Blatant lying loses family its citizenship — but earns them a $63K bill from Canadian government

Further to my article Overstating “Fraud” – New Canadian Media, an example of particularly egregious misrepresentation (polite term for lying) about residency:

Ottawa has stripped a Lebanese family of their Canadian citizenships — and handed them a $63,000 bill — after they were caught blatantly lying about living in Canada, part of a government crackdown on bogus citizens that could extend to thousands of cases.

The family — a father, mother and their two daughters — signed citizenship forms claiming they lived in Canada for almost all of the previous four years when they really lived in the United Arab Emirates, a fact even posted online in the daughters’ public résumés on LinkedIn.

The bold nature of the fabrications — that successfully won them citizenship in 2008 and 2009 — and their attempts to fight Ottawa’s decision brought rebuke from both the government and the Federal Court of Canada: not only have their citizenships been revoked, but they have been ordered to pay all of the government’s $63,442 in legal bills.

It is a punishment historically associated with only the most egregious cases, usually accused Nazi war criminals who hid their involvement in atrocities when fleeing to Canada after the Second World War.

This case is only the beginning. The RCMP has targeted about 11,000 people from more than 100 countries suspected of fraud by misrepresenting their residency in Canada.

RCMP identified more than 3,000 citizens and 5,000 permanent residents under suspicion in ongoing large-scale fraud investigations. Most are residency claims like in this case.After questions from officials, nearly 2,000 other people have withdrawn their applications, said Nancy Caron, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

A few points to note:

  • If I am correct, it is the same Judge McTavish that threw out the Government’s elimination of refugee claimant health care, partly on grounds of lack of evidence. This case shows that when the Government has sound evidence, it can successfully defend policy before the Courts;
  • The new Citizenship Act makes such revocation decisions at the discretion of the Minister, not the Courts. Yet the Courts have handed the Government a significant victory;
  • My estimate of fraud, based upon numbers provided (no change in this article), was a maximum of 3 percent, calculated on the unlikely assumption (CIC not providing information to the contrary) that the number of fraud investigations pertained to a single year. This case dates from 2008, suggesting that the 3,194 fraud investigations cover multiple years, reducing the percentage of fraud considerably;
  • In addition to requiring the family to cover court costs (appropriate deterrent), the bigger financial risk is that the father will lose his Canadian expatriate status with his UAE employer, and the benefits that go with it. As a Lebanese national, his package will likely be significantly less. I expect he will not rush to tell his employer, however;
  • In addition to Hong Kong and Chinese nationals, the breakdown of fraud investigations reveals mainly Mid-East and Pakistani nationals, likely working in the Gulf, given the incentives mentioned above; and,
  • Lastly, the role of social media in exposing fraud provides another useful tool for CIC and the RCMP. I expect that some will likely be revising (i.e., scrubbing) their various profiles as a result.

It is appropriate for the Government to take a serious approach to reducing fraud and this, and likely other cases in the hopper, strengthen the Government’s case.

However, one can question whether the Government is casting the net too broadly in its review of current applications, and delaying too many applications of those following the rules, rather than focussing on the higher risk cases.

Blatant lying loses family its citizenship — but earns them a $63K bill from Canadian government | National Post.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to Blatant lying loses family its citizenship — but earns them a $63K bill from Canadian government

  1. jonah says:

    4th point is slightly incorrect. Up to and including the late 90s, western citizenship may have had better benefits in terms of higher salary and allowances, but this is no longer the case. As an HR practitioner in the UAE, I highly doubt there would be any difference in the compensation earned by the family in question.

    As a Canadian immigrant myself living in the UAE (after having lived 10+ years in Canada), I do have one point to make: not withstanding this particular case, most immigrants do make an honest attempt to live in Canada, but the vast, vast discrepancy in earnings and status, in addition to the complete ignorance of Canadian employers to experience earned abroad generally make it quite hard for an immigrant to permenantly resettle in Canada. The reality is that the Government of Canada advertises that Canada is a beautiful haven where you can be anything you want to be and enjoy benefits and lifestyle not matched anywhere else on the planet, but the reality is starkly different and for anyone with a family who has enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in the UAE or elsewhere, it is VERY hard to make them understand that this change is worth it.

    Canada needs to be honest and upfront about the challenges that face would-be immigrants, and you would automatically see less and less fraudulent cases because people generally would not want to uproot their lives only to live a lower lifestyle.

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Jonah,

      Thanks for your comment.

      My information about compensation may be dated and anecdotal so thanks for your update.

      Sorry to hear about your experience in Canada. The Gulf expatriate lifestyle is indeed comfortable but one remains a second class resident compared to the nationals, with fewer rights. Trade-off.

      I expect that many will trade the sacrifice the lifestyle if it opens up more opportunities for their kids, and have always felt that the success of the second generation is crucial (and not to deny the importance of the first).

      Out of curiosity, what is your area of employment and country of origin?

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment,

      Andrew

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