Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he'll soon give Parliament more information about a proposed power for the minister to deny people from entering Canada even if they don't have a serious criminal record.

The power is included in Bill C-43, legislation that would give sweeping powers to the minister of immigration. MPs will vote Tuesday night on whether to send the bill to committee for study.

The power, known as negative discretion, would allow the immigration minister to deny entry to Canada for a non-citizen who may promote hatred or violence. The minister can currently deny entry to a foreign national based on criminality or national security reasons.

Kenney says he plans to go to the immigration committee with a list of criteria the department would use in deciding if someone is inadmissible to Canada. He also plans to ask opposition MPs on the committee for advice on striking "the right balance."

"I don't want the current, or any future, government abusing this kind of power to exclude from Canada peoples whose views may be contentious or politically incorrect," Kenney said Tuesday, speaking to reporters in a teleconference from the United Kingdom.

"But I do think in certain extreme cases there are people who might otherwise be admissible whose views are so extreme and so potentially violent that we want to be able to exclude them. And that's really the balance that we've been trying to look for."

Opposition MPs concerned about power

Opposition MPs have said they're worried about giving the minister so much power. NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said last month that the party has serious concerns about it.

"This is not against Jason Kenney the individual. No immigration minister should have this much power," Sims said.

Kenney says the UK, U.S. Australia and New Zealand allow for negative discretion.

"We're not looking at some broad generalized power to prevent the admission of people to Canada whose political opinions we disagree with, but rather those whose hateful attitudes, if given expression in Canada, could potentially lead to hateful actions or violence," Kenney said.

The bill, which the government titled Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals, would ease the way to deport refugees, permanent residents and visitors for "serious criminality," crimes where the punishment is six months or more in jail.

Other proposed changes include:

  • Ending appeals to those with foreign convictions for crimes that would carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in Canada.
  • Denying entry to Canada to those with a family member inadmissible for security and human rights reasons or organized crime connections, even if that family member isn't travelling with them.
  • A five-year inadmissibility period for lying on immigration applications.
  • Mandatory CSIS interviews if requested.
  • Reporting conditions for those under deportation orders.
  • Automatic inadmissibility for non-Canadians and permanent residents for acts of espionage or acts against Canada's interests.