B.C. climate advocate’s planned deportation cancelled

A B.C. climate advocate who was scheduled for deportation Sunday has had his removal stayed, thanks to federal intervention.

Just two days before Zain Haq was scheduled to be deported, his wife Sophia Papp tells CityNews they got a call that he can stay, for now, after putting pressure on the federal government.

“The reason they weren’t able to get him to leave the country until very recently was because he has criminal matters and so there’s a statutory stay on removal if there’s still undergoing criminal matters to be processed,” she said.

Haq is no longer allowed to attend rallies.

The 23-year-old originally from Pakistan gained prominence in the B.C. climate activism community for being a voice for Extinction Rebellion in rallies. He is also a co-founder of “Save Old Growth.”

Supporters of Haq recently rallied in front of Premier David Eby’s constituency office in Vancouver, and an online petition meant to stop the removal of Haq gained over 2,500 signatures, well over the petition’s goal.

The petition says Haq is a young leader in the global climate movement, and that the deportation would separate him from his wife and halt the completion of his university studies.

It says the reason for his scrutiny is because of his “participation in non-violent civil disobedience intended to raise public awareness about the impending climate disaster.”

Petition calls for letters to ministers of immigration and public safety

The petition asks supporters to sign a letter to Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller and Minister of Public Safety Demonic LeBlanc, asking them to exercise their discretion to stop the deportation.

The letter says Haq decided to lobby against the Canadian government to implement policies to help alleviate the climate crisis.

“(Haq) helped lead a successful campaign pressuring Simon Fraser University to commit to full fossil-fuel divestment by 2025,” it says.

The letter says the activist has been arrested several times for non-violent direct action and has served in prison.

“He was arrested several times for his participation in non-violent direct action in the Vancouver metropolitan area organized by Extinction Rebellion and Save Old Growth. In February 2022 he served 14 days in prison for violating a Court injunction against protestors blocking construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Burnaby,” it says.

Haq also pled guilty to five counts of mischief, which would make him inadmissible to Canada due to criminality.

“He has been compliant with probationary conditions imposed by the BC courts and CBSA since September 2022, has taken responsibility for his participation in nonviolent civil disobedience, and he plans to continue to advocate for necessary change through legal means,” the letter reads.

What the future holds

SFU has said once he is legally authorized to study, he will be eligible to re-enrol to finish his history degree and has been offered a job to campaign with STAND.earth as soon as he can work legally.

Papp says they are still waiting on the details of his deportation deferral. They don’t know how long it’s for, or if Haq has status, but they do know the support from the community is a big reason why he’s still here.

“A number of calls were going out to Marc Miller, the federal immigration minister, Joyce Murray who is the MP for this area, a campaign of calling and emailing and tweeting,” said Jillian Maguire, Haq’s supporter and Teacher BCTF.

Papp says ministers have a lot of say in what can happen.

“Ministers and MPs and all these people working, our elected representatives do have a lot of discretion. When their values align with people who are calling and pressuring in an organized manner, their discretion can come out in favour of us. So I think it’s a big win,” she said.

-With files from Kate Walker.