BY: SIMONE SMITH
The ending of The Second World War brought changes to the structure of Canada and its government. The idea of human rights emerged, causing a surge of new laws that were set to protect Canadian citizens. They were initially put in place to control discrimination; the government enacted this by introducing human right and anti-discrimination laws (Howe, 1991). The Canadian Human Rights Policy has gone through an evolution; it first emerged in the 1940’s; it was institutionalized in Ontario during the 1950’s and early 1960’s, and policy expansion was retrained in late 1960’s (Howe, 1991). The term, ‘human rights’ can be defined narrowly to mean political and legal rights, or it can be defined broadly to include social and economic rights.
Universally, human rights include interdependent rights such as the right to the minimum level of welfare and to equal opportunity without discrimination (Howe, 1991). This is important to understand before the discussion of Bill C-51 and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These acts have been set to protect not only the citizens of Canada, but to protect those individuals who are currently residing in Canada. There have been some complications with Bill C-51 because some have argued sections of this bill infringe sections 7 through 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that are said to be in place for all ‘persons’ residing in Canada.
One such case is Suresh v. Canada; Suresh was a refugee from Sri Lanka who had applied for landed immigration status. The Canadian government decided to detain and begin deportation action based on the opinion of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CanLII, 2002). They claimed that Suresh was a member and fundraiser of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, an organization alleged to be engaged in terrorist activity. The disturbing thing about this case is that in Sri Lanka, if you were found out to be a member of this group, you were subject to torture. The government of Canada held that Suresh should be deported, even though they were aware of the fact that if he was sent back to Sri Lanka, he was at risk of being tortured (CanLII, 2002). They declared that he was a danger to the security of Canada, so under s. 53(1)(b), and on the basis of an immigration officer’s memorandum, it was concluded that he should be deported (CanLII, 2002).
Suresh was not provided with a copy of the immigration officer’s memorandum, nor was he provided with an opportunity to respond to the claim orally or in writing. Suresh’s counsel applied for judicial review; they felt the Minister’s decision was unreasonable; the procedures were unfair and Suresh’s rights under section 7,2(b) and 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were infringed (CanLII, 2002). Unfortunately for Suresh, The Federal Court of Appeal upheld their decision. Section 53 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, states that there has to be a circumstance for the removal order of a resident in Canada. The Federal Courts determined that Suresh’s alleged involvement in a terrorist group was reason enough for his deportation to Sri Lanka. Permanent Residents do not have the right to enter, leave or remain in Canada; it has also been found that detainees held under immigration laws, are entitled to a diminished level of Charter protection.
His deportation also falls in line with Bill C-51 part 3, which states that Canada is responsible for imposing sureties to keep the peace relating to terrorist activity, and part 4 which permits Canadian Security Intelligence Service to actively reduce threats to the security of Canada. Bill C-51 made amendments in part 5, exempting the Minister from providing special advocates with certain relevant information, as well as allowing the Minister to appeal any decision requiring the disclosure of information. In the end, the decision was said to be made in the best interest of the citizens of Canada.