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Why Does Government Want Law-Breaker to Stay in Canada?

Zain Haq came to Canada on a study permit in 2019. He’s violated the terms of his permit and CBSA has been trying to deport him for more than a year.

But he’s a busy person.

He’s been arrested at least 10 times, convicted of mischief charges, and been transparent about leading a US-funded “rebellion” in Canada.

Pick any blockade, and he was likely in the front row – including one that disrupted emergency access to St. Paul’s Hospital. He’s a co-founder and member of various eco-terrorist groups and actively encourages others to break the law.

But on April 19, three days before his deportation, he got a call from his (Liberal) MP for Vancouver Quadra telling him to unpack. His lawyer thinks someone in the Cabinet decided he should stay.

At the Immigration Committee, I moved a motion to demand that the Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, and the MP for Vancouver Quadra, Joyce Murray, appear to answer questions about their role in the stay of deportation for Mr. Haq.

Why does the government feel it is in the best interests of Canadians for this law-breaker to remain in Canada? The NDP-Liberal members voted it down. We may never know.

For Further Reference

CBC Story on Zain Haq (posted below in full)

National Post article on Zain Haq

CTV News story on Zain Haq

Minutes of the Citizenship and Immigration Committee at which this motion was presented.

Text of CBC Story

Deportation of B.C. climate activist cancelled

Zain Haq says he is relieved his deportation was cancelled and hopes to return to studies, work soon

Moira Wyton · CBC News · Posted: Apr 20, 2024 6:50 PM MDT | Last Updated: April 20

A man sits at a desk in this screenshot from a zoom interview.
Save Old Growth co-founder Zain Haq, who is in Canada from Pakistan on a study permit, has had his deportation halted just three days before Canadian immigration officials were to force him to leave the country. (CBC)

Canadian immigration officials have halted the deportation of B.C. climate justice activist Zain Haq, two days before he was to be sent back to Pakistan over issues with his study permit.

The deportation order was issued on Thursday, after a federal court dismissed Haq’s application to delay the deportation until his permanent residency application could be reviewed.

But less than 24 hours later, on Friday, Haq says the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) informed him that his deportation set for Sunday had been cancelled.

“I’m feeling very relieved,” said Haq, 23, who has been unable to study or work since his study permit was cancelled in 2022.

“This has been something that’s been hanging over my head for two years, and my spouse’s head as well.”

The news came after a campaign by other activists and Haq’s wife, Sophie Papp, urging Canada’s immigration and public safety ministers to use their discretion to call off his deportation. An online petition launched by Papp amassed more than 2,500 signatures for the cause.

Haq arrived in Canada to study at Simon Fraser University in 2019, and gained prominence in the B.C. climate activism community for his work with Extinction Rebellion and Save Old Growth.

But he says CBSA began to scrutinize his study permit after he became involved in non-violent civil disobedience against fossil fuel projects, for which he was arrested several times.

A man wearing a mask walks with his hands behind his back, between two police officers.
Haq is arrested while blocking the sidewalk along Lions Gate Bridge Road in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday, May 3, 2021, as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In 2022, CBSA determined he violated his permit by failing to make sufficient progress in his studies at SFU, Haq told CBC in a March interview.

“They were more aggressive than I think the circumstances justified at the time,” Haq said of the CBSA. 

He had been on academic probation at one point, but said SFU supported him continuing his studies.

Haq’s immigration lawyer Randall Cohn said while it’s hard to know whether it was an attempt to stop Haq’s activism, his client’s deportation would have had a “chilling effect” on foreign nationals wanting to engage in political activism.

“This is a glimmer of hope,” he said on Saturday.

Future status unclear

However it is still unclear how long or under what terms Haq will be able to stay in Canada.

Sunday’s deportation order was based on alleged violations of his study permit, but since it was filed, Haq has also pleaded guilty to five counts of mischief in relation to his non-violent protest actions.

That finding of criminality would make him inadmissible to Canada, but Papp has applied to sponsor her spouse’s permanent residency application and the couple is seeking humanitarian and compassionate considerations.

If the application is successful, it would overcome Haq’s criminal inadmissibility issue.

Haq and Cohn say they expect to know more from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in the next week, and are optimistic the ministers have looked at the situation “holistically.”

“This could mean that the minister may expedite our spousal sponsorship application, which would result in me becoming a permanent resident,” said Haq.

“Or this could mean that the minister has made me a temporary resident permit, but honestly we don’t have the answers to that.”

Haq says he has an open invitation to return to his studies at SFU and several job offers to consider when he is able to work again in Canada.