Stunned applicants filling out immigration forms are now being warned their personal information can be shared with the RCMP, national security and intelligence agents, and even foreign cops.
The immigrants, many who arrive here from brutal regimes, are being told that they must sign a consent form or their requests will not be dealt with by federal immigration officials.
One form, which was obtained by Sun Media, said the data can be shared with the Canada Border Services Agency, RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and foreign police.
The information can be used to target friends or family members of those who say negative things about their homelands, said Jamal Kaker, of the Afghan Association of Ontario.
"This will impact a lot of immigrants in many communities," he said yesterday. "This is scary because the information will get back to Afghanistan in no time."
Toronto lawyer Guidy Mamann said it can be deadly for immigrants who give information that may be negative to their governments and are then refused by Canada.
"The rights of these immigrants are being trampled," Mamann said.
"All this was done under the radar without an announcement."
He said foreign police -- some working for the worst regimes -- will be able to find out where their nationals who fled to Canada live and allegations they have leveled against their homelands.
"All this information will now be shared," Mamann said.
"The lives of immigrants and some Canadian citizens will become an open book."
He said Canadian citizens are affected if they sign forms to sponsor a spouse or loved ones.
"It's another nail in the coffin for civil rights in Canada," Mamann said.
"Negative information against governments will now be open for sharing."
Toronto lawyer Mendel Green called the changes troubling.
"This is a serious breach of our privacy laws," he said. "It appears to be an excess of authority. Big Brother wants to watch our visitors."
Federal immigration spokesman Nicolas Fortier said the messages were printed on about 30 different types of forms.
"Information sharing is on a case by case basis," he said in an e-mail.