Refugee pact with U.S. does not violate constitutional guarantees, Canada argues

Published February 2, 2021 at 10:00 pm


OTTAWA — The Canadian government is telling the Federal Court of Appeal a judge made serious legal mistakes in striking down a refugee pact between Ottawa and Washington.

In a new filing, Canada’s lawyers argue the Federal Court misapplied the law when it declared in July that the Safe Third Country Agreement violates constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security.

The declaration of invalidity was suspended for six months and later extended, leaving the law in place for now.

Under the bilateral agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the U.S. recognize each other as safe places to seek protection. 

It means Canada can turn back potential refugees who arrive at land ports of entry along the Canada-U. S. border on the basis they must pursue their claims in the U.S., the country where they first arrived.

Canadian refugee advocates have vigorously fought the asylum agreement, arguing the U.S. is not always a safe country for people fleeing persecution.

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