Many in the South Asian community are dismayed by the Conservative government's insistence on immediately deporting paralyzed refugee claimant Laibar Singh.
"Why is it not taking any interest in the community's demand?" Radio India host Harpreet Singh asked.
He spoke with the Straight two days after a December 10 protest at Vancouver International Airport stopped the Canada Border Services Agency from enforcing a deportation order on Singh.
Harpreet Singh stressed that the community doesn't condone illegal immigration. Laibar Singh came to Canada on a forged passport in 2003. The Immigration and Refugee Board rejected his claim that he would be tortured if he returned to India. He later suffered a stroke in 2006 that left him paralyzed.
"We are just demanding that in this time when his health is not good, he should not be sent back," Harpreet Singh said. "Another two, three, six months till the time he gets back and the day he's fine, send him back. We are just asking on compassionate grounds that this man who is not in a good condition should be allowed to stay here till the time he recuperates."
On December 11, NDP MP Bill Siksay faxed a letter to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day asking him to reconsider immediate deportation.
Siksay told the Straight that Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley has plenty of discretion to let Singh remain here on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Siksay explained that any evaluation of humanitarian and compassionate grounds focuses on what could happen to a person outside of Canada. But he also said that in some cases, such a review takes into consideration the community ties a person has built while in Canada.
"The appeal can be made to the minister for all kinds of different reasons," Siksay said. "The minister does have some personal ability to make that kind of declaration."
He noted that Laibar Singh's case is significant because of the strong support from the community, including the Sikh temple in Abbotsford that had previously provided him sanctuary. "People don't take that lightly," Siksay said. "They know it's a form of civil disobedience in a way. You're saying you disagree with the decisions of the government. I try to be very supportive of a community that takes that step."