Following a lengthy legal battle, a U.K. citizen failed to contest his deportation order from Canada — until the feds ‘misgendered’ him in legal documents.
In the case of Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Ewen, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the delayed deportation order for Colin James Ewen on November 16.
The Brit received an assault conviction in 2019 that rendered him ineligible to remain in Canada.
Set for deportation on June 7, now retired Federal Court Judge Richard Bell suspended Ewen’s immigration order then to inquire if using gender-neutral pronouns in a single government document violated the man’s Charter rights.
The judge told Ewen, who uses “he/him” pronouns, and government lawyer Nathan Joyal that the government used gender-neutral pronouns “they/them” alongside “he/him” in a document filed the day before.
Bell asked Joyal if this constituted the government ‘misgendering’ Ewen, which “some social scientists say” is akin to committing violence against them, he said.
The ordeal perplexed Canada’s legal community, including a panel of three judges on the appeals court.
On behalf of the panel, Chief Justice Yves de Montigny took apart Bell’s “flawed” course of action, claiming Bell “exceeded his jurisdiction and overstepped his role as an independent and impartial judicial decision-maker.”
“It is obvious that [Bell] put an issue to the parties that was of particular interest to him, and that he knew such issue would come as a surprise to the parties,” read the ruling Thursday.
De Montigny said raising the Charter question had “no basis” in immigration laws, calling the suspended deportation order an “inappropriate,” “unwarranted” and “unrelated” issue concerning the case.
“He could be seen as going ‘in search of a wrong to right’,” wrote De Montigny, who contends Ewen should have raised the issue himself if the pronouns in the government document profoundly affected him.
Following the verdict by the appeals judges, Immigration Canada must now secure a new deportation date for Ewen.
The deportee did not return a request for comment by the National Post as of writing.