Goodbye Jackie, hello again Roland

The Canada Border Services Agency belatedly confirmed last Friday what everyone expected: Jackie Tran has been successfully deported to his native Vietnam. I’m a little sheepish about taking even longer to state the obvious, but considering everything that’s been written about the case, it would be even worse not to say anything at all.

Although Jackie Tran became a poster boy for Calgary’s gangs, the problem didn’t leave on the plane with him. Case in point: longtime FOB member Roland Chin was recently freed from Bowden Institution on statutory release.

Authorities finally succeeded in deporting Tran, 27, when the Federal Court of Canada refused to review a removal order obtained against him on the basis of “serious criminality” — in his case, prior convictions for trafficking cocaine and assault with a weapon. He is also subject to a second deportation order for belonging to an organized crime group, after authorities identified him as a member of the FOB Killers.

Tran’s lawyer, Raj Sharma, has also asked the federal court for a judicial review of the second deportation order. The court was scheduled to hear the case in April — and Sharma has said he will go ahead with it, despite Tran’s departure. Why bother? Sharma believes that if he can have the second deportation order set aside, there’s at least a theoretical chance Tran can return to Canada someday. The argument goes something like this: if the second order is quashed, it leaves only Tran’s removal based on his criminal convictions. Tran can apply for a pardon. If he ever got a pardon, he could then ask for permission to return to the country.

There have been a lot of breathless questions about the “what ifs,” but let’s be clear: the chance of Tran legally returning to Canada anytime soon is remote. First, the Federal Court of Canada would have to agree to review Tran’s second deportation order (the one declaring him a member of an organized crime group). Then, it would have to rule in Tran’s favour and throw out that order. If — and only if — that ever happens, Tran could apply for a pardon to deal with the criminal convictions that led to the first removal order. Even if Tran succeeded in getting a pardon, he would then need permission to return to Canada.

“There would be many steps he would have to pursue before he could ever apply, let alone get permission,” said Richard Huntley, CBSA’s manager of inland enforcement in Calgary.

Huntley, a 30-year veteran of the agency, said he has never seen anyone get permission to return under circumstances similar to Tran’s. There’s always a first time for everything, but Huntley’s observation is far more realistic.

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