Kenney Is Just The Latest To Confront Canada’s Refugee Industry

Kenney is just the latest to confront Canada's refugee industry. The others lost

William Bauer
The National Post
Posted: May 12, 2009, 9:00 AM by NP Editor

Jason Kenney, the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, recently announced his intention to end the wide-scale and almost systematic abuse of Canadas refugee determination system.

He should hurry. Theres a dangerous private members bill waiting in the wings which almost became law in the last Parliament. If passed during this session, it would deliver the coup de grce to the increasingly dysfunctional system.

Mr. Kenney deserves credit for recognizing the problem, but that is the easy part It has been recognized by every government in the last quarter-century. But a solution has eluded them all.

In 1983, Lloyd Axworthy, then Liberal immigration minister, complained about the thousands of illegitimate refugee claimants who saw Canada as an easy mark where they could file a claim, abuse the various stages of appeal to remain in Canada indefinitely and ultimately evade normal immigration procedures. He was alarmed that 3,500 people had claimed refugee status in 1982, and that 1,400 cases were awaiting review. He should have considered himself lucky: More than 30,000 claims are now made every year, and there is a backlog of more than 55,000 claims pending.

Obviously, Mr. Kenney has his work cut out for him. All his predecessors made brave statements about reform and put forward legislation to correct the flaws. However, after parliamentary committees heard almost exclusively from immigration pressure groups, legislation was always watered down so much that the situation was worsened.

Political barking by immigration ministers invariably turned into legislative whimpering after the minister concerned had been worked over by the hundreds of immigration lawyers who earn a living representing refugee claimants, and a lobby group under the umbrella of the Canadian Council for Refugees. Ministers came in full of resolution and left after being pummelled into submission.

Mr. Kenneys first concern should be a piece of legislation which was introduced as a private members bill in the last session by a Bloc MP, and subsequently supported by all NDP members and all Liberal MPs except Joe Volpe, a former minister of citizenship and immigration. The bill, which was returned to the House from the Senate before the last election with a couple of amendments, would have created a Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), to which any unsuccessful claimant could apply.

To any well-intentioned observer, this seems like a reasonable proposal: Any court or tribunal such as the IRB can make mistakes, so why not add another level of appeal?

Anyone who claims refugee status in Canada on his arrival has access to the IRB. Because of the ever-growing backlog of cases, it will be many months before a hearing is scheduled. In the meantime the claimant can obtain employment, social assistance, health care and free legal advice. If offspring are born during this period, they are automatically entitled to Canadian citizenship.

Prior to the 2001 Immigration Act, hearings at the IRB were usually conducted by two members, and the Refugee Protection/Hearing Officer (a civil servant who knew the law and the file) was part of the proceedings. Now hearings can be conducted by one member, who can operate without the assistance of the Refugee Protection Officer.

In a misguided attempt to reduce the backlog, the two-member panel was abolished, and the government introduced the RAD as a sop to lobbyists. This was nonsensical: A single-member panel was far more likely to produce positive decisions, since negative decisions required writing elaborate reasons that would stand up in appeals to the Federal Court.

If the IRB panels decision is not based on the facts of the case, the law and fairness, the Federal Court passes the case to the Federal Court of Appeal, or back to a different panel for rehearing. All decisions can also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

At another level, the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment provides rejected claimants with an opportunity to present new evidence. Individuals can also ask for consideration by the minister on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These decisions are also appealable to the Federal Court.

The process is so extended that some rejected claimants have managed to avoid deportation for as many as 15 years.

These existing layers of appeal and review provide more protection to rejected claimants than any other refugee determination system in the world. Adding another paper review by the RAD would not only be useless, but would also add years to the appeal process, without adding any extra protection. It would cost tens of millions more dollars in social assistance, health costs and legal assistance, and would also require more highly paid legal staff.

This issue has been the subject of lobbying for about seven years, largely by the Canadian Council for Refugees, a group that claims to represent more than 180 organizations, most of which are publicly subsidized. The CCR opposes any major improvements in Canadian refugee law, pursuing their case to the Supreme Court if necessary. At the first UN Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, the CCR presented a detailed paper to the world, accusing Canada of having racist immigration and refugee policies, stemming from the fact that racism and discrimination are part of the Canadian reality.

CCR has organized letter-writing campaigns and petitions on behalf of the Bloc resolution creating the RAD and provided members with precise but inaccurate arguments and draft letters for lobbying MPs and senators.

Mr. Kenney has a strong and ruthless opponent as he starts to revise the refugee determination process. The CCR will oppose him every step of the way. As a former member of the IRB, I would urge him, MPs and the Senate not to be buffaloed by those letters, petitions and delegations inspired by the CCR.

