Letter: Canada has nothing to apologize for in terms of refugees
Posted: July 28, 2008
Post reporter Adrian Humphreys recently wrote about how the fate of refugees often rests in the hands of the Federal Court of Canada. In fact, of the 7,241 proceedings commenced in the Federal Court last year, 5,504 were immigration-related. That story brought in this letter from Martin Collacott, a former Canadian ambassador to Asia and the Middle East.
The fact that 76% of the Federal Courts case load is immigration-related underlines once again the need for major reform of the immigration appeal system. That many of these cases involve failed refugee claimants points in particular to the need for a one-stop appeal-and-review process to replace the virtually endless number of opportunities that currently exist for rejected applicants to stave off removal. As your article correctly points out, when the Federal Court was established it was not envisioned that it would be a load-bearing wall in Canadas immigration system but it has become just that.
Canada has nothing to apologize for when in comes to taking in refugees; we have the highest per capital intake of refugees for permanent resettlement, the highest acceptance rates and the most comprehensive package of benefits in the world. This combination has, however, made us a major target for unscrupulous individuals seeking to exploit our generosity.
When David Anderson (who subsequently became a minister of the federal cabinet) left the Immigration and Refugee Board in 1992, he was asked whether members of the board suffered from compassion fatigue. He responded to the effect that perjury fatigue is more like it because theyve seen the rule of law subverted so often. Most of the problems that existed when Mr. Anderson made these statements are still with us. A complete overhaul of the system is well overdue.
Martin Collacott, Vancouver.