Monday, March 5, 2012

Lawyers are hoping for strong participation in next month’s bowling fundraiser for the Lawyers Feed the Hungry program.

The fourth annual Law Firm Bowling Challenge takes place on April 1 at Playtime Bowl at 33 Samor Rd. in Toronto.

“This program is in such demand that the financial requirements to keep it running are considerable,” said event co-chairman Joseph Neuberger.

The goal is to raise $125,000 this year. Each month, the program provides 9,000 meals for free at Osgoode Hall. For more information on the fundraiser, see

York University and Research In Motion Ltd. co-founder Jim Balsillie are nearing a $60-million deal to create 10 research chairs and 20 graduate scholarships within the next several weeks.

The partnership, which includes the Centre for International Governance Innovation, would involve $30 million from Balsillie and another $30 million in provincial funds from Ontario’s 2010 budget for research at the university into the modern challenges of international law.

The centre has faced criticism from some of the university’s faculty members about threats to academic freedom and autonomy. But Balsillie has put his name to a protocol that he said will “promote and protect academic freedom.”

The chairs and scholarships will be open to any faculty members proposing an international law project, according to the university’s web site. Two-thirds of the chairs will be based in Waterloo, Ont., and will commute to York.

Areas of research could range from international finance regulation to global environmental law.

The Canadian Bar Association is raising concerns about proposed amendments to federal immigration legislation that it says unfairly targets people seeking refugee status in Canada.

Bill C-31, protecting Canada’s immigration system act, would allow Canada to designate irregular arrivals as suspicious and would limit the appeal process in such cases in an effort to curb fake refugee claims.

But CBA member Mario Bellissimo said that while the bill’s objective of deterring fraudulent claims is well intended, it might create problems that could unfairly target claims by refugees genuinely seeking protection.

“We laud the objective of the legislation to deter fraudulent claims,” said Bellissimo, who’s also treasurer of the CBA’s national immigration law section.

“Unfortunately, what is proposed will profoundly alter the landscape for refugee protection by limiting rights and privileges and impeding access to the appeal process for legitimate immigrants and refugees.”

Specifically, the CBA says it considers the penalty scheme in bill C-31 to be overly harsh. It argues the denial of detention reviews breaches international agreements as well as protections in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Bill C-31 has removed the objective criteria introduced in the previous draft legislation with respect to designation of countries whose nationals are subject to expedited claims processing and loss of appeal rights,” said Joshua Sohn, chairman of the immigration section.

“The proposed legislation lacks clear qualitative thresholds and raises serious concern about excessive ministerial discretion.”

In addition, the CBA says the bill could undermine or eliminate the rights and privileges of some claimants, including their ability to apply for and retain permanent resident status.

But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said during a parliamentary debate on the bill last month that it would make Canada’s immigration system fairer and less arduous.

“With the reform we are proposing, the system will continue to be the fairest in the world. Canada is going to provide protection for real refugees within two months instead of two years under the current system.

At the same time, we are going to address the wave of fake claims for asylum from democratic countries,” said Kenney.

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