Canada Border Services agents have once again been stopped from deporting a paralyzed failed refugee claimant holed up in a suburban Vancouver Sikh temple.
The lawyer for Laibar Singh said authorities met with temple leaders and agreed that Wednesday's planned deportation would not go ahead.
"It's been a very long night with a great deal of uncertainty about Laibar Singh," Zool Suleman told reporters outside the Guru Nanak temple. "There will be no access to Laibar Singh today."
Mr. Suleman said he agreed that there is a valid deportation order for Mr. Singh, who has been severely disabled since suffering an aneurysm three years ago.
"We appreciate that there is a valid removal order but there's also a strong community will supporting Laibar Singh to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds," the lawyer said.
"It's a difficult public-policy debate. The dialogue will continue and we will come to some resolution on this."
"Thanks to the CBSA for being understanding and co-operative in a very difficult time. This is about a spirit of co-operation between the minister's representatives, the RCMP, the community and Laibar Singh," Mr. Suleman said.
Authorities planned to pick up Mr. Singh about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday from the temple where he has been given sanctuary, but the scheduled removal time passed as more than 250 protesters blocked the temple entrance.
A large truck was also pulled in front of the Guru Nanak temple's locked gates.
Mr. Suleman said he met with the RCMP, border services and temple officials and agreed that Mr. Singh would not be removed Wednesday.
Protesters greeted the development in a muted fashion. After a couple of whoops, most began drifting away in the early-morning darkness.
It is the second time that Mr. Singh's supporters have succeeded in thwarting his deportation.
Thousands of protesters surrounded the car delivering him to Vancouver International Airport last month, forcing border services to cancel deportation plans.
His supporters flocked to the temple in Surrey, which has a large Sikh population, after word spread Tuesday that border services agents were to come for him in the pre-dawn hours.
People carrying protest signs urging a halt to the deportation chatted quietly, some circulating with pots of tea, watched by more than a dozen reporters.
Mr. Singh, 48, has been staying at the temple under sanctuary protection since Dec. 15, four days after the previous attempt to deport him was thwarted.
Harsha Walia with No One Is Illegal said Mr. Singh's supporters have made it clear to the agency that it would be a breach of sanctuary if officials entered the temple to take Mr. Singh into custody.
"(Canada Border Service Agency isn't) saying that they'll be breaching sanctuary, they're just saying they'll deport him," she said in an interview late Tuesday.
Mr. Singh told The Canadian Press through a translator that he was stressed out at the thought of being deported and was still hoping he will be allowed to stay.
"He feels that hopefully things will be for the best and that CBSA won't breach sanctuary," Ms. Walia said.
No one from Canada Border Services Agency could be reached for comment.
Surrey RCMP confirmed that the agency asked to have officers accompany its agents to the temple on Wednesday morning. Inspector Garry Begg said he did not anticipate a problem.
"We have very good relations with that community and it's members and I suspect that they'll be very respectful of the process," he said.
Insp. Begg would not comment on the possibility of sanctuary being breached but acknowledged that type sanctuary was traditionally respected in Canada.
Ms. Walia said an attempt to forcibly remove Mr. Singh from the temple could spark a lot of anger.
"I think it's a separate issue that Laibar's being removed, but I think there would be a lot of Canadians who, regardless of the positioning they have on this case could be outraged that the fact sanctuary has been breached," she said.
Mr. Singh entered Canada in 2003 on a false passport. He worked as a labourer in Canada until he suffered an aneurysm two years ago and became a paraplegic.
He was initially ordered deported in June but took sanctuary in a Sikh temple in Abbotsford.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day granted Mr. Singh two extensions to stay while his refugee claim was dealt with. It was denied because the government believed he did not have sufficient ties to Canada, although supporters pledged money to pay the costs of his care.
A deportation order was issued in December despite claims that his health would suffer if he were returned to India, where he has family.