Thursday, December 16, 2010

double-headed coin

When does diplomacy take the back seat to humanity? When does one's government stop acting as an international representative of its political position and start being a representative of its citizens and their rights. Seems an obvious answer: Always. But the reality remains a utilitarian ideal. What's best for most, is what's best...period. So when Canadians are stuck in foreign countries where our government assumes diplomatic loyalties our state upholds its vow and respects alien law, even at the expense of one of its own. And for what? Just to "keep the peace?" How juvenile is that?

We've witnessed this regressive and backward practice over and over and over and over and for the love of Allah, Jesus, Moses, and Tom Selleck's moustache, please make it stop. We've seen it with Omar Khadr, we've seen it with Nzzia Quazi...and we continue to see it with 26 year old Nathalie Morin. Ladies and gentlemen the Conservative government has responded in a most delightfully-rightfully-totally useless and inexplicably ignorant fashion, stating "When a Canadian is on foreign soil they must respect foreign law and policy." Whoa whoa whoa. Hey, Tories, mind if ya park the horse for a moment and answer me this: If one of your citizens is mistreated and this treatment is not only acceptable but legal in another country, why don't you get down from that saddle and head for the front lines of the moral battle? When the question of repatriation was raised with regards to Nathalie Morin, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation responded as such: "Mr. Speaker, this is a very complex family dispute with no easy solution."

Alright, ladies and gents, here is what Deepak Obhrai considered to be a "complicated family dispute."

the meat of it:

Nathalie, a Montreal born Canadian, married a man she understood to be a Canadian attending Concordia University, or at the very least an international student with a visa. They had a child together, also Montreal born. When it was discovered her husband was in Canada illegally and thus deported to Saudi Arabia, he insisted she visit him. She did so, twice, and returned safely, twice. After having been persuaded to keep the family together and move to Saudi to be with her husband, Nathalie gave birth to a second child. And it's around this time, folks, that things seem a little bit prickly. It became clear to Nathalie that something had changed inside of her husband. He began to abuse and rape her, and thus, forcing her to bare a third child. It has been five years that she's stuck in Saudi, facing abuse on a daily basis, on constant lock down, and unable to leave the country. Her husband has assumed a house arrest policy over his family, keeping them locked in an apartment 24hours a day, seven days a week, with no plumbing or telephone for the most part. Under Saudi law, wives and their children are not allowed to leave the country without permission from their spouse. Nathalie's husband has been oh so kind to allow her to leave Saudi without her children. Oh, thank you Saeed, how fucking humane of jack ass. But Nathalie refuses to leave her three kids behind with their physically and psychologically abusive father.

I don't care what your colour or creed or political stance, this is NOT a "complicated family dispute." In fact, it's really quite simple. Spousal and child abuse is wrong, whatever country you're in or planet you're on. So tell me, Mr. Secretary of I-don't-give-a-shit-foreign affairs, what's so god damn complex about that? Sure, Saudi has their own idea of human rights. Sure, they're a sovereign nation and thus practice their own laws and policies and so on and so forth. Sure, they don't have to accept our concept of basic human rights. Sure, they're an absolute Monarchy and their constitution is the Q'ran, thus practicing no separation of divinity from state. But, as said over and over, a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. And more so, a human is a human is a human.

But what can be done? And not just for Nathalie, but all people who are subject to unjust treatment and a lack of human rights? Whether in the middle east, Africa, Guantanamo, or right here in the Great White North, what can anyone do about it? The only solution practiced in the past has been war. Jump in and "fix" their government and turn them into a true "democratic" state where women are given the right to vote, travel, and abstain from sexual activity if they so choose. And thus, give children a safe place to call home, since it is not the children who decide where to live. Is there no better way to help Canadians, and all humans, abroad? Okay, Saudi, you may be the largest oil exporter in the world, but since when does that make you invincible? And as for you Stephen Harper, pull your balls out of your stomach because there are more important things in life than money. Aren't we all born from a mother? Aren't we all born somewhere without choice? Nathalie may have chosen to reunite with her husband five years ago, but her three kids didn't. If the only remedy is war, I don't blame the Canadian government for tip toeing around Nathalie's unfortunate circumstance. But I do blame them for not having adequate foreign affairs policies or consular services available to Canadians abroad. I blame them for being too polite.

Mr.Speaker, a human is a human is a human.

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