Politics

Immigration rules tightened for violent offenders

The federal government is expanding the list of crimes that would prevent someone from sponsoring a family member to immigrate to Canada.
The government is expanding the list of crimes that would prevent someone from sponsoring a family member to immigrate to Canada, a move the immigration minister says is designed to better protect immigrant women.

According to new regulations that take effect Wednesday, anyone convicted of a crime resulting in bodily harm to any person will not be allowed to sponsor family members to come to Canada. And they would be blocked from doing so for at least five years following the completion of their sentence.

Before the changes, sponsorship applications were rejected if an individual had caused bodily harm to certain family members. Now, a conviction for any violent crime will prevent people from sponsoring their relatives.

Commenting on the changes, Kenney said they were spurred by a 2008 Federal Court ruling in the case of Baljinder Singh Brar, a Canadian convicted in India of killing his first wife's sister by setting her on fire.

The court ruled he could sponsor his new wife to come to Canada.

"There was no ground in our law to deny that spousal sponsorship," Kenney said. "So we're changing the law...this is to protect vulnerable immigrant women in particular from abusive husbands."

Kenney added the change will help those who advocate against domestic abuse of immigrant women.

"It's a very sensitive issue," he said. "We want to make the law work for advocates against domestic violence in the immigrant communities. And this is one way of doing so. To bar the ability of Canadian residents or citizens to sponsor foreign spouses if they have a conviction for a violent offense."

The changes, which take effect today, were made through the regulations accompanying the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and do not require a vote in the House of Commons.