As you’ve probably heard, Maryam Monsef was born in Iran – not Afghanistan. After being praised as the ultimate refugee success story, Canada’s first Cabinet Minister from Afghanistan, we learned last week that the story she had presented was not accurate.
Monsef claims she never knew the true story about where she was born and how she spent the first decade of her life. It was only after a media investigation and questions from a journalist that she asked her mother and was told the truth.
But the journalist, Bob Fife of the Globe and Mail, was acting upon a tip. Somebody else knew the truth, and reached out to members of the national media to encourage a probe.
Once the truth was revealed, other political figures in Monsef’s hometown of Peterborough, Ontario came forward to reveal that they, too, had heard similar stories. If rumours were spinning around Peterborough about her life story, and if anonymous tipsters were encouraging journalists to investigate, how is it that she was the last to know?
Her version of events could be accurate but common sense would tell us that Monsef had likely heard these rumours in the past. So why didn’t she ask her mother sooner?
Immigration lawyers have suggested that Monsef may have committed a crime – using false information on her refugee and citizenship application – and the penalty could be as serious as citizenship revocation and deportation.
Canada has stripped citizenship away before since lying to citizenship officials makes a person inadmissible to Canada, a long-standing policy that predates the Harper government.
In fact, during the last election campaign, Justin Trudeau himself praised this practice.
In the meantime, Trudeau’s spin doctors are taking a different approach to managing this crisis by suggesting that raising questions about Monsef’s birth is akin to racism, calling this a “birther movement”.
There’s nothing racist about demanding honesty and transparency from our politicians. Nothing racist about upholding our laws, and applying them equally.
In the case of Monsef, it isn’t even a conspiracy and the only question that remains is whether Trudeau’s cabinet minister and her family are above the law.