Our Deportation Laws Favor Deportees to the Prejudice of all Canadians

This post is part of The Exchange. The opinions expressed by contributors shared on The Exchange do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of CIJA, its staff, or Board of Directors.

There was a recent National Post story about dozens of people who are appealing to Trudeau’s Liberal government not to deport terror suspect Mohammed Harkat to Algeria, claiming he poses no threat to Canadians.

The obvious interest hook in this story is that one of those who has joined the lobby is none other than Prime Minister Trudeau’s brother Alexandre. Other less notables include Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, former UN Ambassador Stephen Lewis and Omar Khadr’s lawyer, Denis Edney.

Interesting that these Harkat well-wishers presume they know and have better information on whether Harkat has terrorist ties and is still a threat to Canadians than our Canadian authorities who, on the basis of information developed in that regard, are in the process of trying to deport Harkat.

Another account notes that Alexandre Trudeau has been supporting Harkat for the last ten years in his bid to avoid being deported.

It should come as no surprise that Alexandre Trudeau is supporting an accused Muslim terrorist’s fight to remain in Canada despite presumably solid intelligence supporting the government’s efforts to deport him. You may recall it was Alexandre Trudeau who, back in 2008, supported unrepentant al-Qaeda Jihadist Omar Khadr’s bid to be returned to Canada from Gitmo.

Of course, Harkat denies he is a terrorist. What else would you expect? It seems however, his appeal to the government to halt deportation proceedings and allow him to remain in Canada is his allegation that if he is returned to his native Algeria, he is at risk of torture. Really?

Ask yourself, why would an ordinary innocent person who returns to his native country 15 years after leaving the same, be at risk of torture by a government different than the one he left?

Ask yourself as well, in these times when many Western-hating radical Islamist groups, like al-Qaeda and ISIS, are under surveillance by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and other Canadian authorities – some having already been charged and convicted of plotting and actually attacking, injuring and murdering Canadians in the name of Allah – should we, the people, just blithely accept Harkat’s word?

Should we blithely accept the word of Harkat’s well-wishers that he is no longer a threat to Canadians and should stay in Canada despite the evidence against him?

Common sense, that appears to be missing from the calculus of Alexandre Trudeau and his fellow pro-Harkat lobbyists, screams absolutely not.

There is however, a much larger and critically important point that these articles unwittingly make.

This article shines a harsh light on the inefficiencies, if not downright incompetence of our government, Department of Immigration and associate agencies like Canada’s Border Security Services (CBSS) in particular, with regard to Canadian laws and the process of charging, prosecuting and, upon conviction, deporting immigrants who are found to have terrorist connections, have breached Canadian criminal laws, or have gained entry to Canada based on false and fraudulent information.

What should be an expeditious deportation process is fraught with hoops, loops, stumbling blocks and seemingly endless routes of appeal to the beneficial advantage of the accused that cause the process to be terribly clogged up and slowed with inefficiencies, which likely also breeds incompetence.

In this case, Harkat was taken into custody in Ottawa in December, 2002 on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. The government and the CBSS evidence against Harkat was of a “security certificate” that relies on intelligence information developed by authorities, not all of which can be shared with the accused due to the sensitive nature of that information. It took ten years for the case to proceed through the courts to the point that the Supreme Court could at last make a final ruling in 2014 that the “security certificate” proceeding against Harkat is valid and lawful.

What took 12 years for this case to wend its way through the legal system to reach the Supreme Court? What has taken 2 more years since that Supreme Court ruling for the government and the CBSS to move to deport Harkat?

Who is paying the legal bills for Mohammed Harkat? Legal aid. Cases like Harkat’s rack up well over a million dollars in legal fees paid for by the public. Add to that the prosecuting of this case that takes much time from government workers, lawyers and support staff and leads to the government needing to hire more staff, the costs for which also from the public purse.

Harkat’s case and the costs being picked up by Canadian taxpayers are not, however, unique.

In April, 2004 CBSS ordered Jackie Tran of Calgary to be removed from Canada because of “serious criminality” after convictions for drug trafficking and assault with a weapon. With so many opportunities for appeals, it took the government 6 years to get the final order of deportation that eventually sent Tran back to Viet Nam. Tran was on legal aid for his entire involvement in the courts from defending his criminal charges to defending the government’s efforts to deport him. The cost to taxpayers was reportedly was well over $1 million dollars.

Perhaps one of the worst examples of government systemic inefficiencies in the deportation process was the deportation case against Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad. In Mohammad’s case, it took our government, including the CBSS and Dept. of Immigration, 26 years to finally expel him from Canada for having lied about being a convicted Palestinian terrorist and hiding his true identity.

These current laws, policies and bureaucratic procedures render our government systemically inefficient or incompetent in what should be an expeditious fast-track process to rid our nation of terrorists, criminal immigrants, and those who came to Canada under false pretenses.

For the sake of all Canadians, our deportation laws, policies and procedures are in desperate need of a major overhaul to make the deportation process fair for the accused and, just as importantly, expeditious and cost-effective for the sake of the Canadian people.

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