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The law's the law, Coderre insists

The law's the law, Coderre insists

Old May 27th 2003, 11:46 am
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Daniel
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Default The law's the law, Coderre insists

The law's the law, Coderre insists
Immigration rules. Minister won't budge despite lawsuits

ELIZABETH THOMPSON
The Gazette


Tuesday, May 27, 2003



.


The immigration department should process tens of thousands of prospective
immigrants under the rules that were in effect when they applied, said the
chairperson of Parliament's Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration.

"I would rather spend money on processing good people and making sure that
they qualify when they come in than spending money tied up in courts and
lawyers and so on," Joe Fontana, Liberal MP for the Ontario riding of London
North Centre, said in an interview.

Fontana said the committee was concerned from the start about the
government's plan to use new criteria. "We were very, very concerned about
the retroactive provisions of the bill."

However, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre vowed yesterday
to push ahead with the government's plans for handling the transition to the
new immigration law, despite court cases that have been filed on behalf of
thousands of prospective immigrants who believe they have a better chance of
getting into Canada under the old rules.

The controversy centres on the government's decision last year to overhaul
its immigration act and to change the selection criteria for those seeking
to come to Canada. While the government told parliament there were only
30,000 people waiting to be processed when the rules changed, in February a
Federal Court judge found that Coderre's department misled parliament, and
there were actually up to 120,000 caught in the backlog.

The Federal Court ruling, and last week's dismissal of Coderre's appeal, has
sparked lawsuits on behalf of more than 5,800 people who were in the process
of immigrating to Canada when the rules changed.

Yesterday, Coderre said he won't appeal last week's ruling. Nor will he give
in to those who have filed court actions to force him to process them under
the old selection criteria.

Testifying before the committee, Coderre said the government adopted
reasonable measures for those caught by the transition, allowing them to
qualify with fewer points, extending deadlines and allowing many to get
refunds for their application fees.

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