01/04/2016 07:38 EST | Updated 01/04/2017 05:12 EST

Liberals Drop Appeal Of Unconstitutional Tory Refugee Measure

A judge ruled last July that Tories' "safe" country policy was discriminatory.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government says it won't fight to preserve Conservative government rule changes that made it impossible for some rejected refugee claimants to pursue appeals.

A Federal Court ruled in July that it was unconstitutional for the Conservatives to strip the right of appeal for refugee applicants from a list of countries the government deemed to be "safe."

Stephen Harper pauses for a moment as he addresses the crowd on election night, Oct. 19, 2015. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

The former Harper government began a legal appeal of that judgment, but lost power in the October election that vaulted Justin Trudeau's Liberals to power.

The lingering legal battle was just one of many left over from the Conservative era, when the courts repeatedly found Conservative laws to be in breach of the charter.

Diane Laursen, a spokeswomen for Immigration Minister John McCallum, says the government has withdrawn the legal appeal in the refugee case, which was brought by the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers on behalf of rejected refugees from Croatia, Hungary and Romania.

Criteria Tories were pushing

The Conservatives brought in a list of Designated Countries of Origin to weed out refugee claimants — countries that were deemed to have proper courts, human rights and rule of law and were thus less likely to produce genuine refugees.

The Liberals have said they will amend the rules.

Immigration Minister John McCallum. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/CP)

"Our government has promised to provide citizens of Designated Countries of Origin a right to appeal refugee decisions," Laursen said Monday in an email.

"Withdrawing this (constitutional) appeal is another important step towards fulfilling the government's commitments and reviewing our litigation strategy."

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers had announced the government's decision to drop the legal case on social media earlier in the day, but did not respond to a request for comment.

Idea of "safe" country discriminatory

Federal Court Justice Keith Boswell ruled last July that the "safe" country policy was discriminatory, because it denied an appeal process to refugee claimants from the designated countries that was available to all other refugee applicants.

"It also serves to further marginalize, prejudice and stereotype refugee claimants from DCO countries which are generally considered safe and 'non-refugee producing,'" said the Federal Court judgment.

"Moreover, it perpetuates a stereotype that refugee claimants from DCO countries are somehow queue-jumpers or 'bogus' claimants who only come here to take advantage of Canada's refugee system and its generosity."

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