Canada 'refuses entry to disabled girl'
A British family who planned to start a new life in Canada were refused entry because their daughter has learning difficulties and have been forced to return home.
Paul and Barbara-Anne Chapman had sold their home and bought a farmhouse in Nova Scotia where the local authorities supported their arrival.
But after a six-hour flight the family claim they were told by a border guard that because Lucy, seven, is disabled she would never be allowed into the country.
Canadian immigration officials have suggested the Chapmans may have been turned back because they lacked the necessary work permit.
The family believed they had the necessary paperwork in place, down to the clearance required for their black labrador, Harvey.
Mr Chapman, a former Metropolitan police officer, said the problem began when the border guard looked at their passports at Halifax airport.
“The atmosphere changed. She said: ‘why have you brought your daughter to this country?’” he said.
“I asked why I shouldn’t I bring her and was told by the border guard that because she was disabled she had a lifetime ban.
“We couldn’t believe what they were saying.”
Lucy suffers from a rare genetic defect called Angelman syndrome, a condition that leaves her with a reduced mental age and without the ability to speak. Physically, she appears normal, has an average life expectancy and requires no additional medical care or drugs.
Mrs Chapman, 45, also a former police officer in London, said: “I have never, ever in my whole life seen such blatant discrimination. Lucy is different and therefore in their eyes not perfect.
“I kept saying to them: ‘So because my daughter is disabled you are telling me she can’t come in?’ and they simply said ‘yes’.”
“My dog was allowed to stay. My dog has a higher status than my daughter in Canada, just because she is disabled.”
After a five-hour stand off the family was allowed to leave the airport but their passports were seized. Eighteen days later they were asked to leave the country.
Their plan to move to Canada had been hatched in 2005 when Mr Chapman applied for leave to study at Ontario University.
Although national law at the time meant Lucy’s condition would have barred them from entering, a Canadian Supreme Court ruling a few months later led to the blanket ban on disabled immigrants being lifted.
Attracted by lower prices, the higher standard of living and Canada’s recent drive to welcome 50,000 skilled workers, the Chapmans thought it would be the perfect place for Lucy and her brother Jack, aged 16 years.
After visiting Canada twice as tourists they sold their four-bedroom home in Wokingham, Berks., for £600,000 and bought a two-acre plot in Miller Lake, Halifax County, for just £140,000 pounds.
The Chapmans employed a visa consultancy firm to organise their residency application and the Nova Scotian authorities applied for temporary residency and a three-year work permit in their name that would allow them to set up a children’s soft play centre business in their local mall.
They have employed a Canadian lawyer to fight their case and have vowed not to give up.
A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) said he was unable to comment on the Chapman case specifically.
“People with disabilities can come to Canada,” he said.
“In Canada we have rules and regulations to protect the Canadian people and we have to make sure that the proper process is followed.
“It is not that we do not want them (the Chapmans) herethey just have to follow the proper process, which includes ensuring the residency permit is in place before arriving in Canada.”