Into the Fray: Guidy Mamann steps in for Lev Tahor.

When I first read that Guidy Mamann was going to be taking charge of Lev Tahor's legal strategy, I felt a sense of relief. That relief implies no criticism of their legal representation prior to this intervention but I had been concerned over the recent news that he had removed himself from representing the community. As an outsider, without any more information than has been made available to us all online, I can only thank Chris Knowles for every good that he has done in the past.  However, with recent developments, we are understanding why the baton has been handed now to Mr. Mamann. I am closely following all statements coming from this lawyer and will keep an updated record of them at the bottom of this page.  My reason for doing so is because since I first became aware of this case on March 5, 2014, I have heard so few voices in this country, outside of the community, speaking out with authority AND compassion on behalf of the community. Guilt or innocence should only be decided by a process that is humane and just, but from what I have witnessed, they have already been summarily pilloried by the court of public opinion hence the fear that they would never receive a fair hearing. As a consequence of my focus on this case, I have begun to think more about all the other powerless residents in this land who are suffering in the shadows without anyone to fight for justice on their behalf.  Think about them also. It is a disturbing awareness that cannot be tolerated by most because their indoctrination has been systematic and thorough. As I have said elsewhere, the ironies are knee deep and rising.

But first, here is a little about lead counsel, Guidy Mamann.

Who is Guidy Mamann?
From his firm's website, I learned the following:
"Mr. Mamann is the founding partner of Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell. Mr. Mamann was formerly employed as an immigration officer by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration at Toronto’s Pearson international Airport.

Mr. Mamann studied political science at York University and graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1985. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 1987 and has been practising exclusively in the field of Immigration Law since that time.

In 1995, Mr. Mamann was the youngest lawyer to be certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Immigration Law. He is one of only 33 lawyers in Ontario certified in Immigration Law and is one of only 13 lawyers in the province certified as a specialist in Refugee Protection Law. Only 12 lawyers in Ontario are certified in both fields.

Mr. Mamann has served as the president of Toronto’s Jewish Immigrant Aid Services (JIAS), and the Programme Co-ordinator for the Immigration Section of the Canadian Bar Association of Ontario.

Many of his high-profile and celebrated cases have attracted local, national, and international attention. He is frequently consulted as an expert by journalists, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) on matters pertaining to immigration law and policy. He has also been rated as one of Canada's "frequently recommended" immigration lawyers by Lexpert, 'Canada's leading lawyer rating service." SOURCE

Guidy Mamann speaks.

April 2nd, 2014
"When a teacher in the community was reached by telephone in the immediate wake of the arrests, the sound of wailing children could be heard in the background.

"You take his mother, you take his sister, you take his father and now child protection wants to take him," Joel Helbrans said later. "It broke all the families."

Mamann, who was meeting with Lev Tahor's spiritual leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans when reached for an interview, said the community was terrified during the CBSA arrests.

"It's a frightening experience to look up and see 20-some-odd armed officers going from house to house looking for adults and children," he said.

"These kids witnessed with their own eyes, with their own eyes, that some of their brothers and sisters, some of their friends, some of their neighbours, were taken by children's aid and never came back. So if you were a child what could you possibly be thinking?"

Mamann, a Toronto-based lawyer who was hired recently, said he is providing a legal strategy for the group that has been lacking.

"That's why there have been all kinds of difficulties that could have easily been avoided had somebody from the group really understood the legal processes," he said.

"These people are really fish out of water. They get scared, they run. That's not a legal strategy."" SOURCE
These are people who, if they violated court orders or if they violated terms of the CAS in Quebec, they didn’t break the law like a bank robber would because he’s motivated by greed or something else, ” said Mamann. “They were afraid for their children and that’s why they got into this mess.”

The appeal is scheduled to be heard in Chatham on April 4.

What they simply want to do is to live a life in peace here, teach the children exactly what is taught in Yeshivas and in religious schools all over the world and be left alone,” said Mamann. “I think the day is going to come very soon when we are going to be in court and they are going to have properly instructed counsel and those counsel are going to make their case very, very, very compelling.” SOURCE
April 3rd, 2014
"A lawyer for the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor community says an immigration crackdown at the sect’s Chatham, Ont., community was an unnecessary intrusion timed to disrupt the group’s preparations for an important court appeal on Friday.

