At the inaugural meeting, Lorne Waldman, a prominent Toronto Immigration lawyer and newly elected president of CARL, stated that the new group will act as a strong counter balance to both the recent treatment of asylum seekers, and current policy trends seeking to limit refugee rights in Canada.

The treatment of detained refugee claimants on the West Coast and arbitrary detention proposed in recent government legislation (Bill C-4) were a call to arms for all those concerned about basic principles of justice. More than ever, lawyers and academics across Canada must coordinate their efforts to protect human rights, preserve the Charter, and defend asylum seekers.

CARL will intervene, organize and disseminate legal research on refugee and asylum issues in a range of ways, including:

  • Interventions before the courts on refugee issues of broad national interest
  • Submissions to parliamentary committees on government legislation and policy
  • Legal support for refugee counsel across Canada
  • The promotion of a socio-legal scholarship on refugee law and other areas of law impacting on the human rights of migrants

Mitchell Goldberg, a Montreal immigration lawyer elected vice-president of the association, underlined CARL’s determination to speak out when basic human rights are threatened.

CARL will not remain silent while the government imposes punitive measures against refugees. This is a slippery slope that violates the rule of law as well as Canada’s humanitarian tradition.

Mr. Goldberg added that CARL does not intend to replace other important and respected national organizations, such as the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Bar Association, but seeks rather to provide a prompt and focused response in the courts and in the public forum.