Last Updated on November 8, 2012 by Steven Meurrens

On the same day that Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize the possession of marijuana, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, tweeted the following:

To answer your question, it depends on what you mean by foreigners.

Most people probably think that when you say foreigners you mean people residing in Canada as visitors, students, and workers.  If that is the case then yes… I believe that it is reasonable for the Canadian government to seek to remove such people from Canada if they are convicted of drug trafficking here.

However, the Conservative government’s Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, currently before Parliament, goes beyond foreign nationals.  It provides that permanent residents who are sentenced to six months or more imprisonment (including conditional sentences) must be removed from Canada, regardless of how long they have been immigrants, whether they have family in Canada, or their specific circumstances.

I recently acted for an individual who immigrated to Canada over twenty years ago, but never became a Canadian citizen.  His family, including a wife and children, are all Canadian citizens.  The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness sought to deport him because he was convicted of one incident of trafficking cocaine, and was sentenced to a 15-month conditional sentence.  Under our current immigration system, he could appear before the Immigration Appeal Division.  The IAD could consider his circumstances (including length of time and family in Canada) and stay his deportation subject to him complying with certain conditions (including not be involved in further criminal activity).  If Bill C-43 had been in force at the time that the Canadian government sought to deport him, he would not have been able to go to the Immigration Appeal Division, and the Immigration and Refugee Board could never have considered his circumstances and alternate remedies to deportation.

And it’s not just cocaine traffickers that will be affected.  Anyone sentenced to six months or more will lose the ability to have the Immigration and Refugee Board consider humanitarian and compassionate factors and alternatives to removal.

The Conservative government recently passed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that will impose mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offences,  including the production of six marijuana plants.

So, with all due respect, the question that Minister Kenney should be asking is:

Opponents of Bill C-43 believe Canadian permanent residents who grow 6 plants of marijuana shouldn’t be automatically deported. Do u agree?