“Punctuality is the thief of time”, said the Irish wag Oscar Wilde. In this, as in perhaps other ways, it would seem Wilde’s position differs from that of the Federal Court of Canada.
This was illustrated again in the case of Strungmann v. the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, decided October 31, 2011. It seems that the applicant, a 24-year old European man who was visiting Canada, was convicted of the criminal offence of mischief for having spray-painted graffiti on a wall in Montreal. As a consequence he was ordered deported from Canada, and removed from this country.
Deportation orders have the effect of barring those against whom they have been enforced from returning to Canada without special permission from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, which can be difficult to obtain. A record of deportation orders have been issued is maintained in Canadian government databases, and is accessible to border officials.
In the two years that followed Mr. Strungmann’s removal he obtained counsel to appeal the mischief conviction, was successful in setting it aside, was re-tried, and successfully avoided re-conviction. He then applied to court to set aside the deportation order, an application that he felt sure would be successful, because the order was based on the conviction, and the conviction had now disappeared.
Unfortunately, Mr. Strungmann failed to account for why it had taken so long for him to ask the court to set aside the deportation order. Given that the order was valid when it was issued, and that it had been enforced to remove Mr. Strungmann from Canada, the court held that there was insufficient basis to excuse his tardiness. As a consequence, his application to set aside the deportation order was denied, even though the conviction upon which it was based was overturned!
There is a deportation order against Mr. Strungmann on record with Canadian border officials. As a consequence, he may find that he has problems whenever he attempts to enter Canada. His application failed because he did not apply to the court in time, or at least better explain why he did not do so, and how he was prejudiced by the existence of the order, proving once again that, at least as far as the Federal Court of Canada is concerned, punctuality is the politeness of princes.