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Hard hitting.

This is one of the harder hitting editorials (titled A country that abandons its own) I’ve seen come out of the Toronto Star on any issue in quite awhile. It’s referring of course to the specific case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the Canadian who was falsely accused of being an impostor, and offering little help to her in defending herself against Kenyan charges (they in fact wrongly recommended to the Kenyans to charge her).

However, the editorial does talk about the difficulties other Canadians have had with getting help from their government while overseas and in trouble, and it bluntly states:

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. She had produced a half-dozen forms of valid identification, but our bureaucrats closed their ear

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.

In the very same editorial column, Haroon Siddiqui does an op-ed called “Harper consistently embarrasses Canada abroad“, though it could also be titled “Harper consistently abandons Canadians abroad”. Another good read.

UPDATE: The Waterloo Record also calls this “No way to treat a citizen” in an editorial it has today. And the National Post spits it out grudgingly, but they also feel her treatment was wrong and she deserves an apology.

UPDATE 2: The Star-Phoenix in Saskatchewan jumps in as well, titled “Time For Government to Fix Problems In Foreign Office“, though I’d argue the problem is with the government and their attitude itself, not just the Foreign Affairs ministry. It appears this issue is resonating out there that it was badly mishandled (at the very least).

10 comments to Hard hitting.

  • Stan

    Any of you liberals ever hear of Bill Sampson?

  • Stew

    If there really were four investigations, I also would like to see the full documentation of the evidence, including all communications, emails and decisions made between the two governments and in particular the full, unspun account, from Larwence Cannon’s office, that led to the stranding of a Canadian citizen in another country. I believe we are owed, at the very least, this much from those involved, after all, these officials represent and speak for all of us and our country. I want to know what really was said in my name and I mean all of it, in the hope that it is not what a number of people do believe, which I don’t…yet. Unfortunately, that day will probably have to wait until a court date is determined and then sometime afterwards.

  • Do remember that this was DFAIT’s story, silky-smooth as always. I’d like to know more about these four investigations, and about the visual photo matching too, given that experts in that field have recently stated that Mohamud is exactly who she is claiming to be.

    To be quite blunt, I think this is a pile of utter, ass-saving prevarication.

  • Lorraine

    There is always more to the story:

    Ms. Mohamud was initially stopped by Kenyan officials because her photos did not match. When Ms. Mohamud originally arrive at the airport a photo was taken of her by Kenyan immigration officials and when she arrived at the airport to depart the person who presented Ms. Mohamud passport did not match either the passport photo or the airports entry photo. That’s when CBSA was contacted to investigate. Foreign Affairs and CSBA have conducted four separate investigations and she has failed each one including the visual photo matching tests, extensive interviews, etc. Fingerprints were requested by Foreign Affairs in the hopes that they might match sets in Canada but to date there are no prints on record with CIC or any other agency or police department. Consular services are not being provided to the woman who presented herself as Ms. Mohamud because she is not a Canadian citizen.
    http://drdawgsblawg.blogspot.com/2009/08/suaad-hagi-mohamud-wheres-ndp.html

  • Ottlib

    As soon as either Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Layton mentions this the story will become about the politics of the situation instead of the plight of Ms. Mohamud.

    We all know that if this government feels threatened they will dig in their heels and put this women through more Hell just to get around admitting they are everything these editorials say they are and much more.

    Wait until she is safely on Canadian soil again, then attack the government’s handling of it. Politicizing the situation at that point will give the opposition the chance to hammer the government over the handling of this issue while not harming Ms. Mohamud.

  • Or, Parliament is not in session and they’re waiting to rake Harper over the coals more publicly. (Such as, say, in a convention. That’d be a good time for it.)

  • sjw

    I think what’s going on is there is a large swath of Canadians who could give two flying fucks about Suaad Hagi Mohamud and her plight and these two gentlemen must pay homage to that thick-headed audience.

  • Anon

    Scott,

    And one can’t help noticing a hard-hitting silence from both Iggy and Layton on this issue. What is going on?

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