(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

A file within the federal government has been opened to investigate Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef for citizenship fraud. And the Liberal government seems to be in denial about it.

The Sun exclusively reported that a file was opened to investigate Monsef, who claims she only recently learned she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan. A number of complaints were received through a tip line created by Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) and the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), leading to an investigation. It remains unknown whether Monsef’s proper birthplace information was included on her original refugee and citizenship application.

While the Immigration department refused to comment on the investigation, claiming privacy laws prevented them from discussing details, Monsef’s office issued a statement.

“Minister Monsef is not aware of any actions by IRCC,” wrote Monsef’s Director of Communications, John O’Leary, in an exclusive email sent to the Sun.

“It’s standard practice for IRCC to contact an applicant when they are reviewing a file,” wrote O’Leary. “That has not happened.”

When asked to verify how and why it is “standard practice” to inform someone of an investigation into their file, O’Leary simply repeated his line. “It’s standard practice.”

Informing a person of an investigation, however, is not the standard practice.

Like most areas of law, a person under investigation for citizenship fraud is only informed of an investigation once the investigation requires the person’s input.

“That defies common sense,” said Toronto-based immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, when asked if it was standard practice to inform someone of a review.

“If someone is investigating you, are they going to call you and say ‘hi, we’re investigating you’? No.”

“There is a point during an investigation – sometimes during the beginning stages, sometimes in the end, and sometimes not at all – when a person will be informed,” said Mamann.

“But to say ‘there is no investigation because no one has told me about an investigation’ is absolutely ridiculous.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Mamann. “If the police suspect that you killed someone, do they go up to you and say ‘we think you’ve killed someone so we’re now watching you’?”

“That doesn’t happen in the real world.”

A former citizenship judge with knowledge of citizenship fraud investigations agreed, saying point blank that the statement from Monsef’s office is “not accurate.”

“Anybody can be investigated,” said the former citizenship judge who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to publicly discuss specific cases. “And of course the department can investigate someone without informing them.”

“If an investigation is taken to the next level, then yes, they contact the person. But not initially.”

It is unclear whether Monsef’s office was intentionally trying to…(READ MORE)

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