Bluemount Bulldogs
Nova Scotia, Canada

Safe Third Country Agreement Stakeholders

On May 7, 2019, the then Minister of Public Safety introduced Bill C-98, which would have created the Public Review Commission (PCRC) by expanding the CRCC to deal with audits and complaints for both the CBSA and the RCMP. Public complaints about the behaviour of CBSA officials and the quality of services provided would be directed to the new CSRP. It would also have the opportunity to audit, on its behalf or at the request of the Minister, all of the CBSA`s non-national security activities. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) is responsible for auditing the CBSA`s national security activities after the relevant parts of Bill C-59 come into force. Bill C-98 passed third reading in the House of Commons and ended up at first reading in the Senate when Parliament was dissolved in the fall of 2019. While UNHCR approved the overall operation of the agreement, it outlined some areas where the agreement could be improved. The continued application of the “direct back” policy, in which a person makes a refugee claim at a time when officials at the port of entry are unable to process their claim, was of the utmost importance. The complainant is scheduled for an interview and repatriated to the United States pending an appointment with Canadian authorities. The UNHCR has recommended that direct reimbursements be stopped to prevent claimants who would otherwise be allowed to apply for refugee status in Canada from being returned to their country of origin before accessing Canada`s refugee determination system.

The Committee notes that the Government of Canada is committed to phasing out the application of the direct back policy and, since 31 August 2006, the use of Direct Backs has been limited to exceptional circumstances. Since the Second World War, Canada has relocated more than 700,000 people who have fled persecution in their countries of origin or who have been displaced by conflict. In 1986, Canada was the first and only country to be awarded the Nansen Medal, awarded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for outstanding merits of refugee assistance. The then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Jean-Pierre Hocke, praised Canada for the “humanitarian momentum behind welcoming refugees,” adding that this impulse kept the door open in Canada at a time when other countries were closing their borders. The Nansen Medal was an important milestone in Canada`s refugee protection history. Early records of Canada`s protection were often seen as flawed: before the Second World War, more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis were denied refuge in Canada and several other countries. After the SS St. Louis was forced to return to Europe, most of its passengers died in countries that were later occupied by the Nazis.