Someone made a call knowing full well this would derail the community two days before a huge appeal,” Guidy Mamann said. “It looks like they wanted us to wobble into the court on one leg.”

In the days before the bust, Mr. Mamann had been negotiating to have the seven people meet with immigration officials. He said he fell ill with the flu last Thursday, temporarily delaying the negotiations. Six days later, border services officials arrived at the group’s Chatham enclave with local police and child-protection workers.

I guess somebody lost patience and decided to go through with the operation on Wednesday,” Mr. Mamann said. “If they would have waited a day or so, none of this would have been necessary. I don’t agree they needed to spend the resources they did on this.”" SOURCE
Guidy Mamann comments in:

Lev Tahor members ordered deported to Israel.
Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter, The Canadian Jewish News | Monday, April 14, 2014

The IRB [Immigration and Refugee Board] ordered Yochanan Lavar, 19, a father of three, removed on April 10. The others are Avraham Kabaz Kashani, 39, and Odel Malka, 30. Removal dates have not yet been set for them.

Guidy Mamann, who represented the three at the hearing, said there is likely nothing that can be done to prevent the removals. However, he said a “global” solution was needed to address the immigration status of the other members of Lev Tahor, the ultra-Orthodox community that moved from Quebec to Ontario last November.

“We have to recognize that we have a community here. They have huge families. Their children are Canadian citizens.”

Mamann has been retained to help sort out and consolidate the defence of Lev Tahor members on a number of legal fronts, including immigration issues and allegations of child abuse and neglect. He was scheduled to travel to Windsor earlier this week with two Lev Tahor members who also face immigration issues. Discussions will begin with CBSA but ultimately a decision on the members’ status will have to be made by the immigration ministry, he said.

The Lev Tahor members entered the country legally, pose no dangers to the Canadian public and should be allowed to remain on compassionate grounds, he said.

Mamann said he is putting together a defence team to address allegations of child neglect, none of which have been proven in court.

“My goal is to see parents reunited with their children,” said Mamann.

“You see a Jewish kid taken from their parents and it hurts.”

...To date, Lev Tahor members have been represented by a number of lawyers on an ad hoc basis.

“What is lacking here is a clear direction and co-ordination,” Mamann said. “Lev Tahor members are so overwhelmed they’re frozen where they are and can’t make any decisions.”

Previous lawyers did not receive proper instructions, and the Lev Tahor members “let immigration issues slide.”

Their financial resources are also drained.

“It’s a holy mess,” said Mamann.

Going on the offensive, Mamann accused law enforcement and immigration officials of acting in a “disproportionate” and “backhanded” manner.

“This is a group that’s pretty benign. Out of 200 people, seven had immigration problems, and all could have been fixed pretty well.”

Mamann said the raid coincided with a meeting in Toronto between Lev Tahor representatives and immigration authorities that was meant to resolve the issues. He questioned the timing of the raid, suggesting it was meant to further disorient the group before the court hearing, Mamann said.

Mamann said that given the apprehension of 14 kids, the constant unannounced visit by child-care workers and the recent raid, the Lev Tahor “children are under tremendous stress. They want to be with their parents, and their parents want them back.”

He said one family was separated after being returned from Trinidad. They had been en route to Guatemala, where another Lev Tahor family now resides after fleeing there last month ahead of child custody hearings.

When the father “finally saw his child, he was overcome and collapsed.” He’s undergoing medical care because of the strain, Mamann added.

Mamann questioned why the CBSA would use its limited resources to go after Lev Tahor members who pose no threat to the public when there could be as many as one million undocumented people living in Canada.

Mamann was particularly scathing in denouncing Denis Baraby, the director of Quebec’s department of youth protection for the Laurentians region. Baraby told the Gazette in Montreal that he would ask for the removal of all children in the Lev Tahor community.

“I think the community is preparing a mass move,” he told the Gazette. “If we want to protect the children that are in the community, we need to start working on the exit of the 114 other children.”

“It’s pure madness,” said Mamann.

If there are serious allegations against a particular parent, then the individual case should be dealt with, he said, but to threaten apprehension of an entire community’s children is unprecedented.

“I’ve never seen that in western civilization,” Mamann added.

“Quebec is determined to impose its might in this case, and it’s not coming from child-protection principles.”

