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Federal court to decide on B.C. climate activist's pending deportation

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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A motion to stay the deportation of B.C. climate activist Zain Haq is being heard next week in Federal Court, according to the young man's lawyer.

The 23-year-old's hearing is scheduled for April 16, six days before he faces removal by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Haq's lawyer Randall Cohn is asking that the activist be allowed to remain in the country until his pending permanent residency application – which, if approved, would prevent his deportation – can be reviewed.

"The CBSA could have exercised its discretion by deferring his removal until after the sponsorship application is decided," Cohn wrote in a statement. "We now ask the Federal Court to review that refusal."

Cohn previously told CTV News he believes the application – which was sponsored by Haq's Canadian wife, fellow activist Sophie Papp – would likely be successful if given enough time to be processed by the government.

But if the young man is deported, the application would be cancelled and the couple would have to start the process over.

"I can't imagine being separated from my husband. He is a loving person. I support him completely, and my family does too," Papp said in statement.

Haq grew up in Pakistan before coming to Canada on a student visa, which was revoked after he was charged in connection with a series of protests that disrupted traffic across B.C.'s Lower Mainland.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

In his decision, Judge Reginald Harris wrote that while Haq had previously "shown disdain for the rule of law" and "publicly encouraged others to break the law,” he had softened his approach since his arrest. The judge also noted that numerous people had submitted letters to the court speaking highly of the activist’s character.

"A review of them satisfies me that Mr. Haq is an intelligent, motivated young person who is a staunch protector of the environment," Harris wrote. "The letters also satisfy me that Mr. Haq can, provided he does so through legitimate means, be a catalyst for positive change."

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