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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:00 [p.12199]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to speak in this House in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. If the measures in this bill are implemented, they will amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, and the Criminal Code to add further protection for vulnerable individuals, in particular women and girls.
Unfortunately, gender-based violence is a sad reality for women and girls across this country. Whether they are Canadian-born or newcomers to Canada, in too many cases the violence comes in the form of abusive cultural practices that have no place in this country. I am speaking about practices such as polygamy, underage marriage, forced marriage, and so-called honour killings. These abusive practices have damaging and wide-ranging consequences for the victims, and they also harm victims' children, homes, and communities. Indeed, they severely affect all those involved, from influencing whether individuals can successfully immigrate to Canada to breaking down opportunities for integration and economic success.
Our Conservative government made a strong commitment in the recent Speech from the Throne to prevent and counter violence against women and girls within the borders of this country. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act is a concrete example of this commitment. Its proposed measures are worthy of the support of all parliamentarians, because they would clearly help ensure that barbaric cultural practices do not occur on Canadian soil. Bill S-7 would send a clear message to newcomers to Canada, as well as to those who are already part of Canadian society, that such practices are unacceptable here.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration participated in many round tables and consultations across Canada. Participants told the minister that early and forced marriage, so-called honour killings, and polygamy still occur in Canada. These practices that occur across all cultures and ethnicities will not be tolerated in Canada, and our immigration system will not be used as a vehicle to perpetuate these acts. This bill reinforces the message that these practices are completely incompatible with Canadian values and will not be tolerated.
As I said, one of these practices is polygamy, which although illegal in Canada, is an accepted practice in a number of other countries around the world. In a 2011 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy law, Chief Justice Bauman, of the B.C. Supreme Court, found that there were physical, psychological, and social harms associated with the practice of polygamous marriages. He found that women in polygamous relationships “face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse”, that “[c]hildren in polygamous families face higher infant mortality” and “tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement”, that polygamous families face “higher levels of conflict, emotional stress and tension”, and that “[p]olygamy institutionalizes gender inequality”.
For these reasons and more, we must enact measures that increase our ability to prevent polygamy from occurring on Canadian soil. Bill S-7 would do so by enhancing existing immigration tools to render both temporary and permanent residents inadmissible for practising polygamy in Canada.
Of course, polygamy is not the only cultural practice that contradicts Canadian values and that causes harm to its victims. That is why Bill S-7 contains measures to help counter early and forced marriages. These measures include setting a national minimum age of 16 years of age for marriage. Currently there is no national minimum age for marriage in Canada. Federal law, which applies only in Quebec, sets the minimum age at 16.
In other parts of Canada common law applies. There is some uncertainty about the common law minimum age, but it is generally considered to be 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Although in practice very few marriages in Canada involve people under the age of 16, setting a national minimum age of 16 or older for marriage would make it clear that underage marriage is unacceptable in Canada and will not be tolerated here.
Other proposed amendments to the Civil Marriage Act in Bill S-7 include codifying the requirement that those getting married must give their free and enlightened consent to marry each other and the requirement for the dissolution of any previous marriage. In addition, Bill S-7 contains measures that would amend the Criminal Code to help prevent forced or underage marriage and would create a new peace bond that could be used to prevent an underage or forced marriage, for example, by requiring the surrender of a passport, as well as preventing a child from being taken out of Canada.
Also notable are the measures in the bill that address so-called honour killings, which are usually premeditated and committed with some degree of approval from family or community members. However, in some cases they may also be alleged to be spontaneous killings in response to behaviour by the victim that is perceived to be disrespectful, insulting or harmful to a family's reputation. In Canadian law, an individual facing murder charges can raise the defence of provocation. If this defence is successful, it can result in a reduced sentence.
The defence of provocation has been raised, so far unsuccessfully, in several so-called honour killing cases in Canada. Accused murderers have claimed that real or perceived marital infidelity, disrespect, defiance or insulting behaviour on the part of the victims toward their spouse, sibling or parent provoked the killing.
