Maryam Monsef who came to Canada as a refugee and became a Cabinet Minister at the age of 30, has recently found herself in the glare of unfavourable publicity.
Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions in the present Liberal government, is in the news because it is alleged that she claimed that she was born in Afghanistan. She is described in Wikipedia as an Afghan Canadian politician.
However, according to news reports, she has, inadvertently or not, misrepresented her place of birth as she was actually born in Iran.
It was reported that Ms Monsef’s mother, in applying for refugee status, misstated her children’s place of birth. as Afghanistan.
Many will recall that on US President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Canada, he shook Ms Monsef”s hand on his visit to Parliament and called her a shining example of the good things that happen when countries welcome refugee into their hearts and home. .
However, it is my opinion that Miss Monsef”s Canadian citizenship could be revoked without a hearing under the law, like many others who have given false information on their immigration forms. The present Government is actively pursuing revocations of citizenship on similar grounds at the rate of 40 to 60 per month. So why there must a double standard? Perhaps the other option is to make legislative changes for which I have advocated in one of my recent articles dealing with such misrepresentation.
Under the Citizenship Act, a person who make an application under the Act must answer truthfully, all questions put to him or her that are related to the application. It is also stated in the Act, that “a person shall be deemed to have obtained citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances, if the person was lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent resident by false representation of fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances and, because of that, the person subsequently obtained citizenship.”
The Act also states that the Minister may revoke a person’s citizenship if the Minister is satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the person has obtained, retained citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances. So the Minister has no alternative but to revoke Ms Monsef citizenship if the allegation is true. .
There are also provisions for the revocation without a hearing.
There are questions about the Monsef matter which need to be addressed by the Government. For example:
Why would a mother applying for refugee status misstate her children’s place of birth?
Perhaps a parent would fudge an application with the hope that it would be accepted more quickly.
Why would someone like Ms Monsef be hesitant to come clean?
Perhaps because it would disrupt the heroic narrative a bit. Perhaps also because. it would raise questions about double standards.
Misrepresentation could lead to deportation, irrespective of what role an applicant plays in his or her application, as the misrepresentation need not be willful or intentional If the misrepresentation is unintentional and/or made indirectly, you cannot blame another person for the mistake.
This case certainly focuses attention on the urgent need for immigration reform with respect to misrepresentation and the revocation of immigration status and citizenship of residents of Canada. Each case should be judged on its circumstances and merits and a waiver should be granted to all deserving cases instead of removal from Canada.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.