Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, Minister, and thanks to your departmental officials for attending today.
I am as new to this file as you are, and you have inherited a truly challenging set of files. The official opposition is committed to assist you in addressing those challenges.
We know from departmental figures that among the 341,000 permanent residents admitted in 2019 to Canada, 4,710 were admitted for humanitarian, compassionate and other reasons. Among the many appeals currently in play for admittance on those grounds, as well as applications for ministerial exemption, is a particularly compelling case, that of an effectively stateless orphan, Widlene Alexis, in hiding in the Dominican Republic in the care of a Canadian family for the past 10 years, a family that sought a temporary resident permit in Canada that would enable her adoption here.
Last month, a Federal Court of Appeal judge set aside an immigration officer's decision to refuse a TRP for Widlene, saying that the decision was “incoherent or profoundly inconsistent with the presented evidence”. Mr. Justice Barnes said the time has come “to take a holistic and full-fledged humanitarian and compassionate review focussed on Widlene's circumstances and needs.”
The judge ordered redetermination by another decision-maker.
Minister, you could send the case back to Canada's office in Mexico where it could languish on an officer's desk for years, or you could, under the powers you hold under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, subsection 25.1(1), grant a “foreign national permanent resident status or an exemption from” the act, if you, the minister, are of the opinion “that it is justified by humanitarian and compassionate considerations relating to... [a] foreign national, taking into account the best interests of a child directly affected.”
Your officials have said that you are considering this case, but I would like to ask you today, will you take a compassionate and humanitarian decision on this case now and then consider the risk that this child is facing now in hiding in very difficult circumstances in the Dominican Republic?