Archive | November, 2016

Priyanka Chopra has a brand new fan in Hollywood. Guess who?

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Priyanka Chopra’s list of fans — especially in Hollywood — is growing by the day. And American actor Blair Underwood, who is her co-star in the second season of American TV series Quantico, is the latest addition to that list. Underwood says the 34-year-old actor is the best he has worked with.

“Priyanka is amazing and so easy to work with. She has a great sense of humour. She has her good time on the sets and off it. Priyanka puts her heart and soul into the show, that’s one of the main reasons behind its global success,” he says.

Underwood, who played the protagonist in the American legal drama L.A. Law, thinks Priyanka has a big responsibility. “When you are a lead of the show, you are the first on the call sheet. It’s a big responsibility. Part of the responsibility is doing the job, which she does so well. Another part is to create a tone on the set, where others can give their best too. She is like this ultimate hostess,” he says.

The actor also defends PeeCee, who was recently labelled arrogant for refusing a film because she didn’t “like the lead actor”.

“Priyanka isn’t afraid of hard work. I think it has taken her 14-15 years to reach where she is. The other day, I joked with her that I want to give her a statue with two letters on it — N and O, because she needs to learn to say no.”

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Deepika starts prep for Padmavati

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

Deepika Padukone is looking forward to start the shoot for her upcoming next, Padmavati where she will be seen essaying the role of the beautiful and courageous rani Padmavati.

The actress is leaving no stone unturned to put her best foot forward, rather literally. Deepika is all set to begin work on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati with a song sequence.

She will be seen performing the traditional ghoomar dance for her first shot and has been rehearsing to get her steps right. She has been putting in hours of hardwork to get her footwork right.

The dynamic duo of Sanjay Leela Bansali and Deepika Padukone has earlier created magic on screen by delivering jawdropping chartbusters like Deewani Mastani, Nagada Sang, hence witnessing Deepika doing ghoomar is only going to be a delight to the audience.

Knowing the exceptional dancer that Deepika is, there are no second thoughts on how beautiful the song is going to turn out.

With her elegance and poise, the song is sure to be, yet another treat for Deepika’s fans. the actress will be seen next in the much awaited movie, xXx : the return of Xander cage.

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Tamannah Bhatia bagged ‘Best Actor Award’ at Asia Vision Movie Awards

Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

The gorgeous and talented actress Tamannah Bhatia who was last seen in super-hit trilingual film ‘Tutak Tutak Tutiya’ opposite superstars Sonu Sood and Parbhu Deva recently got honored at Asia Vision Movie Awards which were held in Dubai. The fine actress, who is riding high on the success of her films and commercials, was awarded as the ‘Best Actor’ in the Tamil Category for her outstanding performance in blockbuster film ‘Dharma Durai’.

The young actress had amazed the audiences with her de-glam avatar in Dharma Durai and had won millions of hearts with her amazing acting skills. The diva was paired opposite famous south actor Vijay Sethupathi and was directed by the national award winner Seenu Ramasamy. Asian Vision Movie Awards was held on 18th November in Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Dubai.

Talking about it, the hardworking actress, Tamannah Bhatia said, “It is always a good feeling to get acknowledged for your work. Dharma Durai’ was a very challenging film for me as the role demanded me in a completely different avatar. I am glad that audiences and critics worldwide have appreciated my performance. Award like these, give me encouragement to go beyond my limits and perform better with every passing film.”

O n work front Tamannah is currently busy completing SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Conclusion, the sequel to his superhit 2015 film Baahubali: The Beginning. She will also be seen in Kaththi Sandai and Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan and few more interesting projects.

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Two Indian American Women Elected To The U.S. House Of Congress For The First Time Ever

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

While most of us were transfixed by the stunning conclusion of the U.S. presidential election, which saw Donald Trump becoming leader of the free world, history of a whole other kind was being made at two low-key Congressional races in California and Washington.

Fifty-two year Kamala Harris, currently California’s Attorney General, became the first ever Indian American elected to the U.S. Senate, and Pramila Jayapal, currently a Democratic state senator, has become the first Indian-American woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives.

