Well, it looks like Peter Mackay
can't sneak into the States without facing questions regarding the legality of his actions. Sound familiar?
This is an update to Sunday's post about the 9 year old Canadian boy who was detained with his family in an American Immigration "facility" (read: prison), first brought to my attention by Annamarie at Verbena-19
. Kevin and his parents are still imprisoned, but their story is gaining greater media traction. Friday's G&M devoted serious ink
, even publishing Kevin's letter from jail
. As you may remember, Kevin suffers from asthma and he is clearly very distressed. The March 2 G&M piece also indicates that he has lost 6 lbs. during his stay at the Hutto jail.
So is anybody listening? What about the Canadian consulate
When the consular officer at the Canadian consulate in Dallas visited the family at Hutto two weeks ago, Majid said, “he asked about our rooms and our food. Just regarding here. I asked him what he can do for us, and he said, ‘I don't promise now. But we can help Kevin, not you.' ”
David Marshall, a consulate spokesman, said that he could not talk about the case, citing the Privacy Act. Alain Cacchione, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Canada, would not comment either.
Ok, M. Mackay
, if your spokesman won't comment on your behalf, what have you, Peter Gordon Mackay,
got to say for yourself? For your country? Well, the CP caught up with him on Friday
, as he attended the Organization of American States meeting in Washington, D.C. (I sure hope his
papers were in order!):
"We've taken the opportunity to review how we can be of assistance to him but there have been no decisions taken as of yet," [Mackay] said.
Ultimately, it will be up to Citizenship and Immigration whether they're admitted to Canada, said MacKay, adding that he's been told the family won't be deported to Iran until "we have an opportunity to assess all the various options."
"This is in many ways a personal decision that the family have yet to make," said MacKay.
!! The CP caught this
But the parents of the boy, named Kevin, say they want to live in Canada. And Kevin has written a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, pleading to go back to his old school.
At which point Mackay
resorted (predictably) to the fake-passports diversion: "You're aware of the anomaly of the situation where his parents are not Canadian, yet he has Canadian citizenship"
Read: Look over there! They're ay-legals!
No, M. Mackay
, that's not an excuse to sit on your hands. The boy is Canadian, no? Here's what officials told Maclean's
, earlier this week (h/t Dr. Dawg
, see comments):
A spokesperson from Citizenship and Immigration Canada told Macleans.ca [...] that the family would have to claim asylum in the United States. But according to [University of Toronto law professor Audrey Macklin], the government has some wiggle room available to it. "Under the terms of the agreement, there is room for exceptions to be made for reasons of public policy," she said. "The agreement doesn't articulate what the criteria are for an exception… [but] you could argue that an exception should be made when they have a child who's a Canadian citizen."
The public policy claim, in other words, would be that the Safe Third Country agreement is effectively thwarting a nine-year-old boy's right to live in the country where he gained citizenship by virtue of birthplace. And whatever the future might hold for the family, that might at least free the boy from what he and his father describe as fairly grim conditions.
[...] Macklin argues that such facilities might themselves represent a flaw in the Safe Third Country agreement. "The premise underlying the…agreement is that the two countries provide more or less equivalent protection to refugees and more or less abide by their international legal obligations," she said. "Obviously if there were wild disparities between the two, it wouldn't be fair to refugee claimants to force them into one system or the other.
"The widespread use of the detention of children is a significant difference between Canada and the United States, and that detention of children is itself considered by many to be a violation of international human rights norms." [...] "If the Canadian government asked the U.S. authorities to release this family from detention to enable them to get to Canada, I think U.S. authorities would comply," [Macklin] said. [...] And while this particular family's situation might seem unique, Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi - who serves as vice chair of the House Citizenship and Immigration Committee - told Macleans.ca that many children share a similar plight. "As much as I would like to say to you that this doesn't happen a whole lot, we regularly deport Canadian… families, so their kids end up going [with them]," he said, adding that the Committee would be discussing the boy's case.
As for this particular 9-year-old's prospects of gaining some measure of freedom, Macklin summed it up as a matter of will: "Canada could do something if it wanted to."
You hear that? Canada could do something if it wanted to.
I want to.
Many of us want to. This is how I ended my Sunday post on the matter
Let's get to work and make sure this same fate doesn't befall Kevin and his family. Check-in with AnnaMarie for regular updates. [...] Something of a 'blogburst' is beginning to take shape. Pogge (skdadl), liberal catnip, April Reign, Thought Interrupted, The Cylinder, Vive le Canada, The Next Agenda (nbstar), My Blahg, JimBobby, The Galloping Beaver and Kenn Chaplin have added their voices. Please add yours! Dr. Dawg
, Cathie from Canada
, The Vanity Press
, Red Jenny
, Pretty Shaved Ape
, Canadian Cynic
, Peter's Politics
, Take off, eh
?...the blogburst continues! The mighty Galloping Beavers
have added an update, and an open letter to Peter Mackay (hint, hint, it's still important to write to him
& your MPs!). JimBobby's
posted an update and a song
about the whole mess. Annamarie
, and many others
have shown leadership in raising awareness about Kevin and his family. People do
care, Mr. Mackay. We want to do something![Saturday, March 3, 2007, 1:17 PM ET] ETA links to Red Jenny, JimBobby's update, Pretty Shaved Ape & Canadian Cynic!
[Monday, March 5, 2007, 12:06 AM ET] ETA link to Nitroglycol's post!
[Monday, March 5, 2007, 10:57 PM ET] ETA link to Peter's Politics!
[Tuesday, March 6, 2007, 11:43 AM ET] ETA link to "Take off, eh?" !
h/t FurGaia at The Cylinder for the Amy Goodman article