Immigration Minister Attacks Federal Court of Canada for Immigration Delay

By Author: Admin | February 13, 2011

In a recent speech before Canadian law students, Canada’s immigration minister blamed the delays in disposing of refugee claims and the deportion of serious criminals on the judicial system, presumably both the Federal Court, and the Immigration Refugee Board.  This ignoring of the separation of powers inherent in a democratic society is curious.  One can presume that the immigration minister would be aware of his role in the political system of Canada; it is inappropriate for a Minister to take issue with the conduct of the judicial branch of a government, in this case the Federal Court of Canada.  Intervention with the Judicial Branch occurs in a military dictatorship, not a democratic society.

The more likely intention behind Mr. Kenney’s remarks would be to provide the raw material for politically  right of centre news outlets to promote an agenda that would bifurcate Canada’s immigration program into two parts: refugees (whom he deems  bad), and skilled / business immigrants (whom he deems  good).

His government has intentionally delayed appointments to the Immigration Refugee Board, the body that hears refugee cases.  In other words, the current government itself is to blame for the delays in processing of refugees, since there were insufficient Judges appointed to hear those cases.  This is akin to creating facts on the ground:   facilitating delays in the immigration system and then justifying changes in the law based on the self-created delays.

Contrary to the Immigration Minister’s words (“the interminable process by which immigration cases creep through the courts, slouching from appeal to appeal…”), the Federal Court disposes of most cases within 6 months; the vast majority of immigration cases contain no right to appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court of Canada.

Refused refugees also have a right to a Pre Removal Risk Assessment (“PRRA”), but most of these are disposed of by the Canada Border Service Agency in less than six months.   The refused PRRA decision is often accompanied by a date for removal from Canada. Contrary to what is implied in the Minister’s comments above, filing a federal court case against a reviewed PRRA does not in and of itself, halt the removal action by the Canada Border Service Agency.

The Minister apparently cited cases where individuals subject to the label “serious criminality” – perhaps a few dozen individuals – whose cases have been subject to delays of 15 years prior to deportation.  However, some of the delays in such cases again can be attributed to the Immigration Department itself.

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