PRESS RELEASE: Canadian Association Of Refugee Lawyers Testify Before Commons Committee On Bill C-43
In their appearance before the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons today, two expert witnesses for the Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers (CARL) Lorne Waldman and Angus Grant offered clear, trenchant criticisms of Bill C-43, The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act. Their testimony focused on a two significant failings of Bill C-43:
- Permanent residents of Canada, upon being convicted of relatively minor crimes, can now be deported without any right of appeal or consideration of their personal circumstances.
- Innocent people, found to be inadmissible to Canada because of ludicrously broad security laws, will no longer be able to remain in Canada for exceptional or humanitarian reasons.
Mr. Waldman, the president of CARL, stressed that Bill C-43 applies to permanent residents of Canada as well as foreigners:
“Everyone supports the notion of speedily removing foreign criminals. But does everyone support the notion of deporting a father who is supporting his family, a mother who is the sole caregiver for her Canadian children, a child who is caring for ailing parents? Many permanent residents have deep roots in Canada.”
Waldman also explained that Bill C-43 lowers the definition of a serious crime to an inappropriately low level, namely, any crime that is punishable by ten years or more and where a sentence of six months has been imposed:
“Someone who has lived in Canada most of their life, now convicted of stealing oysters, could be deported without any right to appeal their deportation to the Immigration and Refugee Board.”
Mr. Grant, a prominent refugee lawyer also undertaking doctoral studies on admissibility issues, noted that Bill C-43, despite its stated objectives, will not increase Canadian security:
“This bill will not make Canada safer from terrorists but it will seriously harm innocent people who should not be trapped within the current security net.”
Grant explained that Canada’s inadmissibility laws are already too broad. Under what has become known as the “Mandela rule”, completely innocent people who have peacefully stood up for human rights against despotic regimes, have been incorrectly and unfairly labeled as members of terrorist groups:
“It is at least arguable that these changes could be justified if innocent individuals caught in the system could access humanitarian relief. Bill C-43 eliminates this possibility. The result is that those who are innocently captured under Canada’s security provisions have no recourse. They may be barred from making a refugee claim, they may live in limbo for years, if not decades, they are frequently forced onto welfare and they are stripped of their dignity”.
Mr. Grant also stressed that the bill did not make Canadians any safer.
“The law already allows the Minster the authority to deny criminals and terrorists access to Canada. Under the current system, those who do pose a threat to national security are not granted Ministerial relief, nor are they granted relief on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The only thing these provisions accomplish will be to deny to innocent individuals processes meant to exonerate them from the overbreadth of our security laws.”
For more information on CARL’s submissions on Bill C-43, contact:
Lorne Waldman, CARL President: firstname.lastname@example.org
Angus Grant: email@example.com
Peter Showler, Co-chair, CARL Advocacy Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org