Colour-coded - Macleans.ca
 

Colour-coded


 

John Baglow makes serious allegations about this government’s approach to citizenship.

Stephen Harper is going to the Supreme Court to put the boots once again to an off-white Canadian.

Can anyone now doubt that the Conservatives have managed in a mere three years to institute a tiered, colour-coded notion of citizenship in this country? And by “Conservatives,” I mean both our present government and its party base. If anyone doubts me on the latter, a good throat-gagging read of the comments collected by the major on-line media on the Suaad Hagi Mohamud case alone should put any lingering doubts to rest.

There is one level of citizenship for, say, a Brenda Martin. But there is quite another for Abousfian Abdelrazik, still unable lawfully to find a job in his own country, or to receive any kind of social assistance. Or for Suaad Hagi Mohamud, Abdihakim Mohamed …

Or Omar Khadr.

Thing is, Nay Myo Hein doesn’t look white to me. But Ronald Allen Smith does. Mikhail Lennikov too.


 

Colour-coded

  1. There's a ton of ammunition to use against the Conservatives as they've repeatedly fumbled the cases of citizens in trouble outside our borders. At the very least, they've failed to communicate a coherent policy in this regard. In less charitible vein, one could accuse them of incompetence and/or insensitivity – they seem to be in way over their heads.

    But the race angle is plain dumb. Critics won't budge them with accusations of racism. If anything, it's likely to give the Conservatives lots of leeway to carry on ignoring concerns. It comes off as shrill, reactionary and based in partisan/personal hatred of them. The base supporters circle the wagons, and moderate Canadians tune out.

    Even if there's something to the racism accusations (and I don't think there is), so what? At the end of the day, I want a government that handles these issues with competence. This approach won't yield that result.

    I'm not saying race isn't a very real issue in our society. It is. There's probably MPs from all parties that harbour some forms of racialized world views – some of them downright distasteful. So long as they govern according to our principles of equality, who cares?

    But you'd better have more than circumstantial evidence before you start accusing folks of being racist. It's really no better than Harper's pedophile swipe at Martin, or terrorist-sympathizer poke at Layton.

  2. There's a ton of ammunition to use against the Conservatives as they've repeatedly fumbled the cases of citizens in trouble outside our borders. At the very least, they've failed to communicate a coherent policy in this regard. In less charitible vein, one could accuse them of incompetence and/or insensitivity – they seem to be in way over their heads.

    But the race angle is plain dumb. Critics won't budge them with accusations of racism. If anything, it's likely to give the Conservatives lots of leeway to carry on ignoring concerns. It comes off as shrill, reactionary and based in partisan/personal hatred of them. The base supporters circle the wagons, and moderate Canadians tune out.

    Even if there's something to the racism accusations (and I don't think there is), so what? At the end of the day, I want a government that handles these issues with competence. This approach won't yield that result.

  3. There's a ton of ammunition to use against the Conservatives as they've repeatedly fumbled the cases of citizens in trouble outside our borders. At the very least, they've failed to communicate a coherent policy in this regard. In a less charitible vein, one could accuse them of incompetence and/or insensitivity – they seem to be in way over their heads.

    But the race angle is plain dumb. Critics won't budge them with accusations of racism. If anything, it's likely to give the Conservatives lots of leeway to carry on ignoring concerns. It comes off as shrill, reactionary and based in partisan/personal hatred of them. The base supporters circle the wagons, and moderate Canadians tune out.

    Even if there's something to the racism accusations (and I don't think there is), so what? At the end of the day, I want a government that handles these issues with competence. This approach won't yield that result.

    I'm not saying race isn't a very real issue in our society. It is. There's probably MPs from all parties that harbour some forms of racialized world views – some of them downright distasteful. So long as they govern according to our principles of equality, who cares?

    But you'd better have more than circumstantial evidence before you start accusing folks of being racist. It's really no better than Harper's pedophile swipe at Martin, or terrorist-sympathizer poke at Layton.

  4. The Brenda Martin case keeps coming up as "proof" that Canadians who are not visible minorities get better protection abroad from this government. But it is my recollection that the government didn't act on the Martin case until they were faced with mounting public pressure.

    The point is, the government seems reluctant to act on behalf of any Canadians who run into trouble outside of Canada.

  5. What is going on here? First Wherry, then SeanStock, then Sigh defending the Harper government?

    Just because they are defending against something almost as ridiculous as elderly death panels in Canada, what kind of blind partisanship is this? Why, its almost as if you three aren't BLIND at all!

    Whatever will the talking-pointers make of it?

    • I'm not sure that saying that the government treats everyone equally badly can be construed as a defense.

    • I'm a little surprised by Wherry, it's a good post by Wherry. I hate it when people play the race card because they think it makes themselves look smart – Baglow is a hack.