This provision may or may not have yet been successful, but what happens if it is successful one day? We must not take the chance. No one should be able to use the defence that they violently harmed another because they were provoked. It is simply contrary to Canadian values for lawful behaviour by a person, no matter how it may be perceived as insulting, to excuse their murder.
That is why measures in Bill S-7 would amend the Criminal Code so that such legal conduct by a victim could never be considered as provocation.
In conclusion, I am sure all my hon. colleagues would agree that we must stand up for all victims of violence and abuse and take necessary action to prevent these practices from happening on Canadian soil. That is exactly what we would be doing by ensuring the bill's passage into law, and that is exactly why I hope everyone in the House will join me in supporting the passage of Bill S-7. I hope all hon. members of the House look past politics and vote in favour of the bill.
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:10 [p.12201]
Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act demonstrates that openness and generosity does not extend to early and forced marriages, polygamy, or other types of barbaric cultural practices.
Canadians, as I said in my speech, will not tolerate any type of violence against women and girls, including spousal abuse, violence in the name of so-called honour, or other violence. Those found guilty of these crimes must be severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.
The purpose of this proposed legislation is to stand up for the victims of violence and abuse and to send a very clear and strong message to those in Canada, and those wishing to come to Canada, that such practices will not be tolerated on Canadians soil.
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2015-03-23 18:13 [p.12201]
Mr. Speaker, let me repeat that our government announced its commitment to take these steps in the 2013 Speech from the Throne. This was followed up in the 2015 series of round table consultations, led by our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, on violence against women in the context of immigration.
We think Bill S-7 is also consistent with the aims of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on the issue of protecting women in our immigration system. These actions contained in the bill build on existing initiatives that are aimed at ensuring that immigrant women and girls in vulnerable situations have access to support and services that meet their unique needs.
The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act sends a clear message to those coming to Canada that forced marriages and honour-based violence, or any other forms of barbaric cultural practices, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
The bill therefore deserves the full support of all the members on both sides of the House.
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:03 [p.6471]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on Bill C-31, protecting Canada's immigration system act.
Our Conservative government recognizes the importance of immigration to our great country. That is evident in our actions and policies. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has welcomed the highest sustained level of immigration in Canadian history. Our government has also continued to strengthen and support our generous refugee system, which is an important expression of the compassionate and humanitarian convictions of Canadians and of our international commitments.
Canada remains one of the top countries in the world to welcome refugees. In fact, we welcome more refugees per capita than any other G20 country, because this government understands the importance of the immigration system to Canada's future. It also understands the importance of remaining vigilant about keeping that system functioning in our national interest. To do so, we must always be prepared to make improvements to the system according to changing circumstances and identified shortcomings.
Bill C-31 would do exactly that. When there is a system in place as generous as Canada, it is particularly important to guard against the abuse of that system and that generosity. Indeed, for too many years our refugee system has been abused by too many people making bogus claims. Our system has become overwhelmed by a significant backlog of cases. More recently, we have grown more and more concerned about a notable upsurge of refugee claims originating in countries that we would not normally expect to produce refugees. This is adding to our backlog.
Allow me to specify exactly what I mean by that.
It comes a surprise to many Canadians to learn that Canada receives more asylum claims from countries in Europe than others in Africa or Asia. Last year alone, almost one quarter of all refugee claims made in Canada were made by EU nationals. Let us think about that. EU countries have strong human rights and democratic systems similar to our own, yet they produced almost 25% of all the refugee claims to this country in 2011. That is up from 14% in the previous year.
These bogus claimants come with a large price tag for Canadian taxpayers. In recent years, virtually all EU claims were withdrawn, abandoned or rejected. The unfounded claims from the 5,800 EU nationals who sought asylum last year cost Canadian taxpayers $170 million. Under the current system, it takes an average of 4.5 years from an initial claim to remove a failed refugee claimant from the country. Some cases have even taken more than 10 years. The result is an overburdened system and a waste of taxpayer money. For too long, we have spent precious time and taxpayer money on people who are not in need of protection at the expense of legitimate asylum seekers.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act would help speed up the refugee claims process in a number of ways, such as changing the designated country of origin policy to enable the government to respond more quickly to increases in refugee claims from countries that generally did not produce refugees, such as most of those in the European Union. Claimants from those countries would be processed in about 45 days, compared to more than 1,000 days under the current system. Claimants from designated countries of origin would also have their claims heard sooner and would not have access to the new refugee appeal division.
