The Right to Seek Asylum in Canada (During a Global Pandemic)

Osgoode Hall Law Journal (Forthcoming)

Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper

36 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Elise Mercier

Elise Mercier

Centre for Refugee Studies

Sean Rehaag

Centre for Refugee Studies & Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Date Written: September 5, 2020

Abstract

This article analyzes the effect that the federal government’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the right to seek asylum in Canada. The article suggests that the federal government has taken advantage of a public health crisis to address a political problem – the entry of asylum seekers between land ports of entry (such as at Roxham Road). It details how the Quarantine Act and various Orders in Council have been used to temporarily extend the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States (“the STCA”) across the entire length of the Canada-US border. It then details how this de facto extension of the STCA, which previously applied only at official land ports of entry, violates international refugee law, detailing several ways in which the global pandemic has made the United States even less “safe” for refugees. The article concludes by urging the federal government to champion asylum seekers’ rights by recognizing that crossing the border to seek asylum is amongst the most “essential” forms of international travel that there is – including during a global pandemic. The article also calls on the federal government to demonstrate leadership in refugee protection by suspending the STCA and by halting plans to appeal the Federal Court of Canada’s recent ruling in Canadian Council for Refugees v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship), which found that the STCA violates Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Keywords: Refugee law, Canada, pandemic, COVID, interdiction, safe third country agreement

Suggested Citation

Mercier, Elise and Rehaag, Sean, The Right to Seek Asylum in Canada (During a Global Pandemic) (September 5, 2020). Osgoode Hall Law Journal (Forthcoming), Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3687449 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3687449

Elise Mercier

Centre for Refugee Studies ( email )

4700 Keele St.
York Lanes
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://crs.info.yorku.ca/

Sean Rehaag (Contact Author)

Centre for Refugee Studies & Osgoode Hall Law School, York University ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.osgoode.yorku.ca/rehaag-sean/

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