Private member’s bill to repeal Bill C-51
MP Randall Garrison (NDP) introduced a private member’s bill that would repeal all aspects of Bill C-51. He said the bill would do away with the broad definition of national security contained in Bill C-51 and with the excessive powers it gives to CSIS.
Bill C-22: An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians
House resumed consideration of this motion. MP Lloyd Longfield (Liberal) said that he held a round table in Guelph with the Muslim Society, the Islamic Society, the Sikh community and other civic groups to discuss issues related to national security. MP Sheila Malcolmson (NDP) spoke to say the NDPs support the direction of the bill and MP James Bezan (Conservative) spoke to say the Conservative Party will oppose the bill as it stands. Major points of the debate included the chair being selected by the Prime Minister rather than elected by the committee and transparency of the committee processes. MP Salma Zahid (Liberal) spoke in support of the bill and referenced herself as a Canadian Muslim and as being a member of a community that has often felt unfairly targeted by security agencies and stigmatized as part of these security debates. MP Arif Virani (Liberal) also spoke in support of the bill and referenced himself as a Muslim member of the Liberal caucus. He spoke of the government commencing a nationwide consultation on the national security framework and the government engaging communities through their efforts to counter Islamophobia. He referenced $35 million over five years to create an office of community outreach and counter-radicalization, efforts to welcome victims of Daesh and efforts to improve rights of those who have found themselves on no-fly lists by creating a passenger protect inquiries office and implementing a Canada-U.S. redress working group.
Canada's arms exports program
MP Hélène Laverdière (NDP) said that a number of reports have revealed massive problems with Canada's arms exports program. We know that Canadian weapons exported to Saudi Arabia have been used in Yemen. Recent reports have suggested that Canadian weapons have been sold to countries like Libya and Sudan, despite Canadian sanctions. MP Laverdière added that the Liberal government has thus far rejected a proposal to create a parliamentary committee to study arms exports. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pam Goldsmith-Jones, responded by saying that the Liberal government will provide more rigour and transparency with respect to export controls, and that the government is currently consulting with NGOs and industry to bring legislation forward.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
MP Michelle Rempel (Conservative) stated that refugees are being forced to use food banks because the Prime Minister does not have a plan to support the refugees he brought here. MP Rempel asked the house how many refugees will require social assistance payments by the end of this year, and what the cost will be to Canadian taxpayers and to the refugees themselves. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Arif Virani, responded that there have been issues with refugees using food banks and that the government is working hard to resolve these issues. MP Virani added that our government has been commended by the UN for our refugee resettlement efforts. Now, 13 other countries want to learn from Canada's experience.
The House is adjourned for the summer until September 19.
Muslims in the House June 13 - 17
Genocide in the Middle East
Following the release of an independent report by the UN commission that concluded that genocide was committed by ISIL against the Yazidis, on June 16 the Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion stated for the first time that the government believes that genocide against the Yazidis is currently ongoing by ISIL.As a result, MP Pierre Poilievre (Conservative) called on the government to reinstate the air bombing campaign to stop the ongoing genocide. Minister Dion disagreed and responded by stating that the government has tripled efforts for training and are improving their programs for development to rescue the affected populations. The Minister also stated that the Canadian government wants the UN to carry out more investigations to ensure that these crimes are addressed.
On June 14, MP Kamal Khera (Liberal) addressed the house to wish Ramadan Mubarak to Muslims in Brampton West, Canada and around the world and to recognize the Brampton Islamic Centre in Brampton West. This week the leader of the opposition, MP Rona Ambrose (Conservative) held an iftaar at Stornoway (house of the leader of the opposition). Additionally, various Muslim MP’s held an iftaar in Ottawa.
MP Michelle Rempel (Conservative) stated that soon Syrian refugees will see their one year of government-funded support terminate and most of these refugees still don’t have access to training to learn French or English. The Minister of Immigration, John McCallum responded by saying that the government is working hard through settlement agencies to provide funding to support language training for refugees. The Minister of Immigration added that in seven months the government has admitted 46,000 refugees and ninety-nine per cent of all the refugees are now in permanent housing.
MP Jenny Kwan (NDP) said certain Syrian refugees in Saskatoon are receiving their monthly assistance payments nearly three weeks late. MP Arif Virani (Liberal) responded that he will endeavour to work with MP Jenny Kwan going forward to find out about average wait times to deliver income supports to refugees.
National Defense – Iraq, ISIL
The Leader of the opposition, MP Rona Ambrose stated that Canadian special forces recently came under fire in a battle near Mosul in Iraq. She asked how the Prime Minister can claim that Canada’s role in the campaign against ISIL is just a training mission when our troops are under fire. Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that Canada has an important role to play as part of the coalition against ISIL by providing training on the ground and, advising and assisting local troops. Prime Minister Trudeau added that this is not a combat mission but, of course, Canadian troops will always be allowed to defend themselves while they support local troops taking the fight to ISIL.
