Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Abousfian Abdelrazik: labour says no to Harper

Canadian labour stood up for a single Canadian citizen today, giving new life to the slogan "An injury to one is an injury to all."

It is illegal to so much as buy Abousfian Abdelrazik a cup of coffee, much less offer him employment. He remains on a UN "no-fly" list for reasons that no one--not even the RCMP and CSIS--knows.

Under Canadian law, specifically the United Nations Act, he cannot be employed, fed, clothed, sheltered, or have a bank account. Recently a small bequest from his late spouse, deposited in a local Montreal bank, was frozen by the Harper government. After going cap in hand to our overlords in New York, he has now been given permission to draw a small amount each month for necessities of life--except that the bank holding his money is still refusing to release any of it.

This is happening in Canada. In 2010. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms be damned.

Not long ago a few of us stood up and sent him money. And now organized labour--I am proud today--is confronting the government directly:

Hassan Yussuff, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) stated, "We are taking this step in full consciousness that it could be deemed illegal. We are hoping that other unions and labour federations will join us in hiring Mr. Abdelrazik to document his story, so that other Canadians can be made aware of the impact of the security agenda on innocent people."

The Canadian Labour Congress will employ Abdelrazik for one week. Two affiliate unions, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the International Association of Machinists
, have already offered him work, and other unions are expected to follow suit.

Yet again, Minister of Foreign AffairsLawrence Cannon is caught in a lie, or at least a quarter-truth:

"All I can say is that in the past I tried to make sure that Mr. Abdelrazik had the support he needed to be removed from the UN list," Cannon said in reference to the government's 2007 request to have him de-listed.

"That attempt, unfortunately, failed."

Our miserable excuse for a foreign minister actually threw Abdelrazik to the winds, and then spent tremendous time and energy--on the taxpayer's nickel--to keep him in exile illegally.

Brother Hassan has never had any problem telling it like it is:

"We’ve seen this situation far too often, whether it’s a Muslim Canadian or a person of color, that the government has been lax in its passionate commitment to move vigorously," Mr. Yussuff said. The government, he added, is not moving with any haste on this file.

Marvellously understated, but clear as a bell. The struggle continues.

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