Summer Musings – Part I

July 26th, 2011

Say what you will about our Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, just don’t call Jason Kenny lazy. It has been less than two months since his Conservative Party won a majority government and in that short time he has made a number of game-changing pronouncements. Two of these appear below along with my comments. More will follow in next month’s blog.

Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants

Legislation came into force on June 30, 2011 making it illegal for anyone to operate as an unauthorized representative, for a fee, at any stage of a Canadian immigration application or proceeding. Authorized representatives must be a member in good standing of a provincial bar (a licensed lawyer), a Quebec notary, or the government body for immigration consultants as designated by the Minister of Immigration. The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is the new body that the Minister has designated for this purpose. Unauthorized representatives who accept a fee for Canadian immigration services are liable, on conviction, to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years. Applicants who pay an unauthorized representative and fail to disclose this information to the Canadian Government may have their applications returned or refused.

This legislation is clearly meant to educate consumers about the fact that there are many unscrupulous “ghost” consultants out there and that ultimately the applicant is responsible for choosing a properly authorized representative. In addition, the Government had lost confidence in the ability of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) to regulate the activities of its members and so it was replaced under the new law. It remains to be seen whether the newly designated body, ICCRC, has any more luck in reining in its members. Personally, I have my doubts.

Revoking Fraudulent Citizenship Status

Last week Mr. Kenny confirmed that as many as 1,800 Canadians could be stripped of their citizenship because they were allegedly obtained through fraud. This follows a three-year joint investigation carried out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the police. Notice of the Government’s intention to revoke citizenship is being sent to each of the accused individuals and they will have 30 days to file a contestation in Federal Court.

The reality is that some foreign nationals do not want to live in Canada but desire a Canadian passport so they can hop on a plane and come to Canada when all hell breaks loose in their country of residence. To their chagrin, Canada requires three years of residency to qualify for citizenship and it often happens that these Canadian citizens of convenience use fraudulent means to show they have been living in Canada when they have not. To boot, they don’t pay taxes, but consume our social benefits.

The knee-jerk reaction here is to say “good riddance to bad rubbish”. While this response is understandable we should be mindful that the revocation of citizenship status is about as serious as it gets and as a result our government should proceed with caution. This issue has complexities.

What happens to the minor children who obtained their Canadian citizenship through the fraudulent actions of their father? Do the sins of the father extend to them even if they are living in Canada? It doesn’t seem fair. In fact, it would be downright un-Canadian.

The Minister has indicated that these alleged fraudsters hired crooked consultants to obtain false proof of Canadian residency so as to qualify for citizenship. But suppose this wasn’t the case. Let’s say that instead of hiring crooked consultants these misguided citizens worked with or relied on the advice of a Canadian financial institution’s agent or a lawyer at a top-tier law firm. If you think that can’t happen you would be wrong. Not so many years ago, a lawyer with one of Canada’s most distinguished law firms was advising wealthy clients from Hong Kong on how to gain Canadian citizenship without having to spend much time in Canada. The scheme was somehow uncovered and as I recall, the lawyer involved took his own life before all the details of his mandate became known. Could his clients have been acting on what they thought was sound advice? Who knows? The point is that prudence is called for and all Canadians deserve the full benefit of any doubt before their nationality is taken away.

Give Mr. Kenney credit. He is doing his best to put right a murky area of his domain. His predecessors, both Liberal and Conservative, chose to look the other way even though most everyone in the immigration field suspected this kind of cheating was taking place. As a result, since 1977 only 63 individuals have lost their citizenship status in this manner. Better late than never.

Previous Blog : Changes to the Federal Skilled Worker Program
Next Blog : Canada Loves These Immigrants

8 Responses to “Summer Musings – Part I”

  • On July 27th, 2011, Anonymous said ...

