A disabled British man, deported from Canada after being deemed an economic burden, has arrived back in the United Kingdom sad to have left his friends in Winnipeg and bitter with Canadian authorities who tossed him out of the country.
Chris Mason, 36, was ordered deported to the U.K. after Canadian immigration officials determined that granting the wheelchair-bound man permanent resident status would create an undue economic burden.
"I'm devastated," Mason told CBC News upon his arrival there Tuesday.
"I'm very sad about leaving everybody. I've got lots of friends in Winnipeg. I think this is a tremendous embarrassment for Canada."
Mason's mother, Gillian Kilford, said Canada treated her son like a terrorist and has blemished its reputation as a tolerant nation. "He's just lost everything," Kilford said.
Because he is disabled, Mason cannot stay with his mother and has been temporarily placed in a seniors nursing home.
"I'm homeless, I have no money and I've got nowhere to live," he said.
Prior to leaving Canada Mason said he had no desire to return to England where he hadn't lived since he was a child. He lived with his father in Greece before coming to Canada in 2001.
In Canada, he began working as a truck driver in Ontario and British Columbia before settling in Winnipeg. The long-haul trucker became a paraplegic after damaging his back on the job.
Mason was further injured in 2007 when he was hit by a taxi while leaving hospital and has been unable to work since. He was living on social assistance in Winnipeg, with an expired visa.
Caroline Marsh, director of Adult Social Care for Manchester City Council, told the Manchester newspaper that authorities would assess Mason's situation to see whether they could help.
Advocates for the disabled have been lobbying Canada to amend the Immigration Act, removing a clause that says anyone who might cause undue economic demand on the social welfare system can be denied the right to live here.
Winnipeg MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis has joined the campaign, saying the federal government should review and change the regulations.
"We're certainly not leading the world in terms of being open and receptive to people with disabilities," she said. "We're actually causing the stigmatization to occur even more."