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In other news, Canada still afraid to rock boat.
October 6, 2003 4:47 PM   Subscribe


 
This is an extraordinary story. During his "jail time", his wive was interviewed several times on the CBC. I fear there will be no accountability, either on the part of the Syrian's who held him, or the American's who deported him.
posted by stevengarrity at 4:49 PM on October 6, 2003


The Canadian government managed to get Syria to budge by going to the Arab League. That's good at least, but you kind of expect Syria to act like a rogue state, but not the US.

I fear we may never get to the bottom of why Americans think they can ignore someone's Canadian citizenship.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:58 PM on October 6, 2003


As a Canadian, I find my government's refusal to speak out strongly against these sort of actions to be more than mildly distressing. Whether they're afraid of future trade friction with the American government (which seems to be all the right-wing Alliance party complains about here), or simply value their image as the quiet and polite Canadians, this sort of kowtowing is embarrassing. Nobody is asking them to engage in a heated war of words with little factual basis, but the complete refusal to do anything, even for one of our own citizens, undermines the values that most Canadians feel their country has stood for.
posted by The God Complex at 4:59 PM on October 6, 2003


Suddenly Canada looks a whole lot less attractive.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:04 PM on October 6, 2003


He holds dual Canadian and Syrian citizenship, but had not visited his birth country since emigrating.

From the article. Can one be deported TO a country in which they are still a citizen?
posted by dness2 at 5:05 PM on October 6, 2003


After their crackdown on people trying to watch non-English/French TV, the RCMP looks worse and worse for anyone that isn't born Canadian.

Someone (ie: Us Canadians) needs to vote in a new government that will hold the RCMP accountable for these egregious acts. I've been trying for at least 7 years, won't you join me?
posted by shepd at 5:18 PM on October 6, 2003


The Canuck government seems to hold a policy of "Not within our borders? None of our business," when it comes to the illegal and immoral detainment of Canadian citizens abroad. For those interested, the William Sampson debacle is another good case where the Fedgov was willing to gladly tolerate the torture and abuse of a Canadian national in order not to stir-up the pot.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:27 PM on October 6, 2003


For anyone (likely those outside of Canada) who doesn't know, Layton has also suggested recently that if the United States continues to impose high tariffs on softwood lumber, or threatens other sanctions against Canada (due to fallout from recent political moves), we should stop exporting oil and power down south.

The odds of him being elected are negligible, but the simple existence of alternatvie voices in government is always welcome.
posted by The God Complex at 5:29 PM on October 6, 2003


You folks up there are livin cheek by jowl with the world's most dangerous rogue state (as any number of Canadians could tell you,) and you ain't got any nukes targeted south? Ah call that plain unprepared.
posted by jfuller at 5:45 PM on October 6, 2003


I fear we may never get to the bottom of why Americans think they can ignore someone's Canadian citizenship.

Alice holds dual citizenship. Ergo, Elbonia can deal with her as a citizen of Foobarnia or as a citizen of Smurfland. It should not surprise anyone when Elbonia chooses to "see" whichever of Alice's citizenships is most advantageous to Elbonia.

Which doesn't make anything any better, but this sort of thing is a consistent problem with holding multiple citizenships, at least when one of the citizenships is of an Less Than Pleasant regime. It's more common, though, for someone who left The Old Country as a wee tot to make a trip back to visit the relatives and find himself jailed for avoiding the local draft, or similar.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:57 PM on October 6, 2003


Can one be deported TO a country in which they are still a citizen?

Uhhh, that's the normal state of affairs. You get kicked out back to where you came from. In this case, the US got to pick, and chose unkindly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:59 PM on October 6, 2003


Being Canadian is great. As long as you don't try to leave the country.

[drum sting]
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on October 6, 2003


Uhhh, that's the normal state of affairs.

Duh. I'm an idiot trying to point out a non-contradictory contradiction.

My objection was to the comments implying that the US was at fault for shipping someone back to a country where they are a citizen. Why is the first assumption that the US is unaccountably sending people to Syria and not that the guy couldn't produce a Canadian passport or something?
posted by dness2 at 6:21 PM on October 6, 2003


Why were they sending him anywhere he wasn't destined to go of his own will? What was the proceeding by which it was decided he had to be sent to Syria? These are important quesitons and go beyond "the US got to pick" nonsense.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:30 PM on October 6, 2003


according to all articles i've read and according to his laywers mr. arar was travelling with a canadian passport and not carrying a syrian passport. his laywer's site also has links to several news reports worth reading if you want to know what's been going on (or not going on) with this case.
posted by t r a c y at 7:08 PM on October 6, 2003


wow, that's l a w y e r s, not laywers. i'll blame that on the massive amounts of painkillers i'm on due to a dental issue.
posted by t r a c y at 7:14 PM on October 6, 2003


Quote:
Uhhh, that's the normal state of affairs. You get kicked out back to where you came from. In this case, the US got to pick, and chose unkindly.

