members take the floor and present arguments to justify their position, I never question that. I simply listen and provide counter-arguments when necessary. I do not question what any of them say on any issue. That is why I would like them to extend the same courtesy to me.

[English]

     Thank you, Ms. Groguhé.
    Seeing no other hands indicating they want to participate in this particular point of order, I'm going to suggest to you that there is a need for all members to respect decorum, to allow the speaker to be able to say what he or she would like to be able to say, and accord them the respect of good behaviour, if I can put it that way. If someone has a question, the most appropriate way to express yourself, as opposed to heckling, is through a point of order, if in fact it's a legitimate point of order.
    Ms. Groguhé, you can continue on.
    Mr. Costas Menegakis: I have a different point of order.
    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Lamoureux): I'm sorry, Mr. Menegakis, on a new point of order.
    I'll withdraw for now. Thank you.
    Ms. Groguhé, you may continue.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I will continue, even though I have lost my momentum. I am very passionate about these issues because they fundamentally and strikingly change the Citizenship Act, as I have mentioned in my comments so far. We are completely distorting the precepts that have applied so far when it comes to citizenship.
    The proposed amendments send a message that Canadians are not all equal and that the loyalty of some Canadians is called into question. Yes, it is an essential issue and argument. Some of our fellow Canadians have already expressed their concerns. In fact, they felt in some way that they were being maligned by the messages being conveyed. They were concerned. Sometimes, as I mentioned, Canadians do not know they have dual citizenship and might become stateless persons.
    There is another important aspect. I truly believe that we, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility to ensure that the Canadians who make up our country, the builders, the immigrants who came to build Canada, are truly regarded and considered as full-fledged Canadians. That is not what the bill's proposed amendments say, which raises the following question: are all Canadians equal? Is there discrimination when a person belongs to a certain category? These are vital questions, and they need to be asked. We need to find some real answers.
    This negative message affects some Canadians in particular, including Muslims and Arabs, who have been persistently and unfairly associated with terrorism. Unfortunately, some Muslims or Arabs have suffered from the direct impact of this hatred toward these communities, something we have unfortunately seen since the 2001 terrorist attacks. It's appalling.
    We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to pay attention and ensure there are no differences. When certain citizens are singled out, it further stirs up these disparities and this hatred that, unfortunately, we know exist. It's our responsibility to see to that.
    I will now share with you the brief from B'nai Brith on Bill C-425, which was prepared for the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and tabled for the April 18, 2013 meeting:

  (1305)  

    Bill C-425 proposes that those who are citizens or legal residents of a country other than Canada and who engage in an act of war against the Canadian armed forces would be deemed to apply for renunciation of Canadian citizenship. The government has indicated that it would propose amendments to the bill. These amendments have not yet been tabled.
    I need to clarify that at that point, these amendments had not yet been tabled.
    The absence of the text of the amendments has both an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage is that their absence makes it difficult to be specific about matters of potential concern. The advantage is that the situation is now fluid. The government may well be more flexible before the amendments are introduced than afterwards.

    A. Acts of War

    The first question is: what is intended by the phrase “an act of war”? The member of Parliament who introduced the bill, Devinder Shory, said to this committee on March 19 that what he intended “was to address those individuals who are either members of some armed forces or armed group who attack our men and women in uniform.” So for him, an act of war was an attack on Canadian men or women in uniform.

    In terms of international law, an act of war is an act which justifies a military response. An act of war permits going to war in response without the response being considered an act of aggression.

    An act of war against Canada can be committed in a number of ways. One way, to be sure, is to attack the Canadian armed forces. However, it is not the only way.

    Other ways are to attack a Canadian merchant vessel, blow up public buildings, assassinate the political leaders or diplomatic representatives, bomb civilian centres and so on. Why would there be a deemed application of renunciation of citizenship for an act of war in one way but not another?

    Surely, if an act of war justifies a deemed application of renunciation of citizenship, that justification stands no matter how the act of war was committed. The bill suggests that there is a right way and a wrong way to commit an act of war against Canada, or perhaps more accurately, a bad way and a worse way and that the worst way of all is to attack the Canadian armed forces.

    We are reluctant to rank acts of war against Canada in terms of their gravity. We consider them all bad. How could one possibly say that an attack on a civilian centre of any of the major Canadian cities ranks less in gravity than an attack on the Canadian armed forces? We recommend that this bill, instead of mandating revocation of citizenship for those who committed acts of war against the Canadian armed forces, mandate revocation for those who have committed acts of war against Canada pure and simple.

    We note that Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney stated to this committee on March 21 that there is no clear definition of what constitutes an act of war and suggested that the committee amend the bill by replacing that term with other acts that are more clearly defined in law. The phrase the minister suggested at the committee to replace “war” was “armed conflict”.

    Our position is that, whatever…

  (1310)  

[English]

     Chair, I don't know if this is a point of order or what, but I really do feel that this room is very cold right now. It's a beautiful day outside, Chair—
    So let's adjourn.
    You know what? I think Ms. James agrees with me. We tend to agree on the coldness of the room.
    Take a vote. We'll go outside.

  (1315)  

    Maybe we could arrange it so that we could be a little warmer. It will be fine right now, but when we come back after question period—I'm hoping that we're going to question period—that would be good, just in order for us to be able to think more clearly and be more comfortable.
     Thank you very much, Chair.
    An hon. member: That wasn't a point of order.
    I wasn't sure what it was. If you could clarify what kind of point that was, Chair, that would be great too.
    I think it's asking for special consideration regarding the temperature of the room. I suspect that, depending on who you canvass, you might get some people who say it's a little too hot and some people who say it's a little too cold. At the end of the day, I think in some cases people will have to put on a jacket and in other cases they'll have to take off a jacket.
    We'll leave it up to the clerk to determine whether or not the temperature...or if you really feel uncomfortable, then raise the issue with the clerk.
    I think we'll continue on with Ms. Groguhé, in the belief that it wasn't actually a point of order.
    Ms. Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I'm now at point B of the B'nai Brith brief:
    B. Statelessness

    The bill as it stands applies to both citizens and legal residents of a country other than Canada. It would potentially remove Canadian citizenship from either.

    A person who is a legal resident of another country but not a citizen of another country, on losing Canadian citizenship, would become stateless. Canada is obligated by international treaty to avoid statelessness, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness to which Canada acceded in 1978. The obligation has an exception worth nothing, that a person may be deprived of nationality even if it creates statelessness where the nationality has been obtained by misrepresentation or fraud. This exception means that the revocation provisions in the current law conform to the dictates of the convention.

    The possibility of loss of Canadian citizenship now in the bill for someone is a permanent resident of another country but not a citizen of another country should be excised. We note that Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney on March 21 asked this committee to consider an amendment so that only those with dual citizenship would be deemed to have renounced their Canadian citizenship under the provisions proposed in the bill.

    

    We note the observations of former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler in the parliamentary debate on Bill C-425 at second reading on February 15 that a private member’s bill does not go through the same constitutional scrutiny as a government bill before it is tabled in the House of Commons. The right to citizenship is a constitutional right.
    It’s important to remember that. The way I see it, these are very important observations that MP Irwin Cotler has made, but it is clear that they are not made unanimously.
    Pursuant to section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the right to citizenship is a constitutional right. Later, I will probably compare the bill and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which will let us consider from that perspective the amendments that we want to make to this private member’s bill.
    Revoking citizenship for whatever reason of a person born in Canada, raised in Canada, whose primary connection is Canada is arguably a violation of the constitutional right to citizenship.
    These remarks, like many others I have read so far, are really crucial. This involves a direct violation of the constitutional right to citizenship, according to section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which stipulates that the right to citizenship is a constitutional right.
    A person born in Canada who has a connection primarily with Canada and has little connection with the country of dual citizenship should not become subject to deemed renunciation/revocation of Canadian citizenship under this law.
    We are again at the very heart of amendments that some want to make to the bill and that ensure that acquiring and maintaining citizenship is completely overhauled. By the way, if I may say so, these measures are going to create two-tiered citizens. We need to say that the right to citizenship is a constitutional right that can and must be respected.

  (1320)  

    I will now address the part of the B’nai Brith brief that covers foreign convictions:
    d) Foreign convictions

    The fourth category raises the question of the appropriateness of taking into account a foreign conviction. Many repressive governments label their opponents, particularly their armed opponents, terrorists. We must not take that labeling at face value.
    Obviously, we know some democracies, which claim to be democracies but are not, that do this. We have seen it already. Unfortunately, every day certain people are labeled terrorists because they simply wanted to oppose a repressive government in a particular way. So be careful.
    Not every act of rebellion against a repressive government is an act of terrorism.

    The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act denies refugee protection to those subject to “lawful sanctions, unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards”. There needs to be a similar caveat here. The bill should say that a person could have his citizenship revoked for a foreign conviction for terrorism, “unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards”.

    ii) Additional grounds

    Beyond that, once Parliament is expanding the grounds of revocation, as it is with this bill, why limit the grounds to acts of war, treason and terrorism even more broadly encompassed?…

    This anomaly, at first glance, may not seem that significant since a person complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism or genocide is unlikely to disclose that complicity on application to enter Canada and, if he or she did so, would likely be refused entry. However, the Nazi war criminal experience has shown us that sometimes it is easier to establish complicity in massive criminality than misrepresentation on entry, since entry records may have been destroyed and memories of entry officials unreliable. If we can prove complicity in massive crimes, but not lying on entry, that complicity should be enough for revocation.

    Right now the war crimes unit in the Department of Justice has a policy for Nazi era cases that the department would not seek revocation unless the department is satisfied that the person is complicit in war crimes or crimes against humanity. However, that is an internal policy only and not a legal requirement.

  (1325)  

[English]

     On a point of order, Mr. Dusseault.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I’m intervening for clarification.
    I looked in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice to try to find the procedure relating to the vice-chair. I see that there are currently two vice-chairs in the room. Which procedures are used to determine who will take the chair’s place?

[English]

    Normally, the practice would be that you would start with the first vice-chair, but it doesn't really matter. It's beyond that. Usually it's something worked out between the two vice-chairs as to who is sitting, and I was asked to come and fill in.
    Ms. Groguhé, please continue.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Mr. Chair.
    I will summarize what I've said. Obviously our witnesses' arguments are telling. They provided some clarity and clarification by sharing certain concerns and by discussing where problems may arise.
    In fact, we truly believe that it is essential to pay significant attention to those comments. Obviously, in terms of what I have presented, we think it is important to consider all these guidelines I have presented, be they national guidelines under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or international guidelines established by the UN or by other international conventions we have signed and ratified. It is essential that we put forward bills that take into consideration these warnings, if I may call them that, that must provide a democratic and fully responsible framework for the measures put forward in certain bills.
    We have seen that the amendments proposed by the minister went beyond this initial bill and led us down a path where we are creating, as I said, differences between citizens in a country that, let's remember, is a land of immigration. We know that a lot of people flee their countries and choose to come to Canada and become Canadians so they can benefit from the democracy and freedoms offered by our great country. This bill will create two classes of citizens and, by the way, it will make a distinction between someone with sole citizenship and people with multiple citizenships. Those people may be at risk of losing their Canadian citizenship, even if they were born in Canada and have never been to the other country where they hold citizenship. Canadian citizenship must not be viewed as a driver's licence that could be taken away at any time.
    I would also like to come back to what I was saying—I'm not sure if it was yesterday or earlier this morning, but that doesn't matter—about the decision by the Speaker of the House, in response to the question of privilege raised regarding the tabling of the committee's eighth report, which covers expanding the scope of Bill C-425.
    The Speaker of the House ruled that the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration was admissible, strictly speaking. However, he had significant reservations about broadening the scope of the bill. He referred to the absence of explicit jurisprudence in the matter and the dangers related to that.
    Therefore, Bill C-425 cannot necessarily be amended in this manner, and we had to be very careful. However, the government does not seem willing to be careful, since it came back with this new motion requesting a 30-day extension to study Bill C-425 in order to broaden its scope.

  (1330)  

    Clearly, the fact that a private member's bill is being turned into a government bill does not respect the tradition that goes on in Parliament. If the minister wants to implement a legislative agenda, he should do it directly through a government bill, not through a private member's bill.
    At the end of May, after their first setback from the chair, the government came back with a new motion presented in committee. This new manoeuvre is a big concern for us, Mr. Chair, because it leaves room for major slip-ups and it especially would set a precedent that might be damaging for the jurisprudence relating to how bills are handled by Canada's Parliament.
    Mr. Chair, these practices that aim to bypass the customary procedures and processes are becoming particularly worrisome and require constant vigilance.
    Let's go back over a few facts that deserve particular attention.
    On March 21, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism appeared before the committee. During his testimony, he literally dictated numerous amendments that broadened the scope of Bill C-425 considerably and radically changed the meaning of the initial version.
    It should be noted that these amendments fit on two pages per official language, while the document tabled by the member for Calgary Northeast fit on a single page, including the French and English versions. Already, without even taking the time to read the proposed amendments, we can see by the number of pages that these amendments will really distort the bill in question which, itself, fit on only one page.
    These amendments, which were the only ones proposed by the Conservatives, were then tabled by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the very end of the process of studying the bill. Therefore, the members of the committee were not able to ask witnesses about what could have become the very essence of the bill.
    Let's remember that the legislative text tabled by the member for Calgary Northeast, in addition to being significantly broadened, was completely changed. In the end, less than 10% of the final document came from the initial bill. Even the title of the bill no longer had any purpose because the section on honouring the armed forces became purely secondary and was really swept aside. In fact, the amendments were no longer in line with honouring of the Canadian Forces.
    That shows you just how imposing the amendments were, so imposing that the amendments proposed by the minister were rejected by the chair. Indeed, the chair had no choice but to reject the amendments. There was no other solution. The chair had to make that choice and say, pure and simple, that the amendments proposed by the minister could not be received. Since they went against the initial principle of the bill, they were deemed inadmissible by the chair of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    As a result, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration had to table a report in the House. Mr. Chair, the report tabled by the government was quite worrisome. It requested that the scope of the bill be broadened to include aspects that had nothing to do with the Canadian Armed Forces, when that formed the very basis of Mr. Shory's bill.
    Two related problems stem from that.

