An Ironic Position For Liberal Cabinet Minister

September 30, 2016

Maryam Monsef

Many Believe Bill C-24 is Constitutionally and Procedurally Unfair

Maryam Monsef is a Liberal cabinet minister in Justin Trudeau’s federal government. On November 4, 2015, she was sworn into the 29th Canadian Ministry as Minister of Democratic Institutions and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada in the federal Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister.

In mid September of 2016, she revealed that she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan as she’d long believed. She said her mother, who fled Afghanistan when Monsef was 11, didn’t think it mattered where the minister was born since she was still legally considered an Afghan citizen. By law, she will have to correct her birthplace information on her passport, and under the controversial bill C-24 that the previous Conservative government introduced, she could have her citizenship revoked, and could even face deportation. The provision allows government to revoke the citizenship of anyone deemed to have misrepresented themselves (which could apply to Monsef), served as a member of an armed force or organized armed group engaged in an armed conflict with Canada,  was convicted of treason, high treason, spying offences and sentenced to imprisonment for life, or was convicted of a terrorism offence or an equivalent foreign terrorism conviction and sentenced to five years of imprisonment or more

“The minister’s situation … is exactly the kind of situation that many other Canadians are facing right now because of this unjust process,” says Josh Paterson, the Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Currently, under the law, a single government official acts as investigator, prosecutor and decision-maker. A person who receives a notice of citizenship revocation has no right to a hearing or an appeal. They are figuratively at the mercy of the official presiding over the case, and are not entitled to any recourse whatsoever. The Federal Court issued a temporary stay of proceedings in a number of revocation cases earlier this year, but that relief is available only to those who can afford legal representation. This is the element that many, if not most legal professionals, consider to be constitutionally and procedurally unfair.

When John McCallum, the current Immigration Minister was in opposition, he cited the law as “dictatorial” and promised to amend it to create an appeal process for those affected, however, the majority Liberals have continued to enforce the law.

The Senate might come to the rescue on this and introduce an amendment to the law, which hopefully, will occur sooner than later. The Toronto Star reported that during study of C-6 at a House of Commons committee, the NDP attempted to amend the bill to repeal the power to revoke citizenship without a hearing. But that was ruled by the committee chair to be outside the scope of the bill.

Independent Sen. Ratna Omidvar, who moved the second reading of C-6 on Tuesday in the upper chamber, said Senate procedural rules are different and she’s hopeful the upper house will be able to do what the Commons could not.

Macleans published a great story on why Monsef’s issue ironically underscores why the law should be done away with.

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