Parental Abduction

 What are the protections in place to prevent parental child abduction?

Sadly there are very few legal provisions in Canada to help prevent child abduction by a parent. Currently there is no legislation in place authorizing exit controls that would automatically stop a travelling parent with an abducted child. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) monitors persons entering Canada, but not those leaving. However, our border services may issue an alert if notified by the police of a suspected abduction, so it is prudent for concerned parents to inform their local police service immediately when a child is missing and it is believed that an abducting parent may take the child out of Canada.

In many cases, children taken to countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention can be returned through legal channels. But in other cases, particularly where the destination country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, it can be virtually impossible to have the child returned by legal means. For a list of Hague Convention signatories, go to

Countries such as Pakistan, India, Egypt and Iran, to name but a few, are nearly impossible to extract children from once taken.

Among the protections available, concerned parents can pursue a court order restricting the child’s movement out of the province and/or country with the other parent. Oftentimes, a judge will make this condition mutually binding, especially if both parents have significant ties to another jurisdiction and both parents are suggesting to the court that the other may be a flight risk.

Parents may request that any such order include provisions that will allow that child to travel with a parent if proper terms are met such as obtaining a notarized travel consent from the other parent, as well as providing a full itinerary and contact information for the child while out of the regular jurisdiction. But if, despite promises given or documents signed, a parent is still concerned that the other parent may not return the child and will take the child to a non-signatory country, the non-travelling parent should seriously reconsider whether they are going to agree to allow the travel to occur.

Some other important steps that can be taken to safeguard against abduction or to help the police and the CBSA locate a missing child include:

  1. Keep detailed information about your children, including updated travel documents and updated photographs, and keep updated information on your spouse’s travel documents (passport number, etc.) if you can.
  2. Maintain a list of the other parent’s relatives, friends and contacts abroad that he or she would likely contact to aid with the abduction.
  3. Educate your children as much as you can by ensuring they know that you would never agree to leave them, and that if they hear this from anyone it is not true. Teach the children how to use the telephone, make long distance calls, use a pay phone, etc. Explain to the child that he or she should not travel with the other parent right now, or with strangers.
  4. Approach the court for sole custody, a non-removal order, and to have the other parent enter into an agreement not to take the child out of the jurisdiction lest they forfeit a sum paid to the court.
  5. Seek an order requiring that access to the child by the other parent be supervised. Note that such an order will not last forever, and is meant only as a short-term solution.
  6. Notify your children’s school and all care providers, relatives and friends of the non-removal order. Be prepared to provide copies of the order to these persons if requested.

For more detailed information to help educate you and your children to safeguard against possible abduction, please go to



Luck of the Irish

The air of authenticity in Toronto’s Irish pubs lately has little to do with the quality of draft and much more to do with the influx of citizens from the Emerald Isle. Both staff and patrons are recent arrivals looking for economic prosperity in Canada by working and immigrating here.

It is no secret that the number of newcomers in Canada from a particular country rises and falls in direct proportion to the economic and other social circumstances in that country.  Ireland is a case in point. Since 2008 Ireland has struggled with severe economic challenges, including unemployment of almost 15%.  It is therefore no surprise that many Irish citizens, especially Irish youth, have looked for a way out of economic uncertainty into a more promising future.

Canada has opened it’s door wider to the Irish than to most other nationals. The primary vehicle are the working holiday work permits through International Experience Canada.

International Experience Canada generally offers work permits to young citizens (usually between 18 and 35) of many countries for varying periods of time. These Canadian work permits are usually “open”, meaning they are not tied to any particular employer. They are often the path that leads to permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class, which now offers permanent residence to applicants after one year of skilled work in Canada as well as English fluency.

As stated above, International Experience Canada offers one of the most generous arrangements to Irish citizens between the ages of 18 and 35. They are eligible for two work permits of one year in length which are not tied to a specific employer. That amounts to two years of work in Canada, double the time needed to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class.

This combination of economic challenges in Ireland and and opportunity in Canada amount to the equivalent of a four leafed clover for the nation’s young and desperate. This year, the quota of 6 350 work visas was filled in only two and a half days. Last year, it took five months to distribute 5 350 visas.  Next year, to meet the demand, 10 000 visas will be offered. 

Just as the Irish see opportunity in Canada, Canada sees opportunity in Ireland’s young hardworking citizens.

Over the Rainbow

At a time in history when the legal recognition of same-sex relationships is growing in countries globally, it may seem difficult to imagine that in other countries members of the LGBT community live in fear of their lives.

Yet in numerous countries across the globe – Jamaica, Iran, and Uganda are a few examples – sexual orientation is the basis of harm ranging from threats, to attacks, to imprisonment, and even death. And while other persecuted persons are sometimes able to rely upon their family members for assistance and protection, LGBT refugees are often most at risk by their own family members.

I am proud to be part of an organzation dedicated to finding a route to safety for LGBT refugees – whether that route takes them to Canada, another country, or a safe house. For several years Rainbow Railroad has assisted LGBT refugees find safety in one form or another, but the need is still great. Through visa controls countries have made it increasingly difficult for refugees to access the support they need.

Tonight, Rainbow Railroad hosts a Toronto fundraiser to raise desperately needed money to support and assist LGBT refugees. It is expected that the funds raised will save several lives.

To find out more about Rainbow Railroad, or to make a donation, see our website:


Welcome to Toronto, a city of nations

The latest reports from Statistics Canada and the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that Toronto is now North America’s fourth largest city, behind Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles:

For those of us who live in Toronto, the city’s steady growth is not a surprise. Neither are the reasons for growth: Toronto remains Canada’a most multicultural cities, welcoming newcomers through a vast array of services but also cultural activities and celebrations. Despite the relative increase in economic strength in other Canadian cities, Toronto remains the top choice for immigrants. 

Reflecting this diversity, the City of Toronto’s services are offered in more than 40 languages. These services are free of charge to all city residents, regardless of immigration status.  Each year Toronto hosts cultural celebrations such as Caribana, Pride Week, and local ethnic food festivals.  And Toronto neighbourhoods offer residential qualities such as parks and quiet safe streets right in the heart of the city.

The influx of new immigrants to Toronto is one of the primary reasons that Toronto now ranks first in North America for new housing construction. This is simply one of many positive side effects of immigration to Canada.