He was also critical of Jewish community leaders who have accepted at face value the allegations of child abuse directed at a few Lev Tahor parents. None of those allegations have been proven in court, and he questioned why allegations against a few should tarnish the reputation of an entire community.

Lev Tahor families are under constant scrutiny by child-welfare authorities, now in Ontario and previously in Quebec, he continued.

Child welfare officers intrude into Lev Tahor family’s homes on a daily basis. They photograph the cupboards and refrigerators, seeing how much food they hold.

“Nothing seems to satisfy them.”

He said he wanted Quebec authorities to explain “how many times did you visit the Lev Tahor homes and subject children to physical body inspections, where they are standing completely undressed before [Children’s Aid] staff? The numbers told to me by Lev Tahor community are shocking, absolutely shocking.”

“You can’t live like that. That is the issue,” he added.

April 9, 2014: See The Immigration Attorney: Guidy Mamann.. | AMI Magazine | April 9, 2104 9 NISSAN 5774. pp. 188-195.

Secret Lev Tahor court orders prevent Jewish sect’s children from leaving country.
Lawyer for ultra-Orthodox group says families have been denied access to the Quebec court orders, which concern more than 100 children and were discovered after some were denied passports.
By Tim Alamenciak News reporter, Allan Woods Quebec Bureau | The Star | Published on Thu Apr 10 2014
"More than 100 Lev Tahor children have effectively become prisoners of this country as a result of secret court orders that prevent them from obtaining passports and crossing international borders.

Guidy Mamann, an immigration lawyer who is representing the ultra-orthodox Jewish group, said the existence of the judicial orders was discovered when some Canadian-born children were denied passports. Their parents are temporary residents in Canada and would therefore be free to leave the country.

Some of the families said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to apply for (residency) extensions. This is getting crazy — we just want to go,” Mamann told the Star in a telephone interview. “We’re not talking about running; we’re talking about these families do not have permanent status in Canada — they have temporary status. What is being proposed? That they leave their kids here? It’s crazy.”

The families have been refused access to the court orders. Mamann said one of the families demanded to see the orders, which were obtained in Quebec in November, and was told to file an access to information request.

Quebec knows what they’ve issued: they’ve issued warrants for committal, it looks like for every child in the community, but they haven’t told us, nor did they tell the court,” said Mamann.

He said Marnelle Dragila, the family lawyer representing the parents in the recent appeal hearing over an order for the removal of 13 children, was shocked to learn of the widespread orders.

I think this is very heavy-handed. It doesn’t have anything to do at this point with the protection of children,” said Mamann. “If really every single child in this community needed protection, you’d think Ontario would agree. There’s no way that any child protection authority can claim that every single child, if in Quebec, needs protection, while in Ontario … the protection authorities are not taking a position anywhere near that position.”"

May 9th 2014
"Speaking on behalf of the sect, lawyer Guidy Mamann said Lev Tahor members are feeling unwelcome in Canada, and are considering options to live elsewhere.

They have an opportunity to find somewhere where they can go,” he said. “I’m sure the group is discussing a number of possibilities. Guatemala is one of them.”

He said the community isn’t fleeing the country to avoid child protection authorities, rather most members are Israeli or American citizens on temporary visas, so they’ll have to leave soon anyway.

In fairness to the parents, I think it’s important for the public to know that these are not bad people,” Mamann said. “They made some bad decisions clearly about leaving Quebec and Ontario. But that doesn’t mean they were abusive or neglectful of their children.SOURCE

June 23rd 2014

There is no future for this community in Canada,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, who is representing community members in various immigration and child-protection files. “There is none …. Generally speaking, these people want to be together, and that’s going to be impossible here in Canada. They have some very bad memories here.”

Mr. Mamann said “several” Lev Tahor families have already left for Guatemala, including a mother and six children who were subject to a court order to remain in the Chatham area. Mr. Mamann dismissed concerns that the children would be at even greater risk in the impoverished Central American country. “The children are fine in Guatemala. There are millions of children in Guatemala,” he said.

