Monsef passport questions resurface following trip to Davos

It appears Monsef may not be playing by the rules.

(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef may have travelled to Switzerland the other week using a passport with false information, the Toronto Sun has learned.

In late November 2017, news broke that Monsef still hadn’t resolved the issues with her citizenship and had yet to receive a new and updated passport. At the time, Monsef’s office did not respond to questions from the Sun about whether the minister had travelled outside of Canada, and, if so, what passport she used. 

Last week, however, Monsef announced she was travelling outside of Canada on a government business trip.

“En route to Davos this morning for the 2018 World Economic Forum,” Maryam Monsef wrote on Twitter on Jan. 22, 2018, posting a photo of herself walking towards a VIP jet. The minister was part of the Canadian entourage that travelled to Switzerland to participate in a junket of fellow global elites. 

When it came to the passport she used, Monsef’s office confirmed that the minister’s passport issues have yet to be resolved.

“With respect to the minister’s status, as is the standard procedure in such situations, documentation has been submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC),” said Monsef’s press secretary in response to the question of whether Monsef’s new passport has been issued.

When asked again if Monsef had received a new passport with accurate information about her place of birth, Monsef’s office confirmed “the documentation is now with IRCC. Minister Monsef will be happy to share updates with Canadians when these become available.”

In other words, Monsef’s passport issues have yet to be resolved.  Certainly, it is time for Monsef or her government to clarify this situation.

A Government of Canada webpage outlining information about diplomatic travel shows that Monsef presumably would have been issued a diplomatic passport. Another page shows that the application form for a diplomatic passport is identical to a regular passport, and requires standard information about a person’s date of birth and place of birth, as well as proof of citizenship.

Sources familiar with Canada’s immigration system have shown the Sun a Canadian diplomatic passport, and the biographical page looks identical to a regular passport, displaying a person’s nationality, date of birth, and place of birth. 

Monsef’s office stated that “Monsef has been travelling abroad as a Canadian,” while declining to provide details about the passport. They informed the Sun that “for any questions about IRCC’s processes, please contact IRCC directly.”

IRCC will not comment on specific cases. 

According to IRCC’s website, however, the typical wait time for a permanent resident card is six months and for citizenship, it typically takes up to one year. The site notes that “non-routine applications take longer to process than routine applications.” Cases where the place and date of birth on original documents need to be changed can take years to resolve.

It has been almost a 18 months since an investigative news report revealed that Monsef was not born in Afghanistan as she had claimed. We also learned that Monsef was a year older than she said, and that she had spent most of her early life in Iran. 

It isn’t clear if Monsef’s new diplomatic passport contains correct information or not. Two senior former immigration officials confirmed to the Sun that diplomatic passports are required to match a person’s regular Canadian passport. 

As Monsef’s office specifically stated, though, her regular passport has yet to be updated. That means her diplomatic passport either contained false information, or, it was updated prior to officials at IRCC finalizing updates with her regular passport according to their procedures. 

Either way, it appears Monsef may not be playing by the rules.