Thursday, March 14, 2019

Abuse Survivors Seek Jody Wilson-Raybould's Assistance to Resolve Their Cases

 Women Seek Reconsideration of Former Attorney General's Extradition Orders, Signed on Behalf of Abusive Ex-Spouses


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2019

Abuse Survivors Seek Jody Wilson-Raybould's Assistance to Resolve Their Cases;
Women Seek Reconsideration of Former Attorney General's Extradition Orders, Signed on Behalf of Abusive Ex-Spouses

    Two Canadian women who escaped their abusive ex-spouses in the U.S. and U.K., respectively, have sent an open letter seeking the assistance of former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould in ending the threat they face of being forcibly removed from Canada based on what appear to be vindictive and baseless charges.

    MM and KT – whose names are subject to court-ordered publication bans – are both sought for alleged interference in child custody arrangements under Canada's notorious Extradition Act, whose low standards and vulnerability to political bias have come into sharp focus in Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou's case as well as in the case of Ottawa university professor Hassan Diab. Dr. Diab, who spent over three years in French detention without ever being charged, returned to Canada last year, following which media investigations revealed political interference at the Justice Dept. on behalf of the French government.

    In an open letter to Wilson-Raybould, KT and MM write that they are "women whose lives are in peril because of decisions you made in both of our extradition cases during your tenure as Justice Minister and Attorney General. You had the power to accept or reject the extradition requests of our abusive ex-spouses, who still seek to have us forcibly removed from Canada to face potential jail terms based on vindictive, trumped up allegations. We don't know whether you went through the details of our cases before you signed off on them or whether you trusted the word of the Justice Dept.’s International Assistance Group, whose record on ramming through weak and politically-motivated extradition cases has drawn a good amount of well-deserved criticism."

    The women state that "having witnessed your powerful testimony and truthtelling regarding SNC-Lavalin, we were bolstered with the hope that perhaps, no longer shackled by the limitations of your former position, you would take a fresh and critical look at our cases. Having heard your eloquence at the Justice Committee hearing, and being moved at your reference to being  'a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House,' we found it hard to believe that it was you, personally, who ignored our pleas (and those of our children) when you had the power to reject our extraditions." 

    According to Matthew Behrens, a member of the support group Women Who Choose to Live, "Having worked on a number of such cases over the years, it appears that the Extradition Act is open to being used as a back door bludgeon by vindictive ex-spouses who take advantage of the very low standards to continue punishing the women who have escaped their violent grasp. I am aware of at least half a dozen cases of Canadian women who feel trapped in the cycle of abuse because any move they take to protect themselves and their children from abusive fathers and husbands who live in other countries could make them subject to extradition requests, forced removal from Canada, and overseas detention."

    Two petitions on behalf of MM and KT – originally addressed to Wilson-Raybould but now being sent to her replacement, David Lametti – detail problems with the cases and affirm that the extradition cases should be stopped because they "shock the conscience" of Canadians. They  have garnered over 4,000 signatures. The MM case has an extensive history that includes a trip to the Supreme Court, where a 4-3 decision against her was deemed "Kafkaesque" by the dissenting justices.

    "It is our sincere hope that Ms Wilson-Raybould will apply the same standard of truthtelling she brought to the SNC-Lavalin case to the cases of these women, as well as the gender-based analysis that seems completely missing from the reasons she originally provided for rejecting their cases," says Behrens. "We believe it would be the right thing to do for her to publicly call for an end to the clouds of uncertainty and fear that continue to hang over the heads of these women and to demand that the extradition requests be cancelled." 


A petition calling for an end to the cases is available to sign at https://www.change.org/p/don-t-send-canadian-abuse-survivors-mm-and-kt-to-foreign-jails-to-face-baseless-vindictive-charges-from-abusive-ex-spouses
 
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An Open Letter to Jody Wilson-Raybould: Help Two Canadian Survivors of Violence Against Women Whose Cases You Summarily Rejected as Minister of Justice

March 14, 2019

Dear Ms Wilson-Raybould,

We write to you as two Canadian women whose lives are in peril because of decisions you made in both of our extradition cases during your tenure as Justice Minister and Attorney General.

