Professor says fluctuations in refugee rulings are troubling

A CBC News analysis shows dozens of members of the Immigration & Refugee Board of Canada are overwhelmingly refusing claims for asylum in Canada, while others are overwhelmingly approving them, wrote CBC News online Dec. 17 in a story that included comments by Sean Rehaag, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

The risk of such practices is that it could result in some people with legitimate refugee claims being sent back to their countries to face potential death, and people with phoney claims being allowed to stay in Canada, critics say. “I think we should be seriously concerned about these fluctuations in grant rates,” Rehaag told CBC News. “Refugee determinations are life-and-death decisions that are very hard to appeal, very hard to challenge once they’ve been made. And because of the seriousness of the decisions, it’s essential that we get them right.”

Rehaag, who has done an independent analysis of the numbers and reached a similar conclusion about the number of board members rejecting most of the claims they hear, said the high levels of accepted claims is just as troubling. “Too many false positive decisions may jeopardize the refugee determination system as a politically viable institution if public perception that the system is open to abuse becomes widespread,” Rehaag wrote in the assessment he conducted based on data of board decisions back in 2006.

The fact a significant number of board members at the IRB grant refugee claims at rates well above or below the board’s normal range of approvals and refusals has prompted Rehaag and other critics to step up their calls for an appeal division within the IRB. This division would review cases to make sure a board member didn’t commit any errors in fact.

Refugees can also appeal to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds, a process that critics such as Rehaag say is less than ideal because no one reviews the original board member’s decision to determine if errors were made. Instead, officials within Citizenship & Immigration consider humanitarian concerns, such as whether it’s fair to deport someone who has since built a life in Canada by getting married, having kids and working.

  • Rehaag’s comments were originally broadcast in a story on CBC Radio’s “World Report” broadcast Dec. 18.

We’ve waited long enough for LRT

The Etobicoke Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) line has the potential to not only connect north Etobicoke residents to the downtown core, it can also enhance our community by setting the stage for neighbourhood-friendly development, wrote Toronto Councillor Suzan Hall in a letter to the Etobicoke Guardian Dec. 17.

Connections with Finch West station, the future Spadina subway through York University and Humber College North Campus will improve the vibrancy and investment in our neighbourhood. I look forward to seeing the LRT expand to Woodbine Entertainment and the airport.

Managing the stress of student life

For many of us, the midterm hump is over, yet, we still feel fatigued, lonely or pressured, wrote York student Tanya Mpala in the Brampton Guardian Dec. 17. Stress is not always linked to academics. In fact it’s more commonly linked to relationships, dating, the workplace and technology. Psychologists may link this issue to the fact that youth face way more pressures today than previous generations – nevertheless, it’s not a new phenomenon.

Durie inks three-year deal with Argos

The Toronto Argonauts signed versatile slotback and former York Lion Andre Durie to a three-year contract this morning, wrote The Mississauga News Dec. 17. As a result, the 27-year-old Lorne Park Secondary School graduate will wear the double blue through the 2012 Canadian Football League season.

Durie has played running back and slotback in addition to returning kicks since joining the Argos in 2007. He said he’s very happy to be staying in the Greater Toronto Area. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be a Toronto Argonaut,” Durie said in a news release. “The fact that the team wants me to continue to be an Argo means more to me than anyone could know.”

The five-foot-nine, 193-pound non-import reached a career high 1059 all-purpose yards last season. He played in all 18 games and finished the year with 1033 kick return yards on 43 returns, 10 special team tackles and one touchdown off a fumble recovery.

Durie played for York University from 2003 to 2005 and rewrote the school record book, setting single-season highs in rushing touchdowns (15), rushing yards (1367) and scoring (96 points). He also collected 349 rushing yards in one game, a Canadian university record.

  • The Toronto Argonauts have signed wide receiver/kick returner Andre Durie to a contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2012, wrote The Canadian Press Dec. 17. “It feels great to re-sign and be an Argonaut for another three years,” Durie said in a statement.
  • Dinner’s on Andre!, wrote the Ottawa Sun Dec. 18. Andre Durie received a nice Christmas present a week early and the Argonauts running back wants to keep giving in 2010.

Plagued by injuries until this past season, Durie, a native of Mississauga, dressed for all 18 games for the Argos and had 1,059 all-purpose yards. “We just want to get things going again after last season (when the Argos were 3-15),” Durie said. “It’s in our blood.”

Rail purchase good for commuters: Metrolinx

Rail service should improve for GO Transit users with news that Metrolinx has acquired full ownership of a 96-kilometre rail corridor between Barrie and Toronto, wrote Dec. 17.

The regional transit purchased the lower portion of the Newmarket Subdivision for $68 million. The rail subdivision is Toronto’s oldest, beginning in Parkdale as it branches off the Weston line that was also purchased by Metrolinx earlier this year.

It runs past York University, connecting with the existing commuter line to Barrie upon which eight trains run daily during the week.

Osgoode student is featured in episode of documentary series

In advance of tonight’s three-hour wrap-up of "Survivor", the award-winning Global TV documentary series “16:9 The Bigger Picture”, presents a trio of unique homegrown survival stories, wrote The Globe and Mail Dec. 18. The third segment introduces a former street prostitute now a student in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the discovery of a new Earth-like planet, on CTV News Dec. 17.
  • Victoria Smith, adjunct professor in family law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, spoke about recently announced changes to the family justice system, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” Dec. 17.