Kenney seeks checks on ministerial power in new immigration law
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney speaks with the media in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Monday Sept. 24, 2012. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 2:16PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he'll seek limits on a new power that will allow him to bar certain people from entering Canada.
Kenney included the new authority in a piece of legislation expected to be studied by the Commons immigration committee this fall.
It allows him to bar people for what are described as "public policy considerations", but that term isn't defined in the bill.
Kenney says he'll put a set of criteria before the committee and ask MPs how best to apply the new power.
"The idea of this power of negative discretion in Bill C-43 would be to give us an extraordinary power in very exceptional cases to deny admission essentially when we believe a foreign national may come to Canada (and) promote hatred which could lead to violence," Kenney told reporters on a conference call from London, where he was attending a border security conference.
"And that's really the sort of criteria we're looking at. We're not looking at some broad generalized power to prevent the admission of people to Canada whose political opinions we disagree with."
Kenney said Canada is among the only countries without such a power vested in the minister and it's led to frustration.
He cited a case last year when Quebec urged him to bar two Islamic speakers known for homophobic and sexist remarks.
Kenney said there was nothing he could do at the time.
But he said he's also aware such a power could be taken too far and that's why he wants to discuss it with his own party and the opposition.
"I don't want -- anymore than they do -- the current or future government abusing this kind of power to exclude from Canada those whose views may be contentious or politically incorrect," he said.
The new authority is included in a sweeping piece of legislation introduced by the Conservatives just before the summer recess.
It seeks to make it easier to both eject foreign nationals convicted of crimes in Canada and bar those convicted of crimes abroad from coming in.
Kenney said ensuring the security of Canada's immigration system was part of his discussions in London this week.
But he also talked politics with Britain's current Conservative government.
He said they asked to meet him to discuss the Canadian Conservative party's success in reaching ethnic voters.
"I was happy to share our experiences and our ideas," Kenney said.