Fail Conservative promise to speed up deportations
Getting tough on crime, even though crime rates are on the decline nationally, has been a mainstay of Conservative platforms in recent elections.
This time is no different and the Tories are still pitching themselves as the only party that is truly tough on crime.
This week, the focus has been on "dangerous foreign criminals" and the Conservatives made a few claims that we are putting to the test.
In a news release, the Conservatives said that too often people who come to Canada and then become connected to crime are able to delay their deportation orders by filing multiple appeals that drag on for years and cost Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Conservatives are vowing to speed up the deportation process by "streamlining" the appeals available to "serious criminals, including terrorists and those with connections to organized crime."
How exactly are they going to streamline that process? The news release doesn't say and the details at this point are very vague.
But Jason Kenney, the minister of citizenship and immigration, running for re-election in Calgary, delivered a speech Monday in Vancouver that contained a few specific proposals.
It seemed a bit odd that the Conservatives didn't mention them in the news release, but the speech was sent along when CBC News asked for more information.
According to the speech, the Conservatives are proposing to repeal section 64 (2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The law currently states that no appeal can be made to the Immigration Appeal Division (of the Immigration and Refugee Board) by a permanent resident or foreign national if they have been ordered deported or inadmissable because of security, violating human or international rights, serious criminality or organized criminality.
Serious criminality is currently defined as a crime that is punished in Canada by a jail term of at least two years and that is what the Conservatives want to change.
What they are not spelling out, though, is what the new bar would be. Nor do they mention that there are still other ways for foreigners and non-permanent residents facing deportation orders to delay their removal, including an appeal to the Federal Court, or by applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada for a pre-removal risk assessment.
These avenues wouldn't necessarily be available to everyone, however. They would depend on the nature of the cases and special circumstances like, perhaps, refugee status. But they can also take years to process.
The other significant change proposed by the Conservatives but not outlined in the news release is to bar those convicted here of terrorism, war crimes or organized crime from applying to stay in Canada under the humanitarian and compassionate review process.
The Conservatives say that removing the humanitarian and compassionate grounds avenue for that group of criminals will speed up deportations by "several years." But they, too, will still have access to ministerial and Federal Court appeals.
Another Conservative plan to speed up deportations is to make acceptance of an expedited removal from this country a condition of parole eligibility.
That sounds like a pretty creative idea, but there's no explanation of how it would be implemented or whether it would pass a fairness test.
It would also be a pretty significant change to the justice and immigration systems if it goes through.
Also on the list of things to do is to get people with criminal records and links to terrorist groups or organized crime out of Canada faster is to make their deportations a "top priority," according to the Conservatives.
But it seems they already are. Canada Border Services Agency, the department that enforces deportation orders, says it "places highest priority on removal cases involving national security, organized crime, human rights violations and criminality."
That's a rather redundant promise then isn't it? A spokesman for Kenney said the Conservatives are proposing to "make it an even greater removals priority."
With the exception of pledging to make something that's already a top priority even more of a top priority, the Conservatives seem to be promising some pretty tough medicine. But as they say, the devil is in the details and questions can be raised about whether the measures would really be effective.
One immigration lawyer told CBC the measures are "draconian" and could cause more problems than they might solve. Deportation delays are more often caused by logistics issues, such as securing travel documents, than they are by multiple appeals, he said.
If the Tories are proposing some significant changes to the country's immigration laws and rules, they should have been more up front about them.
Have a claim from the campaign trail you want us to test?
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