It’s obviously a country that is a bit poorer than Canada …. It’s a lot poorer, but children live there.” SOURCE

June 26th 2014
Guatemala is a country that has received them. They seem to be ok there. It doesn’t have the comforts of Canada, but then again Canada is not offering any permanent solution for these people anyway,” says Lev Tahor’s Immigration Lawyer Guidy Mamann. “Most of the families are planning to stay with the group. We can’t obtain any kind of group immigration, there’s no such thing in Canada. Few of them would actually qualify for Canada’s strict immigration criteria so they’re relocating elsewhere until they find a permanent place where they can continue living their lives together.”

People are going to get the impression that they’re fleeing Canada or something, which is nonsense. They are here as temporary residents only,” says Mamann. “They don’t have the right to live in Canada permanently. They are required to leave the country.” SOURCE

July 17th 2014

"There are half a dozen families here in Canada who are on temporary status. The CAS is seeking a supervision order of presumably an indefinite nature. We don't know for how long, so we have an immediate conflict."

Mamann says either the Children's Aid Society has to overturn their orders or Canadian immigration officials and the Canada Border Services Agency have to give the parents more time to stay in the country.

If neither can happen, the Lev Tahor families will be unfairly forced to leave without their children, something he says they will never do.

Mamann says his clients would have prefered to stay in Chatham, but people shouldn't be surprised that it is no longer an option for the sect.

"If CAS wants to walk in once, twice, three times, into their homes, fine, but this it was a ritual that occurred in excess of 100 times in Quebec and Ontario. A lot of the outlandish allegations have never been proven, in fact, they've been disproven.

"There are long term prospects for this group, as a group in Canada, trying to get 40-50 families to immigrate beyond wishful thinking...I know a lot of the families have gone to Guatemala because their immigration laws are far more generous than ours." SOURCE

August 22nd 2014

This story is going to end not with a bang, but with a very loud fizzle,” said Toronto lawyer Guidy Mamann who was hired by the group last spring.

I think we’re just seeing the last chapter of the Lev Tahor story being written in Canada in terms of their presence here.”

Mamann said he speaks to the group’s leaders almost every day and is helping to tie up loose ends before all the Lev Tahor members leave Canada.

I don’t think anybody is planning on staying.”

Mamann said the group is disappointed it couldn’t stay in Canada because they had hoped to live a quiet life in Ontario. They’re grateful to the people of Chatham-Kent for their kindness.

A devout Jew, Mamann said he visited the settlement a week ago and was saddened to discover the men could no longer conduct proper morning services because they needed 10 men to form a minion.

I think that’s what I am going to remember the most, what may be my last visit to Chatham,” he said. “That the yeshiva more or less closed down. They have only six guys left.SOURCE

September 15th 2014

Guidy Mamann, legal counsel for Lev Tahor, rejected the allegations, saying members of Lev Tahor have been thoroughly investigated for years in both Ontario and Quebec, and no criminal charges have ever been laid.

The allegations are crazy allegations. They’ve never been proven,” he said.

Mamann, who specializes in immigration law but co-ordinated the group’s legal defence, said in his six months on the case, he has seen no hard evidence to substantiate any of the claims.

Quebec authorities spent nearly two years investigating members of the group, including about 100 visits to their community, “and came up empty handed,” he said.

In Ontario, child welfare authorities and police visited the community dozens of times, “and authorities came up with nothing.”

In all that time, no children were taken into foster care, he said.

Referring to an Ontario court order to apprehend 14 children, Mamann said an Ontario court at first instance ruled to enforce an apprehension order from Quebec. The Quebec ruling ultimately stemmed over concerns that Lev Tahor parents were ignoring that province’s education policy, which requires parents to educate their children in approved schools and also requires teaching of the provincial curriculum. Lev Tahor parents refuse to teach their children the theory of evolution or sex education. That prompted their move to Ontario, he said.

At any rate, an Ontario court subsequently overturned the apprehension order, he added.

Turning to allegations by Brudzewsky, Mamann was angry that authorities would take his claims at face value. According to the released documents, Brudzewsky said he hit children at the instruction of others. Shouldn’t he have been the one charged? Mamann asked.

This is the evidence you’re using that rips apart a family?

Mamann said in all the police and child welfare investigations of Lev Tahor households, they never found any prescription drugs that were administered to the children to control them. The medications found at Lev Tahor homes were over-the-counter drugs, he said.