Jayapal, who moved from India to the U.S. at the age of sixteen, will represent Washington’s 7th District which encompasses most of Seattle and its surrounding communities. She was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

For over a decade, Jayapal has worked against the discrimination and hate crimes against Arab, Muslim and South Asian Americans, which were unleashed by 9/11. “Thank you for standing up for the values that welcomed me as a 16-year-old immigrant…,” she tweeted after winning.

A handful of Indian-Americans from the three million strong community have served in high offices of government including former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Only three Indians have previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives including Jindal before he became governor.

If Democrat Amit Bera from the 7th district on California, the only Indian-American representative currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, wins his third term then he would be the longest serving Indian-American in the federal body.

Returns Wednesday afternoon showed Bera ahead by 2,094 votes — a less-than 2-percentage-point lead. But elections officials in Sacramento County, which contains Bera’s district, have hundreds of thousands of ballots still to count, said assistant registrar of voters Alice Jarboe.

They may also be waiting on outstanding ballots. Ballots postmarked by election day that arrive by Monday can be counted, meaning the Northern California congressional race might not be called this week.

“I feel pretty confident about where we are,” Bera said, noting his last race took more than a week to call.

In Bera’s 2014 election, 39% of registered voters in his district were Democrats and 36% were Republican, according to data from the California Target Book, which analyzes state congressional and legislative races. Nearly 20% registered with no party preference.

Bera eked out a narrow victory in that election, winning by less than a percentage point.

Breaking Multiple Barriers

Not only is Harris the first ever Indian American elected to the U.S. Senate, she is also the first African-American senator from California. Harris is only the second black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She is also the first black woman elected to the federal body in the past two decades.

How is 52-year-old Harris both Indian-American and African-American, you ask. Well, she is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants. Her Indian mother, Shyamala, who moved from India to the U.S., married Donald, a Jamaican American of African descent.

They were both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley. Her mother studied science, specifically endocrinology and the complex mechanisms of cancer, and her father studied economics.

Harris, who is currently California’s Attorney General, was born in Oakland in 1964. After completing school in Oakland, she received her bachelor of arts degree from Howard University in Washington, and her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

“My parents were both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley. I grew up with a stroller’s-eye view of the civil rights movement, and often I joke that as a child I was surrounded by adults marching and shouting for this thing called justice,” she wrote on her campaign website.

Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden backed Harris, who defeated fellow Democrat, Loretta Sanchez, by more that a million vote. In July, Sanchez, who would have become the first Latina to serve in the U.S. Senate if she had won, had implied that Obama was supporting Harris because they are both black.

Harris has a record of breaking glass ceilings. She was the first woman elected as San Francisco’s district attorney and the first woman elected as California’s attorney general. Her mother, she has previously said, told her: “You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.”

When Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election became inevitable, she said, “When we have been attacked and when our ideals and fundamental ideals are being attacked, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!”

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Ontario takes a positive, but modest step on house prices

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

In its latest economic update, Ontario’s Liberal government introduced modest but concrete measures that open a long-overdue chapter in the crisis of affordable housing.

It has never been harder for most Canadian families to break into the housing market than it is today. Over the last 40 years, the price of buying a home has soared astronomically, while incomes have remained stagnant or worse.

In Ontario, the problem is particularly acute in Toronto where many, especially young families starting out, are being squeezed out of their own city. Over the last year alone, the average Toronto home has increased in value by 16 per cent. In 1976, as the University of British Columbia scholar Paul Kershaw has shown, it took five years for the typical 25-to-34-year-old Canadian to save a 20 per cent down payment on a home. Now, in Ontario it takes around 12 years. In the Greater Toronto Area, 15.

The problem, if left unaddressed, is bound to get much worse. Toronto is growing quickly. Over the next quarter century, the city’s population is projected to balloon by nearly 50 per cent – from 6.5 million people today to 9.4 million in 2041. Meanwhile, ever more investors, both domestic and foreign, descend on the city’s real estate. Without government intervention, as demand grows, homes will become less and less affordable; the rental market will continue to heat up; and an increasing number of residents will be unable find adequate shelter. It’s a process that is fundamentally reshaping our city and cities across the country and beyond.

It was encouraging, then, to see Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa announce positive, even if not very ambitious, measures to address the affordability issue in his fall economic statement. In particular, Queen’s Park will adjust the land-transfer tax for the first time since 1989, by doubling the rebate provided to first time home buyers to $4,000.

