whos really canadian let ottawa decide

The federal government appears fixated on picking and choosing who's a real Canadian, and who isn't.

The federal government appears fixated on picking and choosing who’s a real Canadian, and who isn’t.

Right now, the headlines are focussed on Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who’s being attacked by the Conservative government for being a carpetbagger because he lived abroad for 34 years.

Apparently, he’s not Canadian enough to lead the nation.

This is an all-too-common theme in Ottawa these days. It’s belies a state of mind. Or, more accurately, it is an idea fixed in the state’s mind.

And that should make every passport-carrying Canadian very nervous.

Ignatieff will weather the storm.

Other Canadian castoffs aren’t so lucky. You probably don’t remember them.

There’s that guy with the funny name—Abousfian Abdelrazik, a citizen who has spent more than a year sleeping on a cot in the Canadian embassy.

Abdelrazik, who is from Montreal, has never been charged with a crime, but has been labeled an Islamic extremist based on … well, nobody has said precisely why.

In 2003, while visiting his sick mother, he was arrested by Sudanese police at the suggestion of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, and jailed in the notorious Kober prison.

There, he was tortured. But, after four years, he was released because Sudanese officials could no longer hold a man they had come to believe was innocent.

He’s on the US no-fly list. And the UN list, perhaps at the insistence of Canada. And yet no government has provided concrete evidence he’s a threat. It’s all innuendo, reinforced by the guy’s skin tone.

For more than a year he’s been sleeping in the Canadian embassy. He’s free to leave—odd, given he’s believed to be so dangerous—but he’s a Canadian citizen and wants to return home to Montreal.

Ottawa will not issue him an emergency passport (his passport expired while he was in jail), which would allow him to return home.

He is Canadian. But, through the actions of the federal government, he’s not entitled to the rights of citizenship—like facing accusations in a court of law.

Why? You have to guess that, for whatever reason, they don’t like him.

Then there’s Ronald Allen Smith, an Albertan on death row in the US.

Since 1976, Canada fought to bring home citizens who faced the death penalty.

But that changed recently. Stockwell Day, as public safety minister, altered federal policy.

Now it will pick and choose which murderers it champions.

Ottawa will decide which criminals facing the death penalty it will help.

It will judge whether the country has the rule of law.

That’s a slippery slope. Again, it opens protection of Canadian citizens to interpretation.

That is, if Ottawa decides a citizen is worthy, it will protect them. If not, they’re out of luck.

Federal officials and politicians can cherry-pick which citizens have rights by deciding whether a foreign nation is a stable democracy with a decent legal system.

A quick look around the world suggests there’s no way all those assessments will be easy.

It can quickly get messy.

Imagine sitting in a concrete box awaiting your hanging, and wondering why Ottawa ignored your case.

Is it because the country that’s jailed you is a stable democracy with a good legal system?

Or is it because that nation’s officials wield considerable influence over a Canadian mining play and Ottawa doesn’t want to compromise the deal?

Or maybe, as in the case of Omar Khadr, jailed in Guantanamo prison without charge, it’s simply that a powerful foreign government is looking for a scapegoat.

This is what we’re opening ourselves up to when we allow Ottawa to determine which passport-holding citizen is a worthy Canadian.

Abdelrazik and Khadr aren’t really Canadians—they’re deemed terrorists.

Smith, he’s a murderer.

Ignatieff … he’s a Liberal. (Richard Mostyn)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read