… as well as his ministerial staff, bureaucratic advisors, departmental officials both at home and abroad — really, pretty much everyone who played a part in making sure that this made-for-Canadian-TV story had a happy ending.
Afghan woman given refuge in Canada
Masoda Younasy’s first mistake was her unwillingness to conform to the strict rules of conduct governing women in Afghanistan.
Her second was being fearlessly – some might say recklessly – willing to talk about her disdain for customs that render many Afghan women the chattel of their fathers or husbands.
For her perceived insolence, Ms. Younasy was forced to flee the country where her grandfather ruled as king for four decades. She arrived in Toronto Friday from Islamabad after obtaining an exceptional three-year permit to live and work in Canada.
Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney signed the papers during a recent trip to Pakistan and India. It is the first time since the Conservatives took office in 2006 that this kind of protection has been extended to someone outside the country. […]
“My relations are calling me [to say] that they will kill me because they saw the newspaper and they saw my picture,” Ms. Younasy said in December. She had called the Globe from the home of a friend in Kabul, where she was in hiding.
“I got a message from my uncle,” she said. “He told me that this time we are not going to leave you alive.”
Then her family in Kandahar got a call from the Taliban, who were also looking for her. And one of her best friends, who had occasionally worked with her at the construction company, was gunned down.
Afghan experts said there was no way to help her. Too many supporters of the regime of President Hamid Karzai are trying to get out of the country as the Taliban regaincontrol over vast swaths of land.
Mr. Kenney’s staff office was asked for advice. Three hours later, a spokesman for the minister called to say Mr. Kenney was moved by the story and was trying to figure out what he could do to secure Ms. Younasy’s safety.
Bureaucrats suggested issuing the permit that is sometimes given to foreigners who are already in Canada on a temporary basis and must remain for humanitarian reasons.
But Ms. Younasy had to get to Pakistan to get the documents, and she was not answering her phone or her e-mail. It took four days for her to resume contact with Canadian officials and to learn the good news.
During that time, her uncle had called the home in Kabul where she was staying to ask whether she was there. “My mom told me change your location and don’t tell anyone where you are. So I changed my location and now I am in a hotel,” she explained when she resurfaced.
It took a few days and some wrangling to get her a visa for Pakistan. Finally, on Monday, she flew to Islamabad to obtain the documents that allowed her to get on the plane to Canada Friday. […]
As divided as Canadians may be over Afghanistan, our foreign policy and what our role in the world should be, I have a feeling that, if asked for an example of the kind of thing that the government should be doing in our name, most would point to the above and say, “More like this, please.”
UPDATE: For more background on the remarkable Ms. Younasy, check out the original Globe interview in which she mused about someday running for the presidency.