Laibar Singh speaks about life after Canada
Published Monday, July 20, 2009 4:20PM PDT
When he first arrived in Canada six years ago, Laibar Singh told immigration officials he needed Canada's protection.
The 48-year-old from Punjab said he was linked to a separatist group and would face torture in India if he returned. His refugee claim was denied -- but then Singh gave Canadians another reason to let him stay: while working in Canada in 2006, a spinal infection left him paralyzed.
Supporters at widely attended rallies in B.C. said whether it was through torture or through inadequate medical care, Singh faced death if he were to be deported back to India.
But nine months after he was finally deported, Singh is still alive and living in Punjab with his family, and getting medical care, including MRIs, from a hospital about 60 kilometres from his village.
And contrary to his original claims, he told a film crew commissioned by CTV News that it wasn't fear, but the promise of a better life in Canada that brought him here.
"I was poor," he told the CTV crew. "That's why I came to Canada."
It's cases like Singh's that is causing the government to worry that the work permits and delays that are a fact of life in Canada' refugee system are creating an incentive for bogus claimants.
That's why last week the Canadian government slapped visas on Czech and Mexican visitors -- and why the federal minister of immigration is promising to get tough on other false claims as well.
"If you come to Canada you can play the system and profit from it," Kenney told CTV News in a recent interview. "We need to change that message and fix the system."
Some 28,523 individuals made a refugee claim across Canada in 2007. In the same year, 1,846 people were removed from Canada after failing an inadmissibility hearing.
Some of those removed exhausted the many levels of appeals in the immigration system or the courts system. Some who were denied their claims were able to get humanitarian exemptions if they have created ties to Canada that the government is reluctant to uproot.
In Singh's case, being paralyzed was not enough to get a humanitarian exemption.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said that the minister was right to deport Singh.
"I was one of the few people who said put him on the airplane as soon as possible," said Kurland.
"The minister and his officials did the right thing by not granting humanitarian relief, rewarding flagrant illegality in his case," he said.
But Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal, said that Canada still has to live with the uncomfortable truth that Singh's medical care isn't to the standard that he was getting in Canada.
"It's not whether he's getting medical care, it's the standard of care," she said.
Singh was lucky to receive money from supporters to pay for some of his medical treatment, she said.
On Tuesday, CTV Investigates will show you how a convict facing deportation was able to disappear and commit more crimes.