You Can Fight City Hall
They say you can’t fight city hall. Actually, you can, but it’s not often that you come out a winner, especially if the stakes are high. Given the assets and resources at the government’s disposal, it isn’t really a fair fight. Sometimes though, right wins over might and the result is extremely rewarding.
In August, 2013, my colleague Mathieu Bouchard and I launched two court challenges against the government of Quebec following the latter’s decision to change the selection criteria under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program and to apply the changes to applications that had been submitted prior to the modifications coming into force. Some 50,000 applicants may have been affected, so this was no small matter. Earlier that summer, I had written in this very blog about how unjust the government’s decision had been.
The first case asked the Superior Court to declare the Quebec government’s actions illegal and to order the assessment of applications according to the selection criteria in force at the time the application was submitted. The second court case sought the return of Quebec Government processing fees on behalf of all individuals whose applications may have been refused as a result of the selection criteria having been changed. The second case was suspended pending the outcome of the first.
Last month, the decision was handed down in the first case, and the court returned a verdict in our favour. It was a victory for some, but not necessarily all, affected applicants, and a reminder that justice is worth fighting for. I was delighted with this verdict, as were thousands of others who may yet be able to realise their Canadian immigration aspirations through the Quebec Skilled Worker Program.
It is hoped that the government of Quebec has learned that the form of retroactive legislation imposed on thousands of hopeful applicants wishing to immigrate to Quebec is not the right way to do things. Moving the goal posts after the match has begun undermines public trust. However, the delays to appeal the decision have not yet expired. We have only won the battle, but there may be a war left to fight yet.
They say you can’t fight city hall. Well, you can, and we will.