Borderlines Podcast Episode 3 – Raj Sharma on Marriage Fraud

In the 3rd episode of Borderlines, Raj Sharma joined Peter Edelmann and I to discuss marriage fraud.

Raj Sharma is the managing partner of Stewart Sharma Harsanyi.  He is a well known commentator on immigration law. In addition to his active blog and numerous presentations that he has given at immigration conferences and seminars, he has written numerous op-eds on immigration, diversity and multi-culturalism that have been published in many manjor Canadian newspapers. He has debated Martin Collacott of the Fraser Institute and Centre for Immigration Reform on whether Canada accepts too many immigrants; Deepak Obhrai (MP and Parliamentary Secretary) on additional and stricter language requirements for citizens; David Seymour of the Manning Centre on whether Canada’s new immigration policy is too exclusionary; Imam Syed Soharwardy on honour crimes in Canada; and a CSIS agent on the profiling of Muslims.

2:33 – 44:20 – We discuss marriage fraud, and how the previous government introduced several measures to try and prevent it. These measures included introducing a disjunctive test in which a marriage would not facilitate immigration if the marriage was not genuine or if the marriage had been entered into primarily for the purpose of immigration. It also included the introduction of conditional permanent residency, in which immigrants who immigrate to Canada as a result of a marriage or common-law relationship would lose their permanent resident status if the relationship broke down within 2 years of immigrating. Finally, the previous Conservative Government of Canada also introduced a five year spousal sponsorship bar, in which a permanent resident who immigrated after marrying a Canadian could not sponsor a new spouse or common-law partner for five years after immigrating.

Raj was a fantastic guest to have for this topic, given that he represented a Canadian citizen who sued the Canada Border Services Agency to compel them to complete an investigation into whether that person had been the victim of a marriage fraud. Raj during the podcast provided an overview of this case, Zaghbib v. Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), 2016 FCA 182. Peter then raised the difficult question of “where do you draw the line?” If a Canadian can compel CBSA to remove someone from Canada for marriage fraud, can a company compel CBSA to do the same for a competitor where the Canadian company knows that that the competitor has engaged in foreign worker fraud? What about an average citizen trying to compel the Vancouver Police Department for visiting the Amsterdam Café and smoking marijuana?

I know I’m biased, but when listening to this podcast after it was recorded I was struck by how this may have been the best and most comprehensive 40 minute discussion on the topic of marriage fraud in the Canadian immigration landscape that I have heard.

44:20 – 49:30 – Peter discusses the ongoing detention situation in Canada, where immigration detainees are often held in provincial prisons. Minister Goodale recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post in which he set out a number of goals in immigration detention, but at the same time also provided justification for the ongoing detention. Peter also showed us a recent tender that CBSA has put out in which they are seeking feedback on alternatives to detention. After providing a brief overview of why people would be detained in Canada, we discuss what possible alternatives there could be. The word “Kafkaesque” makes its first appearance in the podcast, although I’m sure not it’s last.

49:30 – 55:13 Continuing with the theme of detention, we discuss the Federal Court’s recently certified question in Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Lunyamila, 2016 FC 324, in which the Federal Court asked whether it can usurp the powers of the Immigration Division to either order release or continue detention.

51:13 – 56:00 – Finally, we conclude by providing a statistic of how what percentage of people who submitted applications to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had representatives.




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