Candice Malcolm: Monsef’s silence makes us dig deeper

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(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

Ten months ago, I wrote a column commending Maryam Monsef. I praised her as an exemplarity Canadian and a model refugee.

Like many Canadians, I was impressed by her story – an Afghan refugee who experienced personal tragedy and great hardship, escaped hell-on-earth, and made it to Canada. Not only did she find a better life here, she excelled and became a leader in her community.

On the surface, Monsef is exactly what we want all immigrants to become. She integrated into our society and embraced Canadian values and culture. Monsef truly became Canadian.

Back on December 9, 2015, I wrote an open letter to Syrian refugees arriving in Canada and told them they could learn from Maryam Monsef and “follow in the footsteps of great Canadians who started out as refugees, and rose to significant prominence in Canadian public life.”

I continued, “look at Canada’s current Minister of Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, who was born in Afghanistan. When the Soviets invaded and her father was killed, her mother moved the family to Canada and they resettled in the small community of Peterborough, Ontario.”

In another column, dated November 6, 2015, I applauded Monsef and held her up as a refugee who achieved “exceptional success.” That column focused on security concerns related to our refugee policy, and I specifically noted that Monsef was an example of a person who was obviously not a threat to Canada’s national security.

I still believe that Monsef is a success story for Canadian immigration and integration. However, the controversy surrounding where and when she was born – Iran in 1984, not Afghanistan in 1985 as she had previously stated – and when she learned the truth, deserve proper scrutiny and more answers.

Monsef says she only found out recently from her mother that her actual birthplace was Iran, but there are politicians and journalists in her riding that say questions about this were raised long before the issue became public.

If Monsef’s mother lied on her application...READ MORE