  (1335)  

    First of all, the minister has just skirted around the work done by the committee members by imposing his amendments on his parliamentary secretary and, obviously, the committee. Then—and this is the heart of the matter—the bill…

[English]

    Excuse me, sorry—
    Again, I'm never really sure of a particular procedure. That being said, it's almost two o'clock. It's 1:40 p.m. As all members of this committee know, normally members are expected to be present at question period and for statements from two o'clock until three o'clock, or until the end of question period and statements by members. It is a right, obviously, of members who are elected to this House to be able to go and express their concerns through statements, as well as to ask questions of ministers and parliamentary secretaries during question period.
     I realize that this room is very close to the House itself, so it won't take long for us to get there. That being said, given that we're getting close to that time, just so that members are aware of what the chair plans to do so that the committee could express its feelings on this, I was wondering if we could decide what our procedure was going to be, whether we were going to break at a certain time for question period and then return.
    If I could get clarification from the chair on that, it would be extremely helpful.
    Thank you for the point.
    On the same point of order, we will go to Dean, and then Rick.
    Mr. Chair, I note that it's 1:39, as a matter of fact. I think if I was attacked at this moment by a wild beaver severing one of my limbs, I could still make it to the House of Commons with plenty of time to be in question period for when questions actually begin at 2:15.
    Thank you.
    Okay, based on that particular comment, I do think it's important that we're there for question period, so I'm going to follow Mr. Dean's recommendation that 15 minutes after or 14 minutes after—
    No. I have a point of order.
    He didn't make a recommendation, he was just suggesting that—
    I was commenting on the member's comment.
    —it only takes five minutes to get to the House. I'm suggesting that this is a critical piece of legislation, a critical amendment on the extension that we'd like to see passed. If there's an urgency to get to the House, I'd be happy to have the vote and all of us could spend—

  (1340)  

    Yes, why don't we do that.
    —question period and whatever other period they'd like to spend there. But, Chair, you won't get unanimous consent to break for question period or for members' statements. We want to continue. We want to work on getting to a vote on this motion that I've moved on the legislation, so let's keep working.
    We're going to Ms. Sims, Pierre, and Ms. Freeman, but before we do that, I want to confer with the clerk for a moment.
    Okay, going back to the speaking order, we have Ms. Freeman next, followed by Ms. Sims, and I keep on saying “Pierre” because I'm afraid that I'm going to really butcher your name. It's Pierre-Luc Dusseault. You would think I'd know how to pronounce it properly. My apologies.
    We're going to go with Ms. Freeman. Then we'll go with the other two members, and if there are any members from the Conservative caucus you can just indicate that.
    On the same point of order. This is all about the idea of the vice-chair's ability to suspend.
    Go ahead.
    Thanks, Chair, for allowing me to speak to this again.
    I don't want to seem hysterical or insane in any way—
    You never do.
    —but that being said, I was deeply offended, and I don't understand what my colleague Mr. Del Mastro was insinuating when he was talking about being bitten by a beaver when I brought up question period.
    I believe this is something that is a fundamental part of the way this House functions. Members of the opposition and members of the government are able to ask questions, through the Speaker of the House, to ministers and to parliamentary secretaries as to the state of affairs.
    If Mr. Del Mastro has such little respect for the process that he would prefer to be bitten by a beaver and somehow make it here in 20 minutes from Peterborough, I'm not sure how he would do that. He seems to think that's possible.
    Chair, I am also deeply offended that he was not even able to listen to me for the one minute I was speaking just now. It makes me wonder whether or not he or any of these members have been listening at all. I was distinctly saying that with 20 minutes until members' statements, I think it would be nice for this committee to decide what we are going to do ahead of time.
    I specifically referred to the fact that we are very, very close, and it wouldn't take us very long to get there, but that I would prefer to know ahead of time whether or not we'd be going.
    That being said, it seems there is so little respect for accountability in this House and in this Parliament by members of the government, that they believe we should not....
    Chair, there is a lot of distraction. It's quite frustrating. It's very hard to get a point across.
    I'm not sure how to take it. I'm definitely very offended.

  (1345)  

    Chair, on a point of order or privilege.
    I think that because we're dealing with a point of order, Ms. Freeman has the floor. I think we have to provide her the courtesy to be able to explain her thoughts.
    We can't necessarily interrupt a point of order with another point of order. I would ask that members refrain from trying to distract Ms. Freeman from being able to articulate what she feels is an important position in regard to the matter before the committee right now.
    Continue, Ms. Freeman.
    Thank you, Chair.
    I'm very grateful for how fair you have been. It has been an interesting morning. I have definitely felt intimidated by my colleagues on the other side several times while I have raised points.
    That being said, what I was saying is it is extremely important for us members to be able to attend question period, despite all our other obligations as members. We, as MPs, are always making the time to go to question period and to go to votes because that is part of what we do, and that is what people elect us to do. As legislators we are here to keep the government, that is, the executive branch, accountable.
    It is clear that the parliamentary secretaries sitting across from me at this table today do not believe in accountability, because they're scoffing at the idea that we would have the opportunity to ask them questions.
    You would know, Chair, that they're not even obliged to answer for real. They can stand up and say absolutely anything they want, which this particular colleague of mine has done on numerous occasions.
    Could I get you to wind up? I'm sure you'll appreciate that I will be affording them the same opportunity to respond, and the same sort of behaviour would be expected in terms of courtesy to allow them to continue speaking.
    You can continue.
    Absolutely, Chair. I will wrap up.
    It was just to express my deep desire to go to question period today, to make sure we keep this government accountable. I will find it extremely unfortunate if, when this committee votes on whether or not to go, we do not. If the government members were to vote against it, I think that would just be further proof of their lack of accountability, lack of transparency, and disregard for procedures of the House.
    Thank you very much, Chair.
    We're going to Ms. Sims.
    I'm going to pass so we can get back to hearing the debate.
    Mr. Dusseault, on the same point of order.

[Translation]

    Yes, and I would like to raise another point of order after. However, I also want to get back to the debate.

[English]

    Do you have a point of order?

[Translation]

    I'm talking about the issue raised by Ms. Freeman.

[English]

    Is this on this point of order? Okay, go ahead on this point of order.

[Translation]

    Standing Order 115(5) covers situations where the bells ring. I was under the impression that when the bells started ringing, we could use section 115(5) to suspend the meeting to go and vote. I thought that also applied to question period. If some members had commitments, for example a member's statement to read, but we could not find a replacement for them in five minutes, they would feel cornered.
    I will not necessarily cite parliamentary privilege here today, given that it's a hypothetical question. We aren't there yet. However, I wanted to add to the debate by referring to Standing Order 115(5), which talks about situations when the bells ring. To some extent, that could also include question period, which all members are required to attend, in the same way as they are required to attend the votes.

  (1350)  

[English]

    Ms. James, it's your turn, and then we'll go to Ms. Sims and then Mr. Del Mastro.
     I would like to get back to debate as well because we've had so many interruptions. I just feel that, as a woman, I need to come to the aid of Ms. Freeman. She was having difficulties understanding what my colleague Mr. Dean Del Mastro said. I have to say I'm the youngest of five children. My parents are close to 80, and sometimes they come up with expressions I don't quite understand because of the age difference. I don't know whether she understands exactly what Mr. Dean Del Mastro was referring to or whether he needs to clarify it in terms that maybe are more understandable to all members of the committee. I would like to come to her aid and ask her if she understands what that phrase meant or whether she needs it clarified.
    Before we continue, I'm glad to see that the two of you are adopting a sisterhood of sorts.
    I'm trying not to sound funny, but most members of this committee understood what it meant. I just wanted to make sure that she was....
     I would appreciate it if Mr. Del Mastro explained to the committee what he meant. That would be wonderful.
    One of things we have to be very careful of is that there can only be one speaker at a time. Ms. James has the floor. If you would like to express something, you have to address it as a point of order, but given that there's a point of order currently, all you can do is put up your hand and our trusty clerk will identify you and put your name down so you're able to speak.
     I'm going to put in a two-minute timeline. Just so we can get through the points of order, no one will speak for more than two minutes unless half that time is spent on a citation from a book. We're starting to get a number of people wanting to speak. If I give you the floor, please observe the two minutes, unless you are citing strictly from a rule book, and I'll give you an extension at that point.
    Ms. James, we're going to start with you. The clock is going to start ticking as soon as you say your first word. After Ms. James, we're going to Ms. Sims, then Mr. Del Mastro, and then Ms. Freeman. Okay?
    Ms. James.
    I want to get back to debate. I wanted to make sure that everyone on the committee understood the terms that were used. I think Ms. Freeman gets the gist of it, so I'm okay at this point.
    Thank you very much.
    We're going to go to Ms. Sims.
     Mr. Chair, in light of the emotion of the point of order, there are very few privileges that we enjoy as members of Parliament. One of them is the right to deliver a statement in the House. I know my colleagues on the other side, some of the backbenchers, have struggled to exercise their right to deliver a statement when it's their turn. I found out minutes ago that it's my turn. I have a spot today. It's called in a cyclical way, and I've been so busy doing other things that I haven't checked my calendar to see that I have a statement to make today. I'm really hopeful that you will suspend the meeting so I can carry out my privileges and not, at the same time, have to miss out on important deliberations at this meeting.
    Thank you, Ms. Sims. That was well under a minute.
    Mr. Del Mastro.
     Mr. Chairman, I would simply point out that Mr. Opitz has actually left to deliver a statement in the House. That opportunity is available to Ms. Sims, Ms. Freeman, or anybody else. This committee has important work to do. There's plenty of precedents for committees to sit through question period, in fact for committees to sit through the weekend and sit through the summer, Mr. Chairman. This is an important question that's before this committee. I'd encourage you to get back to debate to deal with the question at hand.
    I'm getting ready to reset the clock. Ms. Freeman, the floor is yours.
    Thank you, Chair. I'll try to keep it to a few minutes.
     On this point I have to come back to the fact that while we've been discussing this point of order, there have been repeated attempts to mock me based on both my gender and my age and I'm finding it rather frustrating. The entire morning has been this way. Every time I raise that I'm cold, that it is loud, members laugh at me. I'm also starting to be harassed on Twitter so I'm finding my morning to be extremely difficult. It's coming to the point, Chair, at which I'm actually feeling really uncomfortable.

  (1355)  

    Ms. Freeman, I'll stop you for a moment.
     I think we have to provide Ms. Freeman the courtesy of listening as she explains. It's not appropriate to be expressing something that's going to distract her from being able to express her thoughts on what is an important issue, so I would ask for a bit more decorum and sensitivity.
    Ms. Freeman, the floor is yours to continue. You have about 45 seconds left.
    Thank you very much, Chair. I really appreciate your calling the meeting back to order. That's exactly what I was talking about.
     I tried to make light of it so we could move on and talk about the issue earlier, which was whether or not we as a committee were going to attend question period, but there was continual pushing on sexist and ageist comments.
     At this point, through you, I'd ask my colleagues to apologize or at least to refrain from laughing and trying to intimidate me when I'm raising points on this committee. It's absolutely my right to do so. I am a member of this committee in good standing just as much as they are and should have the opportunity to raise my voice when I want.
     Thank you.
    We'll go to Ms. James, and then Mr. Dusseault.
    Actually, I'm okay. Thank you.
    Mr. Dusseault.

[Translation]

    It is for a different point of order, Mr. Chair.

[English]

    No, we deal with this one first.
    Having sat in the chair and observed the chair previously, one of the things I noticed was that Mr. Tilson was very good at voicing an opinion, and often even posing a question.
    Before I give my ruling on it, I want to share from an individual member of Parliament's perspective that I recognize the importance of question period. I do believe there is an expectation from all of our constituents that we participate in question period, and that it would be a mistake for the committee to not allow us to participate in question period, because it's one of the cornerstones.
    This is simply an opinion as the chair and you can respond to it.
    Mr. Dean Del Mastro: I challenge the chair.
    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Lamoureux): You don't even know what my ruling is. I'm going to be ruling in your favour, so you might want to hold off before you challenge the ruling.
     This is a personal opinion that I have, and Mr. Tilson has expressed his thoughts on it.
    Having said that, yesterday we sat through question period. There is nothing in the rules that specifically allows us to suspend for question period. It was my intention at two o'clock to suspend, believing that would have been the will of the committee, given the expressions that have been given. I understand that in order for us to suspend at this time, because of the expressions, there would have to be a motion brought forward by Ms. Groguhé, and ultimately that motion would have to be voted on. If it was defeated, we would continue on.
    The only way in which we can actually suspend at this point is if Ms. Groguhé were to introduce a motion that would have us suspend so we could attend question period and then come back. Failing that motion and direction from the committee, we will continue to sit.
    Ms. Groguhé, you have the floor and it will be up to you whether or not to move the motion because the floor is yours, unless there are any other points of order.
    On a point of order, Monsieur Dusseault.

[Translation]

    I want to comment on another issue. I simply want to make sure that the rules have been properly followed. I am not a permanent member. I had to be officially replaced, and I informed the clerk of that. I wanted to know whether Mr. Del Mastro had done the same thing in order to speak within this committee.

  (1400)  

[English]

    Yes, you've been officially substituted. You are a voting member of the committee, and so is Mr. Del Mastro.
    Ms. Groguhé, you may continue.

[Translation]

    Mr. Chair, I have listened carefully to the arguments raised with respect to my colleague's question, which had to do with attending question period. I agree with the idea that a request must be made in order to suspend our work so that we can attend question period. As my colleague said, it's important. Even though our work is very important, it is just as important that we attend question period.
    So I move a motion that we suspend our work and that we resume after question period. I call for a vote.

[English]

    To clarify, Sadia, you are moving a motion that we suspend. Is that correct?

[Translation]

    Yes.

[English]

    On a point of order, Mr. Chair, there's a motion on the floor that we're debating, and now she's moving another motion before that motion has been voted on. If she would like to move that motion, why don't we vote on the extension and then we'll vote on her motion to go to question period?
    Rick, what the clerk has told me is that she can move the motion to suspend because she has the floor even though there is a motion, but it is a votable motion. That means if you want to continue sitting, you just vote against it.
    For clarification purposes, Sadia, are you're now moving a motion to suspend?

[Translation]

    Yes.

[English]

     All those in favour of Sadia's motion, please raise your hand.
    All those opposed, raise your hand.
    Could we have a recorded vote?
    There has been a request for a recorded vote. The nays would appear to have it, but we've been requested—
    It's already done. It's over.
    You do it before the vote.
    Technically, that's the chair's mistake, so I will ask the clerk to count the names for the recorded vote. It only takes a minute, then it's resolved.
    (Motion negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)
    The Vice-Chair (Mr. Kevin Lamoureux): The motion is defeated.
    Ms. Groguhé, you have the floor to continue on the motion itself.

[Translation]

    Very well, Mr. Chair.
    So I was saying that two related problems stem from this fact.
    First of all, the minister just circumvented the work done by the committee members by imposing his amendments on his parliamentary secretary and on the committee. Then—and this is the heart of the matter—the bill of the member for Calgary Northeast practically disappeared because of government amendments.
    As a result, we cannot really speak about a private member's bill. Rather we are interpreting it as a government bill. This practice is another attack by the Conservatives of parliamentary institutions. What is worrisome about all of this is that suddenly our work is focused on a false content. Let me explain.
    These meetings, which took place over two months, were not really about the actual content of the bill. The real bill is the minister's imposing amendments to the bill of the member for Calgary Northeast.
    Given that the Parliamentary Secretary took so long to share written amendments imposed by the minister, we weren't able to question witnesses about the minister's amendments. We were not really able to do our work. And mostly, the amended version of the bill would not have been a private member's bill, but a government bill. That hijacks the process and, above all, limits the scope of our work as members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    Moreover, on May 21, 2013, the Speaker of the House ruled on a point of order raised by the hon. member for Toronto-Centre regarding this report, as I said previously. Although the Speaker found it admissible, the report's content gave rise to a number of questions and, above all, a number of reservations. By that very fact, we are in a position to insist on the fact that permission to broaden the scope of the bill can hardly be granted and we must be able to examine these aspects much more thoroughly. This is a whole different ball game, and we cannot go forward with a bill with a scope that has been broadened and no longer resembles its initial version, which had an objective of honouring the Canadian Forces.
    We also note that, as I said earlier, there are considerations that highlight the amendments we are considering with respect to broadening the bill. The initial bill was aimed at reducing the wait time by one year for granting citizenship to any permanent resident who is a member of the Canadian Forces and who has signed a minimum three-year contract and completed basic training. If we were considering just that, this bill could be passed by unanimous consent. We would have had no need to debate it because it is a completely commendable proposal. However, complications arose after the statements of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism who, in proposing these amendments, tried to change the bill to revoke citizenship.

