Hon. Art Eggleton:
I find Senator Harder’s intervention somewhat puzzling because this is a similar motion — certainly the first part — that was passed on Bill C-45 and he supported it. It came in the committee report and he supported the adoption of the committee report. He did not get up and make a similar kind of statement here that this is something that should be a change in the Immigration Act. And maybe ultimately it should, but getting changes in the Immigration Act is like pulling teeth. It’s a very difficult thing to do. Meanwhile, this is going to go into effect very soon. To put people into the jeopardy of a double punishment, particularly an even more severe punishment than the act intends and the punishment that may be meted out by the courts, is a very unfair circumstance.
The provision here, as described by Senator Jaffer and Senator Omidvar, is to deal with cases that are a summary conviction that have a fine, maybe, or at maximum up to six months in prison. These are not serious criminality kinds of offences or punishment.
Now, driving under the influence can be a very serious matter, no doubt about it, but let the courts decide what is serious and what in fact is less than a very serious criminal activity. But if it comes within the category she suggests here, then I think it goes beyond reason, in examples that both senators gave, to expect that those double penalties are going to be applied here.
Until there is a change to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, I think it’s appropriate to have it, just as it was appropriate to put it in Bill C-45. We adopted that in this Senate Chamber.