Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | 7:02 PM ET
Francisco Caruso is arguing that his right to mobility — including the right to leave and enter Canada — is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The case began Tuesday at the Montreal courthouse.
Caruso said that after his divorce in 2001, he became depressed and lost his job at his father’s bakery. He has barely been able to make ends meet, he said.
But thanks to money from friends and some investors, he started a business importing exotic woods from Latin America, he said. Over a two-year period, Caruso made nine business trips.
But in 2003, he said, he was informed his passport would be suspended because he was late paying child support to his ex-wife and three children. The payments owing now amount to more than $80,000.
Alexander Pless, the lawyer for the federal government, argued that Caruso is the author of his own misfortune. If he had the money to travel to Latin America, he could also have arranged to provide financial support for his children, Pless said.
The law being challenged protects children, many of whom are among the poorest members of Canadian society, Pless said.