2 min

Bill Siksay talks about the refugee reform bill

In my discussion with Bill Siksay for my story on the debate on Second Reading of C-11, I asked him several things that never made it into the final story because of space limitations. I’ve included them here.

Q: You mentioned in your speech that you were cynical about the process of the Refugee Appeal Division going forward. Why is that?
A: It’s in the current legislation – it was passed as part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2001, and it came about after real compromise discussions in committee about how to make-up for the loss of a two-person refugee determination hearing going down to one person, and how you maintain fairness in that. So the Refugee Appeal Division was added as a compromise to ensure fairness, and then Liberal and Conservative governments refused to follow the law and implement the Refugee Appeal Division. We’ve worked for nine years now to see that become part of the refugee determination process in Canada, governments have always given it the cold shoulder, refused to follow the law that they voted for and was passed, it got Royal Assent, the whole shebang, and here it is again, coming forward from a government that refused to follow the current law.

Q: You were mentioning the Pre-Removal Risk-Assessment, and how it creates a second structure. Could you fill me in a little more about that?
A: The Pre-Removal Risk Assessment is done in the department, whereas all of the other refugee determination is done by the IRB, and that’s always been a problem because there’s been a real disparity of resources and disparity of opinion between those two systems. That’s been a flaw with the current system. The current bill really doesn’t undo that – it still maintains the two possibilities, although it limits who gets to go through the PRRA, so I think if there had been more attention paid, there may have been a solution found to that. Again, some extensive consultations done beforehand, not dismissing the suggestions of the pre-eminent refugee advocacy organisation in Canada, the Canadian Council of Refugees, might be helpful in this circumstance, and that’s one of the other things that might have been addressed if we’d had that more open process.

Q: Was it my imagination, or was Kenney slamming the Canadian Council of Refugees, referring to an organisation that only puts out press releases?
A: I don’t know which organisation was referring to, but it was interesting that he never specifically mentioned them, and I don’t know how you can look at refugee policy in Canada without looking at the Canadian Council of Refugees. In my experience, they’re diligent, they’re extensive, [and] all of the organisations that are key players are part of the CCR. I don’t know how you can dismiss their work or not take their ideas seriously. That’s the place I would start rather than get around after I’d made a proposal.
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