  (1405)  

    There is an essential and important difference between a private member's bill, like the one we have here, and a government bill. A distinction must be made between these two types of bill, which are extremely different. Government bills must receive constitutional approval by the Minister of Justice, in accordance with the Department of Justice Act.
    In other words, when measures like this are presented for a private member's bill, we circumvent the long-standing process that enables us to determine whether legislative processes are consistent with the Constitution of Canada. If we are in a position to do these evaluations, we can determine whether there is a litigation risk when a bill is proposed and implemented. These risks must be assessed and taken into account by the Department of Justice, which leads us to wonder whether this bill, as some witnesses mentioned, is constitutional or whether there is a litigation risk. Those were the questions we asked ourselves beforehand.
    In simple terms, section 10 of the Citizenship Act already sets out a process for revoking citizenship. The process states that should a person obtain citizenship through fraud, false representation…

  (1410)  

[English]

    I'm sorry, Madam Groguhé, but I have to interrupt you.
    I want to let members know that I did seek agreement from the parliamentary secretary to see if someone in one of our speaking spots, which is the next one, could switch spots with Mr. Lamoureux.
    It does not affect other people on the list, because it is the same kind of switch that we did the other day.
    I believe we have agreement, and with that understanding—
    Mr. Lamoureux was not on the list. After your speaker was Mr. Dykstra.
    When you started the day—
    No, nobody's changed the list.
    Let me go over it again. It was Madam Groguhé, then Rathika, and then Rick.
    What we're doing is Kevin, who was further down the list, is changing spots with Rathika, and Rathika will go further down the list. In other words, Mr. Dykstra will still have the third spot.
    No, if she's not here, it goes to the next person.
    No, she'll be here. She's on her way. That's not the issue.
    Get her over here.
    Get her over here. Mr. Dykstra is next.
    I only mentioned it because I did talk to Mr. Dykstra, and I had an agreement that the Conservative spot would remain in exactly the same spot.
    Okay, but if there's disagreement on it....
    Is she coming or not?
    Mr. Rick Dykstra: Okay.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): I was actually going to tell her not to come—she's in another meeting—but because we had agreement...and now we don't have agreement. Okay.
    I'll go back to you, Madam Groguhé, but first, Monsieur Dusseault, on a point of order.

[Translation]

    I'm not sure I understood what we were going to do for question period, which should be starting in about five minutes. Can you remind me? I wasn't listening and didn't understand what the committee intended to do for the next 45 minutes.

[English]

    I was out of the room, so if you will hold on a minute, I will check with the clerk.
    All right. There was a vote. The vote did not carry, so the meeting is carrying on. That's what was decided while I was not in the room.
    Thank you.
    I'll go back to Madam Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Thank you, Madam Chair. I will continue.
    In cases where a person obtains citizenship through fraud, false representation or by knowingly concealing material circumstances, that person would have his or her citizenship revoked. There is currently no other way of revoking citizenship at present. This new proposal, by way of a private member's bill, raises serious constitutional concerns given the Charter's guarantees in sections 6, 7 and 15, particularly where it concerns matters of national or ethnic origin, or potentially the recognized analogous ground of citizenship.
    It is clear that we are again getting into constitutional matters, matters that we must put forward and take into account in order to use that perspective to evaluate the amendments proposed by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
    To continue, Madam Chair…

  (1415)  

[English]

    We have a point of order.
    Monsieur Dusseault.

[Translation]

    I'm sorry for interrupting my colleague. I know that we have had health breaks a number of times. I thought this might be a good time for one. The committee meeting hasn't been suspended for a few minutes for a few hours now. So I would ask you, Madam Chair, if you could seek unanimous consent for a health break so that everyone can go to the bathroom or do what they need to do.

[English]

    I've been asked to seek unanimous consent.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): We do not have unanimous consent.
    Did you still want to be on the list, Ms. James?
    I just want to remind the member from the NDP that he's free to get up and take a bathroom break any time he needs to, or to get some coffee or refreshments. That's the privilege of every member of this committee. We might need to have a full break with everyone going to the bathroom at the same time.
    I just want to tighten up points of order a bit.
     A point of order was made. I was asked to ask for unanimous consent. We did not get it. Now I will go back to the speaker.

[Translation]

    To wrap up on that point, Madam Chair, we can wonder whether the bill respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states:
    ...no law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to

    (a) authorize or effect the arbitrary detention, imprisonment or exile of any person;
    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms also prohibits any law that would:
    (e) deprive a person of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice for the determination of his rights and obligations;

[English]

    Just hold on a moment, please, Madam Groguhé. I know that I am finding it difficult to follow, so I want to make sure the interpreters are finding that your pace is okay for them.
    Is the pace okay for the interpreters? Thank you very much. If you do feel at any time that you need us to slow down, please let the chair know and I will accommodate.
    Madam Groguhé.

[Translation]

    Am I speaking too quickly, Madam Chair? I would like to know if my pace is okay.

[English]

    Yes, you are and very clearly.

[Translation]

    Very well.
    Madam Chair, I will address and compare the provisions that have been made by this government. They concern the three mammoth bills of the current legislature, the lack of transparency in the matter of the resignation of the Prime Minister's chief of staff, the numerous ethical scandals and many other things. We cannot trust this government. So why should we put forward this motion?
    Canadians are not fools. They know that the Conservatives will not hesitate to benefit from a potential flaw in the legislative process to bypass the current verification and monitoring mechanisms. The worst thing to do would be to support this motion, which would give them free rein.
    Moreover, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism's proposals are not at a dead end. If he wants to table such a range of measures concerning the revocation and renunciation of citizenship, he is free to do so through a government bill. At that point, we would be able to spend more time debating it in the House of Commons and in committee, which is important.
    We know just how important it is to have a lengthy debate on these issues, which involve profound changes within our country. We will then be free to ask witnesses about the content proposed by the minister, which is unfortunately not the case now, in the context of the study of Bill C-425.
    More checks will be done on the constitutionality of the legislative initiative. A number of times, I highlighted just how central constitutionality was. I also stressed the need to look into it to determine whether the bill and the amendments truly fit with our constitution.
    Lastly, the members of this House will be in a position to do their job properly and effectively. Our duty and our job, as parliamentarians, is to carefully study bills submitted to Parliament, be they government initiatives or private members' initiatives. In this case here—I will end on this, if I may—I would say that we need to say no to this motion because it clearly limits our duty and our work as parliamentarians.
    Since citizenship is at the heart of the minister's amendments, we must do our work in a rigorous and transparent manner. We must be able to handle these issues, but through a government bill, so that the debates are longer and the issue is studied much more in depth.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.

  (1420)  

[English]

    Thank you very much, Madam Groguhé. I'm presuming now that you are done your debate.

[Translation]

    Could you please add me to the list?

[English]

    You would like to be put on the list for another round. Okay, the clerk will put you on the list.
    Our next speaker on the list is Madam Sitsabaiesan. Before we go to Ms. Sitsabaiesan, I'm going to call a half-hour break for comforts.
    The meeting is suspended until 3 o'clock.

  (1420)  


  (1500)  

     I'd like to call the meeting to order.
    The next person on the speakers list is Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Madam Chair, I'm happy to have an opportunity to speak to this motion. This motion asks for an extension of 30 days to study private member's Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces). Though its title refers to “honouring the Canadian Armed Forces”, we have learned through the 60 days of study we have already had on this bill that it is not really about honouring the armed forces. There is a small piece that honours some people who served in the armed forces, but there are other parts of the bill that go far beyond that.
    I don't think at this point it is necessary for us as a committee to give that time extension as we've already spent the 60 days allotted for the study of a private member's bill in committee. As we know, a private member's bill has two hours of debate in the House at second reading stage. After second reading stage it is sent to committee for further study and to be reported back to the House.
    When we did that study, we learned of the many flaws and the many different aspects in the bill, and I don't even know whether the sponsor of the bill intended them to be part of the nature of the original bill.
    We know that many government members and the minister himself have spoken about the bill and have suggested amendments to it. We know that the government's amendment proposed changes to the private member's bill that made it something absolutely new, something very different. It changed the scope of the bill. The amendment proposed by the government members changed the bill dramatically. They knew it was flawed because of what was presented to us by all of the witnesses who came before the committee.
    Let me go through some of the items that the witnesses and the government's own members identified as containing flaws, or some of the facets of this bill that they wanted to change, or that weren't appropriate, that may not have been in compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or may not have been in compliance with the Constitution. Whatever it may be, let's have a look at what our expert witnesses had to say, and let's have a little bit of a discussion about some of those things.
    I'll just list a few for now, and I'll try to get through as many as I possibly can.
    First of all, in the bill itself, the sponsor of the bill refers to “act of war”. Many have identified that this is not a term that Canadian law understands or recognizes. The sponsor spoke of “pathways to integration” and increasing pathways to integration for permanent residents and newer immigrants to this country. Issues of statelessness were introduced and outlined for committee members by many people.
    The concept of revocation of one's citizenship, which is clearly part of the bill, was highlighted by many of the witnesses who appeared before us.
    Another issue is that this bill casts the net far too wide. Too many people get caught up in this bill. Even the sponsor of the bill himself mentioned that he recognized that maybe some people were getting caught in the cracks of the legislation, for example, people who were child soldiers or people who had foreign convictions.

  (1505)  

    Another thing is that if this bill went forward, it would actually create multiple tiers of Canadian citizenship. I'll make sure to go through that as well in as much detail as I can to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to understand what our experts have told us.
    Another topic that was brought forward is the concern that was raised about ministerial discretion and accountability. What we've seen with this current government, especially in immigration-related bills and others, is that more and more powers are being given to fewer and fewer people, so rather than have a tribunal or a group of experts make decisions on things, it's actually the one minister who has more and more discretion on many more topics.
    Another problem that was identified was with respect to citizenship wait times and the government allowing queue jumping for asylum seekers and refugee claimants in this country. The government was very clear that it didn't want people to jump the queue, but when there's a citizenship wait time of years in this country, the government is trying to have people jump the queue.
    One more topic that I will be touching on is how we can actually honour people who have served in our armed forces.
     These are some of the topics, Madam Chair, that I will be delving into throughout my discourse.
    Pardon me, Madam Chair. I think I just made a French-to-English bad translation. I used the French word instead of the English word.
    A Voice: It happens.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Instead of saying “speech”—discours—I said “discourse”, which is not proper English. My apologies, Madam Chair.
     To touch on one of the topics I identified, I will speak about the term “acts of war”. The first problem with this, Madam Chair, is that the term is not defined in Canadian law, yet in the bill itself the sponsor says that if somebody commits an act of war, they need to be punished. The experts who came before the committee clearly and repeatedly identified that it would be very problematic because of the terms “war” or “declaration of war”.
    We heard from Colonel Michael R. Gibson that the use of the term “war” or the term “declaration of war” in legal language has actually gone out of fashion in international law, not just Canadian law, since the Second World War, yet our government today wants to bring that back. Sorry, it's not the government. I should be correct. Even though it is highly supported and pushed by the government, it is coming to us in the form of a private member's bill rather than a government bill or government business, so I shouldn't say “the government”. However, it does seem very much that the government is the one putting forward this private member's bill and trying to push it through the back door with less scrutiny, less oversight, less accountability, and less transparency, because it just seems that it doesn't want to do the proper due diligence on such a large topic as the changing of our immigration legislation.

  (1510)  

     This bill would change our immigration legislation and revoke the citizenship of Canadian citizens. The way it is right now, it would create statelessness. We are signatories to the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, yet this bill, as the sponsor has put it forward and as the government continues to push for it, would create statelessness.
    Earlier in our debate, we heard government members say that they want to do due diligence on the study of a bill, and that is why they are putting forward this motion to extend the study of this bill for 30 days. It's apparently a new practice. They've all just woken up and want to do due diligence, but what we've seen time and time again with this government is that they move closure. Earlier today we voted on yet another closure motion. For all those people joining us from their homes who may not know what closure is, it's one form of time allocation. It's one form of stopping debate in the House of Commons. This government has moved motions to stop debate on bills in the House of Commons more than 45 times. At the time I wrote down my notes, the number was 45 times.

  (1515)  

    I have a point of order.
    Yes, welcome to our committee, Ms. Rempel.
    Thank you. It's always a pleasure to work with you.
    Madam Chair, page 1049 of Bosc and O'Brien states:
In addition, the Chair may, at his or her discretion, interrupt a member whose observations and questions are repetitive or are unrelated to the matter before the committee.
     I appreciate my colleague's comments, but the motion is pursuant to Standing Order 97.1 (1), and the committee is requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-425. The argument I believe my colleague opposite is making is that an extension would be relevant in order to see further debate of the content.
     I therefore challenge the relevancy of her claim and would challenge you to ask her to move to her next topic or close her debate.
    That's a point of order and I will respond to it.
    The motion that we are debating is an extension, and the extension is in order for things to happen to a piece of legislation. The member is at liberty to bring into the arguments that she is making today the contents of the bill, as to whether she will or will not support the extension, because it's very hard to talk about an extension in a vacuum. In order to come to an understanding of why she's going to be voting one way or the other, she has every right to refer to the contents, because that's going to be what will be informing her decision.
    Madam Chair, is it my understanding that you've ruled against this point of order and that my colleague should not move to the next topic, given the question of relevancy?
    What I've done is I've given you my understanding.
    So you've ruled against this point of order?
    Yes, the chair has ruled, but I have somebody on the same point of order.
    I challenge the chair, and I'd like a recorded vote.
    Okay, state your challenge.
    I challenge the concept of relevancy given that my colleague is arguing for an extension of the debate on this bill, which is what the form and substance of this motion is. I believe you've ruled against this according to page 1049 of O'Brien and Bosc, and I challenge your ruling on this matter.
    I have a point of order. I challenge the challenge of the chair's ruling. If you look at O'Brien and Bosc, there is no debate.
    Yes. Okay, sorry. I was in another world where we did debate challenges to the chair. I want to thank my colleague.
    What you're voting on actually is that the chair's ruling be sustained. That's what you will be voting on.
    It will be a recorded vote.
    (Ruling of the chair overturned [See Minutes of Proceedings])
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): The motion is defeated to sustain the ruling of the chair.