The Leader of the NDP, MP Tom Mulcair asked why the Prime Minister has done nothing to get rid of Bill C-51. The Prime Minister stated that his government has engaged in significant consultations with stakeholders, and also made commitments to bring an oversight committee of parliamentarians in which all parties will be able to participate to ensure that the law and the Charter are being respected.
Parliament was on recess for the week of May 21 – May 29
On May 23, 1914, a ship sailed to Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. On board were 376 passengers of Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu origin. The passengers onboard, like other immigrants to Canada, came seeking better lives for their families, new opportunities, and a chance to contribute to Canadian society. When they arrived in Canada, the ship was denied docking and after a two-month stalemate, the ship was forced to sail back to India. On May 18th, 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau offered an apology on behalf of the Government of Canada for its role in the Komagata Maru incident.
MP Bob Saroya (Conservative) stated that the Liberals have failed to support Syrian refugees once they arrive in Canada and that many Syrian Refugees are using food banks. MP Bob Saroya asked how the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, could have been so arrogant as to suggest it is a Syrian cultural value to depend on food banks. The Minister responded that his comments on the issue were insensitive and noted that his actions thus far demonstrate to Canadians quite the opposite, that he has been unequivocally welcoming to all Syrian refugees.
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains stated that his first official action was to reinstate the mandatory long-form census. Minister Bains noted that census letters and packages are being sent to all Canadians from coast to coast. Canadians will have access to high-quality data that truly reflects the needs of our communities and businesses.
On May 4, 2015, Rona Ambrose (Official Leader of the Opposition, Conservative) asked why the Liberal party is warming up to relations with a country like Iran. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded that it is important that Canada re-engage, alongside its allies, with Iran. While Canada recognizes Iran’s history of human rights violations, the P5+1 deal showed significant progress in removing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Prime Minister Trudeau went on further to add that it is by engaging constructively with Iran that Iran and its people can do better in the world.
Bill C-6 – Act to amend the Citizenship Act
The Executive Director for the Canadian Council of Refugees addressed the house by presenting the organization’s concerns with respect to Bill C-6. As a reminder, Bill C-6 (sponsored by John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship), seeks to (i) remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian Citizenship as it relates to national security; (ii) remove the requirement that an applicant intend to reside in Canada if granted citizenship; (iii) reduce the number of days during which a person must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship; and (iv) limit the requirement of demonstrating knowledge of Canada and one of its languages to applicants between the ages of 18-54. Notably, Bill C-6 seeks to repeal some if not all of the changes that were implemented by Bill C-24 (introduced by the Conservative party). The Canadian Council of Refugees recommended that the youth under 18 who have no parent or guardian be allowed to apply for citizenship and that long wait times be prevented by requiring the government to process applications within a reasonable time frame.
Federal Budget 2016
Last week, the 2016 budget was tabled in the House by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, declaring 2016’s budget would “restore hope for the middle class and revitalize the economy”. Please click here for The Canadian-Muslim Vote's summary of the budget.
Office of Religious Freedom in Flux
A majority of last week’s debate focused on the motion tabled by the Conservatives to renew the current mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom. The government staunchly opposed the renewal of the Office based on the principle that all human rights are interdependent. The NDP also echoed the government’s opposition to the Conservative motion, highlighting a study which showed that Christian minorities garnered twice as much attention from the office as compared to Muslim and Jewish minorities, calling into question the focus of the work of the Office.
The government made it very clear last week that freedom of religion and belief should be situated within the larger framework of human rights and that the Office as it is currently set up “should be broadened and not only focus on protecting minority rights based on religion but also on ensuring the development of human rights and pluralism”, as stated by Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan.
Highlights from the 2016 Federal Budget:
On March 22, 2016, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the current government’s first Federal Budget. The Budget outlines planned government spending, expected government revenue, and forecast economic conditions for the upcoming year. The budget is the financial plan on delivering the commitments made by the current government during the election campaign, Speech from the Throne and mandate letters to the Ministers. The priorities of the Budget have been laid out into five key themes:
- Strengthening the Middle Class: Investing in the middle class, skills training and infrastructure.
- An Innovative and Clean Economy: Smart, targeted investments in science, research, innovation and the environment.
- An Inclusive and Fair Canada: A better more inclusive Canada where all Canadians have a chance to succeed.
- Canada and the World: International Leadership in support of peace, security and economic growth.
- Open and Transparent Government.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the federal budget earlier this week.
The summary below highlights key investments and commitments made by the Federal government over the next year.