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Stop the deportation of climate activist Zain Haq!

Zain Haq, climate activist
Bradley Hughes

December 18, 2022

Zain Haq is a tireless climate activist based in Vancouver, BC. Climate emergencies are occurring with greater severity and frequency - we all need to do whatever we can to get a just transition. Zain’s commitment to peaceful civil disobedience has resulted in his being arrested multiple times. Unfortunately for Zain, and all the rest of us who will face the devastation of the next climate emergencies, the Federal government wants to use the fact that Zain is here on a student visa to remove him and his political activism from the country. Zain told, “I hope this society has the wisdom to not shoot the messenger. Our society as a collective needs to show solidarity with one another when people are faced with the kind of prosecution and/or persecution for telling the truth. Sooner or later, this prosecution will spread to most of society, one step at a time, not just a few of us who are facing the brunt of it now."

Police and prosecutor

In June, the climate group Zain helped found, Save Old Growth, restarted its actions blocking the trans-Canada highway. That same day Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) started knocking on doors in Zain’s neighbourhood demanding to know where he was and informing his neighbours that he was a “national security risk.” When Zain returned home and found out, he turned himself in to the CBSA as soon as he had legal counsel. CBSA imprisoned him for two days. Unlike the rest of the justice system CBSA acts both as police and prosecutors. When they went before a judge to ask to keep Zain in custody, the CBSA was also the prosecutor. CBSA wanted to keep Zain in detention until they could get an order for his removal. Failing that, they demanded that the judge remove Zain’s charter rights and impose conditions on Zain’s release that he not be allowed to participate in legal demonstrations or speak about civil disobedience. The judge did not impose those conditions.

In August, Save Old Growth organized a march in Vancouver along with a hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en. Zain checked with the VDP a few days before the march to see if his participation would violate the release conditions imposed on him by them. The VPD assured him his attenndence did not violate those conditions. Two weeks after the rally, the VDP appeared on Zain’s doorstep and arrested him just before the long weekend. After the weekend, the Crown Prosecutor was on vacation, and no one else from their office would make themselves available for the bail hearing. As a result, Zain spent eight days in prison.

Then CBSA arrested him and kept him in detention for four more days. And again acting as police and prosecutor they asked the judge for indefinite detention or a ban from all political activism. Again, they were denied.

Barred from university and work

However, they have removed Zain’s work and study permit and told him to leave the country. They can not give him the required 30 days notice and then forcibly remove him, because Zain is still going through the court process due to his arrests for climate activism. His sentencing hearing is on February 9.

Zain’s fate now lies in the hands of the Federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees, Sean Fraser. Zain is applying to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. It is up to the Minister to grant or deny Zani’s appllication

Injustices and double standards

There are several injustices here. While climate activists like Zain are sent to jail, the climate criminals in the oil and gas companies, the banks that finance them and the governments who subsidize them are all walking free.

There is also shameful double standard when it comes to people in Canada who are not citizens or permanent residents. They must fear that if they step out of line they can be deported away from their work, studies and/or family. And this punishment isn’t part of the criminal law system, it’s meted out by CBSA agents without due process.

If Zain is deported it sends a clear message to every international student and those on work permits, you can’t participate in political dissent unless you are willing to risk being deported. And of course, CBSA and the police have been so heavy-handed with Zain because his dissent threatens the billions in profits made from resource extraction.

Don’t let them deport Zain Haq!

  • Add your name to the petition to the Prime Minister and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees: Stop Deportation of Student Activist Zain Haq

  • Help with Zain’s legal fees by contributing to the Go Fund Me page

  • Contact your MP and ask them to request the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees  grant Zain’s appeal to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

If you want to get involved in the campaign to stop the deportation email the Vancouver branch of the IS and we’ll forward your email to Zain:





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