Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Did Thomas Mulcair Play the Race Card

Media mongul, Conrad Black, has been granted permission to live in Canada for one year, even though he has a criminal record and denounced his Canadian citizenship.  Leader of the Official Opposition, Thomas Mulcair called the move a double standard and his comment may even have invoked the race card.

"It's a clear case of a double standard. One for an American black man from Chicago, another for a British white man coming out of federal penitentiary," Mulcair said.

Mulcair was referring to the case of  Douglas Gary Freeman, who was arrested in Toronto in 1969 for a 1969 police shooting.  Although Freeman pleaded self-defence he was convicted of aggravated battery and spend thirty days in jail.  He served three years in jail, prior to extradition to the U.S.

On CBC's Power and Politics yesterday, Douglas Freeman made his case.  He has raised a family in Canada and is really only looking to be re-united with his family.  Having heard his plea, his case should most certainly be reassessed.

Being denied entry into Canada based on a criminal conviction seems harsh, considering that even Omar Khadr will be returned to Canada.  Regardless this should not be made an issue of race.  Anyone, who has looked south of the border and observed politics there recently can see that the politics of race and division are well and alive.

Conrad Black, who has lost most of his assets and spend 42 months in  rison on fraud and obstruction of justice charges related to his work at Hollinger, is due to be released next week.  He is a member of the Order of Canada and a member of the British Parliament's House of Lords.  In a dispute with former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, he renounce his Canadian citizenship when he was appointed to the House of Lords.  His childhood home is in Canada and Black says he has about $80 Million in assets.

When questioned about the Black case during Question Period, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said that cases like this are a matter of privacy.  He also stated that he had indicated to his department that in respect to Black he would have no involvement.

"I can advise the House, with respect to this individual, I indicated to my department that I would not have any involvement in an application from that individual and that his application would be treated by highly trained members of our public service."

He also called Gary Freeman a cop killer, a comment he apologize for later and said he should have called him a cop shooter.

Those statements prompted Mulcair's allegations, which could be considers as invoking the race card.  Be it as it may, the comments emphasizing race are over the line.  Gary Freeman's case should be re-examined.  By all indications Mr. Freeman should be given a permit on compassionate reasons to reunite with his family and grandchildren, but please keep race out of it. 

The recent discourse in Canada's Parliament is unbecoming.  As an example during another session of  Question period last week, a question arose regarding Canada's military involvement past 2014.

When Mulcair asked the prime minister about the extension, Harper attacked the NDP for being pacifists regardless of the situation. "In 1939, the NDP leader didn’t even want to support the fight against Hitler," said Harper. Of course the PM was referring to the CCF, the predecessor of the NDP.  This created a lot of chatter in the twitter sphere, with Canadians offering history lessons to the PM.  Canadian Politics this Week.

Both sides would be well advised to get back to civil debate.

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