CBSA targets Canadian Permanent Residents: Witch Hunt or Just Deserts?

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has announced that it is launching a campaign to capture Permanent Residents who have committed “serious criminality”  in order to deport them.  The CBSA has, according to the National Post, posted 32 Wanted fugitives. The CBSA’s mandate is to search and seize these alleged criminals and to remove them from Canada.

The only problem with this is that these individuals happen to be Canadian Permanent Residents and have already served or are serving their time under Canada criminal laws. I am sorry but the CBSA’s latest campaign has the markings of  a witch hunt.

Canadian Permanent Residents are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Like Canadian citizens, they are protected under by our Constitution and have a rights.

I have always had a problem with immigration law giving the government the power to remove Permanent Residents for criminality. Yes they should be punished like citizens who commit crimes. But if we are giving PRs the protections under the Charter like Canadian citizens, we shouldn’t with the other hand, take that away under Immigration law. And that is precisely the case.

If a Canadian citizen, born or naturalized, commits a terrible crime, he or she must and should be subject to punishment under the Canadian Criminal Code. But once that punishment is enacted and the accused serves his or her sentence, then that person is “free to go”. But not so fast for a PR. Permanent Residents who commit crimes are not only subject to our criminal laws but also are still under the enforcement provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

This means that they, unlike Citizens, can be removed from Canada even though they have done their time and even though they are supposedly protected persons under our Charter. Something isn’t right when Wanted Photos are posted in all media outlets, essentially just for the crime of being Permanent Residents.

The rational that the CBSA gives for their blitz against PRs is that “once a permanent resident is convicted of a crime and has served their sentence, they are subject to removal from the country for breaching their undertaking to Canada”. Breaching their undertaking? What about our undertaking to them? If we are giving PRs Charter protection, then let’s keep our promices. Deportation is not a fair punishment. It has a very bad historical track record and does not bode well for a democratic nation like Canada. Fair is fair.





Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

  • John

    Are you for real? A PR who’s committed serious criminality should rightly be booted right the fuck out the door. End of story.

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