Polygamous and Forced Marriages
We have moved to our new offices at Hullmark Centre, 4773 Yonge Street, Suite 3F, at the south-east corner of Yonge and Sheppard. With priority to a particularly heavy case load for the past month, and planning and executing our move, we unfortunately could not devote adequate time to some of our other functions. Posting blogs was one of them. Now that we have settled in, we will make a conscientious effort to post our blogs about the many developments in immigration law and policy on a regular basis.
The announcement of changes to ban “immigrant in polygamous, forced marriages” seems to be little more than an election-time promise. It has to be because the idea seems unnecessary and redundant, as the Act and Regulations already preclude spousal sponsorships by Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents who have more than one spouse at the time. R. 5 (b)(i) of the IRPR reads:
5. Excluded relationships – For the purposes of these Regulations, a foreign national shall not be considered
(b) the spouse of a person if
(i) the foreign national or the person was, at the time of their marriage, the spouse of another person, or …
Thus, the provision related to polygamy is “no news”; the Minister already has tools at his disposal to deal with the issue.
The issues of “honour killings” and “forced marriages” which the above newspaper article discusses, is something else. First of all, under the Criminal Code of Canada killing of any sort is murder for which punishment is already prescribed by the Criminal Code. So there is nothing new here either.
The question of “forced marriages”, however, is new, and it will be interesting to see how the proposed legislation defines it and, better still, what methodology it will develop to identify such cases. Will it be limited solely to polygamous marriages or will it be “forced marriages” in general. Dare we contemplate the number of people worldwide who have been coerced , one way or another, into a marriage “not out of love”!
However, the real issue, obscured by all this bureaucratic hoopla, is the fact that many people in non-polygamous marriages get caught up in this problem, those from Islamic countries in particular, because they have separated and are in the process of divorcing their spouse, when they marry their new wife. Because the divorce is not finalized at the time of the new marriage, Immigration Canada refuses their application to sponsor their new spouse, based on 5 (b)(i) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.