Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Sept. 28, 2009)

Animal farm

By Bob Cooper



When I worked in a special detective squad in Chinatown we were discussing the frustration in trying to have convicted criminals deported to their source countries like Hong Kong, and later, Viet Nam and China.  One of our bosses at the time said he had a neighbor who drove a truck and had a Grade 10 education.  When he read the newspaper he read a bit of the news, most of the sports, and all of the comics.  And he knew what was wrong with our Immigration system.  That was in 1986.

Flash forward 23 years and not much has changed.  If anything, it’s gotten worse.  Just look at events over the last few months.

Jackie Tran

Let’s start with 26 year old Jackie Tran of Calgary who has been convicted of two counts of Trafficking Cocaine, as well as one count of Assault With a Weapon.  He’s also a well-known senior leader of the FOB Killers, one of Calgary’s most feared criminal groups.  He was issued a Removal Order in 2004 but 5 years later he’s not only still in Canada but is out free roaming the streets of Calgary while his case wends its way through an endless series of appeals.  The fact that he’s out walking around terrifies the law-abiding members of his own community but I’d be willing to bet that the next government document he gets will be his first Canada Pension cheque when he turns 65.

Parminder Singh Saini

Then we have Parminder Singh Saini of Ontario.  In 1984, Saini was the leader of a radical Sikh group that hijacked an Indian Airlines jet with 264 people on board threatening to kill them all if demands for a Sikh homeland were not granted.   After spending 10 years in jail in Pakistan Saini slipped into Canada in 1994 using a false name and applied for refugee status.  Being a modest chap he also failed to mention the airline hijacking.  He was discovered and ordered deported but, like Jackie Tran, here he remains, a slap in the face to all the families of the Air India victims.

As an aside to this, unlike Jackie Tran, Mr. Saini spent his time a little more productively, obtaining a Law Degree from the University of Windsor.  How could this happen, you say?  Well, I checked the U of W Law School admission requirements and found no specific prohibition against air piracy so I guess it’s either ok or he was as forthcoming with the admissions committee as he was with Immigration until he was found out.  Now Mr. Saini wants to practice law in Ontario and, ironically, he leans towards Immigration law.  As if not to be outdone by the lunacy of Immigration, the Law Society of Upper Canada has granted him a hearing from which he can no doubt file infinite appeals should things not go his way.

At the hearing, Discipline Counsel Susan Heakes admitted terrorism doesn’t absolutely bar anyone from becoming a lawyer.  She herself doesn’t think it’s a particularly good idea and recommended against Mr. Saini being allowed to practice which is faintly reassuring.     Panel chairman William Simpson, an Ottawa lawyer, reserved judgment indefinitely, saying the decision "isn't easy."  I rather think that most would find that decision no more difficult than taking one’s next breath.

Mikhail Lennikov

Finally, we have Mikhail Lennikov, a former low-level KGB asset who CBSA seems bent on removing from Canada at all costs calling him a danger to our national security.  How did CBSA know he worked for the KGB?Because he told them so and went on to be voluntarily debriefed by CBSA, CSIS, and anyone else who wanted to talk to him.  He didn’t use false documents, lie about his past, engage in terrorism, or traffic in drugs and look where his honesty has gotten him.  Admittedly, having worked for the KGB doesn’t make him a ‘poster boy’ immigrant but in terms of removal priority he ought to be way down the list from the likes of Tran and Saini.  Puts one in mind of the line from the novel ‘Animal Farm’ that goes “all of the animals are equal but some of the animals are more equal than others”.

The federal immigration minister says he's frustrated at difficulties in deporting dangerous foreign criminals from Canada, adding changes to the law may be needed as lengthy delays and appeals could undermine public confidence in the system.

Sorry Mr. Kenny, just wanted to be sure we heard you correctly.  Changes may be needed?  Lengthy delays and appeals could undermine public confidence in the system?  Mr. Kenny, we’re way past ‘may’ and  ‘could’.  This joke of a system was foisted on Canada by the Liberals, I’ll grant you that but 3 Conservative administrations haven’t lifted a finger to change it.

Just to be clear, none of this is directed in any way at the front-line CBSA uniformed officers and investigators who go out each day and do their best to honor the oath they took as Peace Officers to protect Canadians despite a disgraceful lack of legislative or political support.  I spent several years working hand-in-glove with CBSA officers, still maintain friendships with several, and have nothing but respect for them.   This column is as much a reflection of their frustrations as is it of those of the majority of Canadians.

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009