Canada’s Dysfunctional Refugee Policy: A Realist Case for Reform

Published: Summer 2001    |    By: Stephen Gallagher    |    Volume 58, No. 4


In the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001, the cases of Ahmed Ressam and Nabil Al-Marabh have fuelled suspicion that Canada’s lax refugee laws have compromised Canadian and American security. While there is mounting evidence to support this claim, the wider question receives much less attention. Is Canada’s incountry or ‘landed’ refugee system in the national interest?’ In my opinion, it is not. It is my contention that the existing in-country refugee system is not in the national interest because, first, it isn’t a refugee system. It is, for the most part, a humanitarian immigration system. Second, it is racked by dysfunction, waste, and corruption. These are not aberrations but predictable outcomes of Canada’s existing reception and recognition policies.

About the Author

Stephen Gallagher teaches Political Science at Concordia University. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, and at McGill University, Montreal. He is at present Chair of the Montreal Branch of the CIIA.