WFP: Audit of Deportation Orders

The widely reported report by the Canadian Auditor General describes the significant backlog and delays in the removal process for individuals who have enforceable removal orders, including deportation orders. These removals are carried out by CBSA Officers and we have many clients who are affected by these orders. We are in contact, almost daily, with CBSA Officers on behalf of our clients to ensure our clients fully cooperate with law enforcement and Canadian regulations. At the same time, we advise our clients on their legal rights.Deportation

The report focuses on failed refugee claimants who have deportation orders. Let me make a brief comment on this group. It is important to note that even when the refugee claimant’s risk may not rise to the level of risk per sections 96 or 97 of IRPA, they may still face significant risk or hardship and/or persecution. The fact is that the legal bar to refugee status is a high legal test and claimants must go through a rigorous adjudicative process, including examination and cross-examination of testimony. Another key fact is there is a shortage of competent legal counsel and claimants may be poorly prepared for their hearing.

Winnipeg Free Press reporter Eva Wasney published an article on the Auditor General’s report that discussed the challenges faced by CBSA:

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke said some of the criticisms in the report are valid, but the audit is a an “oversimplification” of the removal process because it doesn’t include specific case examples.

“My concern is that the public reads this report, they don’t understand the details, the individuals who are behind these numbers, and this type of report causes undue or exaggerated anxiety in the public,” Clarke said. “The individuals who are under enforceable removal orders in the serious criminality category are generally only a small fraction of individuals in that entire pool.”

Of the more than 34,000 cases in the agency’s wanted inventory, 2,800 were criminal.

Indeed, to a certain extent, this report provides a limited perspective on the current state of removals and it fails to provide a nuanced approach to a complex procedure. I have spoken many times on this topic. Canadian laws require CBSA Officers to adhere to procedural fairness and, in our experience, CBSA Officers in Manitoba are vigilant in following Canadian laws and regulations.

In addition, I strongly agree with my friend and advocate Dr. Lori Wilkinson who has been doing significant research at the University of Manitoba’s Immigration Research West group:

While Wilkinson said she is glad to see the immigration removal audit, she is worried that the report could have a negative impact on people who are in Canada legally.

“There could be backlashes against immigrants,” she said. “Lots of people make the leap that if the deportation system isn’t working, then the immigration system must not be working.”

This is absolutely correct. In my view, IRCC Officers and CBSA Officers are working hard to ensure integrity in the system and they take deportation orders seriously.

On the flip side, let us be reminded of deportations that have been rushed and have led to disastrous results. One example that comes to mind is the case of Lucia Vega Jimenez from 2014. She was a failed refugee claimant from Mexico with an enforceable removal order as described in the Auditor General’s report. While she was on the verge of being deported, she took her own life in Vancouver. Advocates point to the serious risks to her life. On its face, I believe anyone can understand that if she was so afraid to go back to Mexico she would take her own life to prevent deportation, she had genuine fear.

In my view, it is important to consider the people behind these numbers. Every case is different, and I can tell you from many years of experience, immigration is messy. As correctly noted by the report, CBSA Officers focus their resources on serious criminals and ensuring the safety of the Canadian public. This is exactly how the system is designed to work.

Manitoba Reopens: Phase 1

We have posted many updates on this site and the pandemic has progressed. Like you, we are following news from around the world to monitor the situation and to provide advice to our clients. We have given interviews with the Winnipeg Free Press. We are concerned, for example, for our clients in Ecuador and Nigeria. Each jurisdiction has been handling this crisis differently, to various levels of success. Here in Canada, I am Manitobaextremely proud of how our government has handled this extreme situation. By all accounts, Canada has been faring much better than the USA, even on a per capita basis.

In Canada, Manitoba has done very well. We have very few cases and testing is easy. One of my staff was tested at a drive-through centre (negative) and results are available quickly. There is a screening tool and the province announced today they have a new website where anyone who is tested can access their results online. Easy and quick.

