Mar 21, 2013 / 7:15 pm
A migrant worker who unwittingly starred in a reality television show about Canadian border guards was already back in Mexico on Thursday, when a rights group filed an official complaint with the federal privacy watchdog over his treatment at the hands of the Canada Borders Services Agency.
In the complaint, Oscar Mata Duran said he felt a surge of adrenaline March 13 when about a dozen immigration officers pulled up at his Vancouver low-rise condo construction site with a television camera in tow.
Running upstairs to hide, Mata Duran hoped he'd be overlooked in the raid. Five minutes later, however, he was discovered and bombarded with questions about his immigration and work status.
When found to be lacking the proper documents to work in Canada, the complaint filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said Mata Duran and several others were taken into custody at a downtown immigration detention facility, the video camera trained on them the entire time.
"When he asked why there was a camera present, the officer told him 'not to worry, it's for a reality TV show,'" said the complaint.
Mata Duran was processed within the next hour, along with a number of others who had been rounded up in the raid.
The men were asked to sign "a piece of paper" and told the footage was for a new series called "Border Services" airing on Global TV and National Geographic.
"Confused and afraid about what would happen to him, Mr. Mata Duran signed the consent form without reading it," said the complaint.
"At no point was he given a thorough explanation about the uses to which the footage would be put."
Mata Duran was put on a plane home to Mexico on Wednesday.
The civil liberties association wants the privacy commissioner to recommend that filming in Vancouver and Toronto be halted, and the show be taken off the air.
While the privacy commissioner can not force a government agency to comply with the law, the BCCLA said it hopes its recommendations will publicly address the agency's violation of privacy rights. Lawyers anticipate a ruling in a month or two.
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