Thursday, September 24, 2009

Abdelrazik: the other shoe drops

Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen marooned in Sudan for six years by the wilful actions (and inaction) of successive Canadian governments until the courts forced his repatriation this year, is suing. Read the Globe and Mail account here, and his Statement of Claim here.

Abdelrazik's lawsuit is against the Canadian government and--I like this very much--Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon personally for "malfeasance in office." It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

The active, malevolent resistance of the Harper government and Cannon in particular to Abdelrazik's return to his country has been amply documented by the
Globe and Mail's persistent Paul Koring, and faithfully reproduced here. An evil little cat-and-mouse game was played with the man, promises broken, hopes dashed.

Bizarre and absurd arguments were made
by the government, culminating in the submission to federal judge Russel Zinn earlier this year that, in effect, Lawrence Cannon could do anything he damn well pleased in his ministerial role, the Charter didn't apply, and the courts had no authority over him. As for the UN no-fly list regulations, which permit a listed person to return to his own country, government lawyers argued that they applied only if Abdelrazik were already at the Canadian border. Justice Zinn's stinging comments on these and other matters may be found here.

Minister Cannon acted in bad faith every step of the way. To this day, as a person who remains on the UN no-fly list, Abdelrazik cannot legally be employed or receive social assistance in his own country. Those of us who helped him return are apparently lawbreakers. Indeed, anyone who gives the man the price of a cup of coffee is a lawbreaker under our flawed United Nations Act.

The treatment of this man by the government has been a horror. Perhaps this lawsuit will mark the beginning of the end of a regime whose ministers have behaved on occasion like absolute monarchs to whom the law simply doesn't apply. I, for one, wish Abdelrazik well in his continuing quest for justice.

UPDATE: Abousfian will begin a speaking tour today. For events in your area, check out the Project Fly Home schedule.

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