MPs vote for wrongfully arrested Mamadi III Fara Camara to become permanent resident
Non-binding motion could open path to citizenship for PhD student
In the span of 18 days, Mamadi III Fara Camara has gone from anonymous engineering lab instructor, to being pulled out of his car and arrested for attacking a Montreal police officer, to spending six nights in jail, to receiving an official police apology.
And now, the 31-year-old PhD student is capping off the whirlwind with a decidedly happier piece of news: the House of Commons voted unanimously on Tuesday in favour of a motion to grant him permanent resident status.
Camara arrived in Canada in 2017 on a temporary student visa, which expires in mid-May.
While the motion is non-binding and the government stopped short of promising to follow through, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in an email that "we stand ready to support" Camara and his family as they go through the immigration process.
"We are deeply disturbed by the treatment of Mamadi Fara Camara. It was unacceptable and we want to have clear answers about what happened," said Alex Cohen, the minister's press secretary.
"Applicants can include extenuating circumstances as part of the process for permanent residency, and these factors are seriously considered. Every case is subject to thorough review and analysis and decisions are only taken after careful consideration."
The motion, tabled by the Bloc Québécois, called on Mendicino's office to grant permanent residency to Camara "as soon as possible" under Article 25.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Quebec's National Assembly passed a similar resolution, also unanimously.
The article in question confers discretionary authority on the minister to grant permanent residence. From there Camara — whose wife is expecting twins — could apply for citizenship.
Originally from Guinea, he arrived in 2017 to pursue a doctorate in telecommunications at Laval University.
Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, who is Camara's immigration lawyer, told Radio-Canada his client was "in a state of shock and in distress" and would not finish his thesis before his visa runs out. Under normal circumstances, student visa-holders are expected to be full-time students — something that simply isn't possible for Camara at the moment, his lawyer said.
Camara was accused of attempted murder after a Montreal police officer was disarmed and attacked on Jan. 28. He was exonerated by DNA evidence after almost a week in jail.
Since then Camara, who has no criminal record, has also retained a civil lawyer who is exploring legal action against the city, its police service and perhaps the Crown.
In a televised interview on Sunday, he lifted the veil on what he called a "traumatizing" experience that isolated him from his loved ones and — temporarily at least — besmirched his reputation.
"My family knows who I am," Camara told Radio-Canada's Tout le monde en parle. "And they knew I was innocent. Even though we couldn't speak."
Camara's duties at his lab at Polytechnique Montreal, where he has taught since early 2018, were suspended during the criminal proceedings and he was barred from campus. The school has invited him to come back when he is ready.
"Right now, it's very hard to return," he said.
With files from Radio-Canada