That means as of 2017, first-time buyers will not pay the tax on the first $386,000 of the cost of their homes (though Toronto buyers will still have to pay the municipal land-transfer levy introduced in 2008). Wisely, the province will offset the revenue loss by increasing the fee on homes that cost more than $2 million, making the tax more progressive.

Land-transfer taxes have always been controversial. Governments have often relied on them because, as most residents pay nothing in most years, they are a politically easier source of revenue than many of the alternatives. Proponents also argue that they reduce speculation and keep housing prices from soaring even higher.

But the problem, as we have seen in recent years, is that they can be unfair, exacerbating the inequality that can arise from a booming housing market. That’s because they penalize the purchaser, who is often taking on massive debt, rather than the seller, whose wealth has grown, often substantially, because of the booming market. The new rebate and increased progressivity are steps toward addressing that unfairness.

The government will also attempt to give renters a break by freezing property taxes on apartment buildings. It’s a welcome recognition that the growing pool of long-term renters are among the most vulnerable victims of the overheated housing market. However, whether the freeze will actually flow to renters, or simply increase profits for landlords, remains to be seen.

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94 per cent of Ontarians eager for hydro price relief: Liberal polling

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

The month before Ontario’s Liberal government announced a rebate on electricity bills, internal polling suggested that a whopping 94 per cent of residents were eager for price relief.

Polling commissioned by the government and obtained by The Canadian Press through a freedom-of-information request shows steadily increasing concern among Ontarians about their hydro rates in the months ahead of the Liberals’ pledge to take eight per cent off bills.

The August survey had 83 per cent of people saying it was “very important” that the government control electricity prices. A further 11 per cent said it was somewhat important and a mere four per cent said it was “not at all” important, with a small number saying they didn’t know. Fewer than half said the government was doing a good job of it.

The message in those responses was unequivocal, but even months before the September hydro relief announcement the numbers were bad for the Liberals.

In June, 90 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about the cost of electricity. And 64 per cent said the government should prioritize affordable electricity over climate change initiatives.

A month later, 94 per cent of people said it is important that the government control electricity prices. The same percentage said their electricity bills had become much more or somewhat more expensive in the past five years.

A Sept. 1 byelection loss of a Liberal seat prompted a contrite Premier Kathleen Wynne to say she heard loud and clear from voters that hydro bills were too high and she needed to focus on “helping people with their everyday expenses.”

Days later, in her government’s throne speech opening the fall session of the legislature, she announced that Ontario’s eight-per-cent slice of the HST would be taken off hydro bills starting in January.

That polling had confirmed what the government already knew, Wynne said.

“Those polls didn’t surprise me because we were already listening to people, we already heard from people that this was an issue,” she said in a recent interview.

Electricity prices have become a major political problem for the Liberals. In addition to citing it as a factor in their byelection loss, rural Ontarians booed Wynne at the International Plowing Match when she mentioned hydro, and the Liberal candidate in a Niagara West-Glanbrook was booed and jeered at a recent debate over hydro rates.

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Chris Alexander Slams Kelly Leitch For Making Trump-Style Ideas Central To Tory Leadership Campaign

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander says fellow contender Kellie Leitch is importing anti-immigrant American rhetoric for “crass political purposes.”

Alexander, Canada’s former immigration minister, said he doesn’t believe Canada will see the same type of political polarization that has happened in the U.S. because the country doesn’t have the same large issues with illegal immigrants or undocumented residents.

“That is the single greatest cause of poisonous politics that we see south of our border or in Europe,” he told reporters Sunday after an leadership debate organized by a local riding association in Greely, south of Ottawa.

Canada’s immigration system works, the former Ontario MP and career diplomat declared. It brings huge numbers of people based on their skillset and generously resettles refugees who need the help, Alexander said.

“I don’t think it is right to import, for crass political purposes, the genuine anger that Americans are feeling and to say we have the same situation here. We do not.”

Leitch has made screening every single newcomer and visitor to Canada for so-called anti-Canadian values the cornerstone of her leadership bid for the Conservative party.

A day later at the first Conservative leadership debate, Leitch said she and Trump shared “common ideas” — namely the screening of immigrants.