In a 34 page report, Manitoba has outlined 5 factors to determine when to reopen the province:

  1. LAB POSITIVITY RATE
  2. ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES
  3. HOSPITAL BEDS IN USE
  4. COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION
  5. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

I am no medical expert, of course; however, I fully support the Manitoba government and we can be extremely proud of their work.

We get calls every day from folks who want to come to Manitoba for a better life. With good governance, it is understandable that many people took to Canada as the best place on earth.

It is a given that the future is uncertain. My staff will tell you that I often say, “hope for the best, plan for the worst”. In this case, it is not clear we will have a vaccine in 2020. It is more likely the vaccine will not come until 2021 or possibly 2022. We need to plan for the worst.

We remain open and we continue to work on behalf of our clients. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Milestone: 500 files!

We do not normally use this space to boast; however, I am going to make an exception today. We just opened our 500th file at Clarke Immigration Law! This is quite a milestone! Each file brings its own challenges and as we work with our clients, new issues may emerge. Part of the reason we love our work is that we get to know our clients as though they are family. Immigration is messy by nature. There are often intersections with family law, criminal law (aka crimmigration) and/or business law. We have the privilege of working with HR Managers and lawyers from foreign 500jurisdictions. I cannot remember a day when I have not learned something new. It may be the Statute of Limitations on a charge in Chile or the intersection between Civil Law and Criminal Law in Palestine.

500 files means that our philosophy is working. We publish our fees online and put our clients first. You can talk to anyone at Clarke Immigration Law. We strongly believe that if we serve our clients and work hard, money will come later. We want to be able to use our privileged position to help people, not burden them with debt and more problems. I remember when we started, a young couple came to the office. He was an undocumented worker in Las Vegas and she flew down there from Winnipeg for a vacation. She came back pregnant and they decided to get married. (In this case, what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas!) With a pregnant Canadian fiancee, he jumped in his car and drove to the border. No passport. No money. He had issues at the POE and she had the sense to call me. They paid for the consultation and the deposit. From there, we worked with CBSA and IRCC to regularize his status. They got married in Canada and they have a beautiful son. Eventually, we got paid. No problem.

Even in times of crisis, we have clients who need our services. We have been taking extraordinary steps since JAN2020 to ensure we stay safe and healthy so that we can continue to serve our clients. To a certain extent, we are on the front line. We regularly meet with clients from every corner of the world. We need to follow the political revolution in Venezuela to the protests in Hong Kong to the law reform campaigns in Senegal. In fact, we met with clients from Wuhan, China right at the beginning who described the quarantine measures in person. Thankfully, they left Wuhan before the crisis and they spent significant time in the USA before coming to Canada.

This pandemic has greatly affected Manitoba and our firm. I am extremely proud how we have been observing physical distancing rules. Prime Minister Trudeau has done an exceptional job at working from home, even as his wife suffers from COVID19 and he has to do much of the childcare and housework. At CIL, we can relate. We have staff with young kids who have to spend their days taking care of the kids while we lack daycare & school services. We have adapted.

500 files is huge! For us, this means that we have helped dozens of families, dozens of different communities and touched many lives. These 500 files include successes at Federal Court, positive decisions from the Refugee Protection Division, grants of Canadian citizenship, countless Study Permits, numerous Work Permits and too many new Permanent Residents of Canada to count. We have been invited to weddings in Cuba, attended birthday parties of our clients’ children and danced at music festivals where our clients were on stage! How awesome is that?!

As you know, we are open. We are working in this environment which has become the new normal. It is hard to say how long this is going to last. I want to stress that CBSA Officers and IRCC Officers are acutely aware how this pandemic is affecting applicants. It is also affecting Officers. At no other time is this adage more true: we are in this together.

Thank you. I mean that. We want to thank all our clients and business partners for having faith in our expertise. Each time a client signs a Retainer Agreement, that means they are putting their confidence in Clarke Immigration Law to do the work. We take this very seriously and I hope that we will continue to serve clients for many years to come.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

 

 

Donations for Mohammed

Thank you for the tremendous support for our client Mohammed. You can read about his story in the WFP article. Basically, he is in Canada on a Work Permit and he is not covered by Manitoba Health. He had COVID19 symptoms and he paid $359.00 CAD to be tested:

Mohammed called Health Links to find out how he should proceed. He told the Free Press after waiting on hold for two hours, the representative on the other end of the line advised he go for testing at the nearest emergency room — not one of the off-site coronavirus testing centres.

