Chinese citizen from Kelowna loses last appeal, likely to be deported for drug trafficking | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Chinese citizen from Kelowna loses last appeal, likely to be deported for drug trafficking


KELOWNA - A six-year legal odyssey for a former Kelowna man who pleaded guilty to trafficking in cocaine has ended and the Chinese citizen who held permanent residency in Canada for more than 20 years may now be deported.

Wing Wha Wong took his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada where it was finally dismissed, though not without some support.

He argued at nearly every court level that he didn’t know when he pleaded guilty that he would be deported and wished to change his plea, despite having already served his sentence. He said his lawyer never advised him of the jeopardy, though his lawyer has said he was unaware of Wong’s immigration status.

The case helps establish principles and the law on guilty pleas but the Supreme Court of Canada said his case had flaws — he failed to explain what he would have done differently at the time had he known he would be deported.

In 2012, the then-50-year-old Wong sold cocaine to a Kelowna RCMP undercover officer in a dial-a-dope operation. He pleaded guilty to the charge in 2014, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment and a month after his release, he realized his error.

He was called by Canada Border Services advising him of his upcoming immigration hearing. Both the crime itself and the length of sentence all but assures deportation for a permanent resident. Canada has automatic immigration hearings and likely deportation for permanent residents if they are convicted of serious crimes or attract specific sentences.

Wong is the sole earner for his wife and young child and now lives in Kamloops. According to court decisions, he fled China “as a result of the crackdown on the prodemocracy movement” and came to Canada in 1989.

In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed that he was uninformed about the consequences of the guilty plea, but he failed to articulate his own remedy had he known that information leaving “no basis to permit him to withdraw his plea.”

But dissenters on the court called his case a “miscarriage of justice and must be set aside.”

This wasn’t Wong’s first go round through the criminal justice system. He spent nearly two years in jail for charges out of Edmonton of possession of stolen property in 1994 but that preceded laws that deport permanent residents for severe crimes. The courts have also recognized that he long ago had the option of becoming a Canadian citizen but hasn’t learned English sufficiently.

Despite the top court ruling, Wong may have one last opportunity to remain in the country. He is also appealing his sentence and may be aided if a sentence of less than six months were substituted, though the conviction alone may be enough to force deportation.

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