On Sunday, Leitch was on the defensive for her support of Trump, telling CTV’s “Question Period” program: “I am not a racist.”

Leitch was expected to participate in Sunday’s event with the other leadership contenders, but she left after the luncheon and missed the debate portion of the riding association’s fundraiser due to an apparent break-in attempt at her home in Creemore, Ont.

In a statement Sunday night, Leitch says she was notified by a volunteer in her riding association that someone was purporting to know her address and was offering it up online to anyone who she says was “interested in doing me harm.”

Leitch says her home alarm sounded early Saturday and as she left the house to wait for police she noticed the garage lights were on, but they had been turned off by the time officers arrived, and no intruder was found.

She said the entry closest to the garage was found to have been the trigger for the alarm and the officers speculated that someone trying to gain entry could have set the alarm off.

In a free and democratic society, Alexander said Leitch has every right to put forward views that reflect some Canadians’ opinion — but he finds them regrettable.

Canada’s settlement policies, and successful integration, retention and respect for newcomers is a unique system that Canadians should be vigilant in protecting, he added.

Alexander also came under fire for his perceived lack of empathy towards the Syrian migration crisis and the Tory government’s unwillingness to drastically increase refugee numbers. He was defeated in the 2015 election.

On Sunday, Alexander said he would “never be part of a government” — and certainly never lead a government — that placed newcomers and visitors to Canada “under a cloud of suspicion just because they are not one of us.”

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Ontario offers 1st-time homebuyers bigger tax break

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

The Ontario government is moving to double the maximum tax rebate offered to first-time homebuyers while boosting the land-transfer tax on house purchases above $2 million.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa made the announcements in his fall economic statement, delivered in the provincial legislature on Monday afternoon. The changes are to take effect on Jan.1, 2017.

“Purchasing your very first home is one of the most exciting decisions in a young person’s life, but many are worried about how they will be able to afford their first condo or house,” he told the Legislature Monday. “Improving housing affordability will help more Ontarians to participate [in the housing market].”

Sousa said first-time buyers won’t pay any land transfer tax on the first $368,000 of a purchase price, and they will become eligible for a rebate of up to $4,000 in provincial land transfer tax, levied on the purchase of every house and condominium. Meanwhile, the land-transfer tax rate on the amount of a purchase above $2 million will rise to 2.5 per cent, from the current rate of 2 per cent.

Government officials say the tax increase on luxury homes will bring in about $105 million annually, and that will fund the increased rebate.

New Democrat finance critic Catherine Fife called the fall economic statement “a distraction” from the top issue facing Ontarians — soaring electricity rates — and said Premier Kathleen Wynne had downplayed expectations of help for first-time homebuyers.

“Quite honestly, she was right to lower the expectations because what we see in this statement is neither new or profound or progressive,” Fife told the legislature.

The Liberal government also announced it is freezing the property tax on apartment buildings while it reviews how it affects rental market affordability. It said the average municipal property tax burden on apartment buildings is more than double — and sometimes triple — that for condominiums.

Property taxes are generally reflected in rents, so the government is concerned that lower-income residents in apartment buildings are facing a much higher tax burden than people who own condos.

Sousa reaffirmed his forecast that the current 2016-17 deficit will be $4.3 billion, and repeated that he plans to bring in a balanced budget in 2017-18. If so, it will be the province’s first time without a deficit in a decade.

Other new measures announced in the economic statement include:

  • $140 million more spending in the hospital budget to “reduce wait times and improve services.”
  • $65.5 million more to be spent this school year to create 3,400 extra child care spaces.
  • A new financial services regulatory authority that the government says will “improve protections” for consumers, investors and pension plan beneficiaries.

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Popular Democracy, Unpopular Ruler

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

   Dr. Hasan Askari

 There is a widely shared consensus at the global level that democracy is the best available political system. However, its details vary from country to country and one has to examine both the theoretical basis of the democratic system as well as its performance at the operational level to judge the quality of democracy.

 Democracy is viewed as a process rather than an end product. It is wrong to assume that anything less than the ideal democracy means that there is no democracy at all. It is a process and you strengthen it and improve its quality as you implement it and make mid-course correction in it. Therefore, what matters most is its direction. Democracy needs to move from “less” to “more” democracy. It is a continuous process and requires regular review of its performance in terms of the principles of democracy and their operationalization and how the spirit of democracy is reflected in the institutions and process of governance and political management.

