From the Globe and Mail.
Third-party asylum repugnant to Charter, federal court rules
By UNNATI GANDHI AND COLIN FREEZE
Friday, November 30, 2007 Page A1
Citing the example of Maher Arar, a Federal Court judge ruled yesterday that Canada must reconsider a reciprocal refugee-processing agreement with the United States because Washington flouts conventions meant to safeguard immigrants against torture in their homelands.
Experts say the effect of the ruling may ultimately be that Canada will have to process thousands more refugee claimants each year, now that the continued existence of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), passed in 2004, is in question.
Mr. Justice Michael Phelan wrote that the U.S. does not comply with international refugee conventions and that the Canadian government, in entering into the agreement, "acted unreasonably" in concluding that it did.
The STCA requires refugee claimants to seek protection in the first country they reach, and has allowed Canada to automatically send refugee claimants at the border back to the United States, from where they are usually detained or deported.
"By removing the Safe Third, we can reasonably expect to see a new significant inflow of refugee claimants to Canada from the United States. The door will soon be open ... [because] the Federal Court decision has made it virtually impossible for the Safe Third Country Agreement to continue to exist," said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver lawyer and immigration policy consultant.
We get more information from The Toronto Star.
The reasoning issued yesterday, which will essentially nullify the agreement with a final court order expected early next year, is a huge victory for refugee advocates, including the Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International and John Doe, a failed Colombian refugee claimant in the U.S., who brought the declaration application to the court.
So we have an unelected, unaccountable judge rule against a law, that was legislated by Canada's elected officials, and challenged by a non-Canadian citizen (a Colombian). Who runs this country?
This is reminiscent of the notorious Singh decision of 1986 when six Guyanese Sikhs selfishly challenged Canada's refugee laws. This decision literally opened the flood gates to abuse and Canada effectively lost control of its borders as it extended Charter rights and protection to anyone, citizen or not, who has one foot on Canadian soil. The STCA was a modest attempt to restore some sovereignty but apparently some people have a problem with that.
The STCA was implemented to curb what is called "asylum shopping". This is a practice where potential immigrants posing a fake refugees shop around for the best deal and Canada is at the top of the list. Most refugees to this country are not real refugees. They are mostly queue jumping economic migrants who know an easy mark when they see one. Canada is world renowned for its lax refugee laws, relaxed citizenship requirements, and poor record of deportations with a generous social welfare state to top it off. Canada has broadened the definition of a refugee to such a comical extent that every advanced democratic country in the world would fair no better than the United States did in this ruling. It's a joke really.
Justice Michael Phelan made a misinformed ruling but apparently the man is no stranger to that. According to this blogger, and using the Toronto Sun as source, Mr. Phelan advised Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to reconsider a decision to reject Than Soe's refugee claim. In 1989 Than Soe hijacked a Taiwanese airliner carrying 80 passengers with a fake bomb to bring attention to the regime in Burma. The Taiwanese government pardoned Than Soe and granted him amnesty. Than Soe arrived in Canada as a "refugee" after the United States denied him entry to study at the University of Indiana with a full scholarship. Why would Mr. Phelan advise Stockwell Day to reconsider Than Soe's refugee claim when he is clearly not a refugee?
I think there is more to this than meets the eye. Allowing myself to speculate I think this ruling has more to do with America bashing than with Constitutional guarantees. Whatever the reasons are it's the Canadian who is going to pay for it financially and socially but then again what else is new? And who cares, right?