Cue the outrage!
There is a column, by Candice Malcolm, in the Toronto Sun, which will, likely rile some Canadians, especially certain conservative Canadians: the ones my friend called Neandercons. Ms Malcolm recounts the case of “hardened criminal and Rwandan refugee Jacob Damiany Lunyamila, “who “arrived in Canada — without documentation — in 1994, and was granted refugee status in 1996 … [and] … Since then, according to the federal court decision, he has had “approximately 389 police encounters” which “resulted in 95 criminal charges and 54 convictions” … [and] … “Ten of those convictions were for assaults that included punching his ex-girlfriend in the face and randomly attacking innocent civilians” the federal judge states in his decision, released Tuesday. “He has also been convicted for sexual assault and carrying a concealed weapon, namely, an axe.”“
“Canada,” Ms Malcolm says, “has been trying to deport this thug back to his native Rwanda, but Lunyamila refuses to leave …[and] … He will not cooperate with Canada’s removal system, and has vowed to never sign the required documents to complete his deportation order … [instead] … this foreign criminal, deemed inadmissible to Canada on grounds of criminality, continues to take advantage of our generosity and parade through our prison system … [and] … His case demonstrates just how difficult it can be to remove a person once they’re here.“
Why the outrage? Simple: How is it that a person can flout our laws and rules and values with impunity?
One of the foundation stones of current Canadian immigration law rests, in some measure, on Singh v Canada (1985) which found that every person in Canada, and that explicitly includes people with no legal status in Canada, at all ~ illegal migrants, for example, must be afforded all the protections the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers. That is a very generous interpretation of rights and, broadly, I think, a correct one, except that, in my opinion, it, implicitly, encourages and forgives lawbreaking: a person knows that if they can just manage to get to Canada, by using real or forged ID to board an aircraft and then destroying all their ID enroute, that will still have, despite being, obviously, “illegal” migrants, all the protections of the Charter even though they, very clearly, used fraudulent means to gain access to that protection. That really should not happen.
According to a report in the National Post, Mr “Lunyamila arrived in Canada without any documentation after jumping off a ship and claiming refugee status in 1994 as a citizen of Rwanda. He was granted asylum in 1996 … [but, while] … CBSA officials believe Lunyamila is from Rwanda, [they] are also investigating if he is from Tanzania after a linguistics analysis pointed to the neighbouring country in east Africa … [but] … Lunyamila denied being Tanzanian, but he has also insisted he was “a citizen of the earth.”“
It’s thorny issue that points to the fact that our immigration and refugee system needs some fine tuning. I do not propose making it less generous, but I do believe that it should reward “doing the right thing” and penalize those who try to “game the system” and/or go “country shopping.”
But, hold the outrage, please … Jacob Damiany Lunyamila is just one symptom of the need for a bit of “fine tuning” of the immigration, refugee and border security systems. They do not need to be trashed. As I said, a couple of weeks ago, “Mistakes are part of human nature; they have to be corrected, forgiven, in most cases, and, very often, used as teaching aids.” The fact that Jacob Lunyamila can “game the system” so effectively suggests, to me, that we made a few mistakes ~ mistakes which can be corrected and from which we can learn:
- Mistakes in drafting the Charter, perhaps;
- Mistakes, maybe, in drafting laws and regulations;
- Mistakes, possibly, in interpreting the Charter and the older Bill of Rights; and/or
- Mistakes, also, in dealing with seriously mentally ill or, equally as likely, just plain really, really bad people.
We can and should correct our mistakes … and forgive those who made them, too.
But we must be careful to not over-react. There is a slippery slope.
It is the same as with free speech. It is very easy for me to support free speech when what I hear is, broadly and generally the sort of thing that I already support ~ confirmation bias, and things like that. It is even easy to support free speech when someone says something that I am sure is wrong but they say it in reasoned, polite, thoughtful way.
It is harder to support free speech when I am sure it is wrong and when it is screamed at me by someone who clearly aims to incite hatred of the things I hold dear. It is nearly impossible to still support free speech when it involves, for example, a holocaust denier, no matter how “reasonably” (s)he may speak … nearly impossible but something that I must do if I am, indeed, a serious, thoughtful Conservative who supports liberty for all.
And so it is with Jacob Damiany Lunyamila. We must hold the outrage and tell, not ask, our politicians to revisit the issues surrounding this case: not just the immigration and refugee regulations, not only the Charter, not just Singh v Canada (1985) and, perhaps not any of those, perhaps we need, instead, to revisit the rules for indefinite incarceration of dangerous, habitual criminals. I really don’t know, for sure, but I am certain that he is a symptom, a canary in the coal mine, so to say, and he should alert us to a problem that can, certainly, be solved by women and men of good will.