Source: National Post
FINALLY a government with actual balls. For a second there I thought that maybe we might gotten too soft on them. We need to allow in the legitimate immigrants who are willing to work and pay taxes, and deport the violent criminals who abuse our system. We don’t want Canada to become a doormat for the bottom-feeders of the world.
New legislation introduced today by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will crack down on foreign criminals who delay deportation to their home countries by utilizing Canada’s lengthy appeals system, and make it easier for the government to deport them.
The new laws will limit the access foreign criminals will have to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s Appeal division, thereby reducing the time they can remain in Canada by up to 14 months.
This change, Mr. Kenney said, reduces the likelihood the criminals will re-offend on Canadian soil.
“If a foreign citizen is sentenced to six months or greater, they’re subject to removal,” said Mr. Kenney at a news conference.
“But under the current system, they still have access to the immigration appeal division as long as their sentence is less than two years, and many courts have sentenced foreign criminals to two years less a day explicitly in order for allow them to have access to these multiple appeals and effectively to delay their deportation from Canada.”
The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act will make it easier for the government to remove dangerous criminals from Canada, will make it harder for people who pose a risk to Canada to enter in the first place and will remove barriers for “genuine visitors” to the country.
Mr. Kenney cited the “notorious” case of Clinton Gayle, a Jamaican man who was convicted of multiple drug offences and sentenced to two years less a day in jail.
“Between 1990 and 1996, the government tried to deport Mr. Gayle on multiple occasions. This process was made difficult because of the relatively short criminal sentences that he received,” he said. “In 1996, while that process was still ongoing, Clinton Gayle shot and killed Toronto police officer Todd Baylis.”
Currently, anyone who is not a Canadian citizen and is sentenced to less than two years in prison can appeal the automatic deportation order that comes along with a jail term.
Under the new rules, foreign citizens involved in organized crime or security, human or international rights violations, will no longer be permitted to attempt to put off their removal using the humanitarian and compassionate consideration normally available to some foreigners in Canada.
“These measures are tough but fair,” Mr. Kenney said. “We want an immigration system that is open to genuine visitors, while at the same time prevents the entry of foreign criminals and denies them the ability to endlessly abuse our generosity.”
According to Statistics Canada, 86% of prison sentences in 2010-11 were for six months or less.
Officials with the immigration department say there are more than 2,700 deportation orders currently being appealed, with the average file taking 15 months to process.
The proposed legislation also makes it more difficult for those convicted of crimes abroad — and their families — to get into Canada.
It denies entry to the spouses and children of those deemed inadmissable to Canada, such as war criminals.
It also removes the right to appeal on humanitarian or compassionate grounds for people refused entry to Canada on the basis of security, rights violation or organized crime.
Those turned away do have the right to appeal directly to the minister of public safety, but the new law would only require the minister to take only national security and public safety factors into account, not humanitarian concerns.
Another provision would allow the minister of public safety to overturn a ruling of inadmissability “on his or her own initiative.”
The department said this would, for example, allow the minister to admit heads of state into Canada who would ordinarily be considered inadmissable due to past infractions in their home countries.
Officials were quick to clarify this wouldn’t mean war criminals.
Meanwhile, the immigration minister would be given the power to deny someone entry into Canada on the basis of “public policy considerations,” such as a foreign national who promotes violence against a religious group.
Since 2008, Kenney has quietly been amassing more control over immigration, beginning with the use of a device called a “ministerial instruction” that revamped the skilled worker program in a bid to eradicate a major backlog of applications.
In the government’s refugee reform bill, currently before the Senate, the minister is given singular power to draw up a list of safe countries from which those claiming refugee status would receive greater scrutiny.
In the latest proposed legislation, Kenney said the new powers are justified and mirror what other western countries do.
“We needed a power that we could use quickly,” Kenney said.
“If someone is standing on the boarding ramp at an airplane in Heathrow, ready to come to the country, and we find out that they have a long track record of promoting violent anti-Semitism or violence against women or gays and lesbians, frankly we don’t have the luxury of convening various consultative committees.”
Kenney said he’ll consult with other parties, when he has time, as he doesn’t want the ministerial power to become political.
But opposition critics said it’s a troubling trend.
“We have a parliamentary democracy for a reason and when you have a parliamentary democracy it is so that legislation and issues can be debate by parliament,” said NDP Immigration critic Jinny Sims.
“When the minister goes to the House of Commons … and they get centralized into the minister more and more of the power, it does give you concern because then you no longer have a parliamentary democracy, you are moving more and more towards an autocracy with power centred into the minister’s hands.”
The bill came after a week in which Kenney was forced to apologize for an email, in which he used profane terms to describe Alberta’s deputy premier.
Liberal immigration critic Kevin Lamoureux accused the minister of trying to change the channel by introducing the bill in the waning days of the spring session of Parliament.
The House of Commons is expected to rise as early as Thursday for the summer.
“They’ve pulled this issue because they want to give the impression they want to be tough on crime. This time it is at the expense of immigrants and what people are going to be thinking about immigrants in general, when a vast majority of immigrants have built our country,” Lamoureux said.
Kenney said the bill was a platform commitment in the last election and it was time to follow through on the promise. He said officials have been reviewing the inadmissability system for the last two years.
“It’s frankly been a lengthy process to come up with just the right balance and in the past (minority) Parliament there was no chance of this measure being adopted,” he said.
Kenney said the new bill will follow the usual legislative process and there will be time for opposition MPs to provide input on how the new system should work.