CILA letter to Ministers Mendicino + Lametti August 5 2021


The Honourable Marco Mendicino,
P.C. M.P. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1A 1L1

The Honourable David Lametti,
P.C., M.P. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

August 5, 2021

The purpose of our writing today is twofold. One, we would like to introduce the Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association (CILA). An innovative and transformative association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice and fairness in citizenship and immigration law and to advocate for improvements to immigration-related policies and departmental operations through stakeholder communication, public dialogue, submissions, coalition-building, court interventions, and test litigation.

CILA will forcefully advocate for the protection and promotion of competent, ethical and lawful representation as well as marginalized newcomers who are often vulnerable and racialized. Inclusion, accommodation and diversity will guide CILA. Secondly, and related to our overarching mandate, is the issue regarding the exclusion of lawyers in directly representing those they serve. We have read with great interest the exchange between your department and the Canadian Bar Association National Immigration Law Section. To our view, the development of any Minimal Viable Product (MVP) regardless of the circumstance cannot ground any interference with the critical and solemn role of lawyers.

What has been communicated and perhaps perceived internally as a transient technological issue has resonated as a serious access to justice issue and counter to the legislated role of counsel enumerated at section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, jurisprudence and various other expressions of law. We hope and trust further steps to ensure the rights of our members to fully represent applicants are preserved, will not be necessary.

We are available to speak further on this issue and look forward to working together on this issue and many others in the future. Thank you for your time.


Betsy Kane
On Behalf of the Steering Committee of CILA

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