He went to the downtown Health Sciences Centre and was swabbed for COVID-19. He was handed a bill for $359. He has no idea where he’s going to come up with the cash to pay it.

“I already don’t save a penny for myself,” he said. “I could pay if it was a smaller amount. And I only took the test. I didn’t take any medicine or anything like that. It is a lot of money to me.”

We have been helping Mohammed with his immigration applications. We hope that we can help him become a Permanent Resident and he will not have to worry about paying cash for health care.

We have been contacted by many WFP readers who would like to help Mohammed. Manitobans are so generous!

If you would like to help Mohammed, please contact our office and we can accept donations.

Please note that Clarke Immigration Law is based on service and principles of fairness. We provide many services pro bono to clients and we are committed to helping clients through Legal Aid. Alastair worked as Staff Lawyer at various community legal aid clinics in Toronto and Kingston. Our firm is modeled after the legal clinic system and our focus is on helping our clients and providing the best quality service.

COVID19 – UPDATE 7/APR/2020

UPDATE: 7/APRIL/2020

Please note that we will not be providing additional updates to this page. There have been many changes to laws, regulations and policies due to COVID19. We have been in contact with lawyers from across Canada to stay up to date with changes and amendments.

If you have any specific questions on how the changes may impact your application or your situation, please book a consultation with a lawyer.

UPDATE: 24/MARCH/2020

OK – to mitigate the spread of COVID19, the Ontario government declared that all non-essential services must close starting tomorrow and we expect Manitoba will follow suit soon. The numbers of infected continue to rise and the governments are doing everything in their power.

LAWYERS ARE “ESSENTIAL” SERVICE

The list is out. Lawyers and law firms are considered an essential service. We will continue to monitor the situation. Again, most staff at Clarke Law are working remotely. We only have 2 staff in the office to keep things up and running; however, we are not holding in-person meetings in the office. Feel free to drop off documents and we have been getting daily packages.

NOTE: Immigration consultants are not on the list. As per usual, please contact an appropriate expert for assistance.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

I have to commend our valiant leader PM Trudeau who is working from home in isolation. He is managing his busy household, with 3 young children, by himself while leading our country through very difficult times.

We watch his daily briefings and he remains poised. Lead by example. Well done Sir!

BORDERLINES PODCAST

My colleagues in Vancouver have published an episode on The Canadian Immigration Consequences of COVID19. This does not seem to appear on their website (yet) so I would encourage you to find it in your podcast app.

In particular, it is nice to hear some optimism from Deanna!

START IN-CANADA REFUGEE CLAIM BY EMAIL

As the IRCC Offices across Canada have closed due to COVID19, refugee claims in Canada are being submitted by email: IRCC.RefugeeClaim-Demandedasile.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

We have been in regular contact with the IRB-RPD (Western Region) and we have been advised that all hearings have been postponed until 1 MAY 2020.

UPDATE: 23/MARCH2020

We had a busy weekend. The land border with the USA closed at midnight on Friday due to COVID19, causing a lot of confusion. I am not sure how “Tutor” became part of the definition of “immediate family member”.

COVID19

COVID19

IN-PERSON MEETINGS CANCELLED

In our office, most of our staff are working from home. We will continue to work on files and submit applications to maintain high standards. At the same time, we must do our part to fight this COVID19 virus from spreading. We encourage all our clients to contact us by telephone – 2045996966 or by email info@apply2manitoba.ca

MANITOBA STATE OF EMERGENCY

The provincial government has declared a State of Emergency to manage the spread of COVID19. These are extreme measures for extreme times. We are all taking these measures very seriously and we fully support any and all measures to protect the health and safety of residents.

This means that groups over 50 people are banned. Gyms are closed. Most retail will close. See the government website for details. We are taking this day by day.