  (1520)  

    I think what she said was that we challenge the chair, so, Madam Chair, my understanding is that your ruling on a point of order was defeated. Is that correct?
    Yes, that's right.
    Then, just for my understanding, would any arguments that my colleague might make to argue against the extension of the study of this bill be ruled out of order?
    An hon. member: That's right. It was voted on.
    I will also remind the member to stay on topic.
    Okay, we're back to the speaker.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I guess my colleague who just raised that point of relevancy missed the piece at the beginning when I stated why it was relevant. Maybe I should repeat it so that she can actually know why it is relevant, why the topics that I'm speaking about are relevant, and how it does make sense for me to continue. Let me go back a little bit, just to help my honourable colleague who is joining us.
    As she very correctly stated, this motion is actually requesting an extension of time of 30 days beyond the 60 days that are already allocated for the study of this private member's bill in our committee. The common practice according to O'Brien and Bosc is that a private member's bill is given 60 days of study time in a committee. Then at that point the committee hears from witnesses who are experts in the field usually, or people who have personal experience, people who are front-line workers, whatever it might be. We hear witness testimony over that 60-day period, of which the schedule is set by the government. Even though, Madam Chair, there is a subcommittee that decides the setting of the schedule, the schedule is actually controlled by the government because the government has a majority on the subcommittee as well. That schedule is set by the government, and then we go through our study and hear witness testimony, which we did.
    During that study it was very clear from the many, many witnesses we heard there were many issues and items that were considered to be flaws. There were some things that were recognized as positive moves forward, such as recognizing some people who may have served in the armed forces, recognizing the commitment to our country, recognizing our commitment to our flag, recognizing the commitment to the maple leaf. Then what happened was the government proposed amendments—
    We have another point of order.
    Madam Chair, again referring to page 1049 or O'Brien and Bosc, it states, “In addition, the Chair may, at his or her discretion, interrupt a member whose observations and questions are repetitive or are unrelated to the matter before the committee.”
    I argued on the latter half of that statement before. I'd like now to order that my colleague opposite's comments are repetitive. I believe that the point on the need for robust witness testimony has been made several times here in the debate on this. I would say that any testimony related to the need for robust witness testimony is in fact repetitive. She should be moving to the next point of content in her speech.
    I would remind my colleague to remain on topic and to continue with her discourse.

[Translation]

    With respect to my point of order, I would like to say that the Conservative member mentioned the repetitive nature of my colleague's speech. I don't agree. Since I have just joined this committee, it is crucial information that I need so that I can understand the issues and make decisions.
    The individuals who have been a part of this committee's deliberations for several hours now may have already heard these comments, but it is the first time for me. Since I am participating in this committee's work today, I need all the information required to get an idea of the issues and vote in good conscience on issues affecting the future of Canadians.
    For those reasons, I remind everyone that it is important that my colleague go over these issues again.

  (1525)  

[English]

    I want to remind my colleagues that MP Sitsabaiesan has only had the floor for less than 15 minutes, and she is starting her speech. I have reminded her to include new points, to pay attention to relevancy, and to proceed with that in mind. That is the direction I have given.
    Now I will go to Mr. Dykstra.
    I'm going to let Ms. Rempel finish her point. I do have a point of relevance to Mr. Morin's interjection, but I think that Ms. Rempel needs to finish her point.
    Madam Chair, to my colleague opposite, I'm not a regular member of this committee either, and I've been following the rivetting testimony here through various other means. I believe a lot of it is put in Hansard.
    I just wanted to clarify that per that point, my understanding is that the need for robust witness testimony is something that has been clearly established in committee. Therefore, any testimony put under that category would be deemed repetitive per page 1049 of O'Brien and Bosc.
    Is that your ruling?
    My ruling right now is that the member who is speaking has been told to keep her comments relevant and not to be too repetitive.
    Just to be clear, the need for robust witness testimony is something that would be repetitive.
    We are not talking about robust witness testimony. There are no witnesses here. We have members who are debating an extension motion, and that is what is going to be debated today.
    I'm not understanding what you're ruling, Madam Chair. Was my colleague opposite in order and not repetitive, or was she repetitive?
    You raised a concern that the member was being repetitive, and as any chair would do, I've urged her to pay attention to that.
    Excellent. Thank you.
    Mr. Dykstra, you passed, right?
    Yes, I pass.
    Back to you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    It's great that many government members are interested in immigration and this bill. It goes to show the government's interest in this bill.
    I'll address the topic of acts of war and the problems with that, Madam Chair. We know what Colonel Gibson mentioned about those two words and moving forward, we have—
    Just hold on a minute please, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Ms. Rempel, I'm hoping you have a different point of order.
    I'm actually referring to the previous point of order, which you ruled against and was overturned. I believe that my colleague's content was therefore ruled out of order, and the acts of war comment that she was making is no longer relevant.
     I believe that she was supposed to move on to a new topic of debate.
    She is talking about the reasons she will be speaking for or against the amendment.
    We did overrule that. Is that correct?
    At the same time, she is here and has the right to speak to the issue. She has the floor. I will remind the member not to be repetitive and not to stray beyond the area of relevancy.
    We will proceed.
    Thank you again, Madam Chair.
    Issues that were articulated very clearly before by constituents who have written to me and by front-line workers are important for me to mention here, Madam Chair. I don't believe it is irrelevant. I find it interesting that a member is thinking that it's not relevant.
    Nevertheless, let's talk about how much international law has shied away from using the concept and instead inclines to use the term “armed conflict”. The concept of act of war is not defined in Canadian law but when the colonel was here, he mentioned to us that armed conflict is a term that is used in international law but armed conflict is not mentioned in the bill itself. The term “armed conflict” already appears in a number of places in our federal statutes. He has suggested that maybe we should include that, but I won't go into more detail from his testimony than that, Madam Chair.

  (1530)  

    We have another point of order.
    Going back to page 1049 of O'Brien and Bosc and looking at the matter of relevancy, I don't see how my colleague is tying her testimony into the subject of the motion before committee, which is a request to extend the debate on this particular bill. That point has not been made, and therefore I believe her current topic is irrelevant.
    I will remind my colleague to make sure that her topic remains relevant and on the clause and refers back to the motion that is before the committee. There is some latitude but not so much latitude that we can stray into other areas.
    Absolutely, Madam Chair. Maybe I should clarify.
    When I'm speaking of some of the items that are identified in the bill and why it's relevant to the motion at hand requesting an extension of further debate and why it's not necessary is that the amendments the government has put forward have changed the scope of the bill. I didn't want to repeat myself because I had mentioned this, and I figured my honourable colleague had heard and understood that part.
    When the scope of a bill is changed so dramatically in committee that it doesn't make sense, it isn't necessary to give that extra time because it's deemed to be a different bill. It doesn't make sense for us to debate this new bill that wasn't presented to the House.
    The committees are creatures of the House of Commons chamber itself. When a committee receives a bill from the House and the committee decides to.... I know that committees are masters of their own destiny; however, they are creatures of the House. When a committee receives a bill, such as Bill C-425, in its original form and then the committee—because there's a majority of government members and they have introduced multiple amendments that have changed the bill so much that the scope of the bill has changed from the original bill—it doesn't need to report that back. That is why, Madam Chair, it is important for us to have this discussion today and say that it's not necessary for this motion—
    I have to apologize because there is another interruption. I know that you're just getting into your speech, but we do have a point of order and that does take precedence.
    Madam Chair, again, pointing to relevancy on page 1049 of O'Brien and Bosc, I believe the committee recommended to the House on April 23, 2013, that it be granted the power to expand the scope of the bill during its consideration of Bill C-425 . Therefore, the committee is waiting for the decision of the House before further consideration of the bill. Therefore, the motion put in front of the committee is to extend the time in which the bill will be considered in order to accommodate exactly what my colleague is talking about. Therefore, given that she, according to my understanding, is agreeing with the content therein, I would also argue relevancy on her current line of debate.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: May I just speak to that point of order, Madam Chair?
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): On that point of order, go ahead.
    Could I get clarification from my honourable colleague what it was she was reading and from where in O'Brien and Bosc?
    It gives me great pleasure, as a non-regular member of this committee, to talk to a regular member of committee about committee business—
    I guess, Madam Chair, we shouldn't be—
    Ms. Michelle Rempel: —which was referred to the House—

  (1535)  

    No, no, the member is not referring to the motion that is before us, but to the item or the line that you're reading—
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: The citation from O'Brien and Bosc.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): —from House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
    That's correct. It's from page 1049, as I've stated.
    Which paragraph is it?
    It's the top paragraph.
    Is that under “Decisions of the Chair and Appeals”, Madam Chair?
    As I've read several times:

In addition, the Chair may, at his or her discretion, interrupt a member whose observations and questions are repetitive or are unrelated to the matter before the committee.
    Madam Chair, is it my understanding that my honourable colleague is repeating the exact same point of order?
    It's actually a new point of order, because each content point that has been brought forward today has been repetitive and irrelevant.
    Okay. You have the citation.
    I would urge all members, when they have the microphone and when it's their turn to speak, to remember to speak to the motion that's on the floor. There is a certain amount of latitude, but you don't have complete latitude.
    Carry on.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Just for clarification, I guess for everybody, I will use my time to explain. I was explaining using my own words, but maybe it would be helpful if I used the words of O'Brien and Bosc with respect to motions of instruction, and what is going on here, and why what I'm talking about is extremely relevant.
    The clerk knows what page I'm reading from:
Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as, for example, examining a portion of a bill and reporting it separately, examining certain items in particular, dividing a bill into more than one bill, consolidating two or more bills into a single bill, or
—here's the kicker, Madam Chair—
expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.
    That's the piece that is extremely relevant.
    That is the exact same thing I had articulated using my own words, but maybe reading it straight out of O'Brien and Bosc helps.
    What has happened is that the committee is now looking to report to the House after “expanding or narrowing”. So that's changing, which is what I've been saying all this time: it's changing. However, I'll use the exact words here: “expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill”.
    It is clearly articulated in O'Brien and Bosc that it's something that is otherwise beyond the powers of a committee, and because this motion that is before us is requesting a report that is beyond the powers of this—
    Madam Chair, a point of order.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): We have—
    Mr. Rick Dykstra: The relevance of the motion that is on the floor has nothing to do with the report that you're referring to.
    You're talking about an argument we had, that was carried by this committee a number of weeks ago, in regard to expanding the scope of the bill. We received a decision from the legal clerk that the amendments were out of scope, and we had to go back to the House of Commons to seek the will of the House to be able to expand the scope of the bill that was agreed to by the member of Parliament.
    You're speaking to that specific issue. That has nothing to do with the motion we are speaking about today.
    Today is merely this motion, and I'm happy to read it again. This motion refers directly to the 30-day extension that a member of Parliament can ask for, or can seek, or can be requested by committee in order to ensure that his or her private member's bill has an additional period of time to be dealt with at the committee that the individual MP has suggested and recommended that the bill go to.
    That's what this motion is about. There's nothing relevant about what you're talking about in terms of expanding the scope of the bill. That has nothing to do with this motion.
    You've got to rule her to speak specifically to the motion, Madam Chair.
    Just so everybody understands what it is we're here to debate, I'm going to read the motion to everybody. I know it's been—

  (1540)  

    Madam Chair, I recommend we vote on it, because we've already been here for a long, long, time.
    The chair would remind Mr. Dykstra that this is not a point of order.
    There has been some question as to what's being debated on the floor. To add clarity for everybody who is at the meeting, I am going to read the motion. I'm going to ask everybody to keep that in mind when they speak and when they bring up their points of order. The motion reads:
Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(1), your Committee is requesting an extension of thirty sitting days to consider Bill C-425, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), referred to the Committee on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.
    That is what we are here to debate. There were different pathways that this could have taken. This is the one we are here to debate. When people are debating, as goes the experience of this committee ever since I've been here and it was ruled on by the regular chair, when somebody is speaking on an issue, they must be able to link back the comments they make to the motion that's there. In other words, they can't go off on an isolated topic.
    Madam Chair, based on what you just said—and I appreciate your reading the motion again so that it's clear to everyone—Ms. Groguhé spoke since about 8:30 this morning. She had about, if I read correctly here, six to seven, almost eight hours, to speak. We didn't interrupt her. We allowed her to speak to many spokes that have a little bit to do with the issue relevant to the bill itself. Virtually none of what she spoke about was about the extension. I let that go. I didn't say anything.
    We are not here to discuss what Madam Groguhé said, because she's gone.
    Let me make my point.
    Well, she's gone. Actually, we're not supposed to say whether a member is here or not.
    Okay. My apologies.
    What I am saying is that we allowed it to go and we didn't say anything. But now, when it comes specifically to this motion, I expect that the next speaker is going to speak specifically to the motion on the floor that you read today and that we aren't going to go into the same speech that we heard from Madam Groguhé. It has to be specifically to the motion on the floor today.
    The chair would remind all members that we have a motion on the floor. The motion has been read to each and every person, and I'm sure you've all heard it. When you're speaking, please make sure that the comments you make are related to and have a connection with the wording I have read out.
    We're not going to say that the only words that can be said are those that are printed in the motion because otherwise there would be no reason to have a committee or to have a debate. We are here to debate this issue. What I am going to say is that I'll be listening very carefully. If I find somebody veering too far off and not connecting back to the motion, I will then urge them not to do that.
    Shall I continue, Madam Chair?
    We'll go back to you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Thank you.
    Madam Chair, some of the issues that I've identified are reasons why I will not be supporting this motion to extend the time for another 30 days. I don't want to vote blindly one way or the other without explaining myself. That's why I'd like to justify my vote for you and for the rest of the committee.
    Here goes why—
    I just want to explain that there would be no reason to have a committee meeting and to have a debate if the only reason people were here was to say yes or no. That wouldn't require debate. People could just vote. We have debate for a reason.
    My only advice to members of this committee is to make sure when you are speaking that you link whatever points you are making back to the motion and that you don't go off into a different sphere. The chair does not want to say to people that it's either yea or nay. That is not what we're here to do. It is a legitimate debate that is going to take place, and I'm going to give people the space they need to debate.
     I'm hoping I'm not going to get the same point of order over and over again, because this chair could get to overlooking points of order as well.
    Back to you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan. Go ahead please.