  6. I wonder what race baiters think they are going to achieve with this type of article/argument. What about Amanda Lindhout? According to Baglow thesis, she is getting royal treatment from government while Mohamud can go take a long walk off short pier. But who is still languishing in Somalia and who is home in Canada?

    I don't understand what Baglow-types think they are doing presenting their race based accusations while ignoring facts. I am sure it will do wonders for race relations to accuse Cons/cons of racism while presenting examples that occurred under Liberal watch. Canada is one of the most progressive, tolerant countries in the world but to listen to Baglow and his sort, Canada is just a notch above Nazi Germany and it's hatred of others.

    • In my view, Canada is the most progressive, tolerant country in the world. That is not a reason not to be vigilant about racism. One only has to look at the comments that are submitted following articles on these incidents to realize that there is a small but vocal component of conservative supporters who clearly are racist. There are also a small number of CPC MP's that fail the sniff test.

      Harper's stand on Canadians abroad is minimalist, not racist. However, given the issues in the first paragraph it would be very useful if he found some opportunities to speak out on the issue.

      • Nice that you can divide world into Cons/cons are racist but no one else is.

        Interesting that Baglow can divide Canadians into 'Brown' and others, I guess, when we are all Canadians regardless of skin colour. Libs are just projecting their troubling views of the world onto others when they should actually be looking at themselves.

        • Come on, I never said either all Cons are racist nor that all racists are Cons. You could certainly find some racist "Pure Laine" type supporter for the Bloc. I have no doubt there are racists who support the Liberal party and perhaps even the NDP. However the CPC has clearly captured the angry, white male crowd and their female equivalent.

          They are vocal and dangerous. Dangerous in particular to the CPC. By cloaking their petty hate as an individual right they demean the entire conservative movement in Canada. Baglow's article is crap, but it is crap that is almost believable because of this group.

          • However the CPC has clearly captured the angry, white male crowd

            There is no evidence for that statement, it is a bigoted statement.

  7. When the Suaad Hagi Mohamud story first broke, some people screamed "bloody racism!", when they should have screamed "bloody incompetence!" People were absolutely convinced that the top official at the Canada High Commission in Nairobi (who told Kenyan authorities that Ms. Mohamud was probably an impostor based on the lips in her photo) must have been motivated by racism. Then it turned out that the top official was herself an African-Canadian woman, and the cries of "racism" diminished. Never confuse racism with systemic incompetence and bureaucratic indifference.

    • I agree that Mohamud case is more likely due to incompetence than racism but isn't it interesting that so many people dropped the 'racism' meme once it was revealed that Canadian High Commission in Kenya was a female arab muslim from Egypt. I would have been interested in more stories about racism, Arab muslims and black people (Darfur would be good example) but that wouldn't fit narrative of Con=racists while everyone else are enlightened libs who can do no wrong.

    • True, but just because the top official was African-Canadian doesn't mean she wasn't racist. I'm not insinuating she was but to dismiss charges of racism just because the two people share the same skin color is false logic to me. Racism permeates through the whole human species and ironically does not discriminate with who it chooses to infect.

      Also I would add that one has to be very diligent when trying to differentiate between racism and systemic incompetence/ bureaucratic indifference. Both can be used as a scapegoat for the other and I'm sure they both have.

  8. We have to accept a couple of facts – the world has gotten a lot more dangerous – many countries barely have a functioning government yet there is still the ability to travel almost anywhere in the world regardless of the danger. And lets face it, we do have more immigrants from places where there are barely functioning governments (I suppose I will be called racist for pointing out the obvious). So our new Canadians go back to these countries and for any number of reasons have problems (some of their own making, some of the countries' government, some of the Canadian governments, some of the result of UN regulations/other countries regulations) – any protocols to deal with these problems are probably outdated the minute they are created because the situations in other countries have changed. There is a responsibility for any Canadian traveling to take precautions and maybe not travel (in the 1970's my homeland was a war zone – remember The Troubles of N. Ireland? – my relatives suggested that it was not a time for a visit no matter how much I wanted to visit my homeland and see friends and relatives that I have not seen for 10+ years; I felt that was just a wise decision on my part). I'm not excusing our government, but there are mutual responsibilities of citizenship.

    • Fair enough, and that's been Harper's refrain for a long time now. But such a position ignores the role of the High Comission in Kenya, to use the most recent Mohuamud case as an example. Can we at least ask our government not to f**k us over when abroad?

      I think Jack Mitchell – some months ago – summed up the failure of the Conservative position well, as they tend to (publically) ignore the options that fall between doing nothing and sending in JTF2.

    • "We have to accept a couple of facts…"

      Good. Let us know when you have any.

    • Fair enough, and that's been Harper's refrain for a long time now. But such a position ignores the role of the High Commission in Kenya, to use the most recent Mohuamud case as an example. Can we at least ask our government not to f**k us over when abroad?

