Canada Deserves Better
He makes my skin crawl every time I see him on TV. He is Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. We deserve better. Canada is a better country than what he and his Conservative party reflect. We need to kick him and his party out of office sooner rather than later.
It is in the area of human and civil rights that Harper is most offensive. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/08/13-2 This past weekend we have been reminded of two of the failures of the government to do the right thing on behalf of Canadians in trouble abroad. The Federal Appeal's Court rule against the government in upholding the lower court decision that the government has violated the Charter Rights of Omar Khadr, who as a child soldier has been held by the US in Quantanamo Bay for 7 years. The court has instructed the government to ask that Khadr, the last western detainee there, be returned to Canada.
Rather than immediately saying we hear and respect the courts decision, Harper in his crerpy style refers to it as a split decision (2/1, as if it is less valid) The government in its vindictive way suggests it may go to the Supreme Court as if a seven year delay on coming to aid of Khadr isn't long enough. I have no doubt the government will lose before the Supreme Court which is certainly more representative of Canadian view than Harper and his government.
Today, Suaad Hagi Mohamud, will arrive back in Canada after being detained in Kenya after the validity of her passport was questioned. For reasons unclear at this point the government declared she was an imposter and asked the Kenyans to presecute her. The government officials refused to adequately review her situation until her lawyer had DNA testing done.
Only then did the government concede and agree to give her a temporary passport and ask the Kenyan govenment to drop the charges so she could come home to her 12 year old son she has not see for three months. This case reflects the characteristic mean spirited attitude of the government.
All this would might be forgiven as unusual circumstance but unfortunately it is part of a pattern.
It is a pattern of treating some Canadians of non-white European stock as less than worth Canadians. Most of the situations involve Muslim Canadians. The Conservative government is nothing short of racist in it attitude and behaviour toward Canadians they treat as second class.
Here are some of the situations where we see the pattern. The Case of Maher Arar is well known as Canada allowed the US to rendition him to Syria where he was in prison for a year and tortured. He has since been cleared of any possible charges and awarded $10 million dollars in compensation . Less well know in the case of Abdullah Almalki, another Syrian Canadian who was inmprisoned and tortured in Syria.
More recently, there is the case of Abourfian Abdelradzik who for six years was jailed and tortured in Sudan on the advice of the Canadian government. He was finally cleared by CSIS ,Canada's Security agency, and the RCMP. He lived for a year in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan. afraid to leave for fear of being re arrested by the Sudanese. He was caught in a catch 22 situation until the Canadian court ruled that the Government had to issue him a temporary passport so he could get back to Canada.
Then there is the case of Canadian Bashir Makhtal, kidnapped from Kenya and being tried in Ethiopia. What help is the Canadian government offering him.
China has imprisoned an Canadian Uighur, Husseyincan Celil. What is Canada doing for him?
They are not all far away in other countries. There is the case of Mohamed Warsame who was held in jail in the US for five years. (much of it in solitary confinement) until he made a deal to confess to a lesser charge to have more serious charges dropped.
There may be other cases, which I have not read about. I am afraid their probably have been.
Some have gotten little attentions from the public and even less from the government. Those that managed to get some public support finally got some action out of the government which seems determined to do little or nothing for Muslim Canadians in trouble abroad. Do they just figure Muslims are all "terrorists" and Canada owes them nothing. They are not second class citizen, they should have the same right as all of us. By contrast, Brenda Martin, who was convicted to a crime in Mexico, was brought back to Canada by a government chartered jet. Need I say she is not a Muslim.
Finally, Let me say something about Security Certificates. Five Muslim men, residents of Canada have been held under these certificates: Mohammed Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei, Mohammed Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui. They are the Canadian equivalent of Quantanamo Bay prisoners. These men were held, without charge and no guarantee of a court date. They are being held on secret evidence which they are not allowed to see or challenge. These men are under threat of deportation, possibly to a country that tortures. Periodically, there cases are reviewed. Here is an article that explains these draconian detentions. http://www.amnesty.ca/take_action/actions/canada_certificates.php It finally took the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision to tell the government these men could not be held indefinitely. They were given a year to adjust the law. Most our now free in Canada but living under very stricked conditions which are really house arrest, with still little chance to get their day in court.
The Conservative government isn't the only government that shoulders some of the blame in these cases. Some date back to the former Liberal government. But all those that are still current are the Conservatives responsibility. All the opposition parties seem now to recognize the injustices involved.
I expect the Canadian people who have reviewed and apologized for previous official racist injustices among Native Canadians, (Cultural Genocidal Residential School), Japanese Canadians , ( imprisonment during WWII) , and Asian Canadians (head tax and not giving them the vote until 1948.), want to see the end to such government behaviour. We are a different country now than when these abuses were perpetrated. We now pride ourselves on being Multi-Cultural. We need to closely examine our governments behaviour toward Muslim Canadians.