TORONTO — The federal government has introduced new legislation to speed up the process of removing foreign nationals who have committed serious crimes in Canada.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney said the Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act was tabled in the House of Commons Tuesday.
“What we are saying is if you are committing a crime in Canada and you are a foreign criminal, you are ineligible to stay in this country and you should go back home,” Blaney said at a news conference in Toronto.
The proposed legislation would allow the mandatory transfer of foreign criminals back to their original countries without their consent — the only consent needed being from the home country, Blaney said.
He said the pardon process will also be changed.
“We will ensure that all foreign nationals and certain permanent residents who have been convicted of serious crimes will no longer be able to avoid removal by seeking record suspensions — previously referred to as pardons,” Blaney said.
He said there have been cases where foreign nationals who have committed serious crimes have received pardons and allowed to remain the country.
“We can never allow that to happen again,” Blaney said.
And, Blaney added, refugees who are deemed a danger to the Canadian public would have their protected person status revoked when they are removed from the country.
“This will ensure that they cannot attempt to re-enter Canada with that status and cannot access the rights and benefits accorded that status,” Blaney said.
Blaney said part of the proposed legislation will be to give more power to government officials to “issue removal orders to permanent residents who are inadmissible due to criminal activity.”
“In this way we can eliminate the requirement for a formal hearing and ensure that removal orders are issued faster because, for example, a criminal judge has already ruled on the culpability of the individual.”
Lorne Waldman, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, has “significant concerns” about the government’s new bill.
“The problem with all of this is how efficient will the safeguards be that will be put in place to ensure that the deportation doesn’t lead to a serious violation of human rights?” Waldman said.
“I don’t think this will make our society any safer — it’s just the further erosion of the due process rights by the government.”
The bill builds on similar measures introduced in recent years that are part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime agenda.