Canada’s Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney, is having a banner year. After eliminating the backlog of immigration applications (and hurting thousands of people who had put years of their lives and quite a bit of money into trying to get into the country), the Minister has decided it is up to him to disclose the private information of refugee claimants.
Montreal newspaper La Presse ran a story about two claimants who filed the same claim but got different results. Fernando Suarez-Garcia and his wife Johanna Martinez applied to come to Canada as refugees from Columbia. His claim was accepted, hers was not and she was told that she would have to leave the country with two of her daughters while her husband and their second two daughters would be allowed to stay. She has until June 27.
La Presse told the story of a mother being forced out of the country and a family being split up.
The Immigration Minister’s office was not impressed and a statement from the minister was soon released. The statement said that the journalist who wrote the original story, Anabelle Nicoud, did not have all the facts and her misrepresentation could lead to “public mistrust of the rule of law.”
Stating that the paper had tarnished the reputation of Citizenship and Immigration unfairly, the statement went on to release details of Ms. Martinez’s past and her application, tarnishing her personal reputation.
Dan Bohbot, the President of The Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association (AQAADI) told La Presse that not only is this type of release of information not normal, it might be illegal. Bohbot said divulging personal information is against immigration laws and the minister may also be putting lives at risk.
The release from the minister’s office says the reporter should have gotten a privacy waiver from Martinez so she could have looked at the file, but also claims that Martinez’s file is on the public record.
The Editor of La Presse, Eric Trottier, told The Globe and Mail that each time the paper does an immigration story, they call the department, and each time they receive the same answer: ‘no comment.’ He admits that they did not call the ministers office. He also said that Martinez’s husband, whose claim was granted, also has a criminal record.
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