MARCH 2016 – At a Supreme Court hearing in British Columbia, a Filipino-born permanent resident charged with drug trafficking received a lower sentence in order to prevent his deportation.
29 year-old Mark Abude pleaded guilty to charges of dealing cocaine to an undercover police officer in North Vancouver on eight occasions over a period of several months in 2012. He immigrated to Canada from the Philippines at the age of 14 and is not yet a citizen. According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, foreign nationals or permanent residents are criminally inadmissible to Canada if their record includes an infraction with a maximum sentence exceeding a decade, and if their actual sentence exceeds six months.
As Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke observed in his ruling, the law dictates that Abude would “be subject to a removal order from Canada as a consequence of his conviction.” Furthermore, if Abude were to receive a deportation order for his conviction, he would only be able to appeal it if his sentence were shorter than six months.
“I accept that this collateral consequence of his conviction is a circumstance which may justify a slightly lower sentence than would otherwise be imposed for this offence,” Justice Ehrcke ruled.
“In my view,” the judge explained, “no shorter sentence would be adequate to express society’s denunciation of this crime and to deter you and others from committing similar drug offences. Indeed, were it not for your immigration status, I would have imposed a lengthier sentence.”
As noted in Ehrcke’s ruling, Abude had no prior convictions, and he has been employed as a construction worker since the age of 18. He is also supporting three young children and expecting a fourth. He claims to have fallen into the drug trade because he was not earning enough from construction work to support his growing family.
According to the ruling, Abude “said he became involved in the dial‑a‑dope operation when he was randomly approached on the street by individuals he did not know, who told him he could make some extra money.”
Ehrcke credited Abude with making the decision to leave the drug trade after he realized that it was not providing the financial support his family needed. “In fact,” the judge stated, “he did not find it particularly profitable, and he stopped selling drugs on his own initiative in mid‑October 2012, about five months before he was arrested.”
According to the pre-sentence report, a remorseful Abude admitted to feeling “ashamed and embarrassed by his criminal involvement.” Moreover, he “believes he let down his family.”
The report adds that Abude “does not want to be involved in the criminal lifestyle and acknowledges that at the time of the offence he could have found legitimate means to support his family.”
Several recent cases have involved deportation orders for convicted drug traffickers and gangsters who, like Abude, first came to Canada as children. You may read other stories on our website about criminally inadmissible individuals being ordered deported—some of whom subsequently departed the country, and others whose deportation orders were eventually lifted.