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Terry Glavin: Ottawa can’t dodge the issue of Canadian ISIL detainees any longer

It’s been practically 4 years because the federal authorities embarked upon a method of elaborate excuse-making and transparently bogus alibis to dodge the implications of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s high-drama 2015 election proclamation that “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” however in the end: time’s up.

It in all probability isn’t the final time Ottawa will try a deft sideways transfer within the matter of the captured Canadians whose care and feeding was conveniently offloaded onto the Kurdish resistance fighters who led the bloody drawn-out battle in 2019 that crushed the final key redoubt of the fear warlord Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s al-Qaida offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a.ok.a. the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

You are reading: Terry Glavin: Ottawa can’t dodge the issue of Canadian ISIL detainees any longer

However Ottawa gave it one other shot final week within the case earlier than the federal courtroom’s Justice Henry S. Brown, and it didn’t work. It was a reasonably slam-dunk case to the impact that the federal authorities was sure by legislation to safe the repatriation of 23 Canadian detainees trapped within the camps run by the Kurdish resistance within the rebel-held Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

On Thursday, Ottawa introduced that repatriation preparations can be made for 19 of them — six ladies and 13 youngsters. However in a Friday ruling, Choose Brown instructed Ottawa: not so quick. The 4 males are entitled to the identical consideration. The Kurds don’t need them, it’s not the Kurds’ job to be taking care of wayward Canadians, they’re more than pleased to show over the Canadian detainees and the boys have the identical rights as the ladies and youngsters. They’re entitled to passports or emergency journey paperwork delivered by an official Canadian consultant.

In different phrases, the legislation is the legislation, the prime minister isn’t above it, and Canada can’t simply want away the constitutional rights of the Canadians trapped in Kurdish-held Syria because the siege of Baghuz Fawqani. The federal authorities says it’s reviewing the courtroom choice.

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Canada can’t simply want away the constitutional rights of Canadians

There are all kinds of fascinating debates available about nationwide safety and de-radicalization and encumbrances the Crown might face in securing terrorism convictions in circumstances with proof obscured by the fog of warfare. However the precept stays: “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” That’s the slogan Trudeau aimed on the Conservatives’ Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which empowered the federal government to strip twin residents of their Canadian citizenship upon conviction for spying, treason or terrorism offences.

“I’ll provide the quote so that you simply guys can jot it down and put it in an assault advert someplace,” Trudeau stated at a city corridor in Winnipeg, “that the Liberal social gathering believes that terrorists ought to get to maintain their Canadian citizenship. As a result of I do. And I’m prepared to tackle anybody who disagrees with that.” It was all very stirring, and the Conservative citizenship legislation was finally overturned.

However that hasn’t helped the Canadians among the many “ISIL households” in Syria, regardless that none has been lawfully convicted of any terrorism offences, and regardless that most of them are youngsters. Avoiding the embarrassment of getting to stay as much as its high-minded citizenship precept has been the Trudeau authorities’s whole technique in these circumstances.

The primary check concerned the five-year-old orphan Amira, whose dad and mom and siblings had been killed in the course of the siege of Baghuz Fawqani. Amira made it dwelling in October 2020, however solely as a result of she’d develop into a humiliation to the federal government. Amira’s family in Toronto had waged a public marketing campaign that pulled on the heartstrings, and he or she was the named plaintiff in a looming courtroom case that threatened to crumple what Human Rights Watch referred to as the Trudeau authorities’s unearned “heat and fuzzy” popularity as a champion of worldwide legislation.

A couple of months later one other baby made it to Canada. The four-year-old woman was privately rescued with the assistance of the crusading former American diplomat Peter Galbraith, who managed to get her throughout the border into Iraq from al Roj, a Kurdish-run detention camp housing practically 800 of the “ISIL households” in Syria’s Tigris River Valley. A couple of months after that, Galbraith delivered the kid’s Canadian mom to authorities on the Canadian consulate in Erbil, in Northern Iraq, so Canada had no selection however to take her.

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All alongside, the Trudeau authorities’s excuse has been that Canada has no embassy in Syria, and it could be too harmful to ship diplomats to al Roj, the camp the place a lot of the remaining Canadian residents are being held. However Al Roj is a 20-minute journey by minibus from the Iraqi border on the Tigris River. Support employees make the journey routinely.

Issues started to vary final yr when two Canadian ladies have been formally and quietly repatriated.

The American-Canadian Kimberly Polman, a Mennonite-raised mom of three grownup youngsters who travelled to Syria to marry a Trinidadian ISIL pen pal, was launched on her personal recognizance in British Columbia on a peace bond that requires her to put on an ankle monitor and adjust to a wide range of restrictions.

Oumaima Chouay and her two youngsters have been repatriated concurrently, however Chouay was charged with a number of terrorism offences — leaving Canada to take part in terrorist exercise, participation within the actions of a terrorist group, offering providers for terrorist functions, and conspiracy. Three weeks in the past Chouay was granted bail with situations just like Polman’s.

Chouay was charged with a number of terrorism offences

Among the many 4 males is “Jihadi Jack” Letts, a twin British-Canadian whose dad and mom say is an “idealistic” and “compassionate” Muslim convert and sufferer of obsessive-compulsive dysfunction who despises ISIL.

Letts’ household was represented by counsel Barbara Jackman within the federal courtroom case. The opposite males, not named, are represented by human rights lawyer Lawrence Greenspon.

It’s not recognized whether or not Mississauga’s Mohammad Ali, an ISIL sniper, is amongst them. Ali is believed to be the identical “Ali” that the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has already ready terrorism costs towards. The lads clearly don’t embody the Saudi-born Canadian Mohammed Khalifa, from Toronto, who was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and sentenced to life in jail final yr by a decide in Virginia after pleading responsible to terrorism costs. Khalifa was particularly infamous for narrating a video depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

So by all means, let’s have a jolly good debate about what to do with these “overseas fighters” and their youngsters. However let’s not fake that it isn’t Canada’s accountability to get them sorted.

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