Canadian Immigration Minister Seeks Input on Improving “Negative Discretion” Criteria

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he will seek the input of MPs of all parties to define the negative discretion powers that the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act grants the Immigration Department

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said he would like advice from members of all parties on clarifying the negative discretionary powers of Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, to prevent it from being used to bar foreigners simply for having unpopular views, while still giving the government the power to bar those who would likely promote hate or violence in the country.

The current version of Bill C-43 would give the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the discretion to bar from Canada foreigners who have not been found inadmissible to visit Canada due to security, human or international rights violations, or organized criminality, based on public policy considerations.

Kenney said that he would like input on exactly what criteria will be used to determine whether a foreigner will be barred, so that the bill does not grant the Department of Citizenship and Immigration broad powers.

“We’re not looking at some broad, generalized power to prevent the admission of people to Canada whose political opinions we disagree with but rather those whose hateful attitudes, if given expression in Canada, could potentially lead to hateful actions or violence,” he said.

He said he will seek advice from other MPs on how exactly to “strike the right balance” in Bill C-43 between the dual goals of giving immigration authorities the discretion necessary to bar entry to promoters of hate or violence and defining and limiting the discretionary powers of the Immigration department to prevent it from being used inappropriately:

“I’m, quite frankly, going to ask all the members from all the parties at the immigration committee to give me their best advice on how to strike the right balance.”

The Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, introduced by Kenney in June, passed its first reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on Tuesday in parliament by a vote of 252 to 31.

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