You had the power to accept or reject the extradition requests of our abusive ex-spouses, who still seek to have us forcibly removed from Canada to face potential jail terms based on vindictive, trumped up allegations.

We don't know whether you went through the details of our cases before you signed off on them or whether you trusted the word of the Justice Dept.’s International Assistance Group, whose record on ramming through weak and politically-motivated extradition cases has drawn a good amount of well-deserved criticism.

But having witnessed your powerful testimony and truthtelling regarding SNC-Lavalin, we were bolstered with the hope that perhaps, no longer shackled by the limitations of your former position, you would take a fresh and critical look at our cases. Having heard your eloquence at the Justice Committee hearing, and being moved at your reference to being  “a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House,” we found it hard to believe that it was you, personally, who ignored our pleas (and those of our children) when you had the power to reject our extraditions.

In the beautiful spirit of sisterhood that you appear to share with Jane Philpott and some other MPs, we are asking you to expand that circle of solidarity and look into our cases.

We believe that if you were to take a fresh look at our cases, you would agree that the low standards of Canada's Extradition Act are being used as a back door bludgeon by abusers to continue persecuting women who have escaped their grasp.

By way of background, you – and thousands of Canadians who have signed petitions in our support – know us as Canadian citizens MM and KT (both names protected by publication ban).

It shocks the conscience that as survivors of male violence against women – who have acted in the best interests of our own safety and that of our children – we are still exposed to extradition proceedings in which the Canadian government and, specifically, your former ministry, is acting on behalf of our overseas abusers.

It shocks the conscience that your prior pursuit of our cases sends an insidious message to other women in Canada who feel trapped in the cycle of abuse: any move they take to protect themselves and their children from abusive fathers and ex-spouses who live in other countries could make them subject to extradition requests, forced removal from Canada, and overseas detention.

Because these cases shock the conscience, and also because Section 44a of the Extradition Act allows the current Minister of Justice to reject any request that is "unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances," we are asking you and your colleagues to join us in our call to stop the extradition cases against ourselves: MM and KT.

As you know, the Justice Minister can also stop these cases under Section 44b of the Extradition Act, which states "the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person by reason of their race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status or that the person’s position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons."

It is clear that we are being sought by ex-spouses because we are women who have escaped our abusers. Indeed, in both cases, the abusive fathers would not see the return of their children under the Extradition Act. It would only serve to punish and further harm us: the women they are targeting.

When you were elected, your government pledged to engage in an across-the-board gender-based impact analysis when it comes to creating and implementing policies, yet in these specific extradition cases, your former ministry failed two women who have broken no laws that would leave them open to prosecution here had the alleged offences occurred in Canada.

In MM's case, it has been clear since her ordeal began in 2010 that she was protecting her children from an abusive father in the US. Eight years on, there would clearly be no justice in uprooting MM and sending her to a US prison, where she could spend decades behind bars for a charge that, were it considered in Canada, would provide her with an adequate defence and high likelihood of acquittal. As Supreme Court of Canada Justice Rosalie Abella notes in the MM case: “the defence of rescuing children to protect them from imminent harm does not exist in Georgia [and] the mother will not be able to raise the defence she would have been able to raise had she been prosecuted in Canada."

In the case of KT, no legal violation occurred that would allow for an extradition to the United Kingdom. She left the UK to visit Calgary with her kids, who intended to return within the 28-day period stipulated in a custody order. But the ex-husband initiated court action before that 28-day period had expired to, without any rationale, forcibly return the children to the UK. Ironically, it was only the father's intemperate legal intervention that has kept the kids here in Canada, where they have decided they wish to stay.

