| OTTAWA, April 26
OTTAWA, April 26 Canada must review its
deportation policy in light of a pardon that was granted to a
Canadian resident once threatened with deportation and now
accused in an alleged al Qaeda plot to derail a passenger train,
a government minister said on Friday.
Raed Jaser, one of two men charged in connection with the
suspected plot, argued in a 2004 deportation hearing that Canada
should not deport him because he was stateless and no country
would take him in.
Canada had sought to deport him because he had convictions
on several counts of fraud, immigration board documents show.
Jaser was later pardoned, and he then became a permanent
resident in Canada, the equivalent to holding a U.S. green card.
"The reality is that he was pardoned, and that repealed his
criminal inadmissibility to Canada," Citizenship and Immigration
Minister Jason Kenney told reporters. "That raises for me an
important policy question. Why should a pardon override criminal
"That's what I'm looking at with my officials - to see
whether we can make a policy change. It seems to me, I don't
care whether you get a pardon or not, if you commit a serious
criminal offense in Canada, you should be kicked out - period,"
Jaser, 35, of Toronto, and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, a Tunisian
studying for his doctorate near Montreal, face several charges,
including conspiracy to work with a terrorist group.
U.S. officials have said the suspects, who were arrested in
separate raids on Monday, were believed to have worked on a plan
to blow up a trestle on the Canadian side of the border as a
train between Toronto and New York passed over it.
Jaser, who denies the charges, is a Palestinian who was born
in the United Arab Emirates, but is not a UAE citizen.
He arrived in Canada with his family in 1993 as refugee
claimants, but racked up five convictions for fraud and two for
failing to comply with supervisory orders, according to the
transcript of a 2004 immigration hearing.
Canada cited Jaser's criminal record when it tried to deport
him in 2004. He was released after he argued he was stateless.
Kenney said he was reviewing the case with his officials to
see what lessons could be learned and whether there were
legislative gaps that needed to be filled.
He said the Conservative government had already tightened
the system to make pardons harder to obtain.
(Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and David
Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Peter Cooney)