(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
As you’ve probably heard by now, Maryam Monsef was born in Iran – not Afghanistan.
After being praised as the ultimate refugee success story, Canada’s first cabinet minister from Afghanistan, we learned last week that the story she had presented was not accurate.
Monsef claims that she never knew the true story about where she was born and how she spent the first decade of her life. It was only after a media investigation and questions from a journalist that she asked her mother and was told the truth.
But the journalist, Robert Fife of the Globe and Mail, was acting upon a tip. Somebody else knew the truth, and reached out to members of the national media to encourage a probe.
Once the truth was revealed, other political figures in Monsef’s hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, came forward to reveal that they, too, had heard similar stories.
The question then becomes: if rumours were spinning around Peterborough about Monsef’s life story, and if anonymous tipsters were encouraging journalists to investigate, how is it that Monsef herself was the last to know?
It’s plausible that her version of events is completely accurate, that she didn’t know the truth until last week. But common sense would tell us that Monsef had likely heard these rumours in the past. So why didn’t she ask her mother sooner?
Immigration lawyers have come forward to suggest Monsef may have committed a crime – using false information on her refugee and citizenship application – and the penalty could be as serious as citizenship revocation and deportation.
Canada has stripped citizenship away from hundreds of people for this very reason. Providing false information to citizenship officials makes a person inadmissible to Canada, a long-standing policy that predates the Harper government.
In fact, during the last election campaign, Justin Trudeau himself praised this practice.
“Revocation of citizenship can and should happen in situations of becoming a Canadian citizen under false pretences,” said Trudeau on September 28, 2015 after the Munk foreign policy debate in Toronto.
“Indeed, when people have lied on their applications, those applications get rescinded. Even years later,” said Trudeau.
In Monsef’s case, it seems that either she or her mother hid the truth when applying for Canadian citizenship. If that’s the case, then Monsef became a citizen under false pretences.
One year ago, Trudeau said…READ MORE