The past decade has not been kind to migrants. The events of 9/11 added extra hurdles to immigration process as immigration authorities’ paranoia grew. Western countries’ hospitality is much colder as xenophobia increased fuelled by right wing political groups such as the Tea Party in the USA, the Front National in France or the Conservatives in Canada and the UK. In Canada, since the election of the conservative government of Prime Minister Harper, we have adopted a series of reforms in immigration and refugee law. The focused is now on so called “desirable” migrants, usually people with education and language proficiencies in English or French. Inadmissibility rules continue to prohibit family from reuniting, disabled and sick migrants from settling, and otherwise qualified migrants with tenuous link to alleged terrorist groups from immigrating. Parliament adopted the so called Balanced Refugee Reform Act in 2010 making it harder for refugees to seek protection in Canada. Additionally, Refugees’ access to health care was cut by the federal government. Many of those changes are being or will be challenged in court. Whether these challenges will succeed is hard to predict as the Supreme Court has tended to be deferential towards the government on immigration and refugee issues. Two cases handed down in the last two months may shed some light on what the future holds for refugee and immigration law.
I would encourage people to read the About page before diving into this first blog post, especially the Disclaimer section… Now that that is done, enjoy!
Many commentators (often conservatives – and I use that term in its wide sense not solely its political or partisan sense – but also people who [over]value the sovereignty of Parliament) have critiqued our courts, especially the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), of indulging in judicial activism. This was particularly true after the advent of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in 1982. These criticisms have resulted in an increased deference to the two other branches of government (legislative and executive) in public law. The Khadr 2010 decision is a perfect example. This trend is not healthy for our judicial system and I intend to show why in this post.