Interview with Vavilov lawyer, Hadayt Nazami
Interview by Saba Ahmad
Thank you for speaking with me today, Hadayt. You are the lawyer behind arguably the most important and hotly anticipated legal decision from the Supreme Court of Canada of one year ago, Vavilov v. Canada. We are speaking today on the first anniversary of the release of the decision, which remains the most exciting and important development in administrative law in quite some time. In the landmark ruling, the Court revised the framework for reviewing administrative decisions and also vindicated your client’s right to Canadian citizenship.
Can you please answer, how did you come to represent Mr. Vavilov?
It was like any other situation; Alexander Vavilov was looking for legal advice. He had done his research and he called me to discuss his and brother’s, Timothy Vavilov's circumstances. He had already been fighting for three years to try to renew his Canadian passport through the Canadian embassy in Moscow but to no avail. It was only after he had filed a mandamus application in the Federal Court, that the Canadian officials overseeing the handling of his case began to realize he was not going to give up fighting for his identity and for his right to a passport, so they went after his very Citizenship instead. They started a process to try to cancel his citizenship in 2013. It was at this stage, when he had received a procedural fairness letter from the Citizenship Registrar, that he contacted me.
Did you have any inkling then that this case could go to the Supreme Court of Canada?
I did think of the possibility. Mr. Vavilov and I discussed this at the very outset. This was not because of legal issues. The law was clearly in his favour. It was the appearance of persistent hostility and arbitrariness that he had been put through by officials in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow that I found troubling. It appeared to me that a dubious effort was being made to keep the brothers out of Canada, despite the law. It was not difficult to believe that making submissions in response to a "fairness letter" was an exercise in futility. I did not need to warn him of my concerns. Alexander Vavilov knew this better than anyone having been so terribly treated by the officials during the three years he fought to renew his passport.
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