  (1545)  

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
     I've put the concept of acts of war to bed for now.
    I'd like to speak about pathways of integration, because the presenting member said the bill would actually offer pathways of integration for newer immigrants to Canada and permanent residents.
    Some of the problems that were identified with this is that very few permanent residents are able to get into the armed forces. Experts said the impacts of this bill would be extremely minimal. If you look on the website of the forces' recruiting page, the first requirement is to be a Canadian citizen.
    When they identify the first requirement as needing to be a Canadian citizen, it's unlikely that people who are permanent residents would even consider applying for such positions within the armed forces.
     When we spoke with witnesses, there were two colonels here with us, Colonel Bariteau and Colonel Gibson. I believe they were the ones who spoke about this, but I don't remember off the top of my head, Madam Chair. They said it's actually not used very much. Very few people who have permanent residency are recruited to serve, and I forget the exact number.
    My question is, if our government is telling us that people who serve in our armed forces are putting their lives on the line in the course of duty to serve and protect our country and its people, are we saying that other people in other professions who put their lives on the line, for example, RCMP officers and doctors who are not members of the armed forces, are not deserving?
    Mr. Rick Dykstra: On a point of order, Madam Chair.
     Ms. Sitsabaiesan, I have a point of order.
    You read the motion out so everybody would understand, Madam Chair. Again, we have a situation where the member is speaking about something that may have happened or have been said during the debates that occurred when the bill was before this committee. The bill is not before the committee any more. What is before the committee at the current time is this extension request. So what is the relevance of quoting witnesses when we've already determined that is out of order?
    On the same point of order, Mr. Harris.
    To the point of order, Madam Chair, I've heard your ruling and I've heard the member explain why she doesn't support the motion and why she doesn't support the extension. She's doing it by making reference to the legislation itself and to the concerns that were raised during study of the legislation. She hasn't reached the point of explaining how it ties in with the motion itself. She's referring to what happened here.
    The member has the right to state facts and then tie them to the motion and relevance. Mr. Dykstra is preventing the member from even saying why or how it is relevant to the motion, so I don't think the point of order is well founded. You can't jump on a member before she even gets a chance to finish the point she's making. She has a right to make that relevance before she's ruled out of order.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Harris may want to make his point, but it's incorrect actually because the relevance that you're going to need to rule on my point of order is whether or not the member is speaking to the motion that is on the table, which you read. We've already heard from the previous speaker almost all the same arguments which are being presented by this speaker. So relevance has already been established, Mr. Harris. What we want now is to understand why the NDP will not vote on the issue of a 30-day extension that will allow a private member's bill to actually move forward. That's what is relevant here.
     If they don't like the private member's bill--
    Mr. Jack Harris: Do you think it's relevant?
    Mr. Rick Dykstra: That's what I know is relevant and that's what I'm asking the chair to rule on.
    I would urge colleagues not to have a two-way conversation and to conduct themselves through the chair.
    Mr. Jack Harris: Sorry, Madam Chair. My apologies.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): Are you done?
    Yes, I'm waiting for your ruling.
    Mr. Menegakis, is it on the same point of order?
    No. The member apologized, so there's no need for me to say anything.
    Thank you.
    Okay. I am going to remind all members of the committee that we have a motion on the floor and I'm going to encourage them to relate the comments they are making to the request for an extension with the understanding that this is not a yes or no, that there is room to debate.
    In that debate, whatever points you make have to relate back and be relevant, and yes, it can be a rationale for why you're going to be moving one way or the other.
    That is my advice to all committee members on both sides of the table and from all parties.
    We will proceed with Ms. Sitsabaiesen.
    Thank you once again, Madam Chair.
    To continue on this one reason as to why I will not be supporting the motion to extend the study period for another 30 days, the sponsor of the bill mentioned that this bill would actually allow for more permanent residents to integrate into Canadian society quicker, better, and with firmer roots, but the problem is that having permanent residency is not part of the qualifications of serving in the armed forces.
    When we had members of the armed forces presenting to us as witnesses, they mentioned that only about 50 permanent residents actually serve in the armed forces and 14 in the reserves. I'm not sure from the testimony if it was 14 who fell within the 50 number or if it was 14 more. It was also mentioned, Madam Chair, that it would represent less than 0.5% of the actual Canadian Forces planned intake for a year. It's interesting that it was also mentioned where we could find the policy that established the Canadian Forces enrollment requirements.
    They also told us that yes, on their recruitment website it does say that you must be a Canadian citizen. However, when we spoke about how there are actual permanent residents on there, they said if you have special skills, they will target you and ask you to join the forces—or special types of recruitment, and that would be as a non-commissioned member. No. I'm sorry, my apologies.... Actually, that is correct. “In order to be eligible for enrollment in the Canadian Forces as an officer or a non-commissioned member, a person must”—I'm quoting a professor—“(a) be a Canadian citizen, except that the Chief of the Defence Staff or such officer”—

  (1555)  

    Relevance?
    Excuse me, Ms. Sitsabaiesen, I'm sorry to interrupt you again.
    I always feel terrible, no matter who the speaker or on which side of the table they sit, when we have a number of interruptions, because I know the kind of impact it has on the person who has the floor to speak. I have reminded members a number of times to stay on topic, but that does not mean it's yes or no. Staying on topic means you have to relate back to the motion that's there in some way.
    Mr. Dykstra, did you have a point of order?
    Yes. I think Ms. Rempel is going to make the same point of order that I am, so she's—
    Mr. Dykstra, why don't you make it now that you have the floor?
    I'm giving the floor to Ms. Rempel.
    Once again, you have every right to pass and then I will take the next speaker on the list, because you don't get to choose who it should go to, right? If you want to make a point of order, that is fine. Otherwise I have to go down my speakers list.
     Sure. My point of order is, again, to go back to relevance. Quoting witnesses and saying things like, “Oh look, this is a professor”, shows that it's a meandering process, not bringing this back to relevance.
    Quoting from individuals, organizations, or spokespeople as it relates to why a private member's bill should be granted a 30-day extension, and why this motion is here, is fair game. I don't have any problem with that. There are a lot of people who have quoted and who have positions on whether a 30-day extension should be granted or not granted for private members' bills. But the individuals she is quoting are witnesses who came to this committee to speak specifically to Mr. Shory's private member's bill, not to the relevance or non-relevance of a 30-day extension.
    On the same point of order, we'll go over to Mr. Harris.
    Again, what I hear Mr. Dykstra saying is that she can't be relevant because she made a mistake and she had to correct herself. If someone is saying that we don't want to grant a further extension for consideration of this bill, uses the fact that all this discussion took place under the consideration of the bill by the committee, and wants to review some of it as part of why she thinks that the consideration was thorough and doesn't need any more time, that as a private member's bill.... It's a private member's bill that we're talking about here, not a bill manipulated by the minister in the House, which is what this extension is for.
    She's talking about the evidence that was given for the private member's bill, not the one the minister wants. The private member's bill had evidence, and she's talking about that evidence, and she's talking about why she considers that evidence and that discussion sufficient, I'm assuming. But she hasn't even been given a chance to say that, because Mr. Dykstra thinks she made a mistake when she was misquoting a particular piece of information.
    That's really, Madam Chair, abusing the member who is trying to make a point and trying to finish her speech.
    It's a point of interruption, not a point of order.
    An hon. member: Point of order.
     I am once again going to remind people to raise their hands.
     I will recognize you and then we will proceed in an orderly manner. I know that we've been here since 8:30 this morning after a very few hours of sleep, so people are a little bit on the tired side, and maybe we're forgetting the way that this committee has operated.
     I don't know where some other members who are new to the committee have come from, but I've sat on this committee for over two years, and this committee has operated in such a way that when we've had debate and discussion on items, it has never been yes or no. Members have been allowed to present their points of view as long as they can relate it back to the topic at the table.
    We had a point of order. We had a response to the point of order.
    If this is on the same point of order, then I will go to Ms. Rempel.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    To Mr. Harris' comment about how the member is being treated, I would actually go to some of your rulings that you've just made. I believe that anyone who checks our Hansard or the televised proceedings will see that you've reminded my colleague opposite to stay on topic several times.
    Page 1048 of O'Brien and Bosc outlines disorder and misconduct in the committee and states that they may arise “as a result of the failure to abide by the rules and practices of a committee or to respect the authority of the Chair”.
    One of those things, I would assume, is to override your decision, so I think that per that section of O'Brien and Bosc, we're almost getting to a situation where we might have to report this to the House. I would put it on the table that since there has been this consistent inability to relate the speech back to the motion at hand, this is a serious problem that this committee needs to consider.

  (1600)  

    I want to remind members that if there is too much disorder, an adjournment takes place at that stage. I do have that right, as a chair. If I feel that harassment or other things are going on that are not welcome at this committee in the way of decorum, I will adjourn the meeting, because that is one of the few tools I have in order to ensure decorum at a committee.
    I also want to remind people that I have urged everybody whenever they speak not to get too repetitive—although all of us being parliamentarians, we can't help but be somewhat repetitive—and also to stick to the topic, with the understanding that when you're speaking to either a yea or a nay on a motion, you are going to refer to your brain bank or to things you've heard at committee in order to give a rationale for where you're going. That's what I keep urging everybody to do.
     In light of that, I'm going to continue to urge everybody to do that.
    I have Mr. Opitz next.
    Thank you, Madam Chair—
    Sorry, my apologies.
    It's Mr. Morin, and I've got my French ear on.
    Thank you very much.
    However, it is a new point of order. Do you want me—
    Can you hold on to that new point of order? I will go to Mr. Opitz.
    I withdraw my comments.
    As I said previously, after a very long day—and reminding people that we are here about an extension of 30 days—the extension doesn't sit in a vacuum about nothing. The extension is on a specific piece of legislation in order to do things to it. So, please, let's be patient with each other and allow debate to happen, and let's be respectful.
     I'll try to say it in a more neutral way. Let's be respectful of the person making their points. Because I know if I were speaking and there were constant interruptions, they could be seen as a nuisance and I could feel upset or intimidated.
    What I'm urging people to do is to stay on topic and let's proceed.
    Mr. Morin, do you have a different point of order?
    Yes, Madam Chair. I think you're very kind, because I would like to raise a point of—
    I've been told many things, but not that today.
    You are kind indeed.
    I would like to raise a point of order based on misconduct, page 1048 of O'Brien and Bosc.
    Please hold on a moment.
     I don't want to rely only on what my ear hears; I want to be able to read the words at the same time.
    The reason I'm raising this point of order is based on misconduct on the part of Mr. Dykstra and Ms. Rempel, who, for the past 30 minutes, have raised numerous points of order while my good colleagues have been trying to get a point across.
    In O'Brien and Bosc on page 1048, it is written that “disorder and misconduct also include the use of unparliamentary language,”—which is not the case right now—“failure to yield the floor”—and that is not the case, but where it is problematic is “or persistent interruption of the proceedings in any manner”.
    This is the case right now, Madam Chair.
    Both members, Mr. Dykstra and Ms. Rempel, keep interrupting my colleague persistently by raising the same point of order. You've made your ruling every single time, but they keep misconducting themselves by persistently interrupting the proceedings of the committee.
     You've raised this topic before. I sit in the health committee, and I sit with the lovely Kelly Block. Hello, Kelly, nice to see you again.
    I know personally that when I'm cut off during my speech, I lose my train of thought. I'm sure my good colleague feels the same way. It is misconduct and I would urge them to stop doing it. It is really disrespectful.
     That's my point of order and I would like you to make a ruling on the misconduct of both Rick Dykstra and Michelle Rempel, please.

  (1605)  

    A number of hands have gone up. We've written down every name, and I'm going to go down the list, and if you're on this point of order, you will speak. If you have a different point of order, you will remain on the list and we will go back to you.
    Ms. Rempel, go ahead first.
     I respect the comment of my colleague opposite about ensuring that the proceedings go forward in a respectful way. With respect, I think the comments brought up with regard to relevancy have been brought up on separate occasions, on separate and different relevancy issues, and tied back to the fact that there is relevancy to the particular motion.
    Therefore, I think the points of order have been in order, Madam Chair.
     I appreciate deeply your saying that we need to stay on topic, which is what I think you've said several times, but I don't think that's been respected by my colleague opposite. So it is my hope that is how we would proceed.
    I'm going to my colleague, Mr. Harris. Then I will make my comment and we'll proceed.
    Madam Chair, I've only been here for a few minutes, and I've seen serial interruptions that seem to be making the same point over and over again with no new reason to bring it forward. The only purpose is to intimidate the speaker. I wouldn't say the purpose is to intimidate, but it can have that effect. If she has constant interruptions, it prevents the member from even maintaining her train of thought. By being rattled by the members with their constant interruptions, she makes a mistake and misreads something, and that's another excuse for a further interruption.
    Madam Chair, one of the roles of the chair, I say with respect, is to protect the speakers from this type of misconduct. I don't have the rule book in front of me, but I think it certainly deserves some consideration by you, as chair, as to whether this amounts to misconduct by the members opposite in preventing Ms. Sitsabaiesan from making her remarks. You can decide how persistent it was. I've seen several interruptions in a few minutes and several attempts to make the same point for the same reason.
    As chair, I'm going to make a comment. I'm beginning to be very, very concerned about the length of time being taken up with points of order. I don't want there to be a misrepresentation of what I will say is going to be allowed at committee when it comes to discussion on a motion. I have made it very clear. I've read out the wording of the motion to everybody, and I'm more than willing to do it again, if you want.
    If there is any member who wants to hear it read again, I will do so.
    An hon. member: I would.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): You would like to hear it so I will read it out again:

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(1), your Committee is requesting an extension of thirty sitting days to consider Bill C-425, An Act to amend the CItizenship Act (honouring the Canadian Armed Forces), referred to the Committee on Wednesday, February 27, 2013.
    This motion does not say it's a discussion of an extension about nothing. This motion is seeking an extension of 30 days on Bill C-425 which amends the Citizenship Act. Therefore, the chair has urged, and will keep urging members that when they speak to this it should relate to the extension of 30 days for this particular act. The content of your comments has to relate to the act. That's how you will justify whether it goes forward. And whether you're going to speak one way or the other, it could also be related to process.
    If the purpose of this motion were a simple yes or no, we would not be here to debate it. I want to remind my colleagues that we have been debating this since 8:45 on Tuesday morning, in one form or another. I find it interesting, and I must admit that as chair I'm perturbed by this as well. This particular member has shared with this committee, in an open meeting, about the kind of discomfort she has felt at the committee, the kind of targeting, I would say, that she has felt at the committee.
    I'm finding it really unfortunate that not one of these points of order has related to relevancy. I have not found anything so far with the previous speakers that has been relevant.
    I would urge colleagues on all sides to remember to be respectful, to have decorum. We've had a lot of emotion at this meeting. We've actually had a member who has had to leave another meeting in tears. I don't want to go through that. I'm telling you that as long as I'm in this chair, that is not going to happen. I would remind everybody that we are here to deal with this motion, but it does not mean you only get to say yes or no. I would ask that you be relevant and discuss the issue. If you meander too far, this chair will pull you back to the motion.
    Thank you.
    Mr. Morin, is it a new point of order?

