Almost half of the husbands and wives in southern China and western Africa who want to join their spouses in Canada are refused, government documents show, a situation MP Olivia Chow calls cruel and arbitrary.

That’s in sharp contrast to other places, such as Taiwan, where just three per cent of spouses who apply to be reunited with their partners in Canada are rejected, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada statistics from its visa offices around the world.

“We find this cruel and unfair and it needs to be changed,” said Chow, the NDP immigration critic who yesterday released the government’s spousal sponsorship numbers after a formal written request.

That Canada makes it tough for some couples to be together is no surprise to Khalid Nabbie, a Markham engineer who has two little girls. He has spent a year scaling a mountain of bureaucracy, amassing an application file two inches thick.

“The system encourages you not to tell the truth,” says a frustrated Nabbie, who has been apart from his wife Dixie-Ann since returning to Canada from Trinidad last year.

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