Second Chance For Polygamist

2nd chance for polygamist
Could be allowed to stay — if he only brings one wife

Last Updated: 31st March 2009, 4:33am

A Pakistani man whose Muslim religion allows him to have up to four wives has been given a second immigration hearing that will decide if can resettle in Canada if he only brings one spouse.

Shaikh Akhtar Hussain, a retired banking executive, said he'll only bring his first of two wives and their six children if he's allowed to immigrate to Toronto from his native Pakistan, according to a Federal Court of Canada decision.

Hussain was refused entry earlier this month by a Canadian visa officer in Pakistan who deemed him inadmissible because he practises polygamy.

“He intended to be accompanied by one wife if granted status in Canada,” the court heard. The officers referred to his case as a “peculiar, polygamist family situation.”

Madame Justice Elizabeth Heneghan said a visa officer's view of Hussain's private life had little to do with his immigration to Canada and ordered another immigration hearing, slated to take place soon.

“Our immigration law doesn't address … bringing both wives to Canada,” Hussain's Toronto lawyer, Ali Amini, said yesterday. “I am optimistic this family will get their visas and be coming to Canada soon.”

Hussain told the truth about his polygamous relationship to immigration officials, Amini said.

“It is quite common under Muslim laws for a man to have up to four wives,” he said. “This is a very good decision for members of the Muslim community.”

Amini vows to appeal the case on constitutional grounds based on religious freedom if a new hearing is unsuccessful.

He said the second wife can be sponsored to Canada by Hussain after a period of time.

Hussain and his family can be in Toronto in about six months to a year if he wins his hearing, his lawyer said.

But Quebec immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who handles many federal court cases, said people involved in polygamous relationships are not allowed in Canada.

“Polygamy is illegal under the Criminal Code,” Kurland said yesterday.