  (1610)  

    No, it's the same one. I don't think you actually ruled on whether those two members, Rick Dykstra and Michelle Rempel, did or did not misconduct themselves.
    On the point of order I raised, you were supposed to rule if they did or did not misconduct themselves.
    I am going to look. We've all been at this for a long time. I am going to rule at this stage that they did not, and we're going to proceed. But I am going to let my colleagues know they must be very careful when they are raising points of order, in respect of the language we use and how and where we do this.
    I will go back. I did rule on the point of order—
    I have a question about—
    —but not against you.
    Right, I realize that.
    I have a question, though. You keep referring to what we may ask in a point of order, as if we're using some sort of unparliamentary language or we're being abusive. I would like you to give me an example of any time, since 8:45 this morning, you think anyone on this side of the table has been abusive or used unparliamentary language.
    I have been very careful. Every time I raise my hand and speak on a point of order, I refer to the member, and I make sure that I show relevance to the point that I'm making. Ms. Rempel has done the same, as have Mr. Opitz and Mr. Menegakis.
    You can't make sweeping claims about this. You're stating something that you say we shouldn't be doing, and you're describing us from a personal perspective. I would argue that this is not the case. We have been respectful. We listened to a speech that took over eight hours to complete. I don't know why you would suggest there has been misconduct in any way, shape, or form. You touched on something about how this committee has operated for the last two years, and it's continuing to operate this way.
    This filibuster isn't because we want to be here. We would like to have a vote, but you don't want to have a vote so you're preventing a vote from happening. Your responsibility as the chair is to be equal to both sides.
    I would submit that it is unfair to suggest that we are being abusive or unparliamentary.
    The chair would like to remind people that the chair actually ruled that she did not find this. What the chair did report on was the kind of concerns a particular member of the committee—the one who has the floor right now—expressed quite openly at this committee earlier on in the meeting. But when it came to the ruling, and I stated that as a fact, I ruled that it had not.
    I would urge members not to keep bringing up the same points of order. Let's try to accommodate and get on with hearing from Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    I have made my ruling, so unless it's a new point of order, Mr. Morin, we're going to move on.

  (1615)  

     I don't know if it is a point of order, but may I ask for a five-minute break so both sides can convene?
    On our side, we're going to make sure that we take under consideration the advice to refocus the message. On the opposite side, they will have five minutes to make sure they grasp what you just said a number of times.
    I believe a five-minute time out should be good for the committee. We're all passionate about this issue, and I think a five-minute break would suit everyone well.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    We will have a five-minute suspension, and it will be only five minutes. We'll put the timer on.
    I am going to urge both sides to use these five minutes to centre themselves so that we can come back and deal with the issues at hand.

  (1615)  


  (1620)  

    I'm calling the meeting back to order.
    We are going back to Ms. Sitsabaiesan, and I'm hoping the five-minute respite has given everybody a little bit of calm.
    Ms. Sitsabaiesan, you are speaking to the motion.
    Thank you, Madam Chair, yet once again for passing the floor back to me.
    I believe, from our experience over the last 60 days, that the consideration of Bill C-425 at our citizenship and immigration committee was thorough and that it does not need further study, Madam Chair. I'd like to identify some of the reasons why I believe that the study was thorough and that we do not need further study.
    I was at the point of speaking of pathways to integration, because the presenting member, Mr. Shory, had mentioned in his remarks to us as the committee that his goal through this bill was to increase pathways to integration for newer immigrants and permanent residents. However, many problems were identified with this, and these are reasons why I believe the discussions we've had are sufficient.
    I'll tell you some of what our discussions were, Madam Chair.
    I already spoke about the fact that only citizens can qualify for recruitment. I don't want to go back into that, Madam Chair, but what I do want to move on to is how a permanent resident can actually be recruited. When we had members of the armed forces present to us, they did say it does happen in an extremely rare number of cases.
    I might say the name wrong, but Professor Grazia Scoppio said:
In order to be eligible for enrolment in the Canadian Forces as an officer or non-commissioned member, a person must:

(a) be a Canadian citizen...
    —I'm not going to read the entire quote, but she said that they must be Canadian citizens—
...except that the Chief of the Defence Staff or such officer as he may designate may authorize the enrolment of a citizen of another country if he is satisfied that a special need exists and that the national interest will not be prejudiced thereby.
    When she presented this testimony to us, she explained to us how citizens foreign nationals, citizens of another country, can actually serve with the Canadian Armed Forces, wearing the red maple leaf on their uniform, though they don't have Canadian citizenship. I felt that this was important for us because in the deliberation of the bill, the presenter himself said that one of the very important pieces of the private member's bill that he was putting forward was to increase recruitment of permanent residents. But we heard, and it was very clear, that there aren't very many permanent residents who are recruited, and there's only one way that it can be done, and that's through the Chief of the Defence Staff.
    On this point, Madam Chair, I think it's very clear that the discussion we had already in the committee was sufficient and that we don't need to continue the discussion on this point. That's another reason that we don't need to extend the study period of this bill in committee and, once again, the reason I will not be supporting this motion moving forward.
    Another item, Madam Chair, is that members of the committee were concerned whether this measure in Bill C-425, as it was presented to us, would have a real effect on the people it's actually targeting, given the backlog that already exists with Canadian citizenship. We know that wait times for Canadian citizenship are extremely long.

  (1625)  

    Constituents in Scarborough—Rouge River have contacted me time and again, through Twitter, Facebook, writing me an e-mail, coming into the office, calling me, responding to mail-outs, whatever it might be, or just speaking to me at the grocery store.By whatever method it might be, many residents of Scarborough—Rouge River have spoken to me about their difficulties with the length of time it takes to go through the residency questionnaire and then, after completing the residency questionnaire requirements, how long it takes while they're waiting for their citizenship. The citizenship application process is such a lengthy process. It's not that you just come here and are a permanent resident for three years and then qualify to apply and there is a quick and dirty application and you're done, and then there's the test, of course. This is not the case anymore.
    When I became a Canadian citizen, I didn't have to take the test, because I was a child. Because my mother took the test, my young sisters and I were part of the group with her, so I didn't have the same experience that new Canadians have today. But we know that becoming a Canadian citizen means a lot to many people.
    Considering the extremely long wait times to become a Canadian citizen, we asked experts whether Bill C-425 was going to achieve the results the member was trying to achieve and would actually reach the targeted groups.
    Once again we heard from the professor, who said that the intended outcome was quite unclear. If the intent is simply to expedite the citizenship process for a few select immigrants who happen to have the unique skills to fulfill a special need of the Canadian Forces, then the bill if passed would be accomplishing this outcome and would have a small-scale impact. If, however, the intent is to open the doors of the Canadian Forces to greater numbers of qualified landed immigrants with permanent residency in order to provide—and the professor quoted Mr. Shory, the sponsor of the bill—“new Canadians with more pathways to integration”, as Mr. Shory mentioned, this bill would actually not accomplish that broader outcome.
    Looking at the amendments that the government has already put forward and looking at this testimony provides another reason that I will not be supporting the motion that is before us today, Madam Chair.
     I want to also tell you some of what one of the colonels who spoke to us mentioned. When we spoke to the colonel, we spoke about the air force and becoming a pilot, and he mentioned that many people want—everybody wants—to become a pilot. You yourself, Madam Chair, mentioned earlier in the debate on this specific motion your wish to join the armed forces and what your experiences were like in that regard. I have also had the wish to become a pilot. What the colonel said is very true; this is a wish that many people have. He said it seems that in the Canadian population everybody wants to fly. He mentioned an airplane, but I think many people just want to soar also.
    That said, there are some very severe selection criteria that might prevent many people from joining the forces even if they have their permanent residency. Another factor that he mentioned is that the training is actually very long and demanding.
    If the goal of this bill was to reduce the wait time for applying for citizenship from three years down to one year, the colonel mentioned that the training is so long for somebody before they can serve that they won't actually be reducing to that one-year time, because they won't be serving by the time the two-year period has lapsed. They would just qualify under the regular citizenship process and wouldn't really need to have their application expedited, because they already would have met the three-year requirement.

  (1630)  

    Once again, that is another reason that I will not be supporting this motion to extend the debate here on Bill C-425, Madam Chair.
    He went on and spoke of examples of pilots from the U.K. and noted that we have some of them. I have a friend who is a major in our air force—
    I hope this is going to relate to the motion here.
    Absolutely, Madam Chair.
    Okay, thank you. I look forward to seeing how it is going to link.
    Absolutely. Thank you very much.
    —who serves quite regularly with the U.S. forces and flies for them whenever those instances arise. That type of give and take is given in the service of our countries, as long as we are allies. I read somewhere that this type of respect is given to Commonwealth countries. I think it was from a presentation from the UNHCR that this was brought up, that the countries we commonly compare our legislation with—the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and I don't remember the fourth country off the top of my head,—
    Ms. Sitsabaiesan, I am going to interrupt.
    I want to know, for the sake of clarity for the clerk and me, who here from the government side are actually voting members now. You can have other people here and that's fine, but we need to make sure that our papers are in order. We have had a number of switches and replacements, and process is very important.
    I see that we have six and Mr. Dykstra. Is Mr. Clark no longer with us?
    A voice: [Inaudible--Editor]
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): As I have made clear many times, this is an open meeting. MPs are welcome to come and participate.
    It is everybody, including Mr. Dykstra but not Mr. Shory. Those are the seven people who are here.
    So Mr. Shory is not here officially right now. We recognize him as here, just not as a voting member. There seemed to be a lot of movement, and I wanted to have that clear in my head.
    Thank you so much for the clarification, Mr. Menegakis. You're always so very helpful and gentlemanly. Thank you.
    We'll now go back to Ms. Sitsabaiesan.

  (1635)  

    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I think I've hammered that one home for now. I'll move on to another one of the reasons I will not be supporting this bill. There is a very serious concern about the creation of stateless people because of this bill.
    I'm sorry to interrupt you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    I want to make it very clear that any member who has the floor has the chance to speak for as long as they want, as long as they are speaking to the motion and can relate it to the motion on the floor. I don't want any member to have to apologize for the length of their speech or anything like that. I just want to make that rule clear, because that's the rule that exists.
    We'll go back to you once again, and this time the chair apologizes for the interruption, but I didn't want you to feel that there was a time constraint on you.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I guess you were correct in stating earlier that when the government members constantly interrupt a speaker—and of course, it is me that they interrupted, not any of the other speakers who we had—
    As chair I'm going to say let's deal with the motion.
    Carry on.
    Thank you, Madam Chair. I'll try to remember not to apologize for actually wanting to participate in the debate and to explain why I am not going to be supporting this motion that's before us to extend the time of debate on Bill C-425 here in our committee.
    The topic I'd like to discuss now, Madam Chair, is the fact that Bill C-425 before it was amended—this bill as it is—would actually create people who become stateless. We heard from many witnesses. I'd like to first discuss what we've heard from the UNHCR. I have high respect for the United Nations and I thank them for coming to help us in our deliberations and study of this bill. I'm going to read to you from the actual bill. It says that there is a deemed application for renunciation of Canadian citizenship where that citizen engages in an act of war against the Canadian Armed Forces and that same citizen is also a citizen or legal resident in a country other than Canada.
    That's clause 2 regarding proposed subsection 9(1.1) of the Citizenship Act. I had already touched on, but didn't speak in depth, the fact that “act of war” is not defined in our laws so we don't know what that means. Legal experts who came in front of this committee don't know what that means. I did touch on that, so I don't want to go into it right now. Possibly later I might want to come back to the act of war topic, Madam Chair.
    We've learned that there are two ways of losing citizenship. One is voluntary revocation, voluntarily relinquishing one's citizenship, and the other is having it revoked or taken away from you by the state that gave it to you. We're not talking about voluntary relinquishment of citizenship here when it says that there is deemed to be application for renunciation of Canadian citizenship.
     I want to make sure I read the words correctly so that I don't get interrupted again, Madam Chair.
    In this case what we learned from the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was that renunciation is the voluntary act of relinquishing one's citizenship or nationality while deprivation is carried out by the authorities of the state. So those are the terms I'll use to go back and forth: renunciation of citizenship and deprivation or revocation.
    I'd like to look at the countries that we generally compare ourselves to. When we do many of our studies we like to compare our laws to those of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia, and sometimes also the U.S.A. because the United States is our next-door neighbour and is very similar to us with respect to also being an OECD country and being the global north in the western hemisphere.
    The UNHCR had mentioned that the renunciation of nationality or citizenship in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia is carried out through the initiation of a formal procedure by the individual wishing to renounce their citizenship. In the case of the U.S.A., six of the seven methods of renouncing citizenship require that very similar filling out of a formal procedure along with an application to the court.

  (1640)  

    Also, they mentioned that in the U.S., if you serve in the armed forces of a foreign state that's engaged in a conflict against the U.S, then you are deemed to have renounced your citizenship.
    They also helped us understand what deprivation of citizenship is, and that deprivation of citizenship is possible in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. This concept is possible in these three countries we compare ourselves to.
    In the United States of America, Congress has no power under the U.S. Constitution to revoke a person's U.S. citizenship, unless of course that person voluntarily relinquishes it. When we speak of the forced deprivation of somebody's citizenship or nationality, the U.S. Congress does not have that power under the U.S. Constitution.
    We have seen this happen in Canada, so we know that in Canada, the minister.... I mentioned very briefly the increased discretion for the minister in this bill and how much we've spoken about that. That will be another reason, Madam Chair, that I will not be supporting the motion before us to extend the debate on Bill C-425. I do believe those topics have been studied sufficiently in this committee. I'll make that very clear later on in my speech. I think ministerial discretion is number seven or eight on my list of items I'd like to go through. I'm on number two right now, Madam Chair.
    Once again, coming back to the concept of statelessness and looking at the three countries we are talking about, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia, all of them contain provisions within their nationality law that provide—I'm going to read this really slowly—“One of the most important safeguards against statelessness is that...”.
    Of course, all three of those countries are signatories or parties to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Of course, I should point out here, Madam Chair, that Canada is also a signatory to that convention..
    This convention provides an international framework to ensure the right of every person to a nationality by establishing safeguards to prevent statelessness, whether it's at birth or later in life. What we've learned will happen and what we've debated in committee already in the 60 days that were allotted, is this bill would create a state of being stateless later in life for Canadian citizens. If they are citizens of another country, then Canada would deprive them of their citizenship. If their citizenship in another country is not recognized by that state because of that conflict or whatever it might be....
    A great example is that many people I have spoken to in Scarborough—Rouge River have fled instances of conflict, have come to Canada as asylum seekers or as refugee claimants, and have lived as refugees or permanent residents, and then have moved on to become Canadian citizens. They're from the country I was born in, Sri Lanka. People who have left the country and have been active and have spoken out loudly, or who have spoken out about the state-sanctioned human rights violations in that country, generally there have been examples where their passports have been taken away because it's been said they are not a true national. They've conducted or said things that are contrary to the state, and so they can't travel or be recognized as a national.