And he said there was no hard evidence of underage marriage. One case he cited in which the girl was investigated showed she was nearly 17 when she gave birth, old enough to have been legally married under Canadian law, he said.

Mamann was critical of the organized Jewish community, which he said did not do its own investigation into the charges against Lev Tahor before jumping on the bandwagon condemning it.

Two teenage girls still remain in foster care in Toronto, even after their parents and siblings moved to Guatemala, along with almost all the rest of the Lev Tahor community. Their father, who is American, visits regularly from New York, but authorities won’t release the girls to his custody.

Mamann called their detention a travesty of justice." SOURCE

September 19th 2014

By Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter | Friday, September 19, 2014.

TORONTO — The two remaining Lev Tahor children being held in foster care in Toronto have been reunited with their father in the United States.

The two girls, 15- and 17-year-old American citizens, fled their foster family and took a bus to Niagara Falls before being stopped at the border and placed in the care of Children’s Services Niagara County.

Their case came before a U.S. court, but the children were returned to their father after local child welfare authorities withdrew their application to hold them. They did so even after receiving a dossier containing all the allegations against Lev Tahor, said Guidy Mamann, a lawyer representing members of the group.

The fact that American child welfare authorities declined to argue the case before a judge, even after viewing a broad set of allegations against Lev Tahor, demonstrates how weak the case is, Mamann suggested.

Maybe in Canada children’s authorities can get away with that nonsense, holding kids without evidence. But that doesn’t fly in the United States,” he said.

The girls were the last two of 14 children ordered apprehended by Canadian authorities in Ontario. The others had been released.

According to La Presse, five children from another Lev Tahor family have spent the last 13 months under foster care with a chassidic family in Montreal.

Lev Tahor’s legal saga began in earnest in Quebec in November 2013 when several families with 14 children skipped a meeting with local child welfare authorities. The meeting concerned the parents’ refusal to educate their children in Quebec schools or to teach them the theory of evolution or sex education, Mamann said.

They and about 225 members of the ultra-Orthodox group moved to Chatham, Ont., where they hoped to home-school their children and avoid the requirements of the Quebec education system. They quickly came to the attention of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.

Meanwhile, a Quebec court ordered the 14 Lev Tahor children apprehended. An Ontario court upheld the order but another court subsequently overturned it.

In the meantime, the family of the two girls left for Guatemala. When the plane they were on was full, the parents booked the teenage girls on a separate flight that went through Trinidad and Tobago. They were stopped in the Caribbean country and returned to Ontario.

Their parents and siblings ended up in Guatemala, Mamann said.

Returned to Toronto, the girls were placed with an Orthodox Jewish family last March, but they always wanted to be reunited with their family. They fled for Niagara Falls on Friday Sept. 12. “They dodged a private security detail” that was guarding them before boarding the bus for Niagara, Mamann said.

That Friday, Mamann received a phone call from U.S. immigration officials, saying the girls were at the border seeking entry into the United States. An American lawyer was present on the U.S. side, and after Maimann briefed the officer, the girls were released into the U.S. lawyer’s custody. They spent Shabbat with her and the next three or four days with a local Jewish family while their case was being prepared, Mamann said.

Their entry into the United States made sense, Mamann said. “These are two American citizens, children of an American citizen father, seeking entry into the United States."

Asked why Canadian child welfare authorities would want them to remain in foster care, Mamann said “they didn’t trust the father… That’s not the basis of separating children from their parents.”

Children’s Services Niagara County became involved in the case. They were in contact with Chatham-Kent Children’s Services. “They received a large dossier from Canadian children’s aid… with pages of allegations,” Mamann said.

Niagara child welfare personnel interviewed the girls who “clearly wanted to be reunited with their father,” he said.

Based on their interviews and after reviewing the materials, they chose not to request an apprehension order, Mamann said.

U.S. officials were only concerned about specific allegations of abuse. “There needs to be specific evidence of specific neglect versus these specific children. When they applied that, there was nothing,” Mamann said.

After living away from the Lev Tahor community for six months, “the children took it upon themselves to run as far as they could to their parents. That doesn’t speak of abuse,” Mamann said.

Mamann did not know whether the family made their way to Guatemala. They’re Americans in the United States. They’re free to go wherever they want, he said.

Calls to children’s aid services in Niagara and Chatham were not immediately returned. SOURCE