Immigration raid captured on reality TV leads to charges
Serhat Seyhoglu charged after Border Security: Canada's Front Line filmed raid on BSSM construction site
Charges have been laid against a Vancouver contractor in connection with a controversial raid by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) last year.
Serhat Seyhoglu, president of BSSM Construction Ltd., appeared in provincial court Monday to face charges of breaching the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by employing two foreign nationals without proper authorization.
Eight of Seyhoglu's employees were arrested and several deported after a sweep of a Vancouver condominium construction site in March 2013, where Seyhoglu and his company had been hired as a subcontractor.
The raid was captured by a camera crew for Border Security: Canada's Front Line, a reality television show that had the blessing of the CBSA to film its officers and staff on the job.
UNDER FIRE | CBSA criticized over TV crew tagging along on raids
Immigration lawyer Zool Suleman, who represents some of the employees, is happy to see charges laid against the company and its owner.
"Employers have a responsibility to make sure that workers have valid visas - and they can't just wash their hands of the situation by claiming ignorance," he said.
Suleman has been requesting, unsuccessfully, that the CBSA apologize for allowing reality TV cameras to film the immigration raid that netted his clients.
The agency came under intense criticism and was accused of both sensationalizing the arrest and coercing detainees to sign release forms in order that video of the raid could be used in the show.
The CBSA's president Luc Portelance has also recommended the organization cease involvement in the show.
However, the work of CBSA officers and staff will continue to be filmed by Force Four Entertainment, the company behind the reality show.
Suleman suggested, tongue in cheek, that the show could perhaps cover the proceedings against Seyhoglu.
"I doubt that we will hear as much about what happened to the company as we did to what happened to the workers," he said.
With files from the CBC's Jason Proctor