Thomas Walkom, writing in the Toronto Star, gets it 100% right when he tells the story of “Rahaf Mohammed … [the] … 18-year-old Saudi wants to escape the constraints of her family, her native country and her religion.“
He tells the story, somewhat improbably in places, of how the young lady, despite being, she claims, under close, almost prison-like, family supervision managed, while on holiday to Kuwait, with her family, managed to obtain an Australian visa and board a flight to Bangkok. She was detained by Thai authorities but then mounted a successful social media campaign and was declared, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to be a legitimate refugee and he path to Australia seemed open, although the Australian government insisted that she pass through their screening process, first. The Canadian government, Mr Walkom said, had no such quibbles and invited her to come to Canada, unscreened ~ although we’ve just seen that screening by the Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration does go seriously wrong.
Thomas Walkom lays out the reasons why this is problematical:
- First, he says, “the Liberal government’s decision to grant her refugee status virtually sight unseen — in effect, letting her jump the queue — is unwise … [because] … It confirms what many critics of the refugee system have charged — that it is unfair, driven by politics and open to manipulation;”
- Next, he asks, “Would she have made it to Canada if she had been less adept at social media? Would Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland have personally welcomed the teen at Toronto’s Pearson Airport if Mohammed, who no longer uses her family name Alqunun, were not an international media celebrity? … [and] … Would she be here at all if she were, say, an 18-year-old Rohingya woman without a social media following who was trying to escape ethnic cleansing in Burma?” The questions, he says, answer themselves;
- “For Mohammed, this is a clear win,” he says, and “A similar case two years ago, in which a Saudi woman flew to Manila to try and claim asylum in Australia did not work out as well. That woman was sent home and never heard from again;”
- And he adds, “For Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, it is also a win. It burnishes Trudeau’s feminist credentials and manages to poke Saudi Arabia’s autocratic regime in the eye without Canada having to give up lucrative arms sales to that country;” but
- He concludes, and I agree, “For Canada’s beleaguered refugee system, however, this story is not good news. It demonstrates that the rules don’t matter if the subject has enough media appeal. It is a reminder that when it comes to accepting asylum seekers, politics dominate.“
That’s exactly right. I have no opinion on the merits of this young lady’s claim but it is abundantly clear that Team Trudeau doesn’t care … they saw a good public relations story and they ran with it, policy and procedures and nationals security be damned. And that’s what … that ALL that this government is about: public relations and photo ops. They have failed, again and again and again, to keep their political promises, but they are always at the front when the cameras are clicking.
Team Trudeau understands that Canadians are generous by nature and want to help those in need. Perhaps Ms Mohammed’s need was very real and even so urgent that she could not wait to be vetted, but I suspect that most Canadians will this for what it is: a phoney public relations exercise in which young Miss Rahaf Mohammed is nothing but a prop in the Trudeau re-election campaign. Team Trudeau has, as Thomas Walkom says, misused and abused Canada’s refugee determination system for short term political gain.
It’s well past time for a change.