Bill C-55 (Canada) (1989)
While the backlog of hearings mounted, there were two celebrated cases, one in which ships carrying undocumented Tamils (1986) and Sikhs (1987) landed on Canadian shores and another concerning an influx of refugee claimants from Portugal and Turkey. A second Bill C-55 (the Refugee Reform Bill, introduced 1987) restructured the process for determining refugee status, replacing the IAB with the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), which had two divisions, the Immigration Appeals Division (IAD) and the Convention Refugee Determination Division (CRDD). It also provided for a two-stage hearing process. In the first stage, which sought to eliminate patently unfounded claims, a preliminary joint inquiry by an independent adjudicator and a CRDD member would first determine a claimant’s admissibility. The second stage of the process involved a full hearing before two members of the Convention Refugee Determination Division. The companion Bill C-84 (introduced 1987) increased penalties for smuggling refugees, levied heavy fines for transporting undocumented aliens, and extended government powers of search, detention, and deportation. Both measures were widely opposed by liberals and more than 100 organizations, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Inter-Church Committee on Refugees, and the Canadian Bar Association. The major criticisms were that no hearing was guaranteed before the IRB at the first stage of eligibility screening and that provisions for a “safe country” while awaiting the results of the hearing were not adequate. Both measures were passed in 1988 and became effective in 1989.