Canada has a proud and noble tradition of refugee protection. But as this tradition deteriorates into futility, Canadians are becoming skeptical.

National Post

William Bauer is a former Canadian ambassador and member of the Immigration and Refugee Board. He is currently completing a book on the Canadian refugee determination system and its relationship to international migration.



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by crocodile dundee
May 12 2009
9:20 AM

Good luck, Jason!! The sooner this morass of refugee determination is cleaned up, the better. You can start by invoking the notwithstanding clause of the Charter to overturn the 1986 Singh decision which opened the floodgates to tens of thousands of bogus 'refugees'. Then you can tell the CCR where to go!

Millions of Canadians are fed up with our country being changed and overrun by these bogus refugees and having to pay the tens of billions it takes to support them. If the CCR thinks Canada is so 'racist' they can damn well tell their 'clients' to go somewhere else. I wouldn't be surprised if the members of the CCR are refugees and immigrants themselves….but I guess we're so racist here that they choose to remain here!!

by Sassylassie
May 12 2009
9:38 AM

That was a pleasure to read, just the facts without muddying the waters, the refugee system is a mess one need only look at the recent hostage protest by the Tamil Tiger supporters to see we've been accepting people who have no intention of entering Canada to become Canadians they are using this country as a HOTEL until their motherland stablizes and their utopian dreams come to pass and it's off back to the motherland but it's we who foot the bill for their free medical, dental and refugee cheques. I wish we took such good care of our seniors, they don't get a couple of grand a month and baby bonus cheques they might get a mere 900 dollars a month if they are one of the lucky ones.

I wish Mr. Kenny well he's up against snakes dressed as “ADVOCATES” who have profited from an inept Immigration Stystem.

by Decidedly Libra
May 12 2009
10:17 AM

I think both the mood both at home and among other countries favors revamping immigration laws. European countries have especially been the victim of poor ill-thought out immigration laws that have lead to an open door policy. Well no more. We have seen the problems and I son't think the voters will support the CCR. In fact Cdns are tired of non-elected pecial interest groups dictating policy to us. The CPC has been very successful in weaning us off of socialist groups.

by gwestbound
May 12 2009
10:19 AM

Refugees are not people who have been displaced and are brought in for humanitarian reasons into Canada. Only a few are in that category. Most are smuggled in or are queue-jumpers who lie their way into the country by pretending they cannot go home and get all the entitlements they need immediately. There is no proper adjudication process, they are not even held pending a medical examination, most disappear before their first refugee hearing and even if found to be dangerous or fraudulent they are rarely deported.

by rossbcan
May 12 2009
10:51 AM

If you build it, they will come.

This is a bonanza for the legal “profession” who were instrumental in both creating the “system” and milking the claims process (their creation) for all its worth. At taxpayer expense, of course.

If you plan on addressing this, don't blame immigrants seeking a free lunch. Consider the opportunities and incentives of the “system” favoring lawyers and eternal claims litigation, at public expense. Consider the mechanisms by which the legal profession profits. Follow the money trail.

Also, consider how immigration judges are appointed. These are patronage, mostly Liberals. There appears to be no qualification requirements, other than demonstrated loyalty as political hacks.

by rossbcan
May 12 2009
11:04 AM

As an aside, immigration and multiculturalism may not be in our interests. We must adapt to new values and opinions imported from less successful societies (ie; proven failures) at the expense of changing the values of our once successful society.

It is very ill advised to adapt our laws or tolerate immigrants who break them out of “cultural sensitivity”.

Immigration may be a mechanism of those who wish to destroy social consensus and rule by “divide and conquer” conflict creation.

I have nothing against immigrants who want to join us, be productive and live according to Canadian values / laws. I do have issues with those who wish to import their conflicts and less enlightened viewpoints and insist we accept them, under penalty of being accused of being “intolerant”.

An immigrant who comes to Canada under the impression that we can or want to be changed according to their philosophy is just like a spouse who marries thinking their partner can be made “better”. The marriage is doomed.

by dougEEE
May 12 2009
11:51 AM

Two ways to solve the issues:

1) Find out who is funding the CCR – I'm betting its some arm of some Government agency. Cut off the funding and cut off their air supply.

2) Take out all the lawyers and hand them from the nearest telephone pole.

Why should we as a society be screwed as a whole in order to provide employment for a small number of bottom feeding scum suckers.

by dougEEE
May 12 2009
12:01 PM

Ooops – I really meant hang all the lawyers!

Or we could hand them over to the US military and have them waterboarded for a few days!


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