As noted by the B.C. Supreme Court, KT imputes to her ex-husband "a goal of wishing to harm her, using the extradition proceedings and a potential prison sentence as a bludgeon." Like you, the court has dismissed as "irrelevant" proposed evidence about the best wishes of the children (who clearly do not wish to be forcibly returned to the father). Also dismissed was KT's affidavit, documentary evidence of bruising, and U.K. police reports that illustrate a history of assaults that include being hit by her ex-spouse's car.

In the MM case, Supreme Court Justice Abella was clear: "At the end of the day, there is little demonstrable harm to the integrity of our extradition process in finding it to be unjust or oppressive to extradite the mother of young children she rescued, at their request, from their abusive father. The harm, on the other hand, of depriving the children of their mother in these circumstances is profound and, with respect, demonstrably unfair."

A similar standard must apply to the case of KT, who committed no crime and who only finds herself in the legal crosshairs of her ex-spouse because of his own abusive actions.

As we state above, we salute your courage in standing strong under challenging circumstances. This proved to us that you have a great capacity for courage and truth.

Although you are no longer the Minister of Justice, we ask that you and your colleagues in a self-identified feminist government call upon your successor at the Justice Department to reconsider our cases and put a stop to them.

Because these cases shock our conscience and are unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances, we call on you to do the right thing and raise the questions needed to immediately drop the extradition cases of MM and KT.

We look forward to hearing from you through the support group which continues to work with us, Women Who Choose to Live (613-267-3998, tasc@web.ca)



Best wishes



MM and KT

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Canada ignores national security threat posed by femicide



By Matthew Behrens
            Every other day in 2018, a woman in Canada was murdered, almost exclusively  by men. Sexual assault crisis centres reported a record numbers of calls last year. And according to a new report, male violence against women has claimed the lives of at least 10,495 women and girls in Canada since 1961, an average of 184 femicides per year. 

            Femicide is recognized internationally by the United Nations as the most extreme form of violence and discrimination against women and girls,” according to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. “Its definition varies across disciplines and world regions, but broadly captures the killing of females, primarily by men, because they are female.”

            Despite such massacre-scale figures, successive federal and provincial governments have refused to recognize and act upon the scale and severity of a national security threat that daily targets more than half the population. It’s certainly not news to those who courageously – and almost always without the necessary funding and resources they need to do their jobs – staff the shelters and sexual violence hotlines counseling the targets of hundreds of thousands of daily acts of male violence. 

            While the Trudeau government has thumbed its nose at a United Nations commitment to enact and properly fund a National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Girls, its Public Safety Minister also refuses to recognize the national security implications of male violence. Indeed, when a man inspired by extremist misogynist ideology (the so-called incel movement) went on a murderous Yonge Street rampage in 2018, Ralph Goodale had the audacity to declare the terrorist act did “not appear to be connected in any way to national security.”

            Instead of naming and addressing this major national security threat, the Canadian government continues to rely on racist tropes generated by white supremacist state security agencies to imagine threats that are minimal at worst but which, when parroted by a compliant media, actually make life even more dangerous for anyone who does not enjoy the protective shield of white privilege.

A Flimsy Terror Plot
            Nowhere was that more clear than in the arrests last week of two people in Kingston on an alleged terror plot. While one of those arrested was released without charge, the media continue to spout inflammatory lines about the non-charged individual being part of a refugee family fleeing Syrian violence. Needless to say, that irresponsible reportage was immediately picked up by Donald Trump’s Canadian Tweet Deputy, Andrew Scheer, who reinforced the utterly nonexistent notion that falsely equates refugees with terrorism. (Indeed, research concludes that new immigrant communities have lower crimes rates than those who came before them).

