Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we’re watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail’s team of political reporters.
‘Safe country’ refugee overhaul
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will unveil a list of which “safe countries” will get expedited processing of asylum claims. Refugees from countries that produce a lot of bogus claims will have their cases approved or rejected more quickly, and will lose their ability to appeal at a newly created appeal division.
The changes, part of an overhaul of Canada’s refugee system, come into effect on Saturday.
Flaherty’s next target: pensions
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to lay out his hopes for the annual meeting of federal and provincial finance ministers, which runs Sunday and Monday at Meech Lake Quebec.
The minister is expected to talk to reporters on Parliament Hill Friday around noon and will outline Ottawa’s priorities when it comes to pensions.
The Globe and Mail reported Friday that while Ottawa continues to urge the provinces to adopt private, voluntary Pooled Registered Pension Plans, it will also circulate a policy paper outlining a potential enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan.
In addition to pensions, provincial finance ministers also plan to discuss equalization with Mr. Flaherty at the meetings. The current equalization formula must be renewed by 2014.
Last December Mr. Flaherty surprised the provincial and territorial finance ministers by announcing Ottawa’s long term funding plans for health and social transfers through to the year 2024.
– Bill Curry in Ottawa
Robocalls case continues
Conservative lawyers will continue trying to have the robocalls case thrown out of court, as hearings resume today. The hearing is assessing the effects of misleading robocalls in six ridings across Canada during the last federal election. In October, the Supreme Court ruled that there should be a very high bar for overturning election results, a line of argument that Conservative lawyer Arthur Hamilton is trying to echo.
The court challenge by eight Canadians argues that some election results should be overturned because misleading robocalls may have prevented some voters from getting to the polls.
For a real-time report of the hearing, you can’t go wrong with following the tweets of the Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor.
Do Canada’s anti-terror laws go too far?
The Supreme Court of Canada will close the book on three important terrorism-related cases today with the simultaneous release of a trio of separate judgments. The appeal judgments – which focus on free speech, religious freedom and the right of an individual to remain in the country – will help flesh out the constitutionality of key provisions in Canadian anti-terrorism laws.
The first case involves a man fighting an extradition order to the U.S. in connection with alleged involvement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The defendant, Piratheepan Nadarajah, is charged with helping attempt to purchase surface-to-air missiles and AK-47s in the U.S. on behalf of the Sri Lankan terrorist movement.
The second case involves another alleged Tamil Tigers sympathizer, Suresh Sriskandarajah, who is challenging an extradition order to the U.S. His lawyers argued in the Supreme Court that provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Act defining terrorist acts are unconstitutionally broad.
The defendant in the third case, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, is challenging the so-called “motive” aspect of the anti-terrorism laws, which punish a citizen who expresses support for terrorist activity yet who does not knowingly facilitate specific terrorist acts.
Mr. Khawaja was sentenced to life in prison in connection with a British plot to commit jihadist violence abroad. He maintains that his sentence was too harsh and did not take into account his lack of awareness of violent acts the British plotters intended to carry out.
– Justice Reporter Kirk Makin