Ex-KGB man should stay, Canadians say in survey

Posted by admin on Jun 6th, 2009

By Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun. June 6, 2009
Canadians believe Canada is wrong to deport Russian immigrant Mikhail Lennikov, a new national opinion poll shows. In an independent online survey by Angus Reid Strategies, 41 per cent of respondents nationally — and 55 per cent of those in British Columbia, where the case has generated widespread media attention — disagreed with the federal government’s decision to return Lennikov to Russia.

Only 12 per cent of national respondents, and 19 per cent of British Columbians, agreed Lennikov should be deported. The remainder did not know or would not say.

Lennikov, a KGB agent in the 1980s, has lived and worked in Canada for the past 12 years. Until this week, he lived with his family in Burnaby.

On Tuesday, the 48-year-old sought sanctuary in First Lutheran Church in east Vancouver after losing a final bid to stay in Canada as a refugee.

The government has allowed Lennikov’s wife and son to remain in Canada, but because he worked the KGB, Lennikov needs special permission from the minister of public safety to avoid deportation. To date, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan has refused to intervene in the case.

According to the poll, almost half of Canadians (47 per cent) think Lennikov poses no threat to Canada — an opinion shared by 71 per cent of British Columbians, 53 per cent of male respondents and 50 per cent of those 55 years and over.

However, fewer Canadians were in favour of the practice of churches offering sanctuary to people who are avoiding a deportation order. Fifty-two per cent of Canadians disagreed in principle with the practice, while 38 per cent agreed.

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