            While we have yet to learn the details about this alleged plot, its timing is, as with all so-called terror arrests, curious, coming as it does as the Senate is set to renew hearings on the dangerous new state security powers being debated in Bill C-59. Its substance is also open to some very reasonable questioning. A tip from the FBI – an organization with a remarkable record of initiating and planning terror plots that are then pinned on vulnerable individuals – led some 300 Canadian agents into high-octane motion, even though there was  no specific target identified”; the superintendent in charge confirmed there was “no specific time, date or location affixed to” the alleged plot of the 16-year-old; there were only “elements and trace elements” of a “potentially” explosive substance allegedly found in one of the houses raided by police; and the superintendent in charge declared: “At no time was the city of Kingston or any Canadian area under direct threat.” It appears there was some vague talk of “facilitating” someone setting off a non-existent explosive device at a place and time that had not been determined, which sounds a lot like the kind of plots that are cooked up by eager FBI and RCMP informants who fish the internet to find vulnerable individuals who might take the bait.

            The arrests also play into what will likely be a significant racist narrative during the 2019 federal election: Canada’s allegedly “porous” borders and equating refugees with security threats. Evidence of this trend was a lazy and fear-mongering CBC piece that read more like a press release from CSIS than the work of a responsible news organization. In reporting on a heavily redacted government document entitled “Subject of national security concern granted permanent residency,” CBC took great pains to point out, adding fuel to the fire, that the granting of landed status here “means the person is entitled to most social benefits —including health care — can live, work and study anywhere in Canada, and is protected by Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but isn't considered a Canadian citizen.”
While the document allegedly could not detail why the individual was considered a threat because to detail CSIS’s “derogatory information” would allegedly harm “the conduct of international affairs, the defence of Canada or any state allied or associated with Canada,” the CBC failed to properly contextualize the consistent pattern of state security agencies claiming “national security confidentiality”  as a means of covering up anything that could prove embarrassing to the government. Such rationalizations are also employed to cover up the fact that “derogatory information” in the hands of CSIS is often the product of torture or other forms of mistreatment that Canada’s spy agency  eagerly  receives from some of the world’s worst dictatorships.
 The CBC also failed to question what it meant to declare that CSIS had “derogatory information” against this individual, especially given the spy agency’s lengthy historical record of falsely naming individuals security threats (often leading to torture, as we have seen in the cases of Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad ElMaati, Muayyed Nureddin, and Abousfian Abdelrazik, among others).
In addition, CBC failed to place this allegedly bombshell document within a long history of Canada using overly broad definitions of security threats to declare individuals  inadmissible to Canada.  That includes, for example, thoe who were involved in struggles against South African apartheid or death squad dictatorships in Central America. The overly broad interpretation of what it means to be a member of an organization – membership being a ground to make one inadmissible to Canada on security grounds – is so broad that it can encompass someone who wrote for a party newspaper or provided catering services to a political meeting. Ottawa fails to consider, for example, whether someone joined a group before it took up arms or after it eschewed violence. It also fails to distinguish between membership in groups with a single brutal purpose -- the employment of violence without regard to civilian casualties -- and multi-faceted organizations that, while possessing a military wing, also act as de facto governments that provide social services (such as the Palestine Liberation Organization).
The Tunnel Vision of State Security
That Canada’s state security agencies would not focus on real threats to security and instead pin blame on individual targeted communities is understandable. They have always demonized Indigenous people, immigrant communities, and anyone who threatens an unequal status quo. It's in their DNA, reflected recently in a 2017 lawsuit by a group of CSIS employees who declared they had been “harassed and discriminated against by CSIS management and colleagues, on the basis of religion, race, ethnic and/or national origin, and/or sexual orientation." That lawsuit was quietly settled with the usual promise to “do better.”