  (1645)  

    According to Canada, one would think they still have their citizenship from that country, and if Canada were to revoke their Canadian citizenship for any reason, the person would be left in limbo because they've now lost their Canadian passport—
    Mr. Dany Morin: They're stateless.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Exactly. They don't have the passport of their country of birth.
     I use one country as an example, but we know there's a plethora of countries that are in a state of conflict, whether it's armed or not, though armed conflict is usually what leads to many people fleeing a country and seeking asylum in another. So Canada would create a state of statelessness for these people and that is, of course, in contravention of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness to which we are signatories. We can't let this happen, Madam Chair.
    This was discussed very much. Many of our witnesses who came before the committee during the time we've had to study this bill spoke about this.
     I will continue to explain a little more on this same topic of statelessness, Madam Chair, and prove to you, show to you, demonstrate to you, that these topics have been discussed in committee and that witnesses have provided their testimony, and this is why we don't need another 30 days of study on this bill, because the same topics are going to come up again and again in committee when the witnesses appear. If we do grant another 30 days, then these same issues are going to come up. That's why, Madam Chair, we don't need another 30 days of study time on this bill.
    Let's look at New Zealand's case. We like to compare ourselves to these countries all the time, so I'll do that here as well.
    New Zealand entered a declaration in their legislation itself. They entered a declaration under article 8.3 of the convention at the time of a session pertaining to the right to deprive an individual of New Zealand citizenship when the person acquires nationality or citizenship of another country, or performs duties of another nationality or citizenship that may act in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand.
     The Government of the United Kingdom declared, in accordance with article 8.3—the same article in the convention when they signed it—that the U.K., and I'll read so it's clearer, “...retains the right to deprive a naturalised person of his nationality...inconsistently with his duty of loyalty to Her Britannic Majesty, the person....” I don't want to read all of it.
    Nevertheless, when the United Kingdom and New Zealand signed the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, they maintained some ability to continue their practice of being able to deprive individuals of their New Zealand or United Kingdom citizenship for naturalized citizens. What's a little odd is that they actually don't mention anything about citizens of those countries who are born.... Those countries have a two-tiered citizenship system is what I'm learning from this.
    Canadian citizenship is valued so much, by my family anyway. I can only speak of my personal experience, and I can speak of the experiences of other constituents who have spoken to me. Every few months, Madam Chair, I have a gathering of new citizens and we share what it means to be Canadian and why they chose to become a Canadian citizen. Time and again it's on the faces of my constituents, who simply light up and want to talk about their Canadian citizenship, because they're so proud. They're so proud that they were able to leave whatever situation they were in and become Canadian, because Canada is a country that treats everyone equally, that treats everyone equitably. People say they know that when they become Canadian citizens....

  (1650)  

     I vividly remember what one little girl told me. I think she was about nine years old. She said, “When I become a Canadian citizen, it means that I get to go to school. It means that I get treated the same as the boys. It means that I can become a doctor when I grow up.” For her, it meant that she was going to have opportunity, that she was going to be treated as equal to every other Canadian, every other person who is a Canadian citizen. She would have that same treatment.
    We don't want to get to a point where we are creating two, three, four tiers of citizenship in this country, Madam Chair. Right now, we have one Canadian citizenship and it is that you are a Canadian citizen. That's it.
    Madam Chair, what comes to mind again is something that you hammered home to all of us. You're either a citizen or you're not a citizen. It's like being pregnant or being not pregnant. There's no opportunity to be half-pregnant. If there's a fetus in you, then you're pregnant. There's no, it's a fetus of two months, so it's a half-pregnancy. The gestational period is generally nine months. A fetus of four-and-a-half months is not a half-pregnancy. There's no such thing.
    You had very clearly articulated that you're either a citizen or you're not a citizen, and that once you become a citizen you are a citizen. There are no levels to that citizenship. That's the beauty of Canadian citizenship.
    The UNHCR representative's report to us mentioned that other countries have made sure that they're able to have those multiple tiers of citizenship, but Canada doesn't have that. We don't want to go there, and we've discussed this in our committee. We've heard evidence on this. That's why, Madam Chair, I think that we've had enough discussion on this in our committee. I'll continue to provide evidence that we've had enough discussion on Bill C-425 in our committee and that we don't need to have another 30 days of discussion on this same bill, because we've had much debate. I will continue to give you examples of the debate that we have had in our committee to clearly demonstrate to you and all of the members of this committee that we don't need another 30 days of study on this bill. We just don't.
    Let me continue. I almost want to continue with statelessness. I could go into each country's example, but I won't do that right now.
    Mr. Jack Harris: Please do.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: You'd like me to. Okay then, I will. There are so many examples that have already been put forward before our committee, and I can give you all those examples, Madam Chair.
    If we're going to look at countries and examples, maybe I should...let's look at the United Kingdom.
    In the British Nationality Act of 1981, and the Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act, 2006, which is where some of these citations are coming from for anybody who's following, for their edification and ability to follow. On the topic of renunciation of citizenship, renunciation being, of course, voluntary relinquishment, it reads in article 12(1):
If any British citizen of full age and capacity makes in the prescribed manner a declaration of renunciation of British citizenship, then, subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Secretary of State shall cause the declaration to be registered.
    That's somebody volunteering to give up their citizenship.
    Another example is in article 12(2):
On the registration of a declaration made in pursuance of this section the person who made it shall cease to be a British citizen.
    The secretary of state declares it registered and then accepts that renunciation. The prescribed manner consists of completing a declaration form, which will be registered by the home secretary and renunciation is only through that application process.

  (1655)  

    So in the U.K. it's a formal application process. Once a person has voluntarily requested to relinquish their citizenship and put in their application, the Secretary of State will accept it and register it, and then they lose their British citizenship because they chose to. Of their own volition, they are losing their citizenship.
    However, the safeguard in the British legislation that prevents statelessness is subsection 12(3), which reads:
A declaration made by a person in pursuance of this section shall not be registered unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person who made it will after the registration have or acquire some citizenship or nationality other than British citizenship; and if that person does not have any such citizenship or nationality on the date of registration and does not acquire some such citizenship or nationality within six months from that date, he shall be, and be deemed to have remained, a British citizen notwithstanding the registration.
    So their legislation ensures there are safeguards in the legislation to prevent people from becoming stateless, and Bill C-425 will do the opposite. That's what our witnesses have already demonstrated to us in the committee, so we don't need to discuss this further. We don't need this extra 30 days of discussion and study and debate on this bill, because this has already been made clear to the committee members.
    Of course, because my honourable colleague wanted to learn more about what's happening with immigration in the UK legal system, I'll continue. With respect to wartime measures, subsection 12(4) continues and says:
The Secretary of State may withhold registration of any declaration made in pursuance of this section if it is made during any war in which Her Majesty may be engaged in right of Her Majesty's government in the United Kingdom.
    This makes sense because you don't want people to say they're not British citizens anymore just because they don't want to fight in a war. So that was a nice protection measure for the United Kingdom to ensure that people aren't just upping and leaving because they don't want to participate in a war.
    So far I've only been talking about the subject of statelessness with respect to the presentation made to us by the UNHCR, and with respect to the United Kingdom and the topic of deprivation of citizenship. We just spoke of renunciation and how renunciation can be stopped by the safeguard against statelessness, or in view of wartime measures, but the deprivation of citizenship is what is being presented to us in Bill C-425. Let's look at some of the parallels with the U.K. system.
    In subsection 40(2) of the British Nationality Act, on the topic of deprivation of citizenship, it reads, and I'm not reading all of it, just part of it:
The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good.
    The safeguard against statelessness there is subsection 40(4), which says:
The Secretary of State may not make an order under subsection (2) if he is satisfied that the order would make a person stateless.
    Even in the case of depriving somebody of their citizenship because the deprivation is conducive to the public good in the U.K., they ensure that a person will not be made stateless. This was already articulated to us in committee.

  (1700)  

    Canada right now is a signatory to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Our laws right now don't create a situation of statelessness for people. It would be we, as parliamentarians, who are required to do the due diligence and it would be our responsibility, in breach of our fiduciary duty to our constituents and Canadians as a whole, if we were to create a situation where we were in contravention of the convention to which we are signatories.
    This has been made clear to us by witnesses in the last 60 days' study period that we've had on Bill C-425. This is why we don't need another 30 days of study time of this bill in committee. We have studied this bill thoroughly and we've heard many examples of why we have studied this bill thoroughly already and why we don't need to continue the debate and the study of this Bill C-425 in committee.
    I'll continue because I know my colleague wanted to hear of the other countries that we generally like to compare ourselves to. I've only spoken to you so far about one, so I still have New Zealand, Australia, and the United States to get through as well to show how those countries are ensuring that people are not becoming stateless persons and how we need to make sure as Canadians that we are not going to create stateless people in our country.
    Let's look at the case of New Zealand. With respect to New Zealand, I will be quoting you pieces from the New Zealand Citizenship Act 1977. Madam Chair, I will adopt the same style and speak of the renunciation of citizenship and how statelessness is being guarded against. Then I will speak of the deprivation of citizenship and how statelessness is being guarded against there.
    I will just remind the speaker that you will keep it relevant to the motion.
    Absolutely, Madam Chair. I think I have been keeping it very relevant. Thank you for the reminders. Gentle, kind reminders are always appreciated. Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Article 15(1) of the New Zealand Citizenship Act 1977 reads:
A New Zealand citizen who has attained the age of 18 years and is of full capacity and who is recognised by the law of another country as a citizen of that country may, at any time, make a declaration of renunciation of his New Zealand citizenship in the prescribed manner.
    Of course they have their official, formal methods of applying for renunciation. I don't want to read article 2. It's very similar to the United Kingdom's such that the minister will register it and then declare that person is not a citizen of New Zealand anymore. What is important is how the safeguards are put in place to prevent statelessness.
    Continuing with the procedure for renunciation and the safeguards, the renunciation is once again through application only—that's a voluntary request to lose one's citizenship—and a copy of the declaration is proof of the renunciation. Making an oath of allegiance has no effect in New Zealand, and a declarant must provide evidence from another country showing that he or she is already recognized as a citizen in that country.
    In New Zealand's Citizenship Act and its practices, the person has proof of renunciation, which is a copy of the declaration, but the emphasis is given to the person already having been recognized as a citizen of another country. The difference between these two countries, so far, is that the United Kingdom allows for another six months before that renunciation is 100% guaranteed. If you can't prove within six months that you do have citizenship of another country then you automatically go back to being a UK citizen, whereas in New Zealand you cannot voluntarily relinquish your New Zealand citizenship without proving that you already are recognized as a citizen of another country.
    So once again that is a clear example of another country that we like to compare ourselves to on a regular basis with respect to immigration law. In our committee we speak to bureaucrats of New Zealand and Australia—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1705)  

    The chair is going to remind people on both sides of the chair, to the left and the right, that the volume of noise has escalated up, and I would really appreciate it if it could be quietened down on both sides. Thank you.
    Back to you, and once again, apologies for the interruption. I just wanted to make sure you were heard.
    Thank you. I very much appreciate you, Madam Chair. You have been following the rule of the law, the rule of procedures in this place, and have been extremely respectful to the speakers. So I appreciate you very much. Thank you, Madam Chair, for your fair chairing of this meeting.
    The point that I was just about to end there.... You just made your point where, when a speaker is interrupted, they lose their train of thought.
    I think where I was at was that we regularly speak with bureaucrats in New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. about their experiences with immigration policy and how they do business in immigration, to try to make sure our laws are on par, or better, because we want to make sure we are doing the best and making the best legislation that we possibly can.
    On the topic of voluntary renunciation of citizenship in New Zealand, I think the case has already been made very clear, and I don't believe we need further study on this topic, Madam Chair. That's why I don't believe that we need further time to study BillC-425. This is yet another reason that we don't need further time to study this bill, another reason why we don't need to extend the study period for another 30 days, and another reason why I will not be supporting this motion that is before us today, Madam Chair.
    Because my colleague wanted to hear about our countries, I'll speak of the deprivation of citizenship in New Zealand—I'm still speaking about New Zealand—particularly to demonstrate to you that it has actually been made clear already, by the witnesses who have already appeared before the committee, so we don't need further extension of time again.
    In New Zealand, once again, section 16 of the Citizenship Act reads that:
...the Minister may, by order, deprive a person of his New Zealand citizenship if he is satisfied that the person has, while a New Zealand citizen and while of or over the age of 18 years and of full capacity,—
(a) acquired the nationality or citizenship of another country by any voluntary and formal act, and acted in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand; or
(b) voluntarily exercised any of the privileges or performed any of the duties of another nationality or citizenship possessed by him in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand.
    So here we know, it's clear. It has been presented to us by witnesses to this committee, that there are ways in the New Zealand Citizenship Act to deprive a New Zealand citizen of their citizenship if they have citizenship of another country and they have done something contrary to the act, to the interests of New Zealand. So we know that's there already.
    They were one of the countries that made a declaration when they signed the convention. Under article 8 of the convention, and that, of course, is the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. New Zealand made a declaration, and their declaration reads as such:
...in accordance with paragraph 3 of article 8 of the Convention New Zealand retains the right to deprive a person of his New Zealand citizenship on the following grounds, being grounds existing in New Zealand law at the present time:

the person has, while a New Zealand citizen and while of—
    I don't want to read it again because it's the same piece of the New Zealand Citizenship Act of 1977. That doesn't make any sense because 1977 is the newer version. So let me read what they actually wrote in the declaration:
...the person has, while a New Zealand citizen and while of or over the age of 18 years and of full capacity,
(a) Acquired the nationality or citizenship of another country by any voluntary and formal act, and acted in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand; or
(b) Voluntarily exercised any of the privileges or performed any of the duties of another nationality or citizenship possessed by him in a manner that is contrary to the interests of New Zealand.

  (1710)  

    Truthfully, with regard to the New Zealand law, when they wrote the declaration under article 8 of the convention, this article is actually the same. It is what I mentioned earlier. They ensured that a New Zealand citizen wouldn't become stateless, when they signed the declaration. When they were signatories to the declaration, they made sure people wouldn't become stateless. That's pretty clear from this testimony. I have further testimony that I can provide to you, Madam Chair.
    We have already heard enough from the witnesses. We don't need to extend the study for another 30 days to hear more of the same testimony from witnesses saying, “We, in Canada, will be creating a situation of statelessness. Oh look, New Zealand has ensured that they have created safeguard mechanisms, and we should make sure we have safeguards.”
    We already know this, Madam Chair. We don't need to study Bill C-425 for another 30 days. We don't need that. This New Zealand case proved that to us.
    I'll continue, Madam Chair. Let's talk about Australia and how the evidence already shows what we have heard about Australia—another country we like to compare ourselves to. The pieces I will be quoting are from the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. Once again, Madam Chair, I will be breaking it down into the voluntary renunciation and then the deprivation of citizenship.
    Let's look at the voluntary renunciation in Australia. Subsection 33(1) reads, “A person may make an application to the Minister to renounce the person's Australian citizenship.” Of course, this renunciation is only through application—the formal procedure that Australia has set up. The person can make an application using a specific form to renounce their citizenship. I don't want to go through the exact details. Neither you nor the members of the committee need to hear me go through the exact details of that legislation.
    I would like to move a motion, if I may, Madam Chair.
     At this point I move that the committee do now adjourn.