      I think Jack Mitchell – some months ago – summed up the failure of the Conservative position well, as they tend to (publicly) ignore the options that fall between doing nothing and sending in JTF2.

  9. I wonder what race baiters think they are going to achieve with this type of article/argument. What about Amanda Lindhout? According to Baglow thesis, she is getting royal treatment from government while Mohamud can go take a long walk off short pier. But who is still languishing in Somalia and who is home in Canada?

  10. The lesson:

    The current adminsitration does not worry about your race, creed, colour or proclivities. They will equally suck at providing consular services to citizens, with no preference.

  11. What about Ben Miller from Saskatchewan who faces the death penalty in England? What about the mass-immigration of white-collar, white-skinned Europeans immigrating to Toronto who can't get social assistance? Why isn't Harper helping those people?

    Are the above statements true? NO! There lies my point though. Is it true there are more visible/ethnic minority Canadians who are facing problems like these than non-visible minorities? YES! Then does it not make sense that there are more minorities headlining news with their problems?

    Don't call it racism! That is ridiculous people. It's an imperfect system, but racism is not the problem.

    • When did the U.K. reinstitute the death penalty? You sound like an Aryan troll.

  12. For what it's worth, I don't think it's about racism per se, but the Cons seem to be making it up as they go along (especially after re-reading Aaron's interview with Kory Teneyke on torture).

  13. Can anyone now doubt that the Conservatives have managed in a mere three years to institute a tiered, colour-coded notion of citizenship in this country? And by “Conservatives,” I mean both our present government and its party base

    especially when all women, Natives, poor people are second class citizens

    but what can we expect forom thos who desire to be rich and despise the poor

    • You have the 17th comment on a list on which the previous 16 commenters pretty much unanimously "doubted" the racism charge. And yet you start your comment with "Can anyone now doubt". I was really hoping the left didn't have any talking-pointers because I didn't recall seeing any.

      Thanks a lot for ruining my fantasies.

  14. If Canada defends all Canadians in trouble outside the country, we would have to defend that swirly faced pedifile in Taiwian…
    Get a life people!

    • Well governments can't interfere in the legal processes in other countries, and yes, the rhetoric is correct, Canadians abraod have to respect the laws of the country they are in. I think it's about making sure that the individual's rights aren't violated, and that the person abroad gets a level of process that's meets at least some sort of minimum internationally accepted standard.
      I think Mr. Swirl received at least the minimum of fair treatment, so there's nothing Canada would be obliged to do.
      Khadr, on the other hand, hasn't, which is why Canada should appeal to the US government to rectify the injustices. In cases for other countries' citizens, the accepted remedy has been repatriation. It just seems Canada has become an outlier with respect to this among western countries (ooops, aprdon the partisan comment!)

  15. Nice to see some balance in the blog Mr.Wherry.

    As for some other posts where I felt you took quotes out of context… After reading Mr.Taylors recent contributition to the magazine, I will be cutting you considerably more slack.

  16. Miriam Khadour isn't an "African-Canadian." She was born in Quebec, and married an Egyptian. The comments about her here go straight to the "racism" charge.

    Sorry I came to this late, in any case. Anyone who looks at the differential treatment that non-white Canadians abroad are given by this government and its officials needs to take the original article seriously. Mohamud (despite the current Conservative smear campaign), Abdihakim Mohammed, Abousfian Abdelrazik. come immediately to mind, and the strenuous efforts of this government to keep them in exile have been extraordinary. The courts have all but thrown up their hands in horror.

    Martin was flown home on a private jet at taxpayers' expense. Abdelrazik, on the other hand, was marooned for six years. Amazing stories are still being spun about Mohamud. It took three years for Mohammed to get back home, even after pleading for a DNA test.

    Smith was at least convicted of something, and in Lennikov's case, his KGB affiliations are at the fore: no surprise there. And the government reversed the decision on Hein only after a public outcry–pretty hard to defend sending a military deserter back to Burma.

    One has to be seriously blind to ignore the streak of racism in this government's treatment of "off-white" citizens who get into trouble abroad. The discovery phase of Abdelrazik's lawsuit against Lawrence Cannon should be interesting.

    • I think we can all appreciate the contributions of someone who calls court filings a 'smear campaign', for what they are.

  17. It occurs to me a should have added some other examples, on the domestic front: the punishing of an Arab organization (and perhaps this Tweet throws more light on the affair), and the disgraceful treatment of First Nations people by Minister Chuck Strahl, who uses words like "scalped" when he's talking about them–not to mention Harper's attempts to shoehorn Maurice Vellacott onto the Aboriginal Affairs Committee.

    And how could I have missed mentioning Faraz Siddiqui?