Citizenship is not a piece of paper to be pulled out of the drawer halfway around the world should the need arise, Canada (MCI) v Pais, 2013 FC 699

by Jenny Rokhline

This is an appeal of a citizenship judge’s decision recommending that Mrs. Pais be granted Canadian citizenship by satisfying the residence requirement. The Minister asked for this decision to be quashed on the following grounds:

  • The Citizenship Judge gave no reasons, but rather a conclusion in his Notice to the Minister;
  • There is proof that Mr. Pais was in Canada close to 1095 days and not 1123 as claimed;
  • Given that Ms. Pais was untruthful on a number of fronts, it is very likely that she have been not physically present in Canada even for 1095 days;
  • Ms. Pais lied with regards to her husband’s citizenship application and his health condition.

The Court felt that there a number of reasons why the Minister’s appeal should be granted. These were as follows:

  1. The Citizenship Judge’s decision had no reasons at all. The record provided included only two pages of scribbles which dealt with both Mr. and Mrs. Pais. The Court noted that it was impossible to determine whether these notes were prepared during or prior to the hearing. As a result, the Court felt that the decision was not transparent within the meaning of Dunsmuir v New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9 and therefore, was not reasonable.
  2. The Court also noted a number of inconsistencies in Mrs. Pais application. While the Court was open to consider giving Mrs. Pais the benefit of the doubt that she innocently confused the dates on her application, Mrs. Pais’ overall conduct suggested that the Court has every reason to believe that she knowingly misled the judge. In particular, the Court noted that Mrs. Pais indicated to the citizenship judge that her husband was in Canada on the day of her interview, while in fact he was working in the UAE. The Court relied on the decision of Justice Laskin in Canada (Minister of Manpower & Immigration) v Brooks, [1974] SCR 850, 30 DLR (3d) 522 which stated that the untruths or misleading answers prevent further inquiries by the decision maker.

The Court stated that Mrs. Pais case was “too sketchy” to determine whether her citizenship application was tainted with fraud, although it felt that prima facie case has been made out. The Court, however, did not quash the Citizenship Judge’s decision, but rather referred it to another citizenship judge for reconsideration.

The Court also felt compelled to note that should it be found that Mrs. Pais has failed to maintain her residence requirements, she would become subject to removal order and may be denied citizenship in any event. The Court concluded by stating that “Citizenship is not a piece of paper to be pulled out of the drawer halfway around the world should the need arise.”

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