A controversial bill that would accelerate the removal of foreign criminals from Canadian soil has progressed forward in Canadian Parliament.
Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, recently passed the House of Commons with 149 votes to 130. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has stated that, if passed, the bill will help to greatly streamline the deportation and appeals process. The process has been plagued by procedural delays, with some individuals remaining in Canada for several years despite being subject to a deportation order.
“The Harper Government is putting a stop to foreign criminals relying on endless appeals in order to delay their removal from Canada, during which time they continue to terrorize innocent Canadians,” said Minister Kenney, adding that “Canadians are generous and welcoming people, but they have no tolerance for criminals and fraudsters abusing our generosity.”
If passed, the bill will make it easier for the government to deport not only foreigners in Canada, but Permanent Residents of long standing who have spent six or more months in jail by denying them the right to appeal a deportation order. Currently, only individuals who have received a sentence of two years or more in prison are denied this right. The legislation will also bar serious offenders from appealing their deportation on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The bill will also deny families of serious offenders the right to enter Canada, while at the same time facilitating entry for families of people deemed inadmissible on less serious grounds.
Perhaps the most controversial element of the bill is the power it will grant the Immigration Minister to use ‘negative discretion’ to deny foreigners’ entry to Canada on the basis of public policy. This has been strongly criticized by some who fear that it grants the Immigration Minister too much personal power. Many have expressed concern that such power could be used to prevent the entry of an individual with unpopular political opinions, and not only those who have committed violence.
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has added its voice to the chorus of those expressing reservations about the bill. Members say it is an exercise that seems unnecessary, since sufficient tools already exist to deport or deny entry of foreign criminals to Canada. The CBA is concerned that these procedures “break families and adversely affect the best interests of the children involved.” Minister Kenney has disagreed with this stance, arguing that the government will simply deport criminals faster.