“We see little evidence of abuse to justify the amendments in Bill C-43,” says Michael Greene of Calgary, member of the CBA’s National Immigration Section.“The law goes farther than needed, extending to areas that are not justified by the harm it is seeking to address. We urge the government to withdraw or substantially amend the legislation.”
The CBA calls the loss of appeal rights for many permanent residents the most significant change in the legislation. “The Bill would dramatically eliminate access to Immigration Appeal Division review of deportation orders made against permanent residents on the grounds of criminality. We believe these denials of access to review are unnecessary and unreasonable,” says the CBA in its submission.
Instead of a one-size-fits-all denial of appeal rights, the CBA favours an approach that balances the seriousness of the crime and the likelihood of rehabilitation with level of community and family support and potential hardship on family living in Canada. “The Immigration Appeal Division review weighs the need to protect Canadian society from further criminal behaviour against consideration of the circumstances of the permanent resident. It is a rational, transparent and necessary process,” says the submission.
“In some cases a stay order is the sensible resolution: the permanent resident is given the opportunity to demonstrate that they should be allowed to remain in Canada. In other cases, deportation is appropriate.”
The CBA makes the same argument for foreign convictions of permanent residents. “The nature of foreign police and legal systems in certain countries make it essential to maintain Immigration Appeal Division jurisdiction for assessment of the alleged foreign conduct in the full context of the offender’s situation, before deportation orders become effective,” says the brief.
The CBA argues that the Bill would create unprecedented new authority for the Minister to deny entry to Canada on “public policy grounds” without defining what those grounds would be. “The legislation grants the Minister virtually unlimited discretion to prevent entry to individuals who are otherwise admissible to Canada for up to three years at a time,” says Michael Greene.
The CBA is concerned about the elimination of Ministerial powers to grant relief based on humanitarian and compassionate factors. “Ministerial discretion to consider humanitarian factors plays an important role in balancing the breadth of the admissibility sections with positive personal considerations. This amendment is inconsistent with basic Canadian values of fairness and due process,” adds the submission.
The submission is available on the CBA website. Michael Greene presented the submission on behalf of the CBA to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Nov. 7.
The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.