The year 1976 marked the first time that refugees stopped being dealt with on an ad-hoc basis, meaning they had been dealt with on an individual level, rather than having resolutions created to fit a general problem – resolutions and claims designed so that they could be adapted and manipulated in order to become more useful. The implementation of the 1976 Immigration Act saw the creation of a determination process for refugees seeking refugee status from beyond Canadian borders. There were problems from the beginning with this system. For instance, under the Immigration Act, all applications for asylum were made by paper, and there was no possibility for an oral hearing. In 1985, however, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that not allowing applicants an oral hearing violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Upon introduction of oral hearings as part of the claim process there was a subsequent increase in the amount of refugees admitted to Canada. While in 1981 there were approximately 14,000 refugees admitted out of a total of approximately 129,000 immigrants, in 1986 the number of refugees jumped to approximately 19,000 out of a total of only 99,000 immigrants. While this was a step in the right direction it appears to be one of the only occasions that an amendment made to the Canadian system for refugees and asylum seekers was beneficial in upholding the rights of the refugees. Since then we have seen a thickening of the border and impaired access to asylum. The definition of a Refugee and Canada as a signatory to the Refugee Convention
People seeking asylum that fit the criteria of a refugee under the United Nations Convention on Refugees must be granted protection upon arriving at a border. According to the Convention, refugees are individuals “who cannot return home because of a well founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” Countries that have signed the Convention must allow the refugees a safe haven in their country, and must acknowledge that refugees are not immigrants, and therefore should not be held to the same types of strict and high standards for being allowed into a particular country. As a signatory, Canada must uphold their promise to refugee claimants.
The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act outlines Canada’s commitments to people seeking refugee status in our country. According to the act, the Canadian government promises (among other things), To fulfill Canada’s international legal obligations with respect to refugees and affirm Canada’s commitment to international efforts to provide assistance to those in need of resettlement… To establish fair and efficient procedures that will maintain the integrity of the Canadian refugee protection system, while upholding Canada’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all human beings… [and to] compl[y] with international human rights instruments to which Canada is signatory.
Since Canada has agreed to the Convention, they should uphold the duties that come to them as a country that is able to offer asylum to refugees. This paper will argue that although the Canadian government has signed the United Nations Convention on Refugees, they are not doing their part to uphold their obligations as outlined by the Convention. By implementing resolutions and amendments to refugee policy they are ultimately trying to limit the number of refugees being let in to Canada. They justify this by erroneously claiming that refugees act in some cases as a threat to Canadian national security and in some cases as a threat the Canadian refugee system itself. Bill C-84 Limits the Ability of Refugees to Cross Our Borders
If we are going to evaluate the Canadian government’s decrease in leniency for refugee claimants, it is important to understand how this may have come to happen. Lacroix’s hypothesis is that there may have been...