PRESS RELEASE – JUNE 20, 2019
ADOPTION OF THE LAW 9 IN IMMIGRATION
On June 16, the Quebec National Assembly passed Bill 9 (PL9), an amendment to the Quebec Immigration Act, which resulted in the destruction of approximately 12,000 certificate applications. selection of Quebec (CSQ) affecting about 30,000 children, women and men who dreamed of moving to Quebec and contributing to the development of our province. On June 16, one of the most unjust and inhumane laws in Quebec’s recent history was adopted as immigration candidates, having invested thousands of dollars and waited for years for an answer to their questions. folder, saw their plans go up in smoke. On June 16, Quebec, in the midst of a labor shortage, allowed itself the unforgivable and greatly tarnished its international reputation for a long time.
The Quebec Association of Lawyers in Immigration Law (AQAADI) actively opposed PL9. On February 25, 2019, the AQAADI was successful in Superior Court against the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion (MIDI) and the Honorable Judge Bachand ordered the MIDI to resume the study of records until the adoption of PL9. In his decision, the Honorable Justice Bachand explained that the Minister did not have the power to stop studying these files as long as PL9 was not adopted. It was therefore up to the National Assembly, that is to say the deputies, and not the executive power to legislate, and the Minister could not implement a law that had not yet been adopted. As of May 31, 2019, more than 2,000 cases had been processed following the injunction obtained by the AQAADI and a few hundred people had received a CSQ that they would not have had otherwise. AQAADI is extremely proud of this achievement. At the beginning of these challenges, we said that we would have the feeling of the duty accomplished if only one family was saved, and, although this victory bears a bitter taste, we must take the time to recognize the gains. made.
On February 26, the AQAADI presented its brief to the National Assembly as part of the public consultations on PL9. In our submission, we raised serious issues, including the legality and the constitutionality of imposing conditions for the maintenance of permanent residence and the imposition of conditions on the employment of a permanent resident. We maintain and reiterate all these arguments to date and the AQAADI will not hesitate to seize the courts in the event of the implementation of articles 8, 9 and 10 of PL9. The coming months will allow us to know more about the Government’s position and we confirm that we will monitor the situation closely.
Also on February 26, the AQAADI also submitted numerous recommendations with respect to section 20 of PL9 to cancel the 18,000 files. AQAADI put forward the repeal of section 20 or a modification of the latter in order to preserve the records of persons who are or have filed their application in Québec, the paper files, the MPQ files, etc. Several other amendments were put forward to prevent the destruction of these files. However, although the AQAADI has actively criticized the lack of humanism and the terrible effects of such a decision on several occasions, we never argued that this measure would be illegal or would violate the Charter. Rights and Freedoms Act or the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. As tragic and dramatic as Article 20 may have been, it is fundamentally up to the National Assembly of Quebec to enact our laws and this essentially means that Article 20 alone, in its adopted form, is not unconstitutional.
On 16 June, a few minutes after the adoption of PL9, following major popular pressure, both by the various media and opposition groups and by civil society, Article 20 was amended to finally save about 3 700 CSQ applications from people who applied from Quebec or are currently in Quebec. In an unexpected move, nearly 10,000 people were removed from the destructive scope of section 20. Finally, by adding the injunction and the pressures exerted by AQAADI, these are the dreams of about 14 000 people who will have been preserved. Once again, in spite of our disappointment, we must realize that for a Government that wanted to dispose of 18,000 files quickly, we will have made this task as difficult as possible.
Following the adoption of the amended section 20, the AQAADI asked various constitutional experts and lawyers to evaluate possible remedies to contest the cancellation of the applications. Unfortunately, in the opinion of the AQAADI Board of Directors, such a recourse in the courts would not have a reasonable chance of success, and without prejudice to the contrary opinions. As explained, as inhuman, unjust and tragic Article 20 is, it does not make it illegal and our means of action are, in our opinion, more than limited. This is the official position of AQAADI since February 2019 and although we are aware and took full note of the disappointment of thousands of families, it is also up to us to be realistic and not to dazzle false hopes.
We have received a lot of messages about a possible class action for damages so that the costs incurred – and not reimbursed – by these canceled applications and the time lost by these people will be compensated. However, the AQAADI must emphasize that Article 20 of the PL9 directly prohibits this type of appeal, which will render inadmissible these challenges unless a constitutional violation can be demonstrated, which we do not expect. We submit that this prohibition constitutes an outright admission that Quebec would otherwise have incurred civil liability and that it could have been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Article 20, in addition to being inhuman, has come to limit any chance of action seeking compensation, which once again confirms its unfairness.
The destruction of these immigration applications will mark Quebec and will tarnish its reputation for a very long time. We note that this move is even more offensive than that of the federal government, which had eliminated hundreds of thousands of applications in 2012, since the demands eliminated by this government had accumulated while the government did not have the power to control the receiving applications, which is not the case for the Quebec government. On the contrary, the vast majority of the files suppressed by the PL9 were received within tight quotas and established in the annual planning of the Government of Quebec, adopted by the National Assembly.
Faced with this reality, the decision of the Quebec government appears even more insane. We are neither happy nor proud to see the fate of our promises to our immigration candidates, and we want to address these last words to them. First of all, thank you for your support, your messages and your encouragements these last months, because the work accomplished could not have been without your contribution. Finally, since those who should have done so have not done so, we feel it is important to apologize on behalf of all Quebeckers for what you have experienced, even if it proves to be inexcusable. Quebec is an open, welcoming and generous province and we hope that we will be able to welcome you there one day.
President of the Quebec Association of Lawyers in Immigration Law