Unfortunately, the US also chose to break the law in this case. They were obliged to inform Canadian consular authorities and give them access to Arar and did not do so.

That's quite apart from the stupidity of detaining him as he's making a connection to go back to Canada and sending him to Syria.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:32 PM on October 6, 2003


Why were they sending him anywhere he wasn't destined to go of his own will?

Countries deport people all the time, for whatever reasons they deem fit. It's all part of the wacky world of nation-states.

What was the proceeding by which it was decided he had to be sent to Syria?

Deportation proceedings in the US are really not very nice, with few protections for the intended victim. ISTR that this is because they're technically just administrative decisions, even if they're of rather more dramatic consequnce than your normal administrative decision. Shameful, but the people they affect and piss off usually aren't citizens, so it's unlikely to change.

I don't think it's under dispute, though, that he was a Syrian citizen and a Canadian citizen. The US can only deal with him as one or the other. I'm not defending it, but it seems naive to point and gawk at the utter banality of a nation-state making that choice in its own interest and screwing over a foreigner.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:38 PM on October 6, 2003


Even if it were the case that the US had some reason to suspect he was a terrorist (which they've produced no evidence and held no hearings to determine) sending him back to Syria would be like sending Uday and Qusay back to Iraq.

I'm assuming this is a case of low-level incompetence (some idiot, almost certianly racist and power-tripping airport security simian) being covered up by higher authorities in order for the US not to look like it made a mistake.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:52 PM on October 6, 2003


It was undoubtedly wrong to send him to Syria. It was undoubtedly wrong that he was not given access to his consulate. Americans would scream bloody blue murder, and probably invade the offending country, if such were to happen to one of their own.

It is also undoubtedly wrong for the Canadian government to have dragged its heels on this issue. Our government pretty much screwed over one of its own. Shame! We should have been far more aggressive, both in getting him released from Syria, and in upbraiding the US authorities responsible for this atrocity.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:02 PM on October 6, 2003


alternatvie

I must have stolen some of t r a c y's medication.
posted by The God Complex at 8:08 PM on October 6, 2003


jfuller:

I once asked a Canadian military officer if Canada has any nukes. His answer was:

"Canada does not have any nuclear weapons, officially."
posted by titboy at 8:25 PM on October 6, 2003


Countries deport people all the time, for whatever reasons they deem fit. It's all part of the wacky world of nation-states.

Xenophobe.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:43 PM on October 6, 2003


Not ones we're gonna tell anyone about, anyway. But a word to the wise: don't be bothering Celine Dion while she's down there at Vegas.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 PM on October 6, 2003


It is really troubling. This is the 3rd case in a row of the Canadian government showing no backbone. William Sampson as mentioned above is one, the other involves Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian journalist who was killed in Iran while reporting there (she also had Iranian citizenship). Now this.

What's really troubling about this latest case is it's almost certain the RCMP had some involvement. I know they claim not to have, but given the lack of an inquiry and the refusal to answer questions, it sure looks like something is getting covered up.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:15 PM on October 6, 2003


It was undoubtedly wrong to send him to Syria. It was undoubtedly wrong that he was not given access to his consulate.

Of course. I just meant that it's just one of those ways that nations misbehave every day. Being surprised by this would be like being surprised that prosecutors are better-funded than public defenders.

Americans would scream bloody blue murder, and probably invade the offending country, if such were to happen to one of their own

Maybe. State is pretty clear that having another nationality can be a liability, and that it can put you into situations that the US can't easily get you out of.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:33 PM on October 6, 2003


there are thousands of these stories. Most of the people the MIB have "disappeared" have been deported to wherever.

Note, this is not 'insane libertarian ranting'. I have first hand knowledge of a number of particular cases where similar things have happened. Having an SO as an immigration lawyer tends to make one aware of such things.

Thousands of people have been rounded up and deported. There have been sweeps. Some people think this is a great thing. Some a good thing. And others are bothered by it. But it is happening.

Canada should officiallly become part of the U.S. Then at least you could vote on the things that directly affect your country. Adding [population of Canada in millions] million gun toting liberals to this country wouldn't hurt too much either.

And French would be interesting to add to Hip Hop.
posted by wah at 10:49 PM on October 6, 2003


Gun-toting liberals?
posted by The God Complex at 11:02 PM on October 6, 2003


>Canada should officiallly become part of the U.S.

