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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

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. 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. 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.


At 6:33 p.m., Blogger Gretchen said...

It is a shame how our elected officials so very rarely reflect the true feelings of us. :(

At 10:58 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

There's an old saying, "Tory times are hard times." While I'm sure that it meant economically, there is still a truth to it. They are hard for some and trying for many.

At 8:10 a.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Philip--sorry that you now have a PM who does to you what our last president did to many of us in the U.S.
It sounds as thought too many of the bad arguments that had predominated to hold suspected "terrorists" in the U.S. has also infused into Canada.

At 11:11 a.m., Blogger possum said...

WOW... I thought you all had it better than we in the "south!" It sounds almost as bad as the Bush Cheney regime.
My daughter, husband and their son refuse to come to visit in this country. She was born in Turkey, married a Kurd, both are doctors over "there" and were even afraid to email me when Bush was in power.

At 8:43 p.m., Blogger A House Divided said...

Thanks for stopping by our blog. We have a mostly black w/ some white female great dane!

At 11:58 p.m., Blogger Mary said...


My father believed that the Tories brought with them economical hardships for the working man. I believe the same, but do not like the Liberal leader either. Nowadays it's the worst of the worst or the worst of the best. None of them have the best interests of the people in mind.

Haven't stopped by for a while. Hope you are well.


At 2:35 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

I realize wherever I go in the world, people are complaining about politicians, I included !
There are still lots of piers around at least along this coast.

At 9:06 p.m., Blogger Navigator said...

You mention 11 Muslim by name. These are people of interest, or have been people of interest, to the security authorities.

In the 2001 census, Canada had more than 700,000 residents claiming Islam as their religion of choice. I expect the next time the census is done by religion in 2011 we will find that at least one million people in this country self-identify as Muslims, so let us assume that at the present day there are 800,000 Muslims living in Canada. If one assumes, as you seem to, that all the 11 are completely innocent people who have been unjustly persecuted by our government, then that represents just 0.00001 of all Muslims in this country. That hardly seems to be the political pogrom your polemical posting would invite us to eschew.

On the whole, Muslims are treated very well in this country, which is why Islam is one of the fastest growing religions here (it isn't by conversion, it is by immigration).

A second thought. Security authorities are always going to make mistakes -- they are just human, after all. Would we rather their mistakes be one of over protection or under protection?

Thirdly, while you can lay the blame for the present circumstances at the door of the current government, many of these people you mention were already in trouble with the authorities when it was the opposition Liberal party in power, one that showed little interest in human rights under its watch.

Fourthly, while you seem to be in high dudgeon over this handful of Muslims, you fail to say much about the tens of thousands of Muslims who are in trouble in Iran, and the hundreds of thousands in Sudan, etc, where the writ of Stephen Harper does not run. I am betting any one of those people languishing in an Iranian prison or in refugee camps in Ethiopia would trade their birthright to come to Canada and be subject to this "awful" government of Stephen Harper.

At 4:45 a.m., Blogger Tom said...

Hello again Philip...
I learn so much from your posts.... I have learned more about your country from your posts than anything else...


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