On Friday February 23rd, the Supreme Court ruled that the security certificate process as it currently stands is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the Court suspended its declaration of invalidity for one year from the date of the judgment to allow Parliament time to amend the law. This means that for the next year the government can continue issuing certificates and asking the Federal Court to decide whether they are reasonable. After one year, those affected can apply to have the certificates quashed.
The most important conclusion of the Court was that the use of secret evidence in the security certificate process is contrary to the Charter, violating the Section 7 right not to be deprived of life, liberty and security of the person except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
The decision was signed by all nine judges and was written by the Chief Justice. It is available at http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2007/2007scc9/2007scc9.html.
The CCR had intervener status as part of a coalition. We were fortunate to have as our counsel Sharry Aiken, former CCR President, as part of the legal team made up of Sharry, Marie Chen and Mary Eberts. The CCR Legal Affairs Committee also offered important support. A summary of the CCR arguments can be found at www.ccrweb.ca/seccertsummary.html
The Canadian Council for Refugees and other organizations have joined together to express alarm over the government’s politicization of the appointments process for members of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which has led to serious threats to the stability and integrity of the Board. The CCR is seriously disturbed by the move to stack the IRB Selection Committee with appointees of the Minister, pushing the appointments process towards a more politicized and potentially ideologically-driven process.
The government released a report at the end of February, commissioned by the previous Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on appointments to the IRB. The key recommendation calls for the Minister to appoint half of the members of the Selection Committee. This opens the door to political control of a selection committee that should be solely focused on recommending the best candidates for the important job of deciding refugee claims and immigration appeals. Similar concerns have been raised about the changes introduced by the current government to the process for appointing judges. The publication of the report, accompanied by news that the government is accepting all the recommendations, led to the resignation of all members of the existing selection committee, including CCR Past President, Nick Summers.
A few days earlier, the IRB chairperson, Jean-Guy Fleury, had unexpectedly announced his resignation. He has been recognized to have been struggling, unsuccessfully, to work with the government to achieve merit-based appointments in a timely fashion. Currently 52 out of 156 IRB positions are vacant, leading to growing backlogs at the IRB.
For a copy of the media release decrying the effects of the vacuum left by the resignations from the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Advisory Panel for nominations, see: www.ccrweb.ca/releaseIRBfeb07.html
For a sample of media coverage on the resignations, see:
For questions in the House asked to the Minister about the resignations, see: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl
The CCR has developed a proposal to provide temporary and permanent protection to trafficked persons. Strategies for using this proposal as an advocacy focus were discussed at the Working Group meetings in Toronto in February. The CCR encourages organizations to use this proposal as a focus for advocacy efforts on behalf of trafficked persons.
For a copy of this new position, see: www.trafficking.ca or www.ccrweb.ca/traffickingproposal.html
Additional information on the CCR’s campaign to ensure protection for trafficked persons is available at: www.trafficking.ca
During the week of February 4th, the Federal Court of Canada and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration heard arguments as to why the United States should not be considered a “safe third country” for refugees. In the Federal Court proceedings in Toronto, the CCR, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches argued that the US does not fully respect its obligations under the Convention Against Torture and the Refugee Convention.
The Federal Court heard about barriers faced by refugees in the U.S. such as:
- the deadline of one year to file a refugee claim,
- the excessive use of detention,
- extremely broad provisions excluding refugees who are deemed to have provided “material support” to terrorists.
All of these factors contribute to the likelihood that a person will be removed from the United States to a country where they are at risk of persecution or torture.
Later in the week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration heard testimony on the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement from witnesses, including US advocate Deborah Anker of Harvard Law School.
For more information on the campaign to have the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement cancelled, see www.ccrweb.ca/S3C.htm.
The evidence from the Parliamentary Standing Committee hearing is available at: http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=193110&Lang=1&PARLSES
The CCR is asking all its members to formally endorse the Family Reunification Manifesto and to encourage other organizations to do the same. CCR members were sent information about the Family Reunification campaign and the Manifesto in the January mailing. We have set a goal of 100 organizations signing on by September. A particular challenge goes out to organizations in Alberta and BC – we have yet to get any endorsements from those provinces!
Please report any endorsements to: email@example.com.
It is important for all CCR member organizations to endorse the Family Reunification Manifesto (text available at: www.reunification.ca) as a first step towards using the Manifesto to:
- Encourage the federal government to make speedy family reunification a priority
- Reach out to allies (for example: community, health, education, faith-based organizations, city councils)
- Promote public awareness of the unnecessary and painful costs of family separation
We are hoping to organize an action in Ottawa calling on the government to make speedy family reunification a priority, possibly to coincide with the CCR Fall Consultation in Ottawa. More details to follow in coming issues of the CCR Chronicle.
