Bill C-31: Reaching too Far, or Fair for Canada and Refugees
By Author: Max Chaudhary | July 14, 2012
Bill C-31: Reaching too Far, or Fair for Canada and Refugees?
Billc-31, having been granted royal assent on June 28th 2012, is now enacted. The controversial bill was sponsored by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney. This has polarized people in the immigration field and citizens alike. The dissension has transcended political party disputes. It has also been disapproved of by international organizations such as: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The following changes are in effect by passage of the bill:
- the immigration minister would have the power to choose which countries are safe without a committee including human rights experts
- rejected refugee claimants from countries on the safe country list would no longer be able to appeal the decision to the Immigration and Refugee Board
- claimants from countries on the safe country list would have to wait a year before applying for compassionate and humanitarian considerations to become permanent residents, and could be deported in the meanwhile
- claimants from countries on the safe country list would be able ask for a judicial review by the Federal Court, but could be deported before the court makes a decision
- biometric identification would be implemented for people that apply for visas to visit Canada
- If one has a refugee claim pending before the Refugee Protection Division or less than 12 months have passed since an application for refugee protection was rejected, abandoned or withdrawn after the hearing started, one is no longer eligible to make a Humanitarian and Compassionate Application to remain in Canada. Exceptions may be considered for situations where providing adequate medical care or the best interests of a child are factors.
- Awards powers to Immigration Officers to arrest and detain suspected foreign nationals and permanent residents even if the alleged crimes transpired abroad many years ago.
The Minister, Jason Kenney, defended his bill by stating it would address serious concerns facing our nation’s refugee system. Kenney: “To be blunt, Canada’s refugee system is broken. Too many tax dollars are spent on bogus refugees.” In particular, the government wants to limit the number of claims originating from the European Union.
The CIC states that 95 per cent of E.U. applications were withdrawn, rejected or abandoned and cost Canadian taxpayers $170 million. The 95 per cent figure is in dispute by refugee advocates. The Minister plans to begin implementing a biometric system in 2013. It would begin with citizens of countries that are deemed to be “dangerous.” Other planned changes will likely occur in the autumn of 2012. There are many who say these changes go too far and that recent changes were never given an opportunity to work.
Those opposed to these change state it grants the Minister too much authority and is too harsh on applicants. ‘It’s a serious step backward,” said NDP critic Don Davies. “This minister didn’t even implement Bill C-11.” (which was enacted less than two years prior to C-31 being granted royal assent). “How he can say the system doesn’t work when he didn’t give it a chance is beyond me.”
For those that disagree with the new laws, and there are many, it is now officially on the books. Follow the results and see what the results are for yourself. For more information on this subject and any other questions you may have, you can call Max Chaudhary on 416 447 6118 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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