Sri Lankan With History Of Violence Gets To Stay In Canada

Sri Lankan with history of violence gets to stay in Canada

Jeyachandran Balasubramaniam violated nearly a dozen conditions imposed on him

Ian Mulgrew,
Vancouver Sun
Published: Friday, November 02, 2007

A 26-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant with a history of violence has again convinced the Immigration and Refugee Board to let him remain in Canada.

Although the man assaulted his former common-law wife and violated nearly a dozen of the conditions imposed on him by a stay of a 2002 deportation order, he isn't being deported because he fathered a son in March 2004.

Jeyachandran Balasubramaniam got the break despite being involved in the drunken domestic altercation on Christmas Eve 2004. He pleaded guilty in Jan. 2005 and was given a suspended sentence.

Immigration and Refugee Board Appeal Division member Mojdeh Shahriari said she appreciated Balasubramaniam's latest conviction was “serious” but she was “not prepared to give this negative factor a determining weight.”

She also chose to “not make a negative inference” from the apparent existence of unresolved criminal charges against Balasubramaniam in Montreal dating back half a decade.

“It is my finding, that [Balasubramaniam] has taken steps towards rehabilitation, as demonstrated in his crime-free life [since 2003] except for this incident, and as such while the risk of reoffending is unfortunately not terminated for this person, it has diminished,” Shahriari said.

Before being appointed in May to a two-year term by the current Conservative government, Shahriari was a Vancouver lawyer who specialized in immigration cases.

She founded a local Persian dance troupe in 1990 after fleeing her native Iran for political reasons and earned her law degree a decade later as a single mum with an intense passion for social justice. It looks like she botched this one.

Balasubramaniam immigrated to Canada in 1992 when he was 11. His father, a Tamil, arrived as a convention refugee to live in Montreal with his wife and three sons.

As a teenager, Balasubramaniam began abusing liquor and drugs. He moved to Vancouver to live with an uncle towards the end of 2000 in an attempt to make a fresh start.

It didn't work.

At 19, Balasubramaniam stabbed a woman in a March 2001 purse-snatching and was convicted of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and two years' probation.

The conviction, however, rendered him inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and he was ordered deported on July 29, 2002 when he finished his sentence.

He appealed that removal order.

Instead of upholding the order and putting Balasubramaniam a step closer to the gate, in February 2003 Anita Boscariol of the appeal division issued a four-year stay of removal subject to numerous conditions.

Boscariol, of course, was pilloried in 2004 for deciding a 22-year-old West Vancouver Iranian immigrant could remain in Canada although he was ordered deported for his role in a fatal street race.

The wife of defeated Liberal candidate Celso Boscariol, who ran unsuccessfully in New Westminster-Coquitlam-Burnaby in the 1997 federal election, Boscariol also was attacked by the then-opposition Reform Party as a patronage appointment.

In this case, she extended compassion to Balasubramaniam but expected him to turn his life around.

Boscariol told Balasubramaniam to abstain from drugs and alcohol, be of good behaviour and that sort of thing in her originally stay.

The idea behind granting such an order is to give immigrants who make an honest mistake a second chance.

“With respect to the issue of the risk of the appellant's re-offending in this case, in reviewing all of the evidence, I believe with proper guidance, the avoidance of negative influences and intoxicants of all kinds, and the continued resolve on the part of the appellant, and given that this was his only conviction, the appellant will present a low risk to reoffend,” Boscariol decided.

Her faith was misplaced. Balasubramaniam ignored her conditions. In January 2005, he was convicted of assaulting his former common-law partner during the drunken Christmas altercation.

As a result, the Canada Border Services Agency requested a review of Balasubramaniam's status with a view to having him deported.

Shahriari heard the case in September. On Oct. 5, she decided Balasubramaniam again deserved compassion for a variety of reasons. For one, Balasubramaniam has lived in Canada since he was a kid and now has a job with a plumbing company.

Deportation, Shahriari concluded, would “cause emotional dislocation and hardship to him as well as to his family members in Canada. I have given this factor significant weight.”

As well, she said, Balasubramaniam was trying to be a good father to his son.

“I find it is in the best tradition of humanitarian relief for the son that [Balasubramaniam] and the son remain united in Canada,” Shahriari ruled. “I find that the appropriate appeal is to stay the execution of the removal order for a further two-year period, subject to the terms and conditions set out below.”

Balasubramaniam, who failed Grade 10 and is considered immature for his age, was warned again to avoid alcohol and drugs.

The appeal division will reconsider Balasubramaniam's status Sept. 12, 2009.