Suaad Hagi Mohamud learned this the hard way, when she was not only abandoned by Lawrence Cannon and his crew of rednecks, but was actually denounced by them as an 'impostor'. As a result she was separated from her son for months and only DNA proved that she was telling the truth.
This should never have happened and would never have happened under Michael Ignatiff's watch.
A country that abandons its own
Aug 13, 2009
If Canadian citizen Suaad Hagi Mohamud were wealthy or politically connected or media savvy, she would never have been stripped of her passport and her rights while travelling through Kenya.
She might have been stopped at the airport in Nairobi. Initially, a Canadian consular official might even have supported her detention. When she presented her identification, the Canadian system would have rallied to her side.
Suaad Hagi Mohamud, however, is not rich. She's not a political insider. She's not a media darling.
She is a black Somali immigrant who had to live on charity once Canadian authorities sent her passport to Kenyan police and suggested they prosecute her for not really being one of us. (Just visitng?) She had produced a half-dozen forms of valid identification, but our bureaucrats closed their ears to her desperate pleas for help.
By cancelling her passport, they rendered her stateless. And rendered her to the Kenyans – the same Kenyans who had rendered another Canadian citizen, Bashir Makhtal, to an Ethiopian prison.
The default position of a powerful bureaucracy is control. But when its political protectors are unresponsive to principles or the people, bureaucratic control unconsciously, and without any obvious will, can become sadism.
Remarkably, the Canadian politician elected by the people to oversee the bureaucracy – and to help fellow Canadians in distress – failed in his highest obligation. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon crushed her hope for quick justice with mistruths and irrelevancies. In demeaning and damaging language, he said she hadn't tried hard enough to prove she was a citizen.
What chance does a poor immigrant woman living on handouts away from her family have against that kind of power?
Back channels out of Ottawa are now whispering that we don't have the whole story, that things aren't what they seem in this case. But they have yet to come clean. We heard the same thing from back channels in the cases of Donald Marshall and David Milgaard, terrible examples of abuses of citizens by their government.
But what crime strips a Canadian of all their civil rights and even their human right to their identity?
None. These are excuses for failures of justice and humanity in our bureaucracy and at the highest levels of our government.
And as yesterday's Toronto Star pointed out, this is not an isolated incident. What do we learn from an examination of other cases?
Overwhelmingly, the victims are people of colour, they are immigrants, they are out of the political mainstream. Our government treats them as less than real citizens.
This incident demonstrates this government's flawed understanding of the true nature of today's Canada, and how through ignorance or malice it is frustrating Canadians' hopes for real justice.
This is inexcusable. I hope she sues