Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Nov  8, 2010)

There's no disguising this

By Bob Cooper




Ottawa’s reaction to the recent masked passenger who went from Old White Guy to Young Asian Guy to Refugee in a matter of hours really showed what separates Liberals from Conservatives in this country.  It isn’t much and I wouldn’t want to have to live on the difference.   I realize that this guy should have been detected at the boarding gate in Hong Kong and the initial mistakes had nothing to do with Immigration but once the door closed this guy became Canada’s problem and the government’s handling of it is as bad as Air Canada’s.

The Liberals would welcome this guy at the airport with open arms and a brass band and I can understand that to a certain extent because some of them actually believe we should take in every one who shows up on our doorstep, as opposed to the rest of them who are just whoring for ethnic votes.

At the same time there are a few Conservatives who honestly believe that our immigration & refugee process could use some streamlining and have a few more teeth installed, as opposed to the rest of them who are just whoring for ethnic votes.

Politicians on both sides pay lip service to the idea that the law should operate to protect Canadians and should at least offer some deterrent, rather than incentive, to smugglers and queue-jumpers.  In reality they couldn’t care less that the system makes a chump out of every honest immigrant who goes through the process and follows the rules.  The few honest ones are silenced by Party Discipline or the promise of a Cabinet seat.

Most Canadians believe that you should have to do a little more than simply utter the word ‘refugee’ at a port of entry to remain in Canada.  For instance, you should have to tell your tale of persecution, torture, (or fear of being murdered by a band of rogue accountants) to a CBSA Officer immediately and that’s the version you’re stuck with rather than giving a statement after being coached by lawyers or activists.  Decline to speak or get caught in a lie?  Adios.  When you appear before an adjudicator, if you have a criminal record, or your claim is patently bogus you stay in custody.  You can still go through the system (the short version with far fewer appeals), but we’ll just keep you close at hand while you do it.

This guy’s lawyer is already on the news whining about his client’s picture being on the news.  Look for him to be released in days or weeks at the most.  On the positive side, dressing up as someone you’re not is a talent that he can put to good use here in Vancouver.   Oh, and the lawyer’s whining?  We’re picking up the tab for that as well.

A former colleague of mine married a very well-educated, self-sufficient woman from Shanghai who was here on a visa and went through absolute hell trying to convince immigration that it wasn’t a marriage of convenience.  He’s a retired police detective with an exemplary record, not some gangster and they jumped through every hoop they had to but no dice.  He moved to Shanghai and lived with her there for over a year to try to convince these bureaucrats that the marriage was genuine.  Through the intervention of a mutual friend they were finally successful but she could have saved herself the trouble by simply tearing up her passport over the Pacific. 

So what’s our government’s answer?  Are they reassuring the public that they take this seriously and are moving quickly to find out what went wrong at HKIA and ensuring it can’t happen again?  No.  They’re annoyed that the matter was “leaked” to CNN and became public, making it more difficult to sweep under the rug.   Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that aside from the mask, there was nothing unusual about the case.  And that’s the problem.  In essence, Toews’ reaction is ‘what’s the big deal?’  Sorry Minister, when someone successfully boards an aircraft using disguise or deception, in the post 9-11 era, it is a big deal.  At least it should be.

For all the Minister knows, this guy could be an assassin here to kill the Quaids.


Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.


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