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B.C. climate activist's pending deportation cancelled, lawyer says

Zain Haq (left) and Sophie Papp are seen in a handout image. (Credit: LauraS) Zain Haq (left) and Sophie Papp are seen in a handout image. (Credit: LauraS)
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The pending deportation of B.C. climate activist Zain Haq – which was scheduled for this weekend – has been called off, according to the young man's lawyer.

The Canada Border Services Agency contacted Haq to confirm he would not be subject to a removal order this Sunday as planned, lawyer Randall Cohn told CTV News.

"I can't speak with confidence about what the implications are for Zain's immediate or long-term status in Canada," Cohn said Friday. "We're just going to have to wait and see what we hear."

Supporters are expecting to learn more about Haq's case from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada over the coming days.

The update comes days after the Federal Court dismissed an application to stay Haq's deportation so that his permanent residency application – which, if approved, would allow him to remain in the county – could be reviewed.

Cohn suggested Haq's support from the community, both locally and in Ottawa, could have convinced elected officials to intervene in the case.

A petition calling on federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller to use his "discretion" to allow Haq to stay in Canada has been signed more than 2,500 times.

"The best-case scenario is that the minister has been able to move (Haq's) permanent residency application along, and that we'll hear at any moment that it's been approved," Cohn said.

More likely, the lawyer said, the government will offer Haq temporary status, which could at least allow him to find work and return to school while his application – which was sponsored by Haq's Canadian wife, fellow climate activist Sophie Papp – makes its way through the system.

Haq grew up in Pakistan before coming to Canada on a student visa, which was revoked after he was charged in connection with a series of protests that disrupted traffic across B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

The court heard Haq was involved with the groups Extinction Rebellion, Stop Fracking Around and Save Old Growth, the latter of which he co-founded.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of mischief and one count of breaching an undertaking, and was sentenced to seven days in jail and two months of house arrest last year.

Cohn said the decision to cancel his deportation, and to hopefully give him permanent residency, could demonstrate the government understands "the anxiety and hopelessness of young people" facing a future with increasing impacts from climate change.

"That gives me hope, not just for Zain, but that maybe the reality of the global climate situation is penetrating to people's thinking when it comes to politics and policy," Cohn said.

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