While tracking what is happening with Bill C-11, the refugee reform bill, and to find out whether or not the Liberals will vote it down, I spoke with Liberal MP Denis Coderre after Question Period today.
Q: Apparently your party is no longer supporting it –
A: Hold on. As a former minister of immigration, I said that I don’t believe in a “safe” country approach because I’m a man of principle. There are, for example, 72 countries where gays are still criminals, so if it means if you put a label to a certain country where it’s “safe” – there are countries that are supposed to be safe where we still accept thousands of refugees. I think that Kenney wanted to save himself because he made a bad move on the visas and the way that he applied the visas with Mexico – that’s one of the parts, but we are for the RAD [Refugee Appeal Division]. The bottom line is that our Canadian values are that every case is unique, so I was ready to discuss and have our bill go clause-by-clause, but it seems like somebody pulled the plug, so it’s their fault. It’s not mine. I’ve been a minister of immigration after 9/11. My role was to make sure that we don’t build a wall around Canada, and I had the security part also, and Prime Minister Chrétien gave me the privilege and the honour to make sure that we kept those values. We negotiated the safe third-country agreement with the United States, but that was not to say that the United States was “safe” – it was to say that if you passed through the land border from the States under the umbrella of UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees] with the exemption that every case was unique, that I could have had some exemptions, well we proceeded that way. Costa Rica – it took us a year-and-a-half before implementing a visa, but we didn’t take anybody by surprise. We said there are some issues – make sure that you take care of them. If not, we’ll have a visa. So we had a visa.
Q: As for the process now, do you go back to clause-by-clause tomorrow?
A: I have no clue if we have a committee meeting tomorrow – that’s the issue.