The government’s controversial bill that further reforms Canada’s refugee system passed a third reading Monday night in the House of Commons.
Bill C-31, which passed by 159 to 132, will now move to the Senate.
Earlier in the day, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said C-31 is designed to combat human smuggling and to ensure the asylum system is “fast and fair.”
He said the bill’s passage is a “long time coming” and that he hopes the Senate will pass it before Parliament breaks for the summer. The bill proposes changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, which made a series of reforms to the refugee system when it was passed in 2010.
Kenney said Bill C-31 contains new tools to help “combat human smuggling criminals who want to treat Canada like a doormat.”
The bill was given a rough ride by some refugee law experts and opposition MPs, who called for a number of amendments. The government did end up making some changes to the initial bill, but critics said they didn’t go far enough.
“This is taking Canada in the wrong direction,” the NDP’s immigration and citizenship critic Jinny Sims said on Twitter after the vote.
Earlier, Sims called the bill “draconian” and said her party had to vote against it.
“There is nothing in this bill that will go after smugglers in a way that they’re going to catch those international smugglers. This is really about punishing the most vulnerable citizens when they arrive here, putting their lives at risk and when they get here, we’re going to throw them in prison,” she said.
A ‘black eye’ for Canada
Sims said the bill will affect Canada’s international reputation and defies international agreements.
“In the international community, I believe this is another black eye for Canada,” she said.