UPDATE: 20/MARCH/2020

ASYLUM SEEKERS FROM USA

The Canadian government has further restricted border entries. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who seek to enter Canada at Ports of Entry will be refused entry. Asylum seekers (refugee claimants) who attempt irregular crossings into Canada will be returned to the US as part of an “exceptional measure” to protect residents in Canada.

During a news briefing, Minister Blair has acknowledged exceptions, including unaccompanied minors, to filing a refugee claim at the border. Claims at the US-Canada border have decreased by half from ~40 daily to ~20 daily. They will be returned to the USA and the Minister has advised that they will not be detained.

QUARANTINE ACT LEGISLATION

Emergency legislation through the Quarantine Act limits entry to Canada, including “immediate family members” as defined by the new Order. This provides clarity on the previous announcements that will limit access to Canadian soil.

Individuals crossing from the US may be required to spend a period of 14 days in the US due to COVID19 before they will be allowed to enter Canada.

FASTER PROCESSING TIMES

Minister Freeland has indicated that IRCC may be processing applications faster than usual. She has indicated that we need to recognize the need for “speed over attention”. She has emphasized the importance of processing files quickly. We are waiting for confirmation and details from Minister Mendicino’s office.

—-

UPDATE 19/MARCH/2020

US VISA OFFICES – CUTTING SERVICES

The US Government has announced that Visa Offices around the world will be cutting services and canceling appointments. This is an unprecedented decision that will impact thousands of applications.

We believe the Canadian government may issue a similar order to Canadian Visa Offices. If you are in process of submitting an application, we encourage you to submit ASAP while the Visa Offices are still open.

CANADA/USA BORDER RESTRICTIONS

Through a mutual agreement, the Canadian and US government have agreed to limit travel across the land border to essential travel only. This is an attempt to limit tourism and cross-border shopping. There are exemptions for trade and/or trucking. Governments are working hard due to the numbers of COVID19 infections.

—-

UPDATE 18/MARCH/2020

Please note that we have been dealing with the pandemic and monitoring the developments closely. We are trying to reply to all concerns in a systemic and orderly manner.

IRB – HEARINGS POSTPONED

Please note that most hearings at the tribunal have been postponed. This included refugee claims, admissibility hearings, and appeals. If you have a hearing that has been scheduled, we will provide updates from the IRB. Currently, the IRB front offce is closed to the public and they have released this message, published in 16/MARCH/2020. IRB Members are working on current cases and we received a positive decision today.

ENTERING CANADA

Please note that the Government of Canada has temporarily restricted entry to Canada. Previously, only Canadian citizens, PRs and a few exemptions have been permitted entry. Today, there may be additional restrictions. The situation has been changing daily, based on the risk assessment. If you or your loved ones are seeking entry to Canada, please review the changes that are published on news outlets, including CBC News.

REMOVALS AND DEPORTATIONS

CBSA has currently suspended all removals from Canada, including Departure Orders, Exclusion Orders and Deportation Orders; however, there are exceptions.

APPOINTMENTS WITH IRCC

IRCC has suspended in person meetings with Officers. Currently, they have announced that meetings may resume on 13/APRIL/2020; however, that may change depending on the pandemic.

Successful applications who are scheduled to land and become Permanent Residents, need to contact IRCC if they are unable to travel. This includes COPR and PRV cases.

BIOMETRICS

All biometrics appointments inside Canada have been cancelled until further notice. IRCC has granted an automatic extension of 90 days.

For biometrics appointments outside Canada, please contact the appropriate VAC or ASC.

CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS

Please note that CPC Sydney has temporarily closed and the office is not accepting packages. We will be submitting documentation as soon as they resume operations.

CROSSING THE BORDER & POEs

Please keep in mind that CBSA Officers at the border are on the front line. They have put in place measures to keep the Officers safe and, at the same time, follow instructions from Ottawa. We have been advised by other law firms in Canada that POEs may refuse to process applications that are not urgent.

