Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Aug. 27, 2007)


It’s okay if we deport some bad people – It’s really ok


  By John Martin

Every time I drive back into Canada from a visit to Washington State I’ve always thought we should erect a big billboard for all to see.  It would say, “IF YOU WERE A WAR CRIMINAL, TERRORIST OR INTERNATIONAL DRUG DEALER - YOU WOULD BE HOME BY NOW.”

Why is it that after hundreds of revelations of incompetence and bureaucratic bumbling, we still appear unable to effectively deport undesirables who shouldn’t be here in the first place?

For decades we’ve had the slackest, most reckless refugee policy that allowed anyone and everyone to gain the right to remain in the country so long as they ate their passport on the flight, lied about their identity, and said the magical “R” word at customs; that being “refugee”.  Under the previous Liberal government, that was enough to guarantee refugee status on the spot.

Mercifully, there’s finally a modicum of scrutiny and oversight to the refugee process and we actually deny the privilege to some drug traffickers, child molesters and tyrants.

But in terms of actually removing people from the country, we continue to have a dismal track record.

More than ten years ago Nok Souvannarath was ordered deported to Laos.  His appeal of the deportation order was rejected and he was subsequently declared a danger to the public by the immigration minister at the time.  He’s still here; in Abbotsford to be precise.  Meanwhile he continues to rack up weapons and drug charges.  The latest came when he was out on $50,000 bail for previous drug related charges.  Now he’s out on $1000 bail and there’s still no word on why the deportation order hasn’t been carried out.

He is hardly unique.  There are thousands of cases quite similar to his.  In many of them, we don’t have a clue where they are.  What is so difficult about putting someone who has been ordered deported on a plane and actually…deporting them? This shouldn’t be overly problematic.

Failed claimants have countless venues of appeal and can usually get any final deportation order delayed by crying in front of a judge who has never met a bogus refugee he didn’t like.  Naturally the legal process and check and balances are going to take time.  But these things typically drag on for decades.  There are people in this province fighting deportation certificates that were issued when Bill Vander Zalm was premier for crying out loud.

Officially, we won’t deport even the worst of the worst to Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, or Zimbabwe because of conflict and human rights issues in those countries.

But there are numerous other countries such as Syria, China, Sudan, Somalia and Iran where we tend to be reluctant to deport undesirables to as well.  We should probably add Laos to that list judging by the Souvannarath case.

Meanwhile, many of the bogus claimants commit serious and often violent crimes, and this has no effect whatsoever on their cases.

Being compassionate and sensitive to human rights issues in third world countries is one thing.  But to literally handcuff ourselves so we have no ability to deport people who shouldn’t be here and are clearly a high level danger to the public is utter madness.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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