(OTTAWA) The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has called an emergency session next week to examine allegations that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration has instigated a miscalculation – an allegation former Immigration Secretary Marco Mendicino categorically denies.
Updated yesterday at 21:05.
The allegations stem from the creation of a new college to regulate immigration advisers in 2020.
An existing company called Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council sued the government in federal court to try to stop them from using a similar name: the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants.
On the day of the hearing, the Privy Council published an order on its website stating that the law establishing the college had come into force.
A few days later, the government issued a press release in which Mr. Mendicino stated that the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants Act actually came into force.
“With today’s announcement, the minister is fulfilling his term of office obligation to advance the full implementation of the new professional governance regime for immigration and citizenship advisers,” said the statement, which was released on November 26, 2020, according to a cached version that was curated by Wayback Machine Internet Archive.
In fact, the law only came into force on December 9, 2020. The press release was corrected a few days after it was published.
Mr Mendicino’s communications director, Alex Cohen, claimed on Sunday that the discrepancy was the result of human error.
Department teams confused the date the governor-general signed the executive order with the date it was supposed to go into effect, Cohen said. When the problem was discovered, it was reported to the courts.
On October 4, the independent Blacklock’s Reporter published an article entitled “Minister backdates document” citing internal emails received through the Access to Information Act.
The outlet reported that the emails revealed “an apparent attempt to mislead a federal judge” and that Mr. Mendicino’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The report so alarmed NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan that she wrote to the chair of the immigration committee last week to request an emergency meeting to discuss the “worrying allegations”.
“It is never acceptable for documents to be altered or falsified to mislead the courts,” said Dr.me Kwan in an interview on Sunday.
“We don’t know exactly what happened here, so it’s important that we get to the bottom of it. »
A meeting is planned for Wednesday afternoon where MPs are expected to discuss whether or not to launch a full study into the allegations.
The minister defends himself
“This article is incorrect,” said Mr. Cohen.
He denied that the documents were “backdated” and stressed that Mr Mendicino and his office were not involved.
Mr. Mendicino’s office provided The Canadian Press with 730 pages of emails showing considerable back-and-forth between department officials and communications staff who gave the incorrect effective date of the legislation.
In the week following the release of the press release, the exchange shows that the department’s legal team was made aware of the error and, on January 1,ah On December 30, 2020, ministry officials discussed the need for “corrective action”.
Cohen said the government notified federal court of the matter on Dec. 9, 2020 — more than a week before the court ruled whether to force the government to temporarily stop using the college’s name.
In her December 24, 2020 decision, Judge Janet Fuhrer provided the correct dates before siding with the plaintiffs in the trademark infringement case and issuing an injunction.
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