December 1, 2022

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As vulnerable refugees arrive in Canada, they carry the weight of war and persecution. Arriving in a new country, they put their trust and safety into the hands of the Canadian government and the organizations hired by Ottawa to help them resettle and navigate their new homeland.


A CTV National News investigation has uncovered that one refugee organization in the Toronto area has been sending unsuspecting families out to find their first home with a real estate agent who’s currently facing a sexual assault charge.


Ghassan Alsouki, who also works as a driving instructor, was accused of sexual assault by a female student in January. His criminal case is still before the courts.


A recent CTV National News story, featured Abdul Basir Talash, a father of six children. The family fled Kabul for Canadian soil 10 months ago. They’ve been living in what some call a refugee “ghost hotel” west of Toronto for nearly a year. After we took their story public, they were told they’d be moved out of the hotel and into a home while they await confirmation on their long overdue refugee status.


When it comes to expecting to be placed in a safe situation, Talash tells CTV National News: “every family that comes to Canada, not just my family, they’re all expecting that.”


However, the organization hired by the Trudeau government, called Polycultural, who are paid to help resettle hundreds of refugees in Ontario, connected the Talash family and multiple other refugee families with Alsouki, while he faces a criminal charge.


Refugee advocate Mona Elshayal says she’s “shocked” that “vulnerable” members of our community are being put in this situation.


“How did they (Polycultural) not get police checks done for people who have direct access outside of the hotel, in houses?”


Alsouki’s criminal charge has previously been reported on, though when Marwan Ismail, the executive director of Polycultural spoke with CTV National News, he said he and his staff had no idea about the sexual assault charge.


“No. No way. We didn’t know about this,” Ismail told CTV National News by phone.


The organization now says Alsouki won’t be taking anymore refugee families out to look at homes.


Talash, who’s yet to find a home suitable for his family, says the federal government is dropping the ball when it comes to overseeing the operations of the refugee and immigrant service companies who’ve been awarded large contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.


“Polycultural should be stopped and immediately terminated or this contract should be given to any other organization,” Talash says.


CTV National News spoke with Alsouki by phone. He said he doesn’t believe he informed Polycultural about his sexual assault charges. He also said he hasn’t taken any refugees out recently, though the Talash family say he drove them himself to view a home just two weeks ago.


CTV National News requested an on camera interview with Canada’s minister of immigration refugees and citizenship, but we were told he was unavailable. Our request for written answers to our multiple questions weren’t provided before our deadline.

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