Better yet, Canada should put its health care money into the military, declare the US a hostile nation, and sew up the borders tight, including electricity transfers.

That way this can never happen again. And all the other countries the US has fucked over (what's that, everybody now?) will look at us with some respect.

Being that we're the US' key trading partner (why do you think NAFTA got signed?) the US would finally have to think about the international consequences of its actions.
posted by shepd at 11:11 PM on October 6, 2003


Did I understand this correctly, it means that the US INS is allowed to deport me, before I have entered the US, even if I have no intentions to enter the US? The man was only in NYC on a stopover, to change flights. He wasn't passing through customs/INS to do that.
posted by dabitch at 3:16 AM on October 7, 2003


Because of the heavy integration of US and canadian domestic airline market, you almost always have to pass through US customs and immigration to get to Canada from the USA. On top of that, airline connections between New York and Ottawa being what they are, he probably would have had to catch the bus from JFK to Laguardia unless he wanted to go to Toronto first and catch a connecting flight there.
As to your question of whether or not they can nab people in the transit lounge who don't intend to officially enter the country, I don't know for sure, but I think it's been done.
posted by cardboard at 4:17 AM on October 7, 2003


It seems like it has been done yes, as I understood it from the previous post here about this Canadian, he was in the transit lounge when nabbed and deported.
posted by dabitch at 6:15 AM on October 7, 2003


Cost of a one way airfare to Canada - rather cheap,
Cost of a one way airfare to Syria - not rather cheap,
Having the INS decide your destination - Priceless.
posted by DBAPaul at 6:23 AM on October 7, 2003


This is all well and good since Canada would NEVER deport anyone under questionable circumstances.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2003


Did I understand this correctly, it means that the US INS is allowed to deport me, before I have entered the US, even if I have no intentions to enter the US?

It happened to this woman, too.
posted by homunculus at 10:09 AM on October 7, 2003


What's so questionable about booting a convicted murderer from the country?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on October 7, 2003


What's so questionable about booting a convicted murderer from the country?

At least the (Syrian) guy sent to Syria will live, but aside from the obvious moral dilemma, Canada violated its own moratorium against deporting people who face death, as well as international moratoriums on such practices they signed on to. Our Syrian gentleman was not facing death and on top of that the US has made no strides to distance itself from the death penalty. The US is a sovereign nation and has the right to act as such and make its own decisions about who it allows into its territory and what nations it wants to strike deals with. This guy may have been traded for some juicy intel. No body has really said what exactly the Syrians wanted him for, it would be interesting to see what the US got in exchange. Kinda like this case.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:14 PM on October 7, 2003


No body has really said what exactly the Syrians wanted him for

Can't find the link handy, but he was being imprisoned because he didn't do his term of military conscription for Syria. My understanding is that this happens to dual nationals relatively commonly, with the exception that it's usually people going back to The Old Country of their own free will instead of being deported to it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:55 PM on October 7, 2003


So what should Canada do with known convicted murderers who flee to our country to escape their own country's laws?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2003


After reading about the Indian born Canadian ladies ordeal, I'll make dang sure I won't pass the US before visiting Canada. That is worrying (or is it just me?).
posted by dabitch at 9:21 AM on October 8, 2003


So what should Canada do with known convicted murderers who flee to our country to escape their own country's laws?

Ask the United States government for assurances that the man won't be executed when he returns to the States, because we don't support state-sponsored killings.

If anything, Pollomacho, your link only furthers the point I was making earlier in the thread. I didn't necessarily start this thread to question the actions and motives of the U.S. government--although it was a subsequent and perhaps called for byproduct--but to call attention to what appears to be Canada's crippling fear of disappointing our abusive spouses to the south. Neither the Syrian issue, or the one you mentioned, should have played out the way it did, but they did and likely will continue to do so for a long time as our one-party political system runs itself into the ground.
posted by The God Complex at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2003


update on mr. arar's case... he's home now, thank goodness, but it looks like he was tortured something fierce.
posted by t r a c y at 2:45 PM on November 4, 2003


It also appears that the Canadian government (or immigration authorities, or somesuch) played a role in all this, by not making it dead easy for the USA to send him to Canada. Hmmmm.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2003


better article. besides the american officials, i'm sure the rcmp has quite a bit to answer for... when they're bad they're worse than the keystone kops.
posted by t r a c y at 4:24 PM on November 4, 2003


Note to self: Do not hold dual-citizenship with countries I wouldn't want to stay in.
posted by jmccorm at 3:34 AM on November 5, 2003


I read the article once and went back to it to check a fact and got "This document is no longer available." The page is gone. Odd...
posted by wsg at 7:54 AM on November 5, 2003


nevermind...I'm so confused...
posted by wsg at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2003


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