In the past six years, to scores of immigrants and refugees who chose to become Canadians, Philip Gaynor was the face of their new land, the man who reviewed their applications, administered the ceremonial oath and reminded them that they had to love their new country and respect its law.
A former citizenship judge and Toronto police auxiliary volunteer, Mr. Gaynor has been arrested on allegations that he supplied copies of the citizenship exam to two immigration consultants in the greater Toronto area.
Mr. Gaynor, a 70-year-old from Whitby, was a citizenship judge from 2006 to last year.
The RCMP arrested him after a year-long investigation. Mr. Gaynor has been charged with breach of trust, fraud and theft over $5,000.
The police also arrested two immigration consultants, 49-year-old Li Ling and 58-year-old Mo Sui Zhun, who were charged with possession of stolen property.
Ms. Li and Mr. Mo are both from Scarborough.
The three had a bail hearing before the Ontario Court in Scarborough on Thursday.
“Judge Gaynor is a distinguished member of his community, where he has provided many years of dedicated volunteer service,” according to a biography that used to be posted on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Mr. Gaynor was appointed as judge in September, 2006, by then-citizenship minister Monte Solberg. In August, 2009, Mr. Gaynor was reappointed to another three-year term by Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney.
Mr. Gaynor immigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1963, according to a 2011 article in Whitby This Week.
He worked as a manager for the T. Eaton Company and for 18 years as a Toronto police auxiliary, “conducting foot and car patrols, and other initiatives that promoted safety within the community,” according to Mr. Gaynor’s online biography.
The RCMP said it executed a search warrant at a business address as part of its probe.
Since 1994, written tests have been used to assess a citizenship applicant’s knowledge of Canada.
Officials would not specify when the allegations against Mr. Gaynor took place but he was a citizenship judge at a time when the federal government overhauled the test, nearly tripling the failure rate, to 15 per cent in 2011 from 4 per cent in 2009.
Since March, 2010, the 20-question test requires a 75-per-cent pass mark and is based on a new study guide that focuses on Canadian history, identity and values.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, questions similar to those in the test include queries about the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy, the way members of Parliament are chosen and the basic responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen.
Further charges may be pending, the RCMP said.
The RCMP first heard of the allegations from Citizenship and Immigration Canada last year, department spokeswoman Nancy Caron said.
There is now a review to determine if anyone obtained Canadian citizenship fraudulently, she said.
Mr. Kenney applauded the police for their “diligent work on this case,” the Minister said in a statement.
“Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” the statement said.
“Canadians are generous and welcoming, but have no tolerance for those who lie or cheat to obtain Canadian citizenship.”