Under the Constitution, the federal government has power, through immigration laws, to remove (or deport) foreign-born people from the country. The conditions for deportation have changed over the years, and deportation has been used for political as well as security purposes. Canadian deportation policy – often controversial – provides a window into the concerns of the state over the course of its history.
Although little is known about Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman in Upper Canada, her struggles against her “owner,” Sergeant Adam Vrooman, precipitated the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada, 1793 — the first legislation in the British colonies to restrict the slave trade.
In the 1985 Singh case, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the legal guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to "everyone" physically present in Canada, including foreign asylum seekers. The court also said refugees have the right to a full oral hearing of their claims, before being either accepted into the country or deported. The decision drastically changed the way refugees are dealt with in Canada.
Refugees and asylum seekers flee their countries in hopes of safety abroad. Governed by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, refugee status is a matter of both international and domestic law. Historically, Canada has assisted many refugees from all over the world. However, human migration is a complex phenomenon, and Canada's refugee policies are also not immune to the influence of political and popular opinion.
From 1978 to 2001, at least 65 women disappeared from the Downtown Eastside district of Vancouver, British Columbia, prompting the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history. Robert Pickton was charged with murdering 26 of the women, and was convicted on six charges. In a jail cell conversation with an undercover police officer, Pickton claimed to have murdered 49 women.
In 1989, Canadians David Spencer and Christine Lamont were jailed for the political kidnapping of a Brazilian businessman. From their prison cells they insisted on their innocence. Nine years later, after admitting their guilt, they were transferred to Canadian prisons and paroled.
A Parks Board gardener, clearing leaves near Beaver Lake, came across a cheap fur coat. Lifting it up, he made a grisly discovery — the skeletal remains of two young children. Dubbed the Babes in the Woods by the press, the sensational, unsolved case remains a haunting piece of Vancouver lore.
During the 1880s, while Americans hunted seals on the Pribilof Islands, which the US had acquired from Russia in 1867, Canadians conducted sealing in the open waters. In 1886 US government revenue cutters, claiming to protect "American property," began seizing Canadian sealing vessels.
The National Policy was a central economic and political strategy of the Conservative Party under Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, and many of his successors in high office. It meant that from 1878 until the Second World War, Canada levied high tariffs on foreign imported goods, to shield Canadian manufacturers from American competition.