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‘Ripping my heart out’: Shelburne man ordered to leave Canada, and family, by CBSA


Today is the day. 

It will be the last day Simon O’Rourke can hug his three kids, get them ready for school, tuck them into bed. He'll kiss his wife, Mandy Smith, goodbye for a final time as he boards a plane on May 3, destined for his native England.

It's not a trip he wants to take. He's been ordered to leave his Shelburne home by the Canadian Border Service Agency.


Seeking solution

O’Rourke moved to Canada from the United Kingdom after marrying Smith in 2008. He was not a permanent resident but thought because he was married, he was able to stay in the country with his wife and children.

He was wrong.

In 2010, the CBSA began investigating whether O’Rourke was illegally working in Canada, an allegation O'Rourke denies.

But, since then, he has been torn from his family on several occasions and sent back to England, leaving his children to grow up without their father.

The family has been working to get O’Rourke permanent status but say they have been hitting brick walls. In the past few weeks, the family has secured an immigration lawyer, Lee Cohan, but there wasn’t enough time to change things before O’Rourke had to leave the country.

One of the ways to get permanent citizenship is through spousal sponsorship but this takes three months to complete and will have to be done out of the country.

“They are basically ripping my heart out for the sake of filing a few papers,” said O’Rourke.

He hopes that that he will be able to get the proper paperwork he needs to stay with his family with the help of his lawyer.

“We are trying to look at it from the point of view that this will be the last issue we have with the CBSA,” he said.  “When this needless process is finished, I’ll be home with my family where I belong.”


'It's heartbreaking'

“My main concern right now is how the kids are going to handle it,” said O’Rourke.  “We have all spent the last few days just being upset.”

O’Rourke feels horrible and says he hopes no one else has to go through this.

Smith and their three children will be driving O’Rourke to the airport.

Smith said her daughter, Zoe, is taking it the hardest.

“She just randomly cries and says, 'I don’t want daddy to go',” said Smith.

“It’s heartbreaking, thinking about dropping him off at the airport.  The kids have to say goodbye and they don’t know when they are going to see him again.  This is not like someone choosing to go on a business trip or a vacation, it is forced.”


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