Meanwhile, the 2018  “Terrorist Threat to Canada” report, issued just before the December holiday season, proved a significant dose of cognitive dissonance on steroids. While Ralph Goodale inaccurately described it as “a balanced and frank assessment of the current threat environment,” it is in reality a recycled hash of racist nonsense produced by a nation that Goodale describes as “being a collaborative force for good in the world”. While the 2017 public report declared, without substantiation, that “the principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to be that posed by violent extremists who are inspired by violent Islamist ideology, and terrorist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaida,” the 2018 report returns to the tired evil Muslims nostrum of “violent Sunni Islamist ideology.”
The basis for such conclusions is a timeline dating back to 2006 that features a series of incidents that almost exclusively relied on the role of highly-paid RCMP and CSIS agents in creating and organizing various plots, leading vulnerable individuals right into lengthy prison terms via elaborate entrapment schemes. Others – single individual incidents – were carried out by people with serious mental health challenges but, given their ancestry, were translated into so-called terrorist acts.
In the check-box virtue-signalling and faux political correctness that defines the Trudeau regime, some space is devoted to Right-Wing Extremism. But it is seriously downplayed, noting in a major affront to the lived reality of millions that  “while racism, bigotry, and misogyny may undermine the fabric of Canadian society, ultimately they do not usually result in criminal behavior or threats to national security.” It’s a remarkable statement – not only because racism, bigotry, and misogyny actually make up the fabric of Canadian society – but also because it flies in the face of readily available public figures.
Indeed, whether it’s the epidemic of male violence against women – perhaps most dramatically illustrated in 2018 by the Yonge Street misogynist massacre – or racism (January 29 marks the second anniversary of the terrorist attack that murdered six and injured 19 Muslim worshippers in Quebec City), there is clearly a growing threat from white supremacists that’s been well documented by researchers Barbara Perry and Ryan Scrivens.
Downplaying White Supremacist Violence
Indeed, as the Toronto Star reports: “Between 2015 and 2018, researcher Barbara Perry said she’s observed a 20 to 25 per cent jump in the number of right-wing extremist groups active in Canada. Based on Perry’s previous estimates, that would mean anywhere between 100 to 125 active right-wing extremist groups operating from coast to coast.   Between 1980 and 2014, there have been more than 120 incidents involving right-wing extremist groups in Canada, according to Perry and co-author Ryan Scrivens’s 2015 research. The ‘incidents’ range from drug offences to attempted assassinations, firebombings and attacks.” The researchers noted, by comparison, only seven incidents during the same time period that could possibly be described under the government’s definition of “Islamist” ideology.
(Notably, a recently released report from the Anti-Defamation League also confirms that every single extremist killing in the USA in 2018 was committed by right-wing extremists.)
Despite such readily available figures, it remains controversial within the Canadian government to mention this reality. Indeed, an initial muted reference to right-wing extremism in the 2017 Canadian terrorism report almost didn't make it given the objections of CSIS.
According to documents obtained by Global News, CSIS originally proposed that the 2017 report would include the claim that  “Within the broader context of extremism in Canada, the number of right-wing extremists who promote or are willing to engage in politically-motivated violence is extremely small.”  (This false claim would be consistent with CSIS behaviour:  the spy agency’s review committee  found that CSIS dropped an investigation into Canada’s far-right in 2016 because Canada’s spies felt these groups did not represent a national security threat.) Global News continues that while Public Safety Canada initially included the CSIS statement on the far fight, it was later changed from “extremely small” to “quite small,” and then cut altogether.  CSIS also disputed that right-wing extremism was “a growing concern in Canada,” saying that was a “subjective statement” and demanding, “What is your facting for this?”