 The most damaging situation for democracy is the gap between theory and practice or when it becomes a tool at the disposal of the economically dominant and ruling classes which they use for strengthening their clout in the political system. It becomes what is described as the elitist democracy which provides ample opportunities to the dominant elite to manipulate the system and turn it into an authoritarian rule.

  The most serious weakness in democracy is that its “democratic” ways can be used to destroy the spirit of democracy. The “tyranny of majority” is a technique to undermine democracy by democratic means. The popularity of democracy as a system of governance does not necessary mean that the ruler, even if elected through democratic means, will be equally popular.

 The dichotomy of popular democracy and unpopular ruler represents the difference between theory and practice. The competing political leaders often play up the self-cultivated fears and anxieties of some ethnic, regional or religious group to build support for getting votes in the elections. While certain communities are projected as adversaries or threats to the welfare of others. A candidate projects itself as the protector and savior of the people. In this way, the ethnic, linguistic, religion, sectarian and caste or regional differences are consciously played up to secure popular vote.

 Such a strategy helped Donald Trump in the United States and Narendra Modi in India to secure the support of a section of population at the expense of others; accentuating internal divisions and splits in the society which become a challenge when it comes to running the policies of a democratic government. Any attempt to divide the people for political gains is counter-productive to the goal of strengthening the roots of democracy because the vote gets divided on parochial and narrow considerations rather than political affiliations and election agenda. Greater the divisions and splits in the society the more difficult it is to run a democratic system.

 The leaders who secure their electoral success by polarizing the society have a tendency to become authoritarian in governance and political management. History provides numerous examples of how an elected leader turned into a dictatorial or authoritarian ruler. Many elected rulers have used their support in the parliament to opt for concentration of power in their hands, especially when they find it difficult to pull the society together after it had been fragmented in the course of the election campaign.

 A democratic ruler cannot sustain popular support without delivering basic services and facilities to the common people. The major areas of service delivery are education, health care, eradication of poverty and underdevelopment, employment opportunities, personal security against the threats from state agencies and societal groups, civic amenities and check against environmental degradation. Some rulers spend large sums of money on big and glamorous projects like motorways, public transport, and use state resources on partisan political considerations. Such projects benefit a small number of people and the socio-economic conditions of the mass of humanity either remain the same as before or decline. A leader or government cannot sustain popular support without delivering basic services to people.

 The success of democracy also depends on institutional checks and balance among the state institutions. Different state institutions need to work in their respective domains and respect the domain of authority of other institutions. No single institution can be allowed to dominate other institutions and processes of the state.

 Such dilemmas are quite common in the states that have experienced the ascendancy of the military to political power. Rather than creating a credible civilian alternative to the military’s domination, the civilian governments often engage in open or quiet struggle for power with the military. The PMLN government under Nawaz Sharif is involved in power struggle with the assertive Pakistan military. The negative statements against the military by the federal minister and the media wing of the Prime Minister House and the publication of the news item about national security affairs are the major examples of the troubled civil-military relations in Pakistan. Similarly, the appointment of the new Army Chief is another bone of contention between the federal government and the Army top command.

  Democracies are also threated by the rise of religious and cultural extremism and violence by non-state groups that are transnational in character. These trends are negation of the democratic sprit. Several African states collapsed due to internal problems or became dysfunctional.

 Democracy is a challenging political system that calls for implementation of its principles in letter and spirit. It is more responsive to the aspirations of the common people. There are ample examples in history that show that the popularity of democracy does not means that the ruler will be equally popular. The U.S. President-Elect, Donald Trump, needs to remember this.

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Legal aid faces financial crunch in serving refugee claimants

Posted on 17 November 2016 by admin

Legal Aid Ontario is faced with an unprecedented funding crisis that has sparked fear among lawyers and advocates that coverage and representation of refugees at asylum hearings could be compromised.

In August, LAO introduced a new vetting system of coverage on asylum claims based on country of origin as a measure to keep spending on refugee and immigration cases in check.

“The LAO has experienced significant financial pressures at the moment and our immigration and refugee program is not immune to those pressures,” said Andrew Brouwer of Toronto’s Refugee Law Office, a LAO-funded legal clinic that specializes in asylum cases. “One of the steps we have taken is to revisit our requests of coverage.”

