• By: OLM Staff

Mr. Immigration Minister, It’s Getting Heavy: An Open Letter to Jason Kenney From Lainie Towell

Dear Honourable Jason Kenney,


I wanted to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to appear on CTV’s Canada AM, to discuss immigration/marriage fraud.

After I spoke on Canada AM about my fraudulent ex-husband who misrepresented himself to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA )and myself in order to gain entry into Canada, you said that my situation is far from uncommon.

“Marriages of convenience are one of the most frequent forms of immigration fraud in Canada,” you emphasized. In order to deal with this frequent form of immigration fraud, you explained that: “Canada employs skilled migration integrity officers to try to root out would-be fraudsters before they can get their foot in the door.”

Mr. Kenney, I hate to burst the bubble, but prevention is not working. If it were, marriage/immigration fraud would not be so frequent in Canada. It is unacceptable that marriage fraud is as common as you suggest, and yet Canada’s so-called “special preventative measures” do not even consistently happen.

In my case, the Canadian government never interviewed me as a sponsor. Nor did anyone pre-interview my ex-husband Focle Mohamed Soumah, during his application process. Canada’s skilled integrity officers never could have “rooted out” the lies that only became apparent to me, and later to the CBSA and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), after my ex-husband landed. (How could they have when nobody was rooting?)

Minister Kenney, if prevention is the only measure in place to reduce the risk of fraud, should interviews with skilled migration integrity officers at Canadian embassies not then be mandatory…for all spousal immigration applications? (OLM readers and taxpayers, what do you think?)

I decided to call CIC to ask why there were never any interviews in my sponsorship application process. The call centre agent told me that family class marriage applications are the quickest and least stringent ones to process. She explained that if applications appear authentic, officers often issue visas without any further questions. Minister Kenney, this is alarming if, as you say, marriages of convenience are one of the most common forms of immigration fraud. How can the government claim that it has special preventative measures in place to combat this type of immigration fraud, especially since in many cases, spousal immigration applications are processed so quickly? (My ex-husband’s case took eight weeks).

The Canadian government needs to do better. I know, I know. Canadians need to be vigilant when marrying abroad — and I agree. However, we are talking about love. When you love someone and trust that you are loved back, it’s hard to fathom that you are being conned and lied to. In most cases, it only becomes apparent once the fraudster has obtained permanent residency status in Canada.

On March 24. 2009, my ex-husband was issued a removal order from Canada at his admissibility hearing. He now has the right to appeal this decision. Minister Kenney, can you explain why I am still being held as my ex-husband’s sponsor during this appeal process? It has been proven in a court of law that he lied to me, and to the government, to get into Canada. So why is the government still holding me financially responsible for him? My sponsorship obligations should no longer apply at this stage.

Currently, Canada’s spousal sponsor–ship agreement is set up to protect the rights of new immigrants should their sponsors desert their responsibilities. However, there is nothing in the Act to protect the rights of sponsors if they are abandoned, victimized, abused, or defrauded. By ignoring the rights of Canadian sponsors in the aforementioned circumstances, the current policy is one-sided and unfair. The system is set up so that the rights of the sponsored immigrant automatically take precedence over the rights of Canadian sponsors — even when they have been abused!

A balance needs to be found to encompass the rights of new immigrants and the rights of their sponsors. Citizenship and Immigration states on their website that “everyone is responsible for ensuring that their marriage is genuine.” However, as policy stands now, only one party in the marriage partnership is being held responsible: the sponsor.

Minister Kenney, I sincerely hope that my ex-husband’s appeal process does not drag on. Lengthy hearing and appeal wait times cost Canadian taxpayers millions ofdollars in support payments, legal aid costs and health care while illegal immigrants remain in Canada. Do you not agree?


Lainie Towell

Ottawa, Ontario

By: Lainie Towell