CSIS could have easily found that “facting” via a search engine that most 2nd graders know about called Google. They would have discovered a rigorous academic study by the  Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security & Society (whose partners include CSIS and Public Safety Canada) that concluded the right-wing extremist movement in Canada “is more extensive and more active than public rhetoric would suggest.” They noted there were over 100 groups, some of which “were actively engaged in brutal acts of violence directed at an array of targets” including Muslims, Jews, Indigenous people, LGBTQ communities, and “people of color, such as Afro-Canadians, Asians, and South Asians.”

            Significantly, their research confirmed that “a key factor enabling the emergence and sustainability of right-wing groups was a weak law enforcement response. Typically, activities of the far right have not been monitored or taken seriously…there was a tendency for officials to deny or trivialize the presence and threat.”

            Still, Canadian officials tried to soft pedal right wing extremism, questioning why it was listed as a Principal Threat to Canada. “Is far-right a ‘principal threat’ to Canada?” asked an official in the released documents obtained by Global News.  “Good that it is outlined in this document, but may want to revisit how this is framed.”

Naming New Unsubstantiated Threats
            The unwillingness of Canadian state security agencies to develop threat profiles based on readily available public information is another reason why CBC’s abovementioned reportage of alleged security threats receiving permanent landing in Canada is so irresponsible. Indeed, the CBC’s preferential option for the powerful assumes that CSIS and the CBSA actually know what they are doing. Notably, these terrorism threat reports are produced by the same agencies that treat as security risks land and water defenders from Wet'suwet'en to Muskrat Falls (a chilling but consistent historical practice well documented in the excellent book, Policing Indigenous Movements). 

            The 2018 public report on terror threats also suddenly raised out of the blue alleged “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism,” pointing to events that happened over 30 years ago as part of its rationale. It also backs up this claim by declaring that two Sikh organizations were listed as terrorist entities in Canada, but that is old news that dates back to 2003. This understandably upset Sikh groups, prompting Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to say he would look into tweaking the language of the report because “words matter and being precise matters,” but six weeks later, the libelous reference remains on the website. 

            And because Canada’s state security agencies are equal opportunity Islamophobes, they also bring in alleged “Shia Extremism” with the very lazy, vague claims that some people in Canada “may sympathize with [Hizballah] for political reasons” and that individuals in Canada send material and financial support to the group, without providing any evidence. Hizballah was listed as a terrorist entity in 2002 by Canada. 

            The largest amount of space in the report is dedicated to “Canadian Extremist Travellers,” even though the report notes that “Canada has not experienced, and does not expect to experience, a significant influx of returning Daesh-affiliated extremist travellers.” While the report claims that these travellers pose a threat because they return with the “capability to conduct unsophisticated attacks, such as with knives and vehicles,” it completely ignores the fact that white Canadian men are perfectly capable of conducting such attacks against women with no need for overseas training, as reports from hospital emergency rooms and women’s shelters will bear out. Indeed, a December, 2018 report from the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative found that the most common means of men murdering women in Canada was by knifing, all carried out without the support and inspiration of Daesh or Al-Qaeda. 

            The report offers an extensive explanation of initiatives being undertaken to counter what it already admits is not much of a threat – those who have travelled overseas – while completely failing to list any efforts being undertaken to counter right-wing extremism and misogynistic attacks.

Will Canada Acknowledge an Epidemic?
            As billions of dollars continue to be poured into state agencies chasing almost non-existent threats (including the commityment to purchase warships at a staggering cost of anywhere from $62 to $100 billion) , those whose lives are on the line from racism and misogyny are left out in the cold. But with a federal election on the horizon, there is an opportunity to push all political parties on the epidemic of misogyny in Canada. 

            Former NDP Women’s Critic Sheila Malcolmson pointed out that direct federal funding to women’s organizations represents less than 0.01% of total federal program spending; only about $1 for every woman in Canada,” and that proper core funding for said groups should be a cornerstone commitment that would allow Canada to live up to international and domestic constitutional obligations ensuring women’s equality.
             
When she testified before a Parliamentary Committee last fall, Megan Walker of the London Abused Women's Centre reminded MPS that any program going forward must consider that “male violence against women is an epidemic. If we were talking about violence in any other format except against women and we knew that 106 women were murdered this year, largely by men, with 33 murdered by their intimate partners, all bells and whistles would be going off. If it were an epidemic with respect to a flu or SARS or anything like that, we would be taking immediate action, yet for some reason we still continue to minimize the lived experiences of women and pretend it doesn't happen.

It's time to get our heads out of the sand and realize that we all have a role to play, especially government, in preventing women across this country from being murdered, particularly when they're being murdered by a man who is supposed to love them, and in their homes, which for most of us is the safest place we can be. That's our first recommendation: we want the Government of Canada to recognize this as the epidemic it is.

