Activists opposed to forced labor have failed to convince the Federal Court to ban the import of all products from China’s Xinjiang region.
They are asking the court to overturn the Border Services Agency’s decision saying it has no authority to impose such a ban.
The goal was promoted by the humanitarian group Canadians Supporting Refugees in Need and former minister David Kilgour, who passed away on April 5.
According to them, the Border Services Agency should ban the import of any items from Xinjiang unless their labor can be proven without forced labor.
These activists accuse China of oppressing the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities by deporting them to large labor camps.
The federal government has expressed concerns about religious- or ethnic-based crackdown on minorities in China under the guise of fighting terrorism or religious extremism.
According to Ottawa, there are credible documents on human rights violations against Uyghurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region: widespread arbitrary detention, separation of families, suppression of cultural and religious activities, surveillance, forced labor , sterilization forced and tortured.
Under the free trade agreement with Mexico and the United States, Canada should ban the importation into its territory of products derived from other sources and resulting, in whole or in part, from forced or compulsory labor, including the forced or forced labor of children.
In January 2021, a Border Services Agency representative told the group via email that it had no authority to ban products that could have been made by forced laborers based solely on their location.
In her recent decision, Federal Court Associate Chief Justice Jocelyne Gagné said she saw no element of the Customs Act or the customs tariff in question that imposed on the border agency the obligation to make a decision as demanded by the group. of refugees and its allies.
In addition, he said that every shipment of goods arriving in Canada is subject to the determination of an official of origin, tariff and value, and those decisions can be appealed through administrative mechanisms.
The Canadian International Trade Tribunal has direct jurisdiction to review the agency’s findings at the border, and the Federal Court of Appeal has exclusive jurisdiction to hear appeals from the trade tribunal’s decisions, he said.
Ms. said. Gagné that the border agency’s email is not subject to judicial review.
However, the plaintiffs have not presented evidence that the current legislative regime does not prevent goods produced by forced labor from entering Canada, he added.