Moreover, it would also further streamline the process by limiting access to appeals for other countries, such as by claimants with manifestly unfounded claims or claims with no credible basis at all. It would enable more timely removals from Canada of failed refugee claimants.
Taken together, these measures send a clear message to those who seek to abuse Canada's generous refugee system. It tells them that if they do not need our protection, they will be sent home quickly. They would not be able to remain in Canada by using endless appeals to delay their removal. At the same time, if they need refugee status, these measures would help them get protection even faster. Every eligible asylum claimant would continue to get a fair hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Once these needed changes are implemented, Canada's refugee determination system would remain one of the most generous in the world.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act would also deal with the despicable crime of human smuggling. Human smugglers are criminals who operate around the world, charging large amounts of money to facilitate illegal migration. Each year, countless people die while taking these dangerous journeys. Bill C-31 would help crack down on these smugglers in a number of ways. It would enable the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of individuals into Canada as an irregular arrival. It would establish mandatory detention of those individuals to determine their identity, admissibility and whether they have been involved in illegal activities. It is important to mention here that once a person's refugee claim has been approved, that person would be released from detention.
It would also make it easier to prosecute human smugglers and would impost mandatory minimum prison sentences on those convicted of human smuggling. It would hold shipowners and operators to account when their ships are used for human smuggling.
It would enhance our ability to revoke the refugee status of people who are no longer in need of Canada's protection and of those who have gained that status through misrepresentation. It would reduce the attraction of coming to Canada by way of illegal human smuggling, by limiting the ability of those who do to take advantage of our generous immigration system and social services.
One notable improvement in Bill C-31 from Bill C-4 is that mandatory detention would exclude designated foreign nationals who are under the age of 16.
Our government continues to be absolutely clear that human smuggling is a despicable crime and any attempts to abuse Canada's generosity for financial gain will not be tolerated. With this bill, we will crack down on those who endanger human lives and threaten the integrity of our borders.
The protecting Canada's immigration system act also includes a framework for the collection of biometric information, photographs and fingerprints, in the temporary visa program and will establish parameters for how this information can be used and disclosed by the RCMP in order to enforce Canadian law. The use of biometrics would bring Canada in line with other countries that already use biometrics in their immigration programs, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, the European Union, New Zealand, the United States and Japan, among others.
To maintain the support of Canadians for our generous immigration and refugee system, we must demonstrate that Canada has a fair, well-managed system that does not tolerate queue jumping. Bill C-31 will ensure that genuine refugees in need of protection will receive it sooner, while those who are abusing Canada's generosity will be removed more quickly.
I am proud to support this important piece of legislation and hope that all of my colleagues will work together to ensure the timely passage of this bill.
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:14 [p.6472]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the hon. member that Bill C-31 is an important step to better protect our immigration system. It is important that we close the immigration back door so that the system becomes fairer for everyone involved. That is what this proposed legislation attempts to do.
The member mentioned that Jews do not support this bill, but I think that Jews all over Canada support the legislation wholeheartedly.
What I would like to make clear is that our government appreciates the fact that our country was built by immigrants. That is why we have introduced a number of other measures to help newcomers who come to Canada and to better protect Canada's immigration system.
View Nina Grewal Profile
CPC (BC)
View Nina Grewal Profile
2012-03-26 13:16 [p.6473]
Mr. Speaker, again I would tell the member that Bill C-31 proposes very important reforms for asylum seekers to make the process faster and fairer. It includes measures to address human smuggling and provides authority to make it mandatory to provide biometric data with a temporary resident visa application.
Let us be clear: we all want a compassionate immigration system. We all want to help others who generally need Canada's assistance, but we should not and cannot tolerate those who abuse our generosity.
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