First Designation of Irregular Arrivals

5th Dec 2012 Comments Off on First Designation of Irregular Arrivals

On December 5, 2012, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (the “Minister“) made his first designation of irregular arrival under Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

The Washington Post is reporting that the 85 people were designated, including 35 children.  Thirty of the irregular arrivals have already been arrested thus far.  The refugee claimants appear to be Romanian, and arrived in Canada between February and October.

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Anatomy of a Misleading Press Release

4th Mar 2012 Comments Off on Anatomy of a Misleading Press Release

Some Twitter followers have asked me to explain my comments regarding a press release that I have described as extremely misleading.

On February 22, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada released a press release titled “Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act Earning Rave Reviews“.  The press release contains quotes from politicians, lawyers, the media, and interest groups.  After reading it, one would reasonably assume that everyone quoted supported Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act.

However, anyone remotely familiar with who some of the people quoted in the press release are will realize that something is amiss.

Lets start with Don Davies, the Opposition Critic for immigration.  Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. Davies supports Bill C-31?  Of course he doesn’t!  It’s basically his job not to!  A quick glance at his website and youtube confirm that he does not support the Bill, so why is he included as someone who is positively raving about Bill C-31?

Next.  Lets turn to some of the press release’s examples of the media “raving” about Bill C-31.

The press release quotes the Globe and Mail as saying:

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s refugee reforms, aimed at making the process more efficient and decisive, are generally good. If implemented, they will improve an unwieldy asylum program.

The legislation rightly focuses on weeding out claimants who are not genuine, and stemming the flow of asylum seekers from countries such as Mexico and Hungary that are democracies with respect for basic rights and freedoms.

Fast-tracking refugee claims from these countries, and ensuring failed claimants are promptly deported, is an excellent way to ensure Canada does not become a magnet for abuse.

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Was Bill C-37 Worth the Political Cost?

17th Feb 2012 Comments Off on Was Bill C-37 Worth the Political Cost?

On February 16, Jason Kenney and the Conservative government introduced Bill C-31, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration Act.  The Act makes many reforms to Canada’s refugee system, and amends previous amendments to Canada’s immigration legislation contained in the Balanced Refugee Reform Act which have not yet come into affect.  Bill C-31 was greeted by many refugee lawyers and advocates with much criticism, and was received with particular indignation from the New Democratic Party.

It is not difficult to see why the NDP was outraged by the introduction of Bill C-31.  Less than two years ago, the Conservatives and the NDP worked together to introduce the Balanced Refugee Reform Act.  Its passage was seen as a good example of compromise, and how the parties in a minority Parliament can cooperate to introduce what was generally viewed as good legislation.  I would also imagine that the NDP spent some political capital with its base by cooperating with the Conservatives and to makeCanada’s refugee system stricter.

Minister Kenney has now thrown all of that to the wind.

By abandoning the grand compromise that was the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, Mr. Kenney has taken several political risks.  First, he has abandoned any good-will that he had with the NDP.  Should the Conservatives ever find themselves in a minority government again, I doubt that they will find the NDP being very willing to work with them in the same away as they did in 2012.

Second, he has provided the NDP with the ability to criticize the upcoming reforms to Canada’s refugee system.  Because the NDP were co-drafters of the Balanced Refugee Reform Act, they could not really criticize the upcoming changes because they themselves owned the amendments. 

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Political Opinion in the Refugee Context

9th Apr 2011 Comments Off on Political Opinion in the Refugee Context

The five grounds for claiming Convention refugee status on the basis of a well-founded fear of persecution are race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group and political opinion.

