The founder of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor has a more than colourful past.
Critics call Shlomo Helbrans a fraud who brainwashes his followers.
In 1994, he was convicted of kidnapping a teenage boy in Brooklyn, NY. He served two years in prison and was deported to Israel in 2000.
In 2003, he arrived in Canada as a refugee.
Helbrans claimed asylum because he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs: his sect denies the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
Longtime Lev Tahor critic David Ouellette of the Montreal-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says he still doesn't understand how he got into Canada in the first place.
"It's really quite formidable that a Canadian court would accept this as a basis to grant an Israeli national refugee status in Canada," he says.
Ouellette says there are many ultra-Orthodox sects in Israel that reject the country's right to existbut they are rarely if ever persecuted.
Most Lev Tahor members, Ouellette says, are either from Israel or the U.S.
Photo courtesy La Presse