The Charter and the Law

 January 18, 2013

 Vancouver Sun – Efrat Arbel and Peter Showler
New immigrant detention policy tough on asylum seekers

In a special report two lawyers and activists – Arbel and Showler co-chair the Advocacy Committee of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers – respond to the operational consequences of the June 2012 changes in law. The law creates an almost impossible demand for “irregulars,” including children, to obtain proof of identity while in custody and failure to do so automatically extends the detention.  They say: “The new law gives the government greater and more arbitrary authority to detain or, more accurately, to incarcerate refugee claimants, including children, for prolonged periods of time.”

 Toronto Star – Nicholas Keung
Ottawa’s immigration backlog wipe-out illegal, lawyers argue before Federal Court

In a case involving 1000 people and 98,000 applications, lawyers are appealing to the federal court for a ruling that the immigration law discriminates on the basis of country of origin in violation of the Charter of Rights.–ottawa-s-immigration-backlog-wipeout-illegal-lawyers-argue-before-federal-court 

 Toronto Star – Andrew Livingstone
Federal lawyer suspended after suing his own department

Edgar Schmidt, a federal government lawyer in the Department of Justice, who was fired for taking the feds to court, thinks that government deliberately fails to verify that laws are consistent with the Charter and the Bill of Rights. “The statement of claim,” says reporter Livingstone, “outlines an internal government policy that if an argument can be made for legislation — even if it’s 95 per cent likely to be found inconsistent with the Charter, Bill of Rights of departmental act — no advice be given to the minister that would say the legislation contravenes the law.  By law, a minister is required to advise the House of Commons if new legislation could infringe on the Charter or Bill of Rights.”–federal-lawyer-suspended-after-suing-his-own-department

Star Phoenix (SK)
Crime agenda fuels high costs

The article highlights the contradictions in public statements by the ministers of the federal government around the crime rates and the costs of policing and jailing offenders. The new interpretation comes from a conference on policing costs in Ottawa.  The problem in a nutshell – tough-on-crime is expensive. “Saskatoon isn’t alone among municipalities that now spend more than a fifth of their annual operating budgets on police services, with the rising cost of policing outpacing inflation year after year.”

 Toronto Star – Diana Zlomislic
Ashley Smith case: Federal Justice Department refuses to divulge how it spent $3.6 million fighting abuse revelations

Obtuse is the only comment possible.  The federal government has spent $3.6 million trying to bury the abuse allegations in the Ashley Smith case.  The Star has filed a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner requesting a full accounting.–ashley-smith-case-federal-justice-department-refuses-to-divulge-how-it-spent-3-6-million-fighting-abuse-revelations 

CBC News –

Top court overturns abused woman’s acquittal, drops hit man case

The Supreme Court overturns the acquittal of a woman who hired a hit man to kill and abusive spouse but also refuses to allow any further prosecution of the woman.  CBC has a five case review of the battered spouse defense as well.