Discrimination vs. the right to refuse service

Article 17.11 of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council Code of Professional Ethics states: “An ICCRC member shall not discriminate against any person in the course of their practice on such grounds as…record of offences…”

Taken literally, this means a RCIC cannot turn down a client that desires to come to Canada regardless of their criminal past.

What if the criminal past of the applicant is abhorrent to the consultant to which they desire to hire?

What if an older man was convicted and served the minor sentence for assaulting his child-bride, which is a minor crime (or no crime at all) in some nations? Many consultants would cringe at having to take in that client.

Some consultants would also have an issue with a man from the United States, for instance, wanting their services who were convicted of “disturbing the peace” by burning the Quran or the Bible during a demonstration he attended.

Perhaps the applicant hadn’t broken their country’s law, but was involved in a situation that would repulse the consultant?

  • A brothel manager from Amsterdam?
  • A “genital mutilation practitioner” from Guinea?
  • A polygamist from Saudi Arabia?
  • A Muslim who converted to Christianity?
  • A widower whose wife died at the age of 12 after the birth of their child?

Perhaps the consultant comes highly recommended and the potential “undesirable” client insists on his/her company’s services? According to Article 17.3, “An ICCRC member shall ensure that no one is denied services or receives inferior service on the basis of the grounds set out in this Article 17…”

Medical practitioners have the right to refuse service for moral and personal reasons (i.e. Abortions, circumcisions, plastic surgery, etc.). Police have the right to refuse to investigate a crime they feel is not a priority (i.e. Break and enter, possession of marijuana, jaywalking, etc.).

The right to refuse for “legitimate reasons” must be expanded to include reasons of conscience. The Senior Intake Officer, Complaints and Discipline at the ICCRC (which may include the Complaints Committee) should be able to allow for the aforementioned exceptions based on cultural, societal, and religious beliefs. However, the “reasonable limits” provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has to seem to have been adhered to in case there is a legal challenge to the ICCRC ruling.

The perfect society where there is no conflict of interest in anyone’s actions and beliefs simply does not exist, and it is arrogant of Canada, and specifically, CIC and ICCRC to think that this can be achieved under their tutelage.

The irony here is we pride ourselves on having a country that celebrates its notoriety for equality and freedom. Yet, in the examples mentioned above (and if 17.1 is to be taken literally) we lose equal rights (the moral rights of the consultant become subjugated by the moral rights of the potential applicant). We lose the freedom of conscience. We lose the freedom of religion.2

Freedom and equality is all well and good, but discrimination, in these cases, should be potentially allowed whilst embracing the modern and current reality that is “Canadian common-sense”.

William Howie
Immigration Program Student at Ashton College
under the tutelage of Jose Godoy Toku


1 Code of professional ethics
2 CCadadian charter of rights and freedom

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