Roadblocks and construction weren't enough to discourage Amine Maazaoui's supporters from reaching MP Dominic LeBlanc's constituency office in Shediac on Thursday.
Maazaoui has been holed up in the Shediac Bay Community Church for nearly two-and-a-half years. The 31-year-old faces deportation back to Tunisia if he leaves the confines of the building.
“It's not life to be between four walls,” says Maazaoui. “I think now is the time for the government to go back and check my case and lift the deportation and give me my permanent residency.”
Maazaoui fled his homeland in 2004 after facing persecution for converting from Islam to Christianity. He came to Canada with his family, all of whom received their permanent resident status.
Amine Maazaoui says Thursday’s rally was supposed to take place in August, but they were told his file had been given to federal Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen and were asked to hold off.
“He asked us to wait two-to-three weeks, and now we have three months exactly and we haven't heard anything,” says Maazaoui.
Myles Krueger has been driving once a week from Amherst to visit and share a meal with Amine. He says the lengthy ordeal is starting to take a toll on the young man.
“Last week when I was up, Amine had tears in his eyes. It was unnerving to see Amine so hopeful and yet so sad,” says Krueger.
Akram Ben Salah with the New Brunswick Refugee Clinic came to Canada from Tunisia, and says Maazaoui’s case is one of the most compelling he’s ever seen.
“I faced the same persecution that Amine faced and I was granted refugee status with my family,” he says.
Minister LeBlanc wasn't in his office Thursday, but supporters did get some information from staff inside.
“We were told a representative from Minister LeBlanc's office will be meeting with Immigration Canada next week at some point, and we'll hopefully get some results from there,” says supporter Richard Gallant.
After two-and-a-half years, Maazaoui says he's prepared to wait.
Maazaoui's supporters say they're taking the information about next week’s meetings with the immigration minister with a grain of salt, saying they've been told the same thing in the past.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.