  (1715)  

    I will put forward the motion forthwith. The motion is to adjourn. It is not debatable.
    (Motion negatived)
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): We will not be adjourning.
    It goes back to you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Let's continue on the subject of Australia, with the voluntary renunciation. Let's talk about some of the safeguards they have with respect to statelessness.
    On a point of order, Mr. Dykstra....
    We've listened to Rathika's presentation over the last number of minutes, close to an hour now, and I haven't objected to any of the presentation that she's made. In some respects she's gone off topic, but in a lot of respects she's tried to take this back to the motion at hand.
    Speaking about the situation in Australia, or whatever their rules may or may not be with respect to the issues of citizenship, has absolutely nothing to do with an extension of time related to our ability to further the work on this private member's bill.
    I just want to remind people of the motion that is before us.
    The second part I did not read, and I want to read that now:
On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, the Committee recommended to the House that it be granted the power during its consideration of Bill C-425 to expand the scope of the Bill. The Committee is awaiting for a decision of the House before further considering the Bill. Therefore, your Committee requests an extension of thirty sitting days.
    So when you look at that, and when you look at the scope of the bill within it.... I would now turn to Ms. Sitsabaiesan and urge her to make sure that the comments she makes relate to what is before us.
    Please make sure it is relevant. If it's not, make sure you do not say it.
    Madam Chairperson, I appreciate the ruling.
    I have a point of order—if I may raise something about myself—in regard to a discussion I had earlier about the possibility of my replacing...or being bumped up on the speaking list.
    If we were to canvass members here, I'm wondering if I would in fact be able to follow Mr. Dykstra after he is done speaking.
    Okay. Just to let you know, because I think people need to know what the satellite looks like—
    If Ms. Freeman were to come back, I would say yes.
    If Ms. Freeman isn't here, then I say no.
    Okay. So it really depends. For that to happen, we need to have Ms. Freeman here and for her to give consent.
    Mr. Dykstra is absolutely correct with that. As he has said, if Ms. Freeman is in the room, then he will give consent.
    Thank you.
    Do you have a point of order, Madame Sellah?

[Translation]

    I am replacing Ms. Freeman, and I would like to know what the problem is that we are dealing with. You spoke with my colleague about the list. Can I have further explanation about that? I was not here at the start of the meeting, and I would like more clarification about what our colleagues opposite are thinking. The bill we have been discussing for hours and hours now is a private member's bill. But the government is still trying to get what it wants through private member's bills.
    Madam Chair, could you please provide some clarification about how this committee is working?

  (1720)  

[English]

    I have just been seeking advice on the side here, because what's been put forward to me is interesting.
     As you know, when we are in our regular committee meetings, you can pass your time from one person to another. In this case, Ms. Freeman is being replaced by Ms. Sellah. Therefore, the spot that is on the speakers list for Ms. Freeman—I'm just going with the advice I've received—would then, or could then, or does go, to that person if they want to take it.
    In this case, I will have to wait until Mr. Dykstra comes back—
    Mr. Costas Menegakis: I have a question.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): No, no, let me just finish my thought.
    I have to wait until Mr. Dykstra comes back, because in this case, if Ms. Sellah were to give her consent, we would be able to do the mutual swap.
    Are we allowed questions?
    If it's a point of order, yes.
    It's not a point of order. It's just—
    Okay. Go on, then, because—
    Is it the clerks who gave you that advice? Is that the rule?
    I asked the clerk sitting right next to me, and he believes that to be so.
    On a point of order, Madam Chair, or perhaps just for clarification, is Ms. Sellah giving up her time to speak and is my colleague across the floor giving up her time to speak, in order for Mr. Dykstra to speak now?
    No. That isn't what's happening.
    What we have is a speaker's list and Mr. Dykstra is on it. Then we have Mylène who is now Ms. Sellah because she is replacing her. Then we have Mr. Chungsen Leung, who is being replaced by you so then it would be you on the speakers list. After that, it's Mr. Lamoureux. All we're doing is Mr. Lamoureux will switch his spot with Ms. Freeman's replacement, in this case it's Ms. Sellah, and that would be it.
    Mr. Dykstra, you were out of the room when I did seek some guidance from the clerk. Because Ms. Freeman is being replaced by Ms. Sellah when it came to Ms. Freeman's turn it would actually be Ms. Sellah taking it. That's why I have given that explanation. With that understanding do we have mutual consent? We don't.
    Thank you. We do not have agreement.
    We are now going back to Ms. Sitsabaiesan to continue her presentation.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    Once again, you experience being interrupted in the middle of a thought and being lost in your thought.
    Anyway, coming back—
    Let me just make a point.
    We hit new territory for me. I sought clarification and I really appreciated Mr. Menegakis asking a question and then all of us talking it through. Let's see if we can proceed in that manner.
    You have the floor. Please, carry on.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I was just about to approach how Australia, a country that we compare ourselves to on a regular basis when creating our immigration policy....
    Is there a point on the floor? I'm sorry, Madam Chair, I didn't hear it.
    Mr. Dykstra, on a point of order....
    It's a point of order.
    I'm trying to be as fair as possible here. I don't demand you to rule on the issue, but you advised the speaker to stick to relevancy. The first thing she does when she starts to speak is to speak about Australia, again. I'm going to have to ask you to rule on what she is now going to talk about, that is, citizenship in Australia and how it relates to Canada.

  (1725)  

    Mr. Dykstra, as you said, I'm going to ask the member who is speaking to show us the linkage. If she cannot show us the linkage then we'll move on.
    I'm going to turn to her to have her show us the linkage.
    Madam Chair, thank you for at least giving me the opportunity to make my argument before saying it's not relevant.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    When you do speak now could you make a linkage between what you're talking about and the motion on the floor.
    Mr. Dykstra, let's give her time to do that.
    Absolutely.
    That's why I want to say thank you, that is, for giving me the opportunity to make my argument before deciding it was irrelevant.
    Thank you, Madam Chair, for not reading my mind and actually allowing me to speak the words in my mind.
    With respect to—
    Is that necessary, the abuse?
    There's always a comment that comes after—
    I am going to remind members that we have been here since Tuesday morning at 8:45 with a few breaks. I know that when it gets around supper time people get a bit testy. I'm going to ask all of us to take a deep breath and let's have an om moment. Let's try to get on with the proceedings of the day and move on.
    The chair is doing her very best to be fair and to keep everything convivial. I'm ruling with the books that we have.
    The only point I'm going to return to is that as I understood your ruling, it was to ask Rathika to explain how she was going to link Australian citizenship and Canadian citizenship to the bill before she started talking about Australia. That's what I thought you asked her to do.
    What I've asked her to do is to make the linkage. That's what I've asked her to do.
    Ms. Sellah, is this a point of order?

[Translation]

    Madam Chair, since I have been here, I haven't understood the interruptions. Every time my colleague tries to finish her speech, there is always someone from the other side trying to find reasons to interrupt her. However, the committee is sitting right now at their request, so that we can discuss the issue further. It would be good for everyone that we let her continue her speech and that we not get her off track.

[English]

    Ms. Sellah, I want to thank you for your comment, but it's not a point of order.
    We will proceed.
    Once again, as the chair said previously, people are getting a little bit hungry maybe, maybe sugar levels are low. As a result, I believe there are fruit and snacks at the back. I know there's lots over there, and I'm so glad there's not lots over here.
    I would urge people to remember we're here to debate a motion. We all know what the motion is. I think I've read it out enough times. I would urge people to get on with the debate.
    I'm going to go back to Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    I'm hoping I will not have to interrupt you in the near future.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    The motion is to extend our study period of Bill C-425 for another 30 days. I'm making arguments as to why the discussion we've already had on this bill in committee is sufficient, that the consideration we've had of this private member's bill was thorough, and that we do not need more time to study it. It seems the members of the Conservative Party seem to be of the same mind, that they don't need me to continue to prove to them that we don't need more study time on this.
    Since they also seem to feel that we don't need to extend the time, I now move, Madam Chair, that the committee adjourn until June 21, 2013.
    We have a point of order?
    No. There's a motion on the floor I'd like to speak to.

  (1730)  

    Okay, is there any debate?
    I'd like to speak to the motion.
    Okay, debate has started.
     Give the chair a moment. A motion has been moved. I have called debate.
    Mr. Rick Dykstra: I have a point of order.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): You will get a point of order.
    But for debate, Mr. Harris's hand was up, and I saw lots of other hands up too on this side. Mr. Harris was first, then we had Mr.Dykstra, then we had Mr. Lamoureux, then we had—
    Mr. Costas Menegakis: I just want to hear the motion.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): Okay—then we had Ms. Sellah.
    Anybody else? Mr. Leung.
    Please hold on one second because we're going to get clarification. I'm learning as well. What I would like to know before I can confer with the clerk is what Ms. Sitsabaiesan said.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Absolutely, Madam Chair.
    The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims): Please say it in a way so I have time to write it down.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    I would like to move an amendment to the motion that's on the floor right now.
    An hon. member: It's not an amendment. You're moving a motion.
     I would like to move that the committee do now adjourn until June 21, 2013.
    Mr. Harris.
    In consideration of the motion, I wanted to refer the chair to page 1057 of O'Brien and Bosc, and in particular the section that talks about which motions are admissible and debatable, footnote 559.
    Why are you allowing someone to speak, Madam Chair?
    The chair is going to ask for five minutes to be fair to everybody. I'm going to take the five minutes I need. Thank you.

  (1730)  


  (1735)  

    Five minutes are up.
    The chair gets to decide. I have sought advice from our clerks as they are far more learned on this than I am. They have informed me that we do have a substantive motion on the table already. This particular motion is substantive for the simple reason that it puts a date, a condition, at the end. Because of that condition, it becomes substantive, and therefore it is not allowable under the order that we function under.
    Therefore, I am ruling the motion inadmissible at this time. As long as the motion we are currently dealing with has not been dealt with, I cannot allow another substantive motion on the table. That is the advice I have been given, and I trust that advice.
    We're back to you, Ms. Sitsabaiesan.
    Okay. Fantastic.
    I was just trying to help. I'm going to move forward, Madam Chair.
    The reason I'm speaking of the countries that we like to compare ourselves to on a regular basis—that is New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom—is that on a regular basis in our committee we like to compare our practices and policies to these four countries. Bill C-425 has already been made clear to us by the witnesses who have presented themselves in front of this committee and presented testimony, reports, or follow-up, which they've sent to our committee and that all of the members of the committee have read. We already know what we've heard from the witnesses.
    So the reason I'd like to make sure that I'm putting this to you now, Madam Chair and to the members of the committee, is to prove—to demonstrate—that we don't need another 30 days of extension of study because the witnesses have already proved it to us. If we were to invite them again after extending this study period for another 30 days, they're going to come and make very similar arguments. We already have very clear arguments that have been made by witnesses.
    That's why I'm providing this evidence to you, that these arguments have been made, the ones that I've been making to you. These arguments have been made and they're very clear. These are the reasons why we don't need to extend our study period. It's why I will not be supporting this motion that is on the table in front of us right now. I hope that's clear for the members opposite.
    When I was speaking of statelessness there were actually a few members of the committee who wanted to hear the evidence of these countries because they felt it was important to make sure that this evidence for the countries that we like to regularly compare ourselves to is actually put on the record.
    Let's talk about safeguards against statelessness in Australia, which they have in their legislation with respect to the voluntary renunciation of citizenship. In case we've now forgotten which legislation I'm quoting from, it is the Australian Citizenship Act of 2007.

  (1740)  

    Could I have a little bit of order, please. Please lower the volume a little bit. That would help.
    I'm not saying it was from this side. When I hear it I just say it.
    Let's carry on.
    Thank you, Madam Chair.
    The Australian Citizenship Act of 2007, subsection 33(7) reads:

The Minister must not approve the person renouncing his or her Australian citizenship unless the Minister is satisfied that the person:



(a) is a national or citizen of a foreign country immediately before the Minister's decision on the application; or



(b) will, if the Minister approves the application, become a national or citizen of a foreign country immediately after the approval.
    So in Australia, another country we like to compare ourselves with, one cannot voluntarily give up Australian citizenship unless, before the minister approves—of course, through the official forms, format, and processes that they have, and I'm not going to talk about those—the person can clearly demonstrate to the minister that they have already received citizenship of another country or will receive citizenship of another country as soon as the minister signs that application or declaration or form or whatever it's actually called, and approves that application for renunciation of citizenship.
    With the voluntary renunciation of citizenship in Australia, the prevention of statelessness is clear. We want to make sure—and I'm going to keep hammering this home—that Canada is not in contravention of the convention that we are signatory to. We signed the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
    As legislators, as people who have been given the responsibility to ensure that we are doing our due diligence, we in this committee who provide advice to the other members in the House need to ensure that we are not giving them wrong advice, and that we are listening to the advice that has already been presented to us by witnesses.
    We don't need to hear more from witnesses on this topic, because it's clear that if we continue with Bill C-425, we will be creating stateless people in this country. We don't want to do that. This has already been made clear to us by witnesses, Madam Chair. That's why we don't need to study this bill further. This bill has been studied. It's a private member's bill and it has received the due process that is warranted, based on the schedule that the government members of this committee set as to when we would study this bill in this committee.
    The evidence I'm presenting to you—and I have much more to present to you, Madam Chair—is very clear. We have heard much testimony, and it is clear that we don't need to study this bill further. That's why, Madam Chair, I will continue presenting evidence to you that will demonstrate to you further that we don't need to study this bill any further.
    An hon. member: They want to expand the scope, don't they?
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: They do want to expand the scope. They're changing the scope of the bill, and that's also something that is outside—

  (1745)  

    I would remind members around the table to talk through the chair and not with another colleague sitting next to you, just to be respectful of the process we have here.
    Thank you.
    We are a committee. It's always better if we remember that it's not a two-way conversation; it is actually a debate.
    Thank you.
    Thank you, Madam Chair. You're correct that we should be going through the chair.
    Through the chair, to answer one of the queries I think I heard in the room, Madam Chair, yes, the government is actually changing the scope of this private member's bill, which has come before this committee. As I read earlier from O'Brien and Bosc, second edition, a committee on its own doesn't have the powers to change the scope of a bill. It's beyond the powers of a committee to expand or narrow the scope of a bill.
    On a point of order we have Mr. Dykstra.
    Madam Chair, I just want to suggest that the member is now speaking again about the scope of the bill rather than the relevant motion that's on the table regarding the extension of the private member's bill, Bill C-425.
    I want to draw everybody's attention to the second part of the motion. That is where it says:

On...April 23, 2013, the Committee recommended to the House that it be granted the power during its consideration of Bill C-425 to expand the scope of the Bill. The Committee is awaiting for a decision of the House before further considering the Bill. Therefore, your Committee requests an extension of thirty sitting days.
    That's what it is, and it does capture the question of scope. But debate still has to be relevant. I will stress that.
    Please carry on.
    I think there is another person on the point of order.
    Mr. Harris is first.
    Mr. Harris, you heard my brilliant comment—
    I was satisfied with your brilliant comment, because I was going to point out in response to Mr. Dykstra that the desire of the government members to change the scope of the bill is perfectly within the motion that's before us right now. If I were speaking about this bill, that's the kind of thing I would be talking about, and I think I would be in order, as I think you've ruled.
    Ms. Sellah, is it a point of order?

[Translation]

    Yes, Madam Chair.

[English]

[Translation]

    I thank my colleague for the point of order. I am intervening in the same spirit. As I have already mentioned a number of times, our colleague from the government side…

[English]

    I want to remind you, Ms. Sellah, that I have already ruled on the point of order you are discussing. I ruled in favour of the person who is speaking, and that is that members can choose to speak to the expansion of the scope of the bill and that doing so is certainly within the parameters of what they can talk about. I think that's what you were trying to say. That was the question raised, and I responded.

[Translation]