Video: SINGH V MEI – An Expectation Fulfilled? Reflections on the 1985 Singh Decision

On November 26, 2009, The Centre for Refugee Studies presented its Second Annual Howard Adelman Lecture in Toronto, Canada with guest speaker Barbara Jackman, a prominent refugee rights lawyer who had argued the 1985 Singh Decision.

On April 4, 1985 in Singh v Minister of Employment and Immigration the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that non-citizens were entitled to human rights protections in Canada and that one measure of such protection was to provide those seeking safe haven here with a fair hearing to determine their need for this.

The Supreme Court’s judgment was a significant one. Historically non-citizens have had few rights recognized by the Courts. Rather, the starting point for a legal analysis of rights was that non-citizens had no right to come into or remain in Canada. The Singh judgment gave rise to an expectation of improvements in the legal status of non-citizens, particularly those in need of a country to provide them with peace, security, and safety because their own did not.

Twenty five years have passed since the Court’s judgment. It is time to take stock of its impact – not just in terms of how judges view the rights of non-citizens in the cases coming before them, but how it has influenced the development of laws and policies in Canada. The question is “have the expectations from Singh been met?”

To view the video, please click here.

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