Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Balanced Refugee Reform Act

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Trinity—Spadina for her diligence and good faith. I know that for a member of the NDP to work constructively with a minister in the dastardly Conservative government is an occupational hazard, so the fact that she was willing to put ideology and her own party’s politics to the side to get something positive done for refugees and Canadians is to her great credit.



    I thank her for reminding us about the era of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism that barred access to Canada for European Jewish refugees before and during the second world war. That history is detailed in the devastating book None Is Too Many: Canada And The Jews Of Europe 1933-1948, which I actually reread over Christmastime, and it struck me deeply with a moral responsibility. It really caused me to think through many of these issues, that while we must be a place of refuge for those in need of our protection, we also need to maintain a legal system, and I think we have struck that balance.



    Speaking of balance, it is important in these issues that we have balanced public discourse. I just want to raise something with the member for her comment.



    One of the public meetings she talked about was in Toronto a couple of months ago at which a representative of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Francisco Rico-Martinez, said that I was the worst anti-immigrant minister ever and essentially called me a racist. This past weekend I was at a community event for the Filipino community in Vancouver where members of an anarchist organization called No One is Illegal, apparently good friends of the NDP House leader, as she seemed to be very familiar with them, were screaming at me at a family event that I was a racist and a bigot.



    We may have differences of opinion across the political spectrum on some of these issues but I would like to give the member an opportunity to agree with me perhaps that certain kinds of charges and certain kinds of rhetoric are actually terribly counterproductive and go beyond the pale of what constitutes civil discourse on these issues.