Monsef’s Changing Origins Reflect Canada’s Citizenship Dilemma
Everyone has a personal narrative. And much of the early part of that narrative comes from stories our parents tell us that we cannot remember. Maryam Monsef had a narrative too. A narrative where she was born in Herat, Afghanistan and eventually came to Canada with her family as a refugee. A narrative where she blossomed in Canada , entered politics and became the MP for Peterborough-Kawartha and a crucial member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.
And then, one day, that story changed. Her mother revealed that she was actually born in Mashad, Iran. When she revealed this to the press however, it blew up in proportions she likely could not have foreseen.
The 31-year old MP has been honest when asked, but has largely been avoiding the media since the information came to light. Whether this should impact anything is questionable, but the Canadian government has a policy of revoking citizenship from those who provide false information on their citizenship applications – including parents who give false information in regards to their children. And this policy has been supported and enforced by Prime Minister Trudeau in the past.
According to Iranian law she would not be given status as an Iranian citizen despite her birth. Under the law Monsef was an Afghan citizen as she was born to Afghan parents. But the reality of the situation may not matter. It may not matter that Monsef herself has been as honest about her narrative as she could be, or that her constituents generally appear to be in support of her.
The law is the law, we are taught in class after class. It is not always nice and it is not always fair, but it is the law. The law in this case is called Bill C-41 and says that Monsef and others like her can be stripped of her Canadian citizenship without a hearing, without a chance for an appeal, and even deported. This is a law that the Liberals denounced while in opposition, but have been aggressively enforcing since gaining power. Maryam Monsef’s narrative has been forced to change and only time will tell if Canada changes our narrative as well.
Kali Larsen is the News Editor of Juris Diction