PR APPLICATIONS

Applications for Permanent Residence and many other applications are being accepted. IRCC is encouraging all applicants to submit online, if possible.

FEDERAL COURT – APPLICATIONS FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

The Court has issued a Notice regarding deadlines and ALJR. This information is effective 17/MARCH/2020

MIGRANT WORKERS & FARMING

We have been monitoring the situation. IRCC is acutely aware of the needs of the farming and agricultural sector. Current border restrictions may impact many workers who have travel plans. At this point, we encourage all temporary workers to monitor the situation closely.

LEGAL AID MANITOBA

LAM has announced that it will accept application online and their office is currently closed.

—-

13/MARCH/2020

We want to thank all our clients and partners for continued patience, cooperation and understanding during this COVID29 pandemic. We have taken unprecedented actions to keep our staff safe and healthy. These precautions have been put in place to ensure that we can continue to work and serve our clients. We will continue to do the work that we love; however, we also need to stay safe & healthy.

If you have come to the office recently, you have noticed the new signage. We announced the ban on shaking hands at the beginning of 2020 and we have put in place additional measures to limit personal contact and adhere to social distancing. In addition, starting on March 11th, we have put in place additional cleaning and other procedures to protect the office from viruses. We have added purification systems and many other measures for protection.

We have also put in place additional procedures so that staff can work remotely from home, if necessary. We are monitoring ourselves regularly to make sure we are safe and healthy. We are taking the COVID19 pandemic seriously and we want to make sure that we follow all precautions so that we are not infected and that we do not infect anyone who comes to our office.

Please take all measures to stay healthy.

Lessons From 2019

We find ourselves at the end of another year. Indeed, the end of 2019 also marks the end of a decade. This is a time for contemplation and an opportunity to ponder lessons to learn for the future. I want to start but expressing my thanks and gratitude for my team. I am thankful every single day to work with an amazing group of professionals who put their hearts into their work. My main job is to provide guidance and support to ensure that we remain focused on providing the absolute best service for our clients.

I want to take time at the end of 2019 to think about lessons learned; hopefully, 2020 will bring positive change.

  1. Applicants Remain Vulnerable

Over and over and over and over, we have seen how applicants have paid thousands upon thousands of CAD dollars to shady representatives for poor service. I find it deeply frustrating and infuriating to see clients punished as a result of negligence. These applicants are the victims and they remain vulnerable. I recently attended an interview with a CBSA Officer and an Egyptian client shared her story. She paid an immigration consultant $15,000.00 for an application and she was not even eligible to apply. In my view, that is pure theft.

We are working with a Vietnamese family who paid a Chinese representative for a Study Permit. Completely wrong. Thankfully, CBSA started a criminal investigation against him and I hope his former clients are not punished.

In 2019, the Government of Canada took action “to help protect vulnerable people” against “fraudulent immigration consultants”. We will have to see if things get better in 2020 and the next decade.

  1. Canada is the New Hope2019

Clarke Immigration Law is based on Canada’s status around the world and I am constantly reminded how fortunate we are to live in one of the best (if not the best) countries. From our office, this past decade marks a strong collaboration with the news. We were called upon by CBC News, CTV News, Global News, Winnipeg Free Press and many other news sources to comment on different stories. Primarily, these stories stemmed from Canada as the New Hope in the world, replacing the United States as the “best” country for applicants from around the globe.

It was my pleasure as the only Canadian lawyer at the international EB-5 Conference in Las Vegas, USA. I was asked to present as a result of the interest by investors around the world in Canadian business opportunities, including the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program – Business Investor Stream. And, of course, I must mention the amazing people at TEDx Winnipeg who gave me the stage to talk about open borders and refugees which has been published on YouTube.

It is clear that 2020 will be a decade of growth for Canada and we will continue to work to build this country.

  1. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

Generally speaking, I stay out of politics. I have worked with Members of Parliament from all political parties and we will continue to advocate on behalf of our client regardless of the party in power. That said, I firmly support the current Liberal government and I am hopeful for this coming decade.

