Calgary Immigration Lawyer Raj Sharma, a former immigration hearings officer and now partner at Stewart Sharma Harsanyi, one of Western Canada's premier immigration law firms, reviews Canadian immigration developments.
Looks like refugee reform will be enacted sooner rather than later.
Globe and Mail article indicates that the "safe country" list will be a reality come this fall. Tribunal Officers (formerly known as Refugee Protection Officers) will be making the initial decision with an ability for an appeal (which may or may not mean a hearing) to a Board Member.
So what countries will be on the 'safe list'? My guess is all of Europe, Mexico, Israel, India (let's see about this particular prediction), Chile, Israel (and of course the other western democracies, like the US and Australia).
Countries that remain outside of the purported safe list will likely be any country with a higher than average acceptance rate. These countries will likely come from Africa, most of the middle east, Burma, North Korea, and other non-Rule-of-Law countries.
But the exact mechanics of determining this list will be problematic. Who decides? And what will be the criteria? In my opinion, "safe countries" are those countries that are determined to be "free" (see Freedomhouse.org), with the usual indicia of the rule of law (think independent bar/judiciary, ability of citizens to change their government, ability of citizens to travel freely within the country, and the existence of a functional and effective police system).