Further, we want the government to respond to this epidemic by including full core funding for all services that are helping women live their lives free from violence and abuse. We want to see major public awareness and education programs so that future generations of girls and boys grow up knowing that this is wrong, that the value women and girls have is not from the attention paid to them by boys and men, but in fact from who they are as people.

We also want to see a heavy investment in prevention. As I say, I think if we can see the results of one woman being alive today because of preventive action, we've done our job. We need to do that with much more frequency and with a much greater investment.”

(originally published at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2019/01/canada-ignores-national-security-threat-posed-femicide)
           


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Canada’s Extradition Law: A Dangerous Back-Door Bludgeon for Abusive Ex-Spouses




By Matthew Behrens
            The high-profile Vancouver arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou once again shines a spotlight on Canada’s problematic Extradition Act, a draconian piece of legislation which has also subjected Ottawa University professor Hassan Diab to a decade-long, ongoing Kafkaesque nightmare based on false allegations.
            Regardless of how one feels about Huawei’s role in facilitating state surveillance and repression – if anything, it is that history which should give rise to actionable court charges – Wanzhou and her lawyers have no doubt already discovered how few rights apply when subject to an extradition request.
            That feeling of utter helplessness generated by a Canadian government accepting at face value any request that comes its way from an extradition partner – no matter how unfair, inaccurate, politically biased, or rights-denying – is one currently being experienced by a number of women who have been subjected to vindictive actions initiated from abroad by violent ex-spouses.

No Gender-Based Impact Analysis
            While the Trudeau government has long boasted of employing a gendered lens to enact its policies, that analysis has certainly not applied to extradition, an area where Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to rely on rape myths and standard sexism to reject the pleas of abuse survivors. This failure of the Trudeau government to respect and honour women’s lives in this context also places additional women and children at risk as well. Indeed, as a member of the group Women Who Choose to Live, I am aware of at least half a dozen cases of women who feel trapped in the cycle of abuse because any move they take to protect themselves and their children from abusive fathers and husbands who live in other countries could make them subject to extradition requests, forced removal from Canada, and overseas detention.
Perhaps the most famous example of this failure to apply a gender-based impact analysis in the extradition context is the still outstanding case of MM, whose name is subject to a publication ban. MM is a Canadian citizen fighting extradition to the United States, where she faces multiple charges for having rescued her kids from an abusive father.
In 2010, MM’s three young children (aged 9, 11 and 14) escaped from their father – who at the time had a sole custody order (obtained under shady circumstances) that prevented MM having contact with the children – and sought refuge in an abandoned house, sleeping on a concrete garage floor. Fearful of going to jail if she took the kids in, MM originally rejected their pleas for shelter. But recognizing the children’s increasingly desperate circumstances, MM’s adult daughter from a previous marriage packed her and the kids in a car and drove them to Canada.
            MM was arrested two days shy of Christmas in a Quebec women’s shelter, where the RCMP had tracked her down by tracing the children’s internet log-in passwords. At the time of the arrest, a Mountie acknowledged that the children "expressed their fear of the father.”
            Since then, MM’s legal journey has traveled the often oblique world of extradition law. After winning in Quebec Superior Court in 2011 – Madame Justice Carol Cohen dismissed the evidence as “so defective and unreliable that it is not worthy of consideration” – the Harper government appealed on jurisdictional grounds. In December, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a bitterly divided 4-3
decision, upheld the extradition, with the dissenting justices calling the majority’s reasoning “Kafkaesque.”