My hope for positive political change in 2020 is also balanced with a plan to consider the worst. Minister McCallum made significant changes to IRPA that rolled back many of the inhumane changes by the former Conservative government; however, this government needs to do more. I feel privileged that we were able to work with the Liberal government to make changes to section 38 of IRPA (Medical Inadmissibility) on behalf of the Warkentin family.

  1. Uncertainty on the Horizon

As my mum often says, the only constant is change. There is no doubt that 2020 and the new decade will bring change. Here are a few predictions for this coming decade:

  • The Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba will continue to buttress immigration laws to attract STEM graduates and professionals;
  • The current Liberal government will focus on quicker processing times, including Family Class applications;
  • Regional migration and new programs that focus on smaller communities will thrive;
  • International students are the strongest stream for Permanent Resident status;
  • Refugees will be recognized for their economic contributions;
  • The changes to regulation of Immigration Consultants will fail and the government will be forced to revisit this issue.

We wish you all the best for 2020 and the coming decade. We have many reasons to celebrate 2019 and, at the same time, learn from past lessons.

Canadian Citizenship

At Clarke Immigration Law, we are thrilled to report that Tetyana Vavriychuk became a Canadian Citizen today! The entire office took time off to attend the ceremony and share this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The ceremony was done by Franco-Manitoban with roots in the Metis community. She gave an emotional presentation that focuses on the diversity of the Canadian population.Citizenship

Along with all the other eighty-one (81) individuals who became Canadian citizens, Tetyana was presented with a pass from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). Full disclosure, Alastair used to be a volunteer with the ICC and he passed our Cultural Passes to new Canadians when he practiced in Toronto.

NOTE: The photo above includes staff of Clarke Immigration Law, family & friends of Tetyana as well as officials from the Citizenship Ceremony. Thank you!

Warning Chinese Nationals

Over the past 6 months, we have seen an increase in the numbers of Chinese citizens who have been victims of fraud and abuse. These are individuals who have submitted applications to the Canadian Embassy in Beijing and/or Hong Kong. In particular, there are a number of immigration consultants and shady firms that are taking advantage of Chinese citizens. We have seen many individuals and families pay fees +$10,000.00 and their applications have been mishandled.

NOTE: If you are aware of any individuals or families that are using Chinese consultants and/or firms and they are not receiving sounds legal advice, please contact our office immediately.

Currently, there are numerous ongoing investigations into large Chinese immigration firms, including criminal convictions. These unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of the ignorance of their clients. They make false promises and, ultimately, we believe that many people are suffering.

As reported by CBC News, more than 1,200 clients have been negatively affected by NEW CAN CONSULTANTS and WELLONG INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT CO. This has led to an RCMP investigation in what has become the biggest immigration fraud in Canadian history.

According to CBC NEWS:

Wang pleaded guilty to offences under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in July 2015 after the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) raided his offices in Richmond and Vancouver and found fraudulent Chinese entry and exit passport stamps and dozens of passports.

He was caught holding a client’s passport with cut-and-paste alterations when he was arrested in October 2014, according to the civil action.

Wang was sentenced to almost seven years in prison but was released on parole after serving less than two years of his sentence.

In addition, the report includes details on how others may be affected:

Wang had 14 employees but some of them were part of a complex scheme that pretended clients were employees to meet immigration residency requirements in Canada while they lived in China.

“Mr. Wang did not report any of the income he earned from his fraudulent immigration consulting services to the Canada Revenue Agency.”

Based on our review of the situation and our meetings with Chinese clients in Winnipeg, we strongly urge all individuals to carefully choose their representatives.

Apologies and Action

Today the Prime Minister of Canada is scheduled to apologize on behalf of Canada for turning away the MS St. Louis and its 907 Jewish passengers in 1939. At the time, these Jews were fleeing persecution and the imminent threat of the Nazis and the anti-Semitic violence. At the time, our then Prime Minister MacKenzie King did not allow the 907 Jews to dock in Halifax and they were turned away.

