Inadmissibility for Subversion

Steven MeurrensUncategorized

Section 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states: 

 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for

(a) engaging in an act of espionage that is against Canada or that is contrary to Canada’s interests;

(b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government;

(b.1) engaging in an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada;

(c) engaging in terrorism;

(d) being a danger to the security of Canada;

(e) engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada; or

(f) being a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engages, has engaged or will engage in acts referred to in paragraph (a), (b), (b.1) or (c).

The Test for Subversion

Canadian immigration legislation does not define subversion.

Several Federal Court of Canada decisions have found that it does not require violence, including Oremade v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2005 FC 1077, where Justice Phelan stated:

I agree with the IAD’s conclusion that the term “by force” is not simply the equivalent of “by violence”. “By force” includes coercion or compulsion by violent means, coercion or compulsion by threats to use violent means, and, I would add, reasonably perceived potential for the use of coercion by violent means.

In Najafi v Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2014 FCA 262, the Federal Court of Appeal stated that defining subversion as the act or process of overthrowing a government is consistent with a broad application of inadmissibility interpretation.

The Test for Membership

There are three components to a finding of inadmissibility for membership in an organization that has engaged in subversion.

First, there must be an organization.

Second, there must be reasonable grounds to believe the organization engages, has engaged, or will engage in, in this case, acts of subversion by force against any government.

Third, the individual in question must be a member of the organization, regardless of their knowledge of or participation in the subversive acts, or if they were a member at the time the acts were committed.

The Federal Court in Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Hemed 2024 FC 376, found that it was reasonable for the Immigration Appeal Division to find that subversive acts committed by separate organizations forming part of an alliance should not be attributed to all organizations (and members of the organizations) making up the alliance.

Conflicts Against Conflicting Groups

In Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Hemed 2024 FC 376, the Federal Court found that an Immigration Appeal Division member reasonably found that groups that engage in conflict with other rebel groups, but not the government, are not inadmissible for subversion.