As our American neighbours argue over whether Canadian transplant Justin Bieber could (or should) be kicked out of the country in the wake of his latest brush with the law, it's worth noting that, were the situation reversed — that is, if an American version of Justin Bieber living in Canada as a permanent resident were charged with similar offences under Canadian law — he would be at risk of deportation only if convicted and actually sent to jail for longer than six months.
A quick recap for readers who somehow managed to miss the latest twist in the plot: On Thursday, Bieber was charged with driving under the influence and resisting arrest without violence after being stopped by Miami police, allegedly while drag racing in a rented yellow Lamborghini.
"Generally speaking, if a foreign national or permanent resident has been convicted of a criminal offence in Canada, the person may be found inadmissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act," Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson Maja Graham told CBC News.
Under the act, the removal process is automatically triggered only upon conviction of an offence with a maximum sentence of at least 10 years — which, in this entirely hypothetical case, wouldn't apply, as the maximum sentence for impaired driving in Canada is just 5 years — or, alternately, an actual sentence of more than six months.
Even if prosecuted as a summary offence, an impaired driving conviction can carry a penalty of up to 18 months imprisonment.
Were our theoretical non-Canadian Bieber to find themselves before a particularly stern judge, he — or she — could be deported after serving out his or her sentence.
"Under Canadian law, most criminal convictions, felony or misdemeanour offences — including a conviction of Driving Under the Influence — may make foreign nationals or permanent residents inadmissible to Canada," Graham confirmed, although she notes that those accused of such offences are, of course, subject to due process.
"If a criminal conviction does lead to an admissibility hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board, a removal order could be issued."
So far, 2014 doesn't seem to be turning out to be a banner year for Bieber. Last week, Los Angeles police raided his house as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged egg-tossing incident at a neighbour's home that caused more than $400 worth of damage.
Despite his recent trials and tribulations, however, the Prime Minister's Office has been stonily silent in response to a query on whether recent events have caused Stephen Harper to regret his decision to personally bestow a Diamond Jubilee Medal on the singer back in 2012, when his most controversial act was wearing overalls at the photo op.
For his part, Gov. Gen. David Johnston is doubtless secretly relieved that Bieber has not, at least at press time, been inducted into the Order of Canada, which means he won't have to deal with the otherwise inevitable calls for his snowflake to be revoked.
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