The Mayor of Toronto can't tell Canadian citizens where to live, the federal immigration minister said Friday in response to Rob Ford's call to expel convicted gun criminals from the country's largest city.
"Obviously we can't tell people which city they can or cannot live in," Jason Kenney told radio station Newstalk 1010. "If someone's a Canadian citizen and they're convicted of a crime there's nothing you can do to deport them because citizenship is irrevocable unless it was found that they obtained it fraudulently."
Mr. Ford called the same radio station Thursday night in a bid to clarify an earlier statement that he intended to seek advice from the Prime Minister's Office on using Canada's immigration laws to remove gangsters from the city after a street-party shooting in Scarborough Monday night left two dead and more than 20 injured.
Mr. Kenney touted his government's proposal to speed up the deportation of foreigners convicted of serious crimes. But in the case of Canadian citizens, he said no level of government has the power to do what Mr. Ford proposed.
"If you're a Canadian citizen and you've committed a crime, you spend your time in prison, but once you're released and you're beyond parole you get what's called the mobility rights of the charter of rights,' Mr. Kenney said. "You get to choose where you're going to live. Whether they like it or not, that's the situation."
Mr. Ford's Thursday night call to the hosts of Newstalk 1010's Friendly Fire prompted a barrage of questions, which the mayor's office has so far declined to answer. Here is a transcript of the interview.
(Click here to listen to the interview.)
Mr. Ford: I have called the Prime Minister to find out if there's any laws with respect to the immigration and citizenship status in the city.
So if people are caught, I don't care if you're white, pink or purple, I don't care what country you're from, I don't care if you're a Canadian citizen or not, all I'm saying is if you're caught with a gun and convicted of a gun crime, I want you out of this city. And the portfolio for the cabinet minister is immigration and citizenship. I don't think the other half of my statement came out quite clearly. It has nothing to do particularly with immigration or where you come from, which I think John was trying to say, all I want to do is get information, which I'm not an expert on and I'm sure nobody is until we talk to the minister and I can only get that information though the Prime Minister's office.
So I put a call into the PMO to get that information. Maybe, you know, maybe we don't have a leg to stand on. But I'm going to do everything in my power to find out, you know, if we can get rid of these people when they get out of jail. I don't want to live in this city. I just want to clarify the same portfolio is called immigration and citizenship, it's not just immigration.
Host: So what do you mean? Could you clarify in terms of the citizenship angle here. Are you suggesting that you want to revoke citizenship? Or what is it…
Mr. Ford: No, maybe you can clarify things John, with me. When you have a status in a country, what portfolio does that fall under? Your address. Your date of birth. Your country of origin. I'm pretty sure it falls under citizenship.
Host: If, if you're Canadian born?
Mr. Ford: Well, obviously your status is obviously under Canadian.
Host: When would a Canadian citizen, like yourself, for example – you were born in this country ...
Mr. Ford: Right.
Host: …When did you ever deal with immigration and citizenship?
Mr. Ford: Aw, anytime. If you get in problems in another country, they try to look at your status, I'm saying ...
Host: That's Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Ford: OK, whoever it may be, that's what I'm saying. Maybe I'm not an expert on, you know, the ministries, but I'm saying that if it's foreign affairs or immigration and citizenship, I want to talk to the PMO to find out if we can – and maybe we can't. But I'm just trying to clarify that if you're caught with a gun and convicted of a gun crime, I do not want you living in this city any more. To find out that information you have to go through the PMO, and that's what I'm doing. So, I'm not an expert in this but I'm trying to resolve the issue that's at hand.
Host: Mayor Ford, just to be clear here, we're not talking about you having any inside information as to knowing the immigration status of the suspected shooter, or anything to that effect.
Mr. Ford: No, it has nothing to do with that. All I'm saying is I think people have had enough. When I walk through I call that war zone on Monday morning, I was mad. I was upset at the beginning, but I was mad because I said this is not the city we live in. I said I'll do anything in my power to deal with this issue.
A lot of people just said, "Rob, why are they living in this city?" No matter who they are, I don't care if you're Canadian born, a Canadian citizen. I don't care if you're an immigrant, I don't care if you're refugee; it doesn't matter to me. If you're convicted of a gun crime, I do not want you living in this city. And the only way I can find out whether that's legal or not or whether we can enforce that is through the PMO, and that's what I'm doing.
So, I'm meeting with the Premier on Monday to deal with funding for TAVIS and hopefully next week I'll be meeting with the Prime Minister. So I just want to clarify that because what I heard driving home is not, is not what I said.