Political opinion is a broad concept that is not merely limited to belonging to a political party.  Canada (Attorney General) v Ward (1993)  is the leading Supreme Court of Canada case on the scope of political opinion. According to that decision, political opinion includes “any opinion on any matter in which the machinery of state, government, and policy may be engaged.”   The Court stated:

Political opinion as a basis for a well-founded fear of persecution has been defined quite simply as persecution of persons on the ground “that they are alleged or known to hold opinions contrary to or critical of the policies of the government or ruling party”; see … [Atle Grahl-Madsen, The Status of Refugees in International Law (1966)] at p. 220. The persecution stems from the desire to put down any dissent viewed as a threat to the persecutors. Grahl-Madsen’s definition assumes that the persecutor from whom the claimant is fleeing is always the government or ruling party, or at least some party having parallel interests to those of the government. As noted earlier, however, international refugee protection extends to situations where the state is not an accomplice to the persecution, but is unable to protect the claimant. In such cases, it is possible that a claimant may be seen as a threat by a group unrelated, and perhaps even opposed, to the government because of his or her political viewpoint, perceived or real. The more general interpretation of political opinion suggested by Goodwin-Gill, [Guy S. The Refugee in International Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983] at p. 31, i.e.,

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Canada to End Source-Country Class for Refugees

23rd Mar 2011 Comments Off on Canada to End Source-Country Class for Refugees

There are three types of refugee classes for refugees that are re-settled from abroad. These are the Convention Refugees Abroad Class, the Country of Asylum Class, and the Source Country Class. Minister Kenney has introduced regulatory changes to eliminate the Source Country Class.

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Persuassive Decision on Tamil Refugees (Updated)

11th Jan 2011 Comments Off on Persuassive Decision on Tamil Refugees (Updated)

A persuasive decision is a decision that is considered to have persuasive value in developing consistent jurisprudence. They provide clear, complete, and concise reasons with respect to the particular element that is thought to have persuasive value, and consider all of the relevant issues in a case. Other members are encouraged to rely upon persuasive decisions in the interests of consistency.

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Refugees, Democracies, and State Protection

29th Dec 2010 Comments Off on Refugees, Democracies, and State Protection

People are often dismissive when they hear of refugee claimants arriving with stories of persecution at the hands of militias or gangs. This especially appears to be the case when the refugee claimants originate from a democratic country. Why, they ask, do these people not simply go to the police in their respective home countries?

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Visa Office Referrals and Joint Assistance Sponsorships for Refugees

18th Aug 2010 Comments Off on Visa Office Referrals and Joint Assistance Sponsorships for Refugees

Last updated on July 21st, 2018

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has released Operational Bulletin 228 – Visa Office Referred and Joint Assistant Sponsorships (JAS) for Refugees – New Templates and Instructions. This bulletin is somewhat timely given the recent media furor regarding Canada’s “failed” refugee system. It highlights that there are alternatives to becoming a refugee in Canada beyond showing up and declaring an intention to seek asylum.  Indeed, the number of refugees who arrive in Canada through specific programs exceeds those who declare that they are refugees from within Canada.

In 2009, 7,202 people became refugees by declaring upon arrival in Canada that they were asylum seekers. 7,425 arrived as government-assisted refugees. 5,036 people arrive as privately sponsored refugees.

The Operational Bulletin highlights two programs designed to combined private sponsorship with government assistance. They are the Visa Office Referrals program and the Joint Assistance Sponsorship program.

Visa Office Referrals (VOR)

In the VOR program, visa offices identify refugees from their inventory for private sponsorship. Such a case is initiated either by the visa office or by the sponsoring group. According to the Bulletin, the program ensures that selected refugees who are ready to travel can proceed to Canada as quickly. The most appropriate cases for such referral are small families or single adults without special needs.

Joint Assistance Sponsorships (JAS)

The JAS program enables sponsoring groups to partner with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in the resettlement of refugees who, because of special needs or circumstances, are expected to require an extended resettlement period and support over and above that which is provided either through government assistance or regular private sponsorship alone.

Private sponsors provide resettled refugees with orientation, significant settlement assistance, and emotional support to supplement the financial assistance and immediate and essential services available through the government’s Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).

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