Canada v. Ward

Canada (Attorney General) v. Ward, [1993] 2 SCR 689, 1993 CanLII 105 (SCC)

• Likely the most seminal case in refugee law in Canada
• Refugee definition – “reasonable grounds” – beyond de minimis but not on balance of probabilities
• Additional requirement of no reasonably available state protection
• Definition of social group
o A good working rule for the meaning of “particular social group” provides that this basis of persecution consists of three categories: (1) groups defined by an innate, unchangeable characteristic; (2) groups whose members voluntarily associate [including with a particular status; see La Forest in Chan] for reasons so fundamental to their human dignity that they should not be forced to forsake the association; and (3) groups associated by a former voluntary status, unalterable due to its historical permanence.
• Human rights / discrimination approach to definition of social group and to persecution
• Persecution is the “Sustained or systemic violation of basic human rights demonstrative of a failure of state protection”
• “What you are, not what you do” is not a substitute for the Ward criteria, La Forest J says in Chan (1995)