MASSE IN THE HOUSE: ON BILL C-4 AN ACT TO AMEND THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT, THE BALANCED REFUGEE REFORM ACT AND THE MARINE TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ACT

    Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): Madam Speaker, I rise here to talk and I guess wind down this debate here today. There are a lot of facts in the bill that are still out there in terms of specifics that the minister could do to really ramp up his powers, but I would like to talk more about the personal aspect of this.

    I used to work at the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County and I dealt with not just new Canadians but sometimes people who came through the refugee system. I think it is important that we talk a little about the people who would be affected. At the end of the day, some of them may be our neighbours, friends and family. They are not just soulless people looking to sponge off of Canada, which is often the perception presented by those who are for this bill indirectly. It is there, I can feel it in the House here, that they understand people have a certain advantage to take from Canada versus a contribution.

    We have to remember that the refugees come here because they or their family are under physical threat of rape, torture or a series of different things. They often give up every cent they have for just the chance at a better life. Sometimes they do not know the language. Sometimes they do not trust the people they put their family's lives in, but they know it is a better chance for them and their survival at that moment in time than the alternative in their own home country.

    Imagine that the place one grew up, where they had their family, where they want to have a future being too dangerous for them to stay. They decide to risk everything to go to a country like Canada which has been a beacon in many respects for the globe and here we are out to punish them.

    I cannot think of a single refugee, be it man or woman, who walked into the doors of that agency who would have benefited from jail time. I cannot think of a single instance when that would have been necessary for the people I served. I can only imagine the horror situations that we are going to face when we lock up families up to a year or even for a few months.

    There is mental, physical and emotional grief and stress of not knowing one's future that is not only from the streets of the country where a refugee may be dependent upon social services and other not for profits that remarkably help people every single day. However, if the refugees go through our system, they become Canadian citizens, taxpayers and contributors. Many who have come through this system have left a mark on our country.

    If these people are deemed not to be valid through our system, I do not want them going back worse. I do not want them going back with more trauma. I am willing to face the consequences that we live in a globe that we cannot turn our backs on. There are evil people out there who take advantage of people on a regular basis, but those victims do not need to be turned away, they need to be supported. We are on one planet here.

    We seem to forget that. We think it is a free ride to come over here and they would have a great ticket and never contribute. That is not what is happening on the streets. That is not what is happening with our immigration policies. We know that when people come here they often work harder, they take less social assistance and they often contribute more. They are like anybody else. They have their chances and once they get here they take those chances and put them to good use.

    In the youth programs I used to run we had eight youth who were born in Canada and making bad decisions. We put them with eight youth who were new to Canada and could not figure things out. We mixed them together and our program had over a 90% success ratio where they either went back to school or found a job. The reason was because there was a thirst from the new people who were coming here to have a better opportunity. They remembered some of the war-torn countries they came from and the people they left behind that they missed so dearly, but they had to move on with their lives. In moving on with their lives, they were grateful to a country that had taken them in.

    We are a multicultural country. When we see these issues and connection to families that are being broken, that is wrong. We have asked people to come here.

We cannot sustain our society without immigration and refugees coming here. We cannot sustain the lifestyle that we enjoy right now. That is a fact. We cannot afford our pension system. We cannot afford the trading deficits we have. We cannot afford any of those things, so we need to have a workable system. The people who are coming here through this system are very good people who contribute back.

    When we intern people for up to a year it is wrong. Imagine what is going to happen when parents and families are broken up if some are released but some are not. Let us think about the refugees as contributing to our society, not as out there taking--