Dr. Dawg

A barbaric politician

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Even by Stephen Harper’s low standards, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander has pretty much scraped bottom since he joined the government. Nothing, admittedly, could beat the benchmark set by the odious Vic Toews, but, in his evident relish for state-imposed cruelty, Alexander seems to be giving it his best shot.

Let us grant, in fairness, that Conservative cabinet ministers are generally ventriloquist’s dummies for You-Know-Who. But that doesn’t let any of these people off the hook for their appalling political behaviour, of which there are simply too many examples to cite. At the very least, they could temper their belligerent, even hateful, rhetoric that they customarily deploy against their scapegoat du jour. And were they more than Harper meat-puppets, they could always offer their resignations when commanded to say or do reprehensible things to people who can’t fight back. But some appear instead to go beyond the Harperian call of duty. Alexander is one of them.

Few could have imagined that this former career diplomat would have turned into such a political thug after his election. But he’s excelled himself in that respect since he became immigration minister. Cutting off essential medical assistance for refugee claimants and their children, he then took it upon himself to scold the province of Ontario for providing it anyway, one of six provinces to do so. His decision to let people suffer and die was so gross that the federal court struck his measure down, describing it as “cruel and unusual.” Many of Canada’s doctors, sworn to do no harm, would seem to agree. Needless to say, the government is appealing this decision, while in the meantime, effectively ordered to restore the benefits, is apparently still balking.

Then there was his legislation to remove Canadian citizenship on Ministerial whim. Even if Canadians are convicted of “terrorism” in another country (e.g., Egypt, with its courts condemning hundreds of dissidents to death without permitting a legal defence), they could have their citizenship revoked by the Minister without right of appeal. This is little more than an attempt to legalize extraordinary rendition. And, as I and others have argued elsewhere, one of the law’s first casualties is very likely to be Omar Khadr.

Alexander’s latest indecent proposal is summed up by the jejune name attached to it: the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. He stole some wording from his predecessor Jason Kenney, who stuck that stupid “barbaric cultural practices” phrase into the official handbook for prospective Canadian citizens. This slobber of bigotry, for it is no more than that, can be counted upon to roil the usual xenophobic passions among Harper’s pitchfork-wielding yahoo base. As Tom Walkom points out, current legislation makes much of the Bill superfluous in practical terms. But its choice of target—Muslim immigrants—will resonate as planned.

Alexander wasn’t even prepared to stop there. He has now twice accused a man of “honour killing” before he has even stood trial. The presumption of innocence, it appears, does not apply to Muslims. One can only imagine how Alexander will exercise his virtually unfettered power to revoke Canadian citizenship.

As noted, the courts have already described one of Alexander’s attacks on the vulnerable as “cruel and unusual.” Perhaps we might cavil at the word “unusual” at this point. But looking at this and his other recent moves, we’d be entirely justified in adding the word “barbaric.”

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on November 8, 2014 2:19 PM.

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