Supreme Court of Canada reserves decision on constitutionality of refugee pact

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will take time to weigh arguments about the constitutionality of a refugee agreement between Ottawa and Washington after hearing a challenge from claimants and human-rights advocates.

Opponents of the Safe Third Country Agreement argue it "contracts out" Canada's international obligations to refugee claimants to the United States, without proper followup to ensure Washington is doing the job.

They want the top court to declare the legislation underpinning the pact to be in violation of the Section 7 Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees of life, liberty and security of the person.

The federal government has consistently defended the constitutionality of the agreement, under which Canada and the United States recognize each other as havens to seek protection.

Supreme Court judges peppered both sides with questions about their legal arguments before reserving a decision in the case until a later date.

The binational agreement allows Canada to turn back prospective refugees who show up at land ports of entry along the Canada-U.S. border on the basis they must pursue their claims in the U.S., the country where they first arrived.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

The Canadian Press