The Tories have introduced a bill that will once again attempt to deter “bogus refugees” from applying to Canada.
The new bill, Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act, will go back on many of the changes the Conservatives were forced to make under a minority government in their previous attempt to reform the asylum system in 2010.
"To be blunt, Canada's refugee system is broken," said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. "Too many tax dollars are spent on bogus refugees."
The legislation would crack down on human-smugglers and grant authorities the ability to collect biometric data from people entering Canada on a visitor visa, work permit or study visa.
Mr. Kenney said the biometrics would be phased in starting in 2013 for travellers from high-risk countries and then expanded globally.
In particular, the government wants to limit the number of claims for the European Union, of which they say 95 per cent were withdrawn, rejected or abandoned and cost taxpayers $170 million.
Bill C-31, tabled in the House of Commons Thursday, will toughen measures taken in the earlier bill - Balanced Refugee Reform Act - which received royal assent in June 2011.
“It has become clear there are gaps in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and we need stronger measures that are closer to the original refugee bill,” said Mr. Kenney.
Under the new bill, the immigration minister would have the power to place countries on the safe country list without the benefit of a committee that was to include human-rights experts -- a change the official opposition says politicizes a system that should be judicial.
'It's a serious step backward," said NDP critic Don Davies. "This minister didn't even implement Bill C-11," he said, adding it's been a mere 20 months since the older bill received royal assent. "How he can say the system doesn't work when he didn't give it a chance is beyond me."
Mr. Kenney said that with the previous act and today's legislation, provinces and territories can expect to save in the range of $1.65 billion over five years in social assistance and education costs.