As reported by Global News:

In the years leading up to and including the Second World War, the Canadian government heeded anti-Semitic sentiment by severely restricting Jewish immigration. From 1933 to 1945, only about 5,000 Jewish refugees were accepted due to what Trudeau called “our discriminatory ‘none is too many’ immigration policy” in place at the time.

The Jewish refugees on the ship were forced to return to Europe, where 254 of those aboard eventually died in the slaughter that became the Holocaust.

Now, about 79 years later, Trudeau will stand in the House of Commons and apologize to those refugees.

On behalf of all Canadians, PM Trudeau is apologizing to try to make things right. In an analysis by Prof Howard-Hassmann, she acknowledged that some apologies include compensation while others may be done for political reasons. For this apology, it does not appear that the Government of Canada will be offering any compensation.

Timing is Everything

On its face, Trudeau’s apology and acknowledging that what happened was wrong and it should never have happened is a step in the right direction. On the other hand, Trudeau is not making any policy changes, legal changes or any other concrete action.

In this case, however, timing is key. This apology is in the context of the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. It seems that Trudeau’s apology was scheduled before the attack but the recent circumstances highlight the importance of recognizing current anti-Semitic sentiment.

As noted by Global:

The latest figures on hate crimes from Statistics Canada show the Jewish population was the most frequent target of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2016.

Anti-Semitic incidents increased 24 per cent that year. B’nai Brith Canada said 2017 saw another increase.

The timing of this apology confirms that hate crimes against Jews was an issue in 1939 and it remains an issue in 2018.

 

Slaw: On the Importance of Language

The post on the use of “irregular” versus “illegal” was originally published on slaw.ca:

If you are on this site, I can assume with reasonable confidence that you are already a wordsmith. I have always had an affinity for the label “wordsmith”, possibly because I am reminded of “blacksmith” and it conjures skills of which I have none. I do, perhaps, have some skills related to language, although I suppose this is also debatable. Notwithstanding, even from my humble position, I am both angered and ashamed by the comments of Ontario Minister of Social Services Lisa MacLeod and her dim view of the importance of language. In particular, her comments related to the Safe Third Country Agreement and the language used to describe those individuals who cross the border into Canada from the United States.

Language is important. The terms we use to describe how these individuals and families have crossed into Canada must be correct. And yes, there are correct terms to use and there are incorrect terms. In particular when we are dealing with a point of settled law within the Canadian immigration system. In my view, an elected official has the duty to learn and employ those correct terms so that she can understand the issues to deal with them.

In her words, as reported by CTV News:

“I just feel that it became more of a matter of rhetoric and who’s Canadian, who’s not; irregular, illegal,” MacLeod told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa. “The words around that became far more important than actually fixing the problem.”

The debate between irregular entry vs illegal entry is not new. I have published posts and given many interviews on CTV, CBC and other media outlets on issues related to the irregular crossings into Manitoba.

Typically, before I discuss the issues with reporters, we have a conversation to ensure that we are using the correct, legal terminology. Occasionally, the reporter will slip in an incorrect term and I find myself in an internal debate whether to interrupt and correct or to let it slide and try to inject the correct term in my answer so that acute listeners will catch the error.

I want to be clear on this point: refugee claimants entering Canada are not entering “illegally”. In an op-ed published in the Toronto Star by Osgoode Hall law students Jesse Beatson and Kylie Sier (who, no doubt, received good legal experience at PCLS):

“Irregular” is used by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to describe border crossings “between ports of entry.” This is not about people trying to sneak across the border undetected, but about the right to seek asylum from persecution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects this right. Importantly, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, to which Canada is a signatory and which are incorporated into Canadian law, both recognize that refugee claimants should not be penalized for irregular entry to seek refuge.

They go on to explain:

Applying the term “illegal border crossing” to refugees is based on a misconception. Irregular entry is not an offence in the Criminal Code, and should not be labelled as such. The language of illegality also tends to violate the presumption of innocence. This is a principle that should inform ethical journalism.

In my view, it is even more important that our elected representatives use the correct terms and they understand the power & importance of language. If she is so keen on “fixing the problem”, perhaps she should realize that using incorrect language is part of the problem.