Please see www.reunification.ca for updates on the Family Reunification campaign and for a complete list of available resources.
April 4, 1985 was a milestone for refugee rights in Canada. On that day, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the right of refugee claimants in Canada to life, liberty and security of the person. Twenty-two years later, not all refugees are treated fairly. This April 4th reach out to your community on refugee rights!
The CCR has prepared a virtual toolkit where you can find all you need to speak out about refugee rights this April 4th. This includes suggestions and materials to help people who care about refugees human rights alert the Canadian public, members of the media and politicians to advances made in the protection of refugee rights as a result of the Singh decision, as well as to threats to those rights.
The virtual toolkit to plan for Refugee Rights activities in your community is now available at: www.ccrweb.ca/RRDay.html
Members of Parliament have been debating Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171), calling for the immediate implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division. During debate, Omar Alghabra, Liberal Party critic of Citizenship and Immigration stood in support of the Bill C-280, as did members of the NDP and Bloc Québécois (which proposed the bill). This is encouraging, but more voices need to stand and support it!
Please contact your Member of Parliament and ask them to vote in favour of this important bill. It is especially important to speak with Liberal and Conservative Members of Parliament to ensure that this bill passes, as we already anticipate the support of the Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party. The vote on second reading is expected when Parliament reconvenes in the second half of March 2007.
The CCR has prepared an information backgrounder responding to a number of questions about the proposed Refugee Appeal Division, as well as highlighting the devastating human impacts of not implementing the RAD. Please share the information in this document with your Member of Parliament and use the set of talking points when you contact your MP.
The backgrounder can be accessed online at: www.ccrweb.ca/RADpage/RADpage.htm
If you are able to meet with your MP, talking points and a one-page summary of points on the Refugee Appeal Division are available in the ‘New from CCR’ section at www.ccrweb.ca or ‘Recent Information’ at www.ccrweb.ca/eng/issues/recentinfo.htm
If you haven’t done so already, sign the Amnesty International online petition calling for the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division at: www.amnesty.ca/take_action/actions/online/support_bill_C-280.php
The following are 2006 landing statistics, as at 22 February 2007. These figures are preliminary
and subject to change. Please use for internal purposes only until the final data are released. Figures from 2005 have been provided in brackets for comparison.
Government-assisted Refugees: 7,322 (2005: 7,424)
Privately Sponsored Refugees: 3,329 (2005: 2,976)
Protected Persons Landed In Canada: 15,892 (2005: 19,935)
Dependants Abroad of Protected Persons: 5,947 (2005: 5,441)
Total Protected Persons: 32,490 (2005: 35,776)
We are pleased to present the CCR's new website! Check it out at http://www.ccrweb.ca to explore the changes, including the search tool. Please update your bookmarks as some pages have changed address and other information has moved.
Thanks for your patience as we make minor corrections to the pages, but please point out any errors that you find by sending an email to Colleen French at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy surfing!
From 24-26 May 2007 refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Edmonton for the Canadian Council for Refugees 2007 Spring Consultation. The Conference will be a unique opportunity for advocates to exchange ideas on the successful integration of refugees and immigrants, with a particular focus on how these issues are addressed through a gender lens. The consultation program and electronic registration forms are now available online at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm. Copies of the program and registration form have been sent to CCR members in the March mailing.
Consultation participants are invited to use the CCR toolkit: Pathways to Gender Justice: A toolkit for people working in the refugee and immigrant serving sector in Canada. You can consult the toolkit prior to the sessions in Edmonton at: www.ccrweb.ca/gender.pdf. To order a printed copy of the toolkit in a folder, please fill in the order form at: www.ccrweb.ca/ordergender.pdf and send it to the CCR office.
Prior to the Consultation, on Wednesday 23 May in Edmonton, the CCR Youth Network will be hosting a one-day caucus on issues affecting refugee and immigrant youth, as well as strategies to address them. Further details on these sessions will be available on this site in the coming weeks. For more information on the CCR Youth Network, see http://groups.takingitglobal.org/ccrjeunes or contact Colleen French at email@example.com
Please help us to promote this Consultation by passing this invitation to people who might be interested in attending and by directing people to the consultation information on the CCR website at: www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm
. We appreciate your help to make the consultation a success!