Immigration Reform: Low Hanging Fruit

AuthorAlastair Clarke
DateJanuary 22, 2016

There is no doubt that our current government has been busy since November 4th and, as an immigration lawyer, the change in rhetoric (and action!) has been like a zephyr warming up the winter blues. I still have clients mention to me that they saw the Prime Minister at the airport greetings refugees. (In photos, not live. He did not grace the Winnipeg airport with his presence.) Well done, PMJT! And now Minister John McCallum announced that they will be looking to change the loan repayment rules for refugees so that they are fair. Another move in the right direction.

The above actions should not be trivialized and there are certainly positive changes to come. At some point, however, Minister McCallum and the government need to turn its collective mind to legislative immigration reform. There are many sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), its Regulations and the Citizenship Act that simply need to be amended or repealed. Here is a list of low-hanging fruit:

  • Amend or repeal the changes to the Citizenship Act (Bill C-24) which created “second-class” citizens and, in my view, is antithetical to what it means to be Canadian. Mitch Goldberg rightly pointed out that the provisions put every Canadian Jew at risk.
  • Reversing the change in age of a “dependent child” in section 2 of IRPA. Previously, the definition took into account the reality that students in full-time studies over the age of 19 remain dependent upon their parents.
  • Amend or repeal the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act which has, in too many cases, transferred the burden of assessing whether a Permanent Resident should be allowed to stay in Canada (often with his/her family) from a tribunal that could hear testimony and properly assess the circumstances to a CBSA Officer who mostly concerned...

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