National Post (Latest Edition)
Come to Canada to be kicked out
Government’s odd approach to Chelsea Manning
The government of Canada asked U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning to travel to Canada so border agents would be able to physically kick her out of Canada.
The odd request was made by government lawyers last week in anticipation of an immigration hearing scheduled to begin Thursday for the former U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of U.S. documents that changed the public’s view of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The hearing on whether Manning is eligible to visit Canada is to be held by video conference.
Lawyers on behalf of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness asked the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to postpone the hearing until Manning is in Canada for it, rather than participating over a video link from her home in the United States.
The government said that if she wasn’t physically in the country, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wouldn’t be able to remove her, if the government wins its case.
“The purpose of a removal order is to compel an individual who is found to be inadmissible to leave Canada,” the government’s written argument says.
“Should the (IRB) issue a removal order against an individual who does not attend their hearing from a location in Canada,” the government told the IRB in written argument, it would “be impractical for CBSA to enforce the order.”
Manning’s lawyers objected to the request.
In a decision Monday, IRB adjudicator Marisa Musto dismissed the government’s motion, saying the intent of Parliament was simply for people who aren’t allowed to be in Canada to not be here.
If Manning is found to be inadmissible after the hearing, the effect on Manning would be the same wherever in the world she was, Musto said.
“If she were physically in Canada when the order was made, the requirement would be that she leave Canada. Given that she is already outside Canada, a fact which is not in question, it can be said that the ‘objective’ of (immigration laws) … would, de facto, be fulfilled,” Musto said in her ruling.
“Admissibility proceedings not only have the effect of removing inadmissible persons from Canadian territory but also to preclude them from entering.”
Musto said there had already been plenty of admissibility hearings for people outside of Canada that the government did not object to.
“This inconsistency in the Minister’s position is confounding.”
Manning, a 33-year-old American citizen, was a military intelligence analyst deployed to Iraq in 2009 who became one of the bestknown American whistleblowers after leaking a vast trove of documents through Wikileaks to major news organizations around the world.
The documents revealed undeclared civilian deaths, complicity in torture, significant human rights abuses and evidence contradicting the U.S. government’s public versions of its wartime actions.
Manning was arrested and convicted under the U.S. Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison, the longest sentence ever issued in the United States for leaking.
In 2017, after seven years in prison, Manning’s sentence was commuted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Soon after her release, Manning tried to come to Canada but was stopped at the border. She was considered inadmissible by CBSA because she has been convicted of a serious criminal offence outside Canada.
A hearing on her admissibility is scheduled for two days, but a decision is not expected to be released immediately afterward. Written submissions are expected from both Manning and the government following oral arguments.
On Sept. 17, Manning said she tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.
“I will be quarantined for the remainder of the month — my symptoms are very mild thanks to being fully vaxxed in April,” she said on Twitter.
On Oct. 1, Manning tweeted: “off quarantine and feeling good.”