According to Brouwer, the financial crunch on LAO’s refugee program stems from skyrocketing asylum claims in the past year, years of flat-lined federal funding and a dwindling expedited program at the Immigration and Refugee board.

Francisco Rico Martinez said he was shocked when a client came to his office at the FCJ Refugee Centre crying, saying her asylum hearing might not be covered by legal aid because she came from Morocco, a country on LAO’s merit assessment list.

Martinez said the woman was allegedly trafficked to Canada by relatives to be a caregiver, had her passport taken away and was abused.

“You can’t use country of origin as a base to determine what asylum cases will be reviewed for coverage,” he said. “This is a prejudiced approach.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board has seen a significant growth in the number of asylum claims, with an approximate intake of 23,000 projected for the year, more than double the volume in three years. The claims come from all over the world and no one could explain the recent surge.

Although legal aid expenses have gone up from $17.6 million in 2013 to $22 million last year, the federal government contribution has remained unchanged at $7 million, leaving LAO short by millions of dollars, lawyers said.

LAO currently pays lawyers a total of 16 hours — no more than $136.43 an hour to the most experienced counsel — to prepare the “basis of claim” forms for all asylum seekers and the refugee hearing.

A claimant, who meets legal aid’s income cutoff ($12,863 for a single person, but varies depending on family size), must then apply to have legal counsel covered at the hearing.

Under the new coverage assessment introduced in August, a panel of refugee lawyers only reviews the basis of claims from claimants on its country list to decide who will get counsel expenses covered at their hearings — to save the administrative costs of vetting claims from all countries.

Fifty-five countries, including China, India, France, the United States and the United Kingdom are currently on the list for vetting. All have an average refugee acceptance rate below 50 per cent — the criteria LAO used to come up with the list. According to LAO, 95 per cent of the cases reviewed in the past three months have been deemed to have merit.

“We do not believe this practice has any effect on the claimants’ hearings. Adjudicators have no way of knowing which claimants are being represented on legal aid certificates,” said LAO spokesperson Feroneh Neil.

“Even if they did know, adjudicators cannot draw any valid inferences about the strength or weakness of a refugee claim based on whether someone receives legal aid.”

Martinez said acceptance rate is not a fair measure because advocates have long complained about refugee judges’ systemic biases against claimants from certain countries such as Mexicans and Roma.

“Assessing merits based on the basis of claim is also a problem because it only provides very little information on a reason for asylum and it doesn’t give you details of the complete claim, with supporting evidence,” Martinez noted.

In the old days, lawyers had to put together an opinion letter setting out whether funding should be provided.

“That was problematic because it involved LAO paying lawyers to do work on a process that did not produce anything of benefit for the client, bur rather simply helped LAO administer its program,” said professor Sean Rehaag of the Osgoode Hall Law School.

“The new process is better because LAO pays lawyers to prepare a basis of claim, which the claimants submit to the refugee board and which LAO also uses for the purposes of merit screening.”

However, Rehaag is opposed to any merit screening of refugee claims to assess coverage.

“LAO does not use merit screening to decide whether or not it will pay to defend someone on serious criminal charges,” said Rehaag. “Why, then, does LAO do merit screening in the refugee law area?”

For years, the Immigration and Refugee Board would entertain requests to expedite processing of strong and solid claims to save time and costs. However, the expedited program became obsolete in 2012 when the then-Conservative government introduced tight statutory timelines with the unrealistic belief all asylum claims would be determined in six months.

Currently, only claims from Syria and Iraq are considered for expedition.

Refugee board spokesperson Anna Pape said asylum adjudicators’ decision-making is not influenced by whether or not a claimant has legal representation.

“The board is committed to fairness in its dealings with all those with proceedings before it, regardless of whether they are self-represented or are represented by counsel,” she noted.

“We had thousands of claims being expedited before. Now the board refuses to do it. The per-case cost and the length of hearing keep going up because of the demands made by members (adjudicators),” said Toronto lawyer Raoul Boulakia, president of Refugee Lawyers’ Association of Ontario.

“This isn’t sustainable. You can’t have too little funding plus more demands and a more costly litigation system,” added Boulakia.

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