Immigration minister applauds liar's citizenship denial
By Andrew Duffy
Canwest News Service
February 28, 2010
OTTAWA—Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is celebrating a Federal Court ruling that denied citizenship to a Montreal man who lied about where he lived in Canada.
In a statement released Sunday, Kenney called the decision in the case of Syrian immigrant Nasoh Raslan “an unmitigated victory for the rule of law.”
It's unusual for federal ministers to comment on such cases.
“Taking action on citizenship fraud is a priority for me and I have asked the department to look at what more can be done to address the issue,” Kenney said.
In a Federal Court decision released last week, Judge Francois Lemieux dismissed Raslan's appeal of a citizenship court ruling that denied him full status in Canada.
Lemieux found that Raslan “knowingly and willingly embarked on a course of conduct to deceive the citizenship court concerning his true residence in Canada and this for the purpose of jumping the queue.”
Raslan, who lived in Montreal, told a citizenship court in Mississauga, Ont., that he lived in an apartment in the Toronto suburb. But an alert citizenship officer noted that Raslan had offered two different apartment numbers for his address on two separate documents.
Further investigation revealed that Raslan's home phone number had been used by 62 other citizenship applicants and that his mailing address had been used by 127 applicants.
When Raslan appeared before a citizenship judge in October 2008, he maintained that he lived at the Mississauga address and presented a lease agreement to support his claim.
The citizenship judge, however, ruled that Raslan was not credible and had not met the necessary residency requirement.
Applicants must establish that they've lived in Canada for at least three out of four years prior to applying for citizenship.
In his Federal Court appeal, Raslan said he'd lied about his address based on the advice of an immigration consultant, who told him that his application would be processed much faster in Mississauga than in Montreal.
“I now know that I definitely did not do the right thing,” Raslan said in an affidavit. “But at the time, I thought that applying through Mississauga was simply a common and small stretch to the rules, and I was exhausted by all the applications and the complications so far.”
Raslan was making his third citizenship application since arriving in Canada with his family in August 1999.
In Federal Court, Raslan's lawyer argued that his client's transgression was a “technical” one since he had met the Citizenship Act requirement to maintain a physical presence in Canada for three out of four years.
But Lemieux said he could not ignore Raslan's lies since to do so would only encourage others to falsify their documents.
“The bottom line is this: One never obtains Canadian citizenship by trickery,” Lemieux ruled.
Raslan retains his status as a permanent resident.
Kenney said the court decision vindicates the work that federal bureaucrats do to uphold the law and to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship.
Citizenship fraud, Kenney noted, can result in criminal prosecution and removal from the country.