March 24, 2018 10:30 am
Updated: March 24, 2018 10:42 am

COMMENTARY: Canada must ensure dangerous criminals are deported

A Global News investigation has uncovered a backlog of foreigners who remain in Canada, despite being ordered out on public security and safety grounds. Carolyn Jarvis looks at what's behind the backlog, and profiles an immigrant who's committed 37 crimes, has been deported but is still in Canada.

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If a guest in your house ran afoul of your rules, or entered your home under false pretenses, you’d be forgiven for telling him to get the hell out. You certainly wouldn’t tolerate their continued presence, especially if that entailed additional problematic behavior.

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It’s a somewhat crude analogy, but it’s unclear why Canadians should be expected to tolerate the continued presence of individuals who have reasonably and fairly been ordered to leave. Unfortunately, as we learned this week from a Global News investigation, that list of individuals is growing longer.

Ordered Out But Still Here:

PART 1: Canada is failing to deport criminals. Here’s why it can take years, sometimes decades

PART 2: An Ontario man who once belonged to a Palestinian terrorist group was ordered deported in 2005. He’s still here.

PART 3: Canada struggles to deport foreign criminals. It’s even harder when they’re ‘stateless’ persons

When it comes to deportations, no one expects that such things will happen overnight. There are avenues of appeal and those determined to avoid such a fate will no doubt go to great lengths to avoid capture once those avenues have been exhausted. Obviously, some cases will take priority over others.

But a deportation order has to mean something more than a mere suggestion. It’s not just the integrity of our system that’s at stake, either — this speaks directly to the government’s obligation to keep Canadians safe. Quite clearly, more needs to be done.

Canada is and should be an open and welcoming country, but there is a limit to that.

READ MORE: Juno Awards ‘attractive’ terrorist target, government report says

Take, for example, the case of Faulino Deng, a would-be asylum seeker from Sudan who was convicted of an aggravated assault just 10 months after arriving in Canada. Despite being ordered deported from the country — and despite being convicted of several other crimes, including sexual assault — he’s still here.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone.

The Global News investigation reveals that since 2015, 70 deportation orders have been issued for security reasons, but only 14 of those individuals have been removed. Only four of those removals occurred last year – the lowest number in the past five years.

WATCH ABOVE: Ralph Goodale sidesteps question about Canada’s deportation backlog of criminals

Fewer deportations means a growing backlog of bad guys who are stranded here in Canada. The backlog for those in the top priority category — those under deportation orders for security, international human rights abuses, serious crimes and ties to organized crime — has grown to nearly 1,200 from under 300 in just five years.

And of course, the longer it takes to get serious about the problem means the longer it will take to actually fix this. The government needs to make this a priority as soon as possible.

It is true, as the government pointed out this week, that one major factor in holding up deportations is that other countries are refusing to issue travel documents. We can’t send a deportee to a country that refuses to accept him. However, that shouldn’t mean that an unwanted deportee becomes our problem on a permanent basis. We need to push back.

WATCH ABOVE: Obtaining travel documents a slow process in deporting criminals, Ralph Goodale says

For example, Jamaica tops the list of uncooperative countries, currently holding up the deportations of 51 criminals. Canada also provides a lot of financial assistance to Jamaica. A lot of Canadians travel to Jamaica every year – a key component of Jamaica’s tourism industry. It seems to be that we have a fair amount of leverage to exert over Jamaica if it insists on being intransigent. The same goes for other countries on that list.

However, it shouldn’t require reporters to have to dig into government documents to discern which countries are being uncooperative. Canadians deserve to know this information and the government should make the list public.

On this, we could take a page from our neighbors to the south. Not only has the U.S. maintained a public list of “recalcitrant” countries, but as a result of pressure being placed on these countries, the list been reduced to 12 from 20.

The other option would be to make it more difficult for individuals from these countries to come to Canada in the first place, which might unfairly place obstacles in the way of legitimate refugees or asylum-seekers. But if Canadians feel as though their safety and security are not top government priorities, then that’s only going to increase resentment and cynicism toward our immigration and refugee system.

As an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator told the aforementioned Deng, “Canada was offering you a safe haven. And, sir, you have done nothing but abuse the protection that Canada afforded you.” A zero tolerance approach for such abuse does not preclude us from being that safe haven. We’ve spent plenty of time on the latter, it’s now the former that requires some urgent attention.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Global News Radio 770 Calgary and a commentator for Global News. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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