The fact that foreign nationals are using our pardon system is not a “loophole”, like Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, stated.
(PRWEB) June 13, 2013
According to a National Post article published June 2, 2013, the federal government announced earlier this month that it would take steps to “plug the loophole” with respect to inadmissible foreign nationals who apply for a record suspension (formerly known as a “pardon”). This move stems from events surrounding the 2013 VIA Rail Canada terrorism plot, where two men were charged with trying to derail a passenger train travelling between Toronto and New York. More information about the plot can be found in an article by the National Post, dated April 22, 2013, here. One of the accused, Raed Jaser, previously had criminal convictions in Canada which made him ineligible for permanent residency. However, he had his offenses pardoned in 2009 and thus was able to obtain landed immigrant status. To prevent this sort of situation from happening again, the government is now looking to draft legislation which would ban all foreign nationals with no status in Canada from being able to use the pardon system.
Pardon Services Canada is against such an extreme move by the federal government. For one, the fact that foreign nationals are using our pardon system is not a “loophole”, like Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, stated. According to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, if a person seeking permanent resident status has a criminal conviction in Canada, he or she must seek a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada before they will be admissible to Canada. Pardon Services Canada fails to see how foreign nationals are abusing a loophole when the government’s website specifically allows them to use our pardon system. In addition, lumping all foreign nationals with a criminal record into one group and denying them all status in Canada seems lacking of much forethought and fair consideration. There is a significant difference between a teenager convicted of possession of marijuana and grown man convicted of possession of explosives.
Pardon Services Canada is concerned about a potential constitutional violation that may exist if this new legislation is introduced. In Singh v Minister of Employment and Immigration [ 1 SCR 177], the Supreme Court of Canada found that the term “everyone” in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applied to all persons physically present in Canada. This means that all people in Canada, whether citizens or not, have the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. It appears there may be a violation of the individual’s liberty to not provide a foreign national with the same opportunity as everyone else to prove that they are rehabilitated and wish to continue leading a law-abiding lifestyle, regardless of what they were convicted of. It is true that a pardon is not a right. But the issue here is that, with the passing of such legislation, there will be unequal treatment of potential applicants by the Parole Board of Canada, a government body. The concern is that this may be a violation of foreign national applicants’ section 7 rights under the Charter.
Pardon Services Canada is an industry leader in the business of helping Canadians overcome the obstacles of a criminal record. Since 1989, PSC has successfully assisted over 100,000 Canadians exercise their lawful rights under the Criminal Records Act of Canada and the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States.