Liberals block deportation of Pakistani charged with blockading airports, emergency vehicles
Liberals block deportation of Pakistani charged with blockading airports, emergency vehicles

A Pakistani national who has become a contentious figure in Canada’s environmental protest scene narrowly escaped deportation because of the Liberal government’s last-minute intervention. 

Zain Haq, who arrived in Canada in 2019 as an international student, quickly shifted his focus to leading protests with Extinction Rebellion and Save Old Growth—groups notorious for their extreme tactics which include blockades and confrontations with police.

The groups’ radical demands, such as an outright ban on fossil fuels and logging, have been met with criticism for their impracticality and disregard for Indigenous communities. 

Haq’s involvement has led to ten arrests and a mischief conviction, yet his deportation was stayed, raising eyebrows about possible political interference. Haq has personally participated in airport, highway and ferry terminal blockades. 

He received the mischief charge after a blockade of the Vancouver International Airport and organizing road protests that “interfered with emergency vehicles trying to access St. Paul’s Hospital.”

“Mr. Haq has shown disdain for the rule of law and he has publicly encouraged others to break the law while publicly celebrating his arrest,” the 2023 mischief decision reads.

“All I heard is I’m not getting deported Sunday,” Haq said in an interview with Glacier Media. 

He was due to be deported Apr. 22 after an appeal was rejected by a federal court.

The halt to Haq’s removal came after a last-minute call from the office of Liberal MP Joyce Murray, who represents the riding of Vancouver Quadra. 

This has led to speculation about the Trudeau government’s high-level involvement in the case. 

Haq’s lawyer, Randall Cohn, suspects a federal cabinet member’s intervention, hinting at a concerning level of political sway in legal immigration matters. Cohn said that the Liberals were “listening and paying attention to the timing and decided to step in.”

Haq was being deported because he violated the terms of his study permit. While in Canada Haq has refused to seriously pursue his studies at Simon Fraser University due to his activism and admitted of foreign funding for his protests. 

The $170,000 he received from the California-based Climate Emergency Fund casts a shadow over the authenticity of his activism.

Haq will for now remain in Canada, thanks to the Liberal government and a permanent residence sponsorship by his wife Sophie Papp.

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