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Tories Trash Canadian Citizenship

08-Nov-10 07:03 pm EST Leave a comment Go to comments
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great article in the National Post today echoes earlier complaints I’ve made about the Conservatives’ practice of virtually ignoring Canadians incarcerated or detained for whatever reason abroad.   This goes quite beyond the story of Omar Kadr who has been left to languish in Gitmo (the highly controversial detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where captured combatants from the Afghan theatre of conflict are detained); quite understandably feeling betrayed by his nation and its people (who for reasons I’m starting to have difficulty understanding still seem to prefer the government of Stephen Harper over the candidacy of Michael Igntieff, Leader of the Liberal Party, Her Majesty’s Loyal Official Opposition).

The Tories continue to argue — in some cases just plain wrongfully — that Canadians being detained abroad are terrorists, criminals, or what have you and that they must answer for their crimes in whatever country has detained them.  Of course, the detention facilities in places like the Sudan or Thailand are less comfortable to be sure and initially one might think “too bad”; ya do the crime, ya do the time…wherever you did the crime.  But in most cases, extradition treaties have been put in place precisely to ensure that Canadians have the option to serve sentences in Canada to facilitate re-integration as citizens in this country.  And to not grant Canadians access to the benefits of these treaties is to deny them the opportunity for rehabilitation into our society — the stated mission of our penal system.

Peter Van Loan (left), the Canadian minister for international trade, meets with Prince Khaled bin Sultan, assistant minister of defense and aviation for military affairs, in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA) (Image Source: ArabNews.com)

Beyond this, there are several cases where Canadians are convicted of severe crimes, eliciting in punishments that violate our Constituion; and every Canadian is supposed to be protected by our Constitution regardless of where they are.  A recent case of two young Canadians (one a teenager at the time of the alleged incident and thus a minor in our system) were convicted of a capital crime in Saudi Arabia and faced the death penalty by means of public decapitation.  Most in Canada would consider such a penalty not just cruel and unusual (particularly for the boys’ parents and family), but barbaric and unacceptable.  Yet the Conservatives had done precious little on this file until just this year (they were arrested in 2007) and their lives still remain in jeopardy, though the sentence has been delayed while the Saudi justice system deals with the numerous irregularities cited in their trial.

What might really be behind the Tories’ seeming reluctance to protect Canadians travelling abroad is simply good ‘ol right-wing ideology.  It’s long been suspected that Stephen Harper has secretly favoured the death penalty, despite publicly commenting otherwise; yet it’s pretty obvious that a philosophy of non-intervention in capital cases will increase the likelihood of executions.  And in the non-capital cases; part of that inconsistent desire to be a “law and order” party, except when it’s politically inconvenient.

Ironically, what might eventually put an end to this practice isn’t an unprecedented upwelling of Canadian angst about fellow citizens being executed for crimes they didn’t commit, nor will it be any great philosophical or spiritual epiphany being had by Stephen Harper.  It seems that the other nations of the world — even those whose legal systems are more reminiscent of well-organized drumheads than courts of justice — are getting tired of the Canadian government “dumping” criminals on them.  In particular the United States has lodged a formal diplomatic protest concerning an unprecedented backlog of unprocessed requests for transfers of prisoners to Canadian jails and prisons.

And all the stars would have to disappear both from the sky and the American flag before a Tory Canadian PM would dare to defy the American government, you can be sure!

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Categories: Law and Public Policy
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Terry Glavin

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