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Description found in Archives
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Series part of
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
Scope and content
Series consist of General Board of Immigration Appeals headquarters case files created for cases heard between the passage of the first formal IAB Regulations in 1956 and the Board's reorganization under new enabling legislation in 1967 (the Immigration Appeal Board Act of 1967, later incorporated into the Immigration Act of 1976).
Copyright belongs to the Crown.
Biography / Administrative history
Before 1952, there was no formal channel by which a person ordered deported under the Immigration Act could appeal that order to an independent body. Only Canadian citizens, or persons who had achieved domicile, could make use of the courts (see R.S.C. 1927, c. 93, s. 23). Non-Canadians could make appeals against the deportation orders -- which were usually issued by a Board of Inquiry convened within the department responsible for Immigration -- only to the Minister heading that department. As the volume, political sensitivity, and legal complexity of appealed cases increased, this process came to be viewed as insufficiently impartial. Indeed, most subsequent reforms in the Board have reflected a desire to make the tribunal gradually more judicial and formal in nature, more independent of departmental or Ministerial review, and thus better able to survive public (as well as legal) scrutiny.
A revised appeal system was therefore established by the new Immigration Act of 1952 (R.S.C. 1952, c. 325) under which certain deportation appeals could be heard by a quasi-independent, quasi-judicial Board. The Minister could nominate one or more Immigration Boards (s. 12) which would review any appeals the Minister had already heard, but wished to refer to the Board for comment (s. 31(2)). The Minister, however, retained final say in the outcome (see s. 31(4)). Nevertheless, the new arrangement earned such general support that the IAB was allowed in 1967 to cut most of its remaining ties to the Immigration programme and to its Minister.
After a short waiting period to test the new legislation, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration issued an Order on 30 June 1954 which appointed a seven-member central Immigration Appeal Board at Immigration Branch HQ in Ottawa (to deal with appeals generally), and six three-to-six-member local or "field" Boards at six seaports (Halifax, St. John, Quebec, Montreal, Vancouver, and Victoria). Many if not all of the Board appointees were current or former Immigration officers.
The local boards were to deal exclusively with appeals by ship deserters and stowaways, other than stateless persons and Iron Curtain cases. In 1955, two new Field Boards were set up at Winnipeg and Toronto (by Ministerial Order dated 7 or 8 June, effective 18 July 1955). At the same time the Field Boards' scope was enlarged to allow them to hear appeals in routine criminal cases and routine land border cases, except those involving major offences under subsections 5 (1) (m, n, and q) of the Act. Field Board decisions were sent to Ottawa HQ for review by the general Board.
In 1956 the system was reorganized. On 1 March 1956 the first Immigration Appeal Board Regulations (SOR/56-41 of 23 January 1956), passed under s. 62 of the 1952 Immigration Act, came into effect. These Regulations formally brought the "Immigration Appeal Board" (IAB) into being. Some of the powers of the Field Boards were reallocated to the office of the IAB located in Ottawa (sometimes called the General Board of Immigration Appeals before 1967). The Field Boards, however, continued to operate as special tribunals for defined types of local, routine cases. They were not replaced by the present system of decentralized local courts until the general reorganization of 1967.
From 1954 onwards the number of cases to be heard by the Boards increased steadily; there were increasing elaborations in the Board's procedures and mandate. Uncertainty developed as to the propriety of assigning jurisdiction over specific types of cases to the local versus the central levels of tribunal. The 1956 reform was followed by a further reallocation of powers among three levels of office, in a Ministerial Order dated 15 May 1958. First, the IAB "proper" (at Ottawa) was to deal with all cases referred to it by the Minister responsible for Immigration, and all cases in which the appellant claimed Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status. Second, the "Branch HQ" IAB office (also at Ottawa) was to deal as before with cases involving stateless appellants; alleged subversives, spies and saboteurs as defined in s. 5 of the Act; persons destined to Iron Curtain countries; field board cases where the boards had been unable to assemble a quorum; and all other cases not assignable to the other two levels. Third, the "field" IABs (at Halifax, St. John, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Victoria) were to deal with "ordinary" border appeals; criminal cases; and deserting seamen and stowaways, except where the case fell under the jurisdiction of one of the other two levels.
Decisions of all three levels of Board were, however, still subject to Ministerial review and were criticized on the grounds that the Board was not capable of making impartial judgments. In reaction, the Ministry in the early 1960s moved to appoint more "outside" members not previously on the staff of the Immigration service. RG82 General Inventory
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