Federal Conservatives ask Parliament to investigate immigration vetting after CBC report

The Opposition Conservatives are asking for Parliament to examine Canada’s security screening process following two CBC investigations that pointed to flaws in system.

Tory MP Michelle Rempel says 'Canadians must have confidence that their safety is being protected'

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel wants a parliamentary committee to examine the vetting process for immigrants after CBC revealed significant flaws in the system. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Opposition Conservatives are asking Parliament to examine Canada's security screening process following two CBC investigations that pointed to flaws in system.

"Recently, there have been a number of concerning incidents that have shown clear gaps in our immigration screening system," Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, the immigration, refugees, and citizenship critic, said in a statement.

"That is why today I am calling for the citizenship and immigration committee, and the public safety and national security committee, to immediately undertake a joint study into how our security screening process can be strengthened.

"Canadians must have confidence that their safety is being protected."

The party said a formal request will be filed when the House of Commons returns.

Today the federal government was forced to answer questions about how a person who is a "national security concern" was granted permanent residency "due to a series of failures" by the Canadian border agency and immigration department in late 2017.

The case was recently flagged in a briefing note obtained by CBC News through access to information laws. The head of the Canada Border Services Agency sent it to Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister.

"That series of incidents within CBSA that resulted in that situation was entirely unacceptable and the internal steps have been taken to correct that problem and to make sure that it cannot happen again," Goodale said Wednesday.

A career criminal

Last month, a CBC Edmonton investigation revealed that the botched handling of a Somali gang member with an extensive criminal record was released in Canada not once, but twice.

According to court documents and immigration filings, Abdullahi Hashi Farah was fleeing an arrest warrant and deportation in the U.S. when he illegally crossed into Canada at Emerson, Man., in late October 2017.

The CBSA apparently wanted him held for a few more days until it could retrieve his full criminal record from the U.S.,  but an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) hearing officer, impressed with Farah's honesty, ordered his release.

Six days later, he breached his release conditions and was arrested again.

Pressing for answers

That same day, the CBSA gained access to Farah's cellphone. They found recent photos and videos of Farah playing with loaded handguns, doing cocaine, concealing cocaine, and flashing wads of cash.

There were also photos of what authorities believed was a stolen credit card.

The CBSA has declined to explain why the evidence from Farah's cellphone was not immediately provided to the IRB.

"Canada's Conservatives will continue to press for answers and we will demand that MPs review our security screening process takes place when Parliament resumes," said Rempel.

A spokeswoman for Border Security Minister Bill Blair said all asylum claimants "are thoroughly screened to ensure that there are no risks to Canadians and that our borders remain secure."

"All threats are monitored and permanent residents can become inadmissible on security grounds or for misrepresentation. The CBSA remains engaged with the RCMP and CSIS to share information regarding national security," said Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux in an email.

"The Harper Conservative government, in which Ms. Rempel served, cut $1 billion from our security agencies through their Strategic and Operating Review."