A report commissioned by Public Safety Canada came to light earlier this year, urging the government to put in place an independent body to review complaints against and make recommendations to the Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The new “Canada Law Enforcement Review Commission” would have the ability to initiate reviews, dismiss frivolous complaints, share information with other review bodies, and issue non-binding recommendations to the CBSA and RCMP.
While the proposal made by former Privy Council Office chief Mel Cappe would be a welcome source of accountability and transparency in Canada’s immigration system in theory, it is unlikely that such a body would have any ability to reprimand or impose change on either the CBSA or RCMP.
The report was commissioned partly in response to growing public concern for the safety of people entering Canada and being detained administratively for sometimes indefinite periods of time, often improperly. The CBSA has come under recent scrutiny as a result of a series of in-custody deaths.
While Canadian immigration lawyers urge the government to consider implementing the recommendations sooner than later, the extent of the watchdog’s ability to protect will remain to be seen.