    Government is for humanity,equality and clarity. To my money what Mr Kenny is doing in respect of fraudulent immigrants is cheap and not a crying issue of Canadian sustainability . As these are really administrative job and already in the job objectives of law enforcement agencies of the country. But I must applaud his creation of ICCRC dashing behind CSIC.The need is to create more positive images by improving those positives needs be donenow. There is an issue that Canadian government is not doing enough to expedite a Yes /No to the long lists immigration applicants within a reasonable time against fees . Which neither fair nor
    smart . Mr. kenny is basically missing the wood for the tree. He needs to ficus on bigger issue such as delaying immigrations pending cases with CIC

  • On July 27th, 2011, Abbey said ...

    This is incredible, people thought this kind of practice is peculiar to the third world, what’s happening? This means corrupt practices have crept into this country, it would be better to check it now and nip it right from the bud else, the so called most peaceful place to live on the planet earth becomes a den of lion. (from Nigeria)

  • On July 28th, 2011, Ziad Haddad said ...

    Taking away citizenship is a new world concept which was promoted recently as an acceptable means of punishment or as supposedly an acceptable means of reprimand to reduce in the eyes of the legislature the attempt of the public for fraudulent behavior. In the US and right after September the 11th tragic events, the legislature permitted the withdrawal of American citizenships (as a second) from citizens on security grounds.
    Withdrawing a citizenship worldwide regardless of the way it was obtained should not be permitted as the consequences will not only be on innocent children rather on all other stakeholders who would have dealt with the “citizen” on the basis of his/her nationality, it could reach to the complexity of engaging as well organizations worldwide who would financially have been impacted by a citizen losing his fraud identity – should they all carry the burden of a system failure?
    Though sounds like a paradox, but the law should have strong articles punishing those who would obtain a fraud citizenship taking advantage of an innocent system which gave them the opportunity to have a better identity – yet on the basis of this same citizenship obtained.
    Not to sound like defending fraud, but fathers would do anything to save their children when” all hell breaks loose in their country of residence” including cheating, thus I remain skeptical that these measures would reduce attempts for fraud, more than effectively enforcing a system of control to detect cheaters from real and honest residents who indeed obtained their citizenships through legal means and have already started serving the Canadian community.

  • On July 30th, 2011, YK said ...

    I was one the victim from this fraud (unauthorised representative). Actually, we already cheated by 2 of our Malaysian agents. So, I search through Canada’s news paper and found this agent, at the end we received a letter from CIC said this agent is an unauthorised agency.

  • On August 6th, 2011, Dzianis said ...

    Unfortunately there are so many dishonest and unauthorised representatives and agents. Sometimes its the best way to pay a little bit more to good representative or to make all the papers and pass through all the procedures by yourself.

  • On August 8th, 2011, fromthewest said ...

    The govt is cracking down on those breaking the law and people think this is some kind of crime? Silly. There are too many in Canada who think immigrants can do no wrong.

  • On August 12th, 2011, OKODOGBE Grace said ...

    It very sad on the issue of dishonesty of the fake and unauthorised agent parading themselves in every country, how can one know a geniue agent? Is David Cohen and his team a genue lawyer that can be of a good assistant?

  • On August 24th, 2011, SHARING said ...

    The attampt is good but the consequences are disastrous.I wonder if the complete circumstances of revoking one’s citizenship have been considered .I presume a lot of those citizens who will become ex-citizens have used their new citizenship in many ways such as buying properties, wedding, giving birth to newborn babies,made commercial commetments,paid government taxes …etc.
    What will happen to all of these damages and losses out of this revocation step? Who will compansate such act?
    I think a lot of prosecutions to CIC will take place after this daring initiative and millions of dollars will be claimed from those who lost a lot as a consequence to such move.
    It happenned in other countries and still a lot of similar prosecutions are taking place. In my opinion,this move should have been in effect during studying the files of those applying for citizenship, once they are clear and ready for receiving their citizenship no one should be able to revoke later .Its like when you pay for a wrong priced commodity you can not claim back its correct value from the customer after the selling process.Its the responsibility of the CIC that should have put an extensive investigation efforts prior to issuing citizenship.

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