Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on this stormy Friday in Quebec. Obviously, as usual, everything is going smoothly here in the House with no sign of a storm.
We are here on this Friday afternoon to talk about Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. Essentially, this bill would create a committee that would oversee the operation of these two organizations. It is also the logical next step to a bill that was introduced and passed in the previous Parliament, Bill C-98.
As members probably already heard from some of the previous speakers, the official opposition is in favour of this bill. I wanted to say that right off the top. However, we have some concerns that we will raise during the debate at first and second reading and in committee.
First, I would like to take this wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to those who work for the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency. Every day, they work to protect, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, our security both within Canada and at our border crossings.
We do not think about this often enough, but we are extraordinarily privileged to live in such a safe country. That is due to millions of Canadians, of course, but above all to the people whose job it is to protect us all. That includes the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It also includes the officers who protect border crossings across Canada, both those working on the ground, right at the border, and those working in our airports and ports. We must not forget that we share the longest land border in the world with the United States, and we can be very proud of it because we know it is well guarded by these officers. We owe them so much.
As I was saying, this bill flows from another piece of legislation from the last Parliament. Members will recall that in 2015, the current government got itself elected by saying it would table a bill addressing the concerns this document is about.
Today, we can see that the people on the government side seem surprised that things are not moving along as fast as they hoped. I would remind them that, despite getting elected on that promise back in 2015, they did not table Bill C-98 until the very end of their first term. If they really thought it was so important, so integral, so essential, so vital to their commitment, they could have tabled that bill much sooner.
I will not mention certain promises that were not kept during the Liberals' first term, such as the “modest deficits” and the return to a balanced budget in 2019. However, this also proves that this government, which got itself elected on the strength of certain promises, did not accomplish what it said it would.
Since we are talking about border services, I want to share a sad episode in Canada's history, perhaps the saddest episode in the history of our border services. Unfortunately, this episode was not provoked by our workers, our employers, our public servants, our RCMP officers or our border services officers, but by the Prime Minister of Canada himself. He is the one who is fully responsible for the refugee crisis we have had and continue to have in Canada. We are sad to say that it has been nearly three years since the Prime Minister himself unwittingly created a crisis.
It was the evening of January 28, 2017. I remember because I got a Twitter alert on my smartphone indicating that the Prime Minister had just tweeted something.
The Prime Minister, who was all too happy to tweet something to outdo the Americans, but especially to give himself some brass and prestige on the world stage, wrote a tweet that essentially said, you are all welcome here in Canada. The Prime Minister's tweet came on the heels of the U.S. government's announcement that it was closing its doors to all refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
That tweet set off a border crisis the likes of which we have never seen in this country. Over 40,000 people entered Canada illegally at Roxham Road, showing complete contempt and disregard for the honour and hard work of other people from around the world who followed the rules and dreamed of coming here to enrich Canada with their presence. Unfortunately, those 40,000 people got the Prime Minister's green light to come into Canada through the back door, which is illegal.
I am choosing my words carefully because I know that there is a war of words going on. Some people call it “irregular”, not “illegal”. If it is indeed irregular, why is there a huge sign at the entrance to Roxham Road saying that it is illegal to cross the border except at an official crossing?
Once something illegal has been done, how can it then be considered “irregular”?
This is a big deal. This is why those guys, the Liberals, are talking about irregularity instead of illegality. My colleagues and I have been asking the government for the last three years why there is a huge sign at the entrance of Roxham Road that says it is an illegal entrance. People cannot go there. It is illegal.
If the Liberals cannot accept what their own government is writing on signs they should resign, but they will not.
That is the problem with this government. It likes to crow about its lofty principles, wears its heart on its sleeve and brings everyone to tears talking about how Canada is the most beautiful, most wonderful country on the planet, a country that will welcome every last living creature with open arms.
The actual fact of the matter is that Canada has laws and rules that must be obeyed, not because one leans left or right but because everyone needs to follow the rules and the rules apply to everyone.
When we were in power, we took in 25,000 refugees. Unlike the current government, we did not make a big show of it when people arrived at the airport. We did not convene the media, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the minister of this, that and the other thing and an opposition member to please everyone and get some air time.
We focus on being a serious, rigorous and humanitarian country that cares about individuals more than those TV appearances the Liberals like to use to show that they are the best and the nicest. Our serious Conservative approach allowed 25,000 refugees from around the world to come enrich our country.
Refugees and immigrants contribute to our country's wealth. I know what I am talking about. This is a bit of a conflict of interest for me because my parents came here in 1958 as immigrants. It is important to disclose any conflicts of interest, and I just did. I cannot thank Canada enough for welcoming my parents in 1958.
Some 40,000 people have crossed illegally into Canada at Roxham Road. I remind members that this sparked a battle with the Government of Quebec, which had to wait three years to get reimbursed for all this.
What is worse, these illegal crossings were an insult to the thousands of people from around the world who follow the rules and contact various embassies, consulates and border services. As members of Parliament, we know how this works, since we see all kinds of cases at our riding offices. These people were not fortunate enough to see the Prime Minister's tweet, take Roxham Road and automatically gain access to Canada.
On April 3, 2018, the National Post reported that the first secretary at the Canadian embassy in Mexico warned the government that the Prime Minister's tweet was causing all kinds of problems.
In conclusion, I want to sincerely thank all of the RCMP officers as well as all the Canadians, from both the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency, who keep us safe.