Critics are speaking out against the Conservative government’s intent to implement crime legislation which could impact decisions by immigration officers in granting temporary work permits.
The crime bill was first introduced in 2007 and contains legislation meant to discourage exotic dancers from obtaining temporary work visas. The move was intended to reduce chances of humiliation or degrading treatment for foreign workers coming to Canada.
However, immigrant advocates are expressing concerns that the new laws leave many ambiguities that will be subject to the discretion of the Immigration Minister, who will be able to instruct visa officers to refuse applications based on an occupation or other “undisclosed” classifications.
“What this does is it gives [Citizenship and Immigration Minister] Jason Kenney or any subsequent minister of immigration a blank cheque to write what is and what is not exploitative,” said one Toronto immigration lawyer.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Minister’s office insists that the law is targeted toward foreign dancers, but admits that not all possible uses of the proposed legislation have been thoroughly considered. The word “vulnerable” which appears in the law, will depend on the particular context or situation of a case.
Experts in the legal profession argue that having visa officers judge cases based on such subjective moral standards is not in line with having a system based on explicit laws.
“We think it’s a really broad delegation of what’s a quite intrusive power and a very serious power, to take away people’s ability to work,” said Canadian Civil Liberties Association spokesperson Abby Deshman. “Any time you’re granting extremely broad discretion to government actors, you worry about things like arbitrary enforcement.”
The opposition has introduced amendments to the bill including the ability of rejected workers to appeal their case and requiring a House committee approval on Ministerial instructions. Debate on the bill concludes this month.
Source: Globe and Mail