#11 – The tension between political oversight and politicizing officer decisions, with Lorne Sossin

Lorne Sossin is the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School.   Prior to his appointment, he was a Professor with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. Dean Sossin also serves on the Boards of the National Judicial Institute and the Law Commission of Ontario. He has also acted as Research Director for the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Task Force on the Independence of the Bar.

We discuss three topics. The first is the oversight of CBSA and immigration officers in Canada. How do we ensure that there is political oversight and accountability without politicising the day to day operations and decisions of individual officers? The second topic is a discussion of Charter rights and Charter values in the immigration context.  Finally, we discuss whether it is OK that in Canada individual immigration officers can create an apply their own standards of the law.

A review of what we discussed is as follows:

00:00 – Introduction

00:51 – Steve Meurrens says what one of his favorite things about law school is.

01:14 – Overview of topics

02:55 – The role of federalism in police oversight.

06:30 – Is criminal law local or is it national?

09:09 – What are the mechanisms which limit executive oversight and police accountability in Canada and how can this be balanced for the need to avoid political interference in day-to-day police activity. Who decides on the operational day to day activities of police?

13:30 – Can a cabinet minister issue an edict directing police not to arrest people? For example, the Trudeau government wants to legalize marijuana, so can they just issue an edict stating that arrests should stop. Who should make the decision?

17:40 –   If individual decision makers or police units drive decisions there will be inconsistencies. What methods exist for people to address inconsistencies?

19:45    Many jurisdictions are creating independent oversight offices. What is the success of these? As well, what role does prosecutorial discretion play in both insulating decisions and providing oversight?

25:00    What role do departmental guidelines play in decision making?

27:30    In immigration law the Minister can make decisions that differ from visa officers. Indeed, the Immigration Minister has an office to receive applications and intervene in applications. Is this appropriate?

30:30    What is the Charter? What is an administrative tribunal?

34:20    Immigration officers are considered to be administrative tribunals, Should visa officers, IRB members, etc. consider the Charter when making decisions.

37:00    When is the distinction between Charter rights and Charter values?

42:10    Do Charter rights and/or Charter values apply outside of Canada?

43:15    Are Charter values arguable before visa officers or at the IRB?

48:20    Is it a breach of the rule of law that different visa officers can develop different tests for immigration?

57:30    How is standard of review jurisprudence likely to develop?

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