Pierre Andre Theriault

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Dissertation Title: Settling the Law: Quality of Decision-Making and Judicial Impact in Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program

Dissertation Topic:

In comparison to the parallel inland refugee system, decision-making in Canada’s refugee resettlement system has received little attention from legal scholars. The dearth of legal scholarship can be attributed to a number of factors. Resettlement decisions happen abroad and are rarely judicially reviewed by the Federal Court, and information on assessments made by visa officers is not easily accessible. Furthermore, as a “discretionary” program, refugee resettlement has traditionally been considered “legally thin” by legal scholars, and not amenable to substantive and procedural legal inquiries.

As new refugee policies are being developed and existing ones are being reconsidered or revised, there is a need for studies examining the application of Canada’s resettlement policy by visa officers and the role played by Canadian courts hearing judicial review applications. Building on interviews with the main actors in the resettlement system and a dataset of 285 judicial review applications in the resettlement context, my dissertation seeks to realize three objectives. First, I want to identify trends in the quality of decision-making in the resettlement program, focussing on i) how visa officers deal with evidence and credibility, ii) how visa officers apply substantive refugee law principles, and iii) how visa officers conduct applicant interviews, Second, I want to understand the impact of broader program design, training, and task-specific factors on visa officers’ ability to accurately assess applications. Third, I want to investigate the role played by judicial review in the resettlement program, including IRCC’s practice to defend or to settle judicial review applications, and grant-rate consistency between Federal Court judges.


  • BA - University of Moncton, 2006
  • JD - University of Moncton, 2012
  • LLM - University of Ottawa, 2014

Teaching Experience

  • York University, Osgoode Hall Law School Refugee Sponsorship Support Program Seminar (LW 6001R.03) Research instructor and supervising lawyer 2016 Winter term
  • La Cité collégiale, Paralegal and Legal Assistant Program Administrative law (021601) 2014 Winter term

Professional Experience

  • Barrister & Solicitor (2015-) Immigration and Refugee Law
  • Legal Expert and Supervising Lawyer (2015-) Refuge Sponsorship Support Program
  • Judicial Law Clerk to the Honourable Justice Yves de Montigny (2012-2013) Federal Court, Ottawa (ON)
  • Osgoode Hall Law School, York University (2015-2016) Syria Response and Refugee Initiative (SRRI), project co-lead


  • Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security Graduate fellowship (2017-2018)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018)
  • New Brunswick Law Foundation Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018)
  • Fondation Baxter & Alma Ricard Graduate Scholarship (2014-2017)
  • Osgoode Hall Law School Harley D. Hallett Graduate Scholarship (2014-2015)
  • York University Graduate Entrance Scholarship (2014)
  • Centre for Refugee Studies, York University Graduate Fellow (2014)
  • University of Ottawa, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Dean’s Scholarship (2014)
  • University of Ottawa Graduate Admission Scholarship (2013-2014)
  • University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Graduate Academic Achievement Scholarship (2013-2014)
  • Canadian Bar Association, New Brunswick Division, Academic achievement scholarship (2010-2012)
  • New Brunswick Law Foundation, Academic Achievement Scholarship (2009-2012)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Graduate Scholarship (declined – 2006)


  • Quality of Decision-Making and Access to Judicial Review in Canada’s Refugee Resettlement Program Presentation at the 2017 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugees and Forced Migration Studies - CARFMS (Victoria, BC, May 17, 2017)
  • Privatizing humanitarianism or harnessing public compassion? The precarious balance of refugee private sponsorship in Canada Talk before the Institute of Public Administration in Canada (IPAC) – NWT, in partnership with Osgoode Hall Law School’s Outreach to the North Initiative (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, July 25, 2017)
  • The Rule of Law and Migration: A Look at Judicial Review of Refugee Resettlement Decisions Presentation at the 2017 Osgoode Hall Law School Graduate Law Students Association (GLSA) Conference (Toronto, ON, Feb. 24, 2017)
  • Legal Education, Teaching and Service: The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program & the Lifeline Syria Challenge Presentation for the panel “Social Innovation in the Global Refugee Crisis: The Lifeline Syria Challenge at Toronto’s Universities” at the 18th National Metropolis Conference (Toronto, ON, Mar. 5, 2016)
  • Le transfert de connaissance de la science au droit administratif : le cas de la psychologie et la Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié Presentation at the 17th Interdisciplinary Conference of the Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON, Mar. 13, 2014)