2870) Minister, Why Did Your Official Allow Mr. Turkkaya Ataov, Who Is A Denier Of Armenian Genocide—To Come To Canada To Speak To A Group . .

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Hon. Jim Karygiannis (Lib.): Minister, would your department allow somebody who will deny the Holocaust to come into Canada to speak to a group?

Hon. Jason Kenney: I'm sorry?

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
A Holocaust denier. Would your department allow somebody to come into Canada and speak publicly? . . .

Hon. Jason Kenney:
Mr. Karygiannis, I'm sure you know that under IRPA neither the minister nor the department to whom I delegate visa-granting authority have what's called negative discretion. So if someone is legally eligible to enter the country and obtain a visa—that is to say, if in the judgment of the visa officer they're likely to return, and they pass our security and health requirements—we are legally incapable of denying someone a visa on the grounds of, say, their political opinions.

Perhaps the committee would like to consider whether or not we should have negative discretion to prevent those kinds of people from coming to Canada.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
If somebody requires a visitor visa to come to Canada, and you know full well that this individual will come and preach about Holocaust denial, would you allow him in, yes or no? Yes or no, Minister?

Hon. Jason Kenney:
It depends on the particularities of the case. I can tell you—

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Somebody is going to come to a university—

+ -(0950)

The Chair:
Excuse me to both of you. You know, we can only hear one person at a time. The record can't capture two people speaking. Mr. Minister, you've been asked a question. Try to do your best, and then Mr. Karygiannis will have his turn.

Mr. Minister.

Hon. Jason Kenney:
Can I respond?

The Chair:

Hon. Jason Kenney:
I just have a two-sentence elaboration, which is that I recall a couple of years ago—I think actually I was in opposition—there was an imam from Saudi Arabia with a long track record of anti-Semitic remarks, including Holocaust denial. And I recall putting the motion to the House of Commons asking the government not to allow him to come into Canada. Now, technically the government didn't have that power, but fortunately the person didn't come into Canada. So I think there are ways of dissuading individuals like that from entering Canada.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
So, Minister, you would not allow somebody in, correct? Yes or no? It's simple; it's all I'm looking for.

Hon. Jason Kenney:
If the person is guilty of a crime, or we have reasonable apprehension that he will commit a crime in Canada, then we can deny the person a visa.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Minister, please answer the question with a simple yes or no. If you can't do that, then that's fine. Would you allow somebody to come into Canada and allow him to speak publicly—you know he's going to speak publicly—about Holocaust denial, yes or no?

Hon. Jason Kenney:
If a visa officer believes there's reasonable likelihood that someone will commit a crime in Canada, then he will be denied a visa.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Then, Minister, why did your official allow Mr. Türkkaya Ataöv, who is a denier—he speaks of denial of the Armenian genocide—to come to Canada and speak at McGill University? This individual has a long track record. Now, why did your officials allow him in? You should deny him too.

Hon. Jason Kenney:
If someone is guilty of a crime in the country of origin and we believe they may commit a crime in Canada, the visa officer is likely to deny the person a visa. This is the first time I've heard of that case, so it's difficult for me to respond to it.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Maybe you can look into it and come back to us.

Hon. Jason Kenney:
I would be happy to. If you have evidence that individual was guilty of crimes, either in his country of origin or Canada, I would be very keen to look at it.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Minister, on April 10, 2008, in testimony before the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology of the other place, on Bill C-37, the then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration stated that we can use a subsection 5(4) citizenship grant if individuals qualify under the new legislation: “...they could apply for a section 5(4) and not wait until the legislation comes into force.... We don't want to hold the people up, because the law has not yet come into force....”

Minister, can you tell me how many grants of citizenship have been made since last year, on subsection 5(4)?

Hon. Jason Kenney:
While I'm looking for this, I can say that it's not large in terms of order of magnitude. I'll get back to the member with that number, Mr. Chairman, but I think it is in the single digits or in the dozens. It's not a huge number.

Hon. Jim Karygiannis:
Minister, there were 72 applications and only one was granted. Why is your department denying Canadian citizens their citizenship? If you don't have the numbers, Minister, we have Don Chapman in the room here. He has been appearing in this committee. He can stand up and testify how many you have done: one. One to the veteran whom your minister flew down and who was coerced into saying yes, I want to take citizenship. Only one, Minister, and you've had a full year. There are 72 applications on your desk and you haven't done anything.

The Chair:
You're well over, Mr. Karygiannis.

If you can give a quick answer, go ahead, otherwise we'll move on.

Hon. Jason Kenney:
I'm afraid that Mr. Karygiannis is characteristically wrong. I can tell him that I personally made several recommendations under subsection 5(4) to the cabinet, I think in the order of eight.

Canada Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, EVIDENCE, March 10, 2009

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