Rescuing Children Not a Crime
Writing for the minority, Justice Rosalie Abella pointed out that “the defence of rescuing children to protect them from imminent harm does not exist in Georgia [and] the mother will not be able to raise the defence she would have been able to raise had she been prosecuted in Canada.” This contradiction violates a cornerstone of extradition law, the “double criminality” requirement that the Supreme Court acknowledges is a process that ensures Canada is “not embarrassed by an obligation to extradite a person who would not, according to its own standards, be guilty of acts deserving punishment.”
A public campaign to convince the then newly-elected Liberals to reconsider the case included MM’s two-week jailhouse hunger strike, which ended on December 23, 2015 when freshly-minted Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould agreed to examine new information not available to her predecessor. But even with the extensive new submissions put before her, including personal appeals from MM’s kids as well as expert U.S. opinion on MM’s inability under Georgia law to mount a proper legal defence, Wilson-Raybould said no.
In a terrible decision, one that was riddled with the types of misunderstandings that continue to plague anyone who has survived abuse, the Trudeau government showed how little it understands the reality of and limited choices available to battered women and abused children. Despite abundant evidence of the father's abuse of the children, the Justice Minister complained that in saving her kids and taking them to Canada, MM had “deprived [the father] of the reasonable ability to visit his children,” even though the children were clear that they wanted no contact with him (see the children's own statement on the case here). The decision bought into repeated myths about abuse survivors (claiming the fact that children allegedly did not report abuse to guidance counselors and attended school regularly casts doubt on their allegations of abuse).
 The decision further attacked MM for not seeking legal remedies (as if access to good counsel and the courts in the US is easy and affordable)  and for not speaking with police (how many violence survivors have heard that line?)
While Wilson-Raybould could refuse MM’s surrender under Section 44 of the Extradition Act, which allows the Minister to reject any request that is “unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances,” she instead has chosen to keep MM under draconian house arrest, from which she now awaits a decision from the Quebec Court of Appeal. It's been over 12 months since the court heard a judicial review of the ministerial decision.
Trudeau’s Minister of Justice has also continued to ignore the words of Supreme Court Justice Abella and two of her Supreme Court colleagues, who concluded:  “At the end of the day, there is little demonstrable harm to the integrity of our extradition process in finding it to be unjust or oppressive to extradite the mother of young children she rescued, at their request, from their abusive father. The harm, on the other hand, of depriving the children of their mother in these circumstances is profound and, with respect, demonstrably unfair.”
Instead, Wilson-Raybould has rationalized the choice to break up the family by saying “many families who lose the assistance of a family member because that person is detained in custody find that they have to make changes to manage their new reality.”

Extradition: An Abuser’s Bludgeon
            More recently, the case of KT – her real name subject to a publication ban – has again shone a light on how easy it is for an ex-spouse to continue persecuting a woman and their children under the guise of extradition. Indeed, as noted by the BC Supreme Court, KT imputes to her ex-husband “a goal of wishing to harm her, using the extradition proceedings and a potential prison sentence as a bludgeon.” Had the court applied a gender-based impact analysis, perhaps it would not have dismissed as “irrelevant” proposed evidence about the best wishes of the children (who clearly do not wish to be forcibly returned to the father). Also dismissed was the affidavit of the survivor of male violence against women, KT herself, whose documentary evidence of bruising and UK police reports illustrate a history of assaults that include being hit by her ex-spouse’s car.
            Married in Britain in 2000, Canadian-born KT reports that she endured years of physical and psychological abuse. Following a divorce, she was awarded custody of two children, with the father retaining visitation rights. The order stipulated that KT could take the children out of the UK for periods of up to 28 days.
            When she decided to permanently move back to Canada in October, 2015, the two children came with her to see where she would be living and to help her adjust to life back in Canada. Both boys had the full intention of returning to the UK to continue with their schooling. But while the boys were in contact with the father via skype shortly after their arrival in Canada, things turned sour, with the father becoming angry and threatening to have the boys arrested. When it became apparent that the boys were questioning whether they had to go back to the UK, the father initiated court proceedings to have the children apprehended and immediately returned to the UK (even though KT had the right to have the boys with her for up to 28 days).
            The father brought a Hague Convention application to forcibly return the boys (then aged 14 and 12), initiating a protracted series of back-and-forth court decisions (one of which found that the voices of the children had not been properly considered in this process) and subsequent police actions that traumatized the boys. The father’s actions infuriated the boys who, without KT’s knowledge, moved to an aunt’s house in BC to avoid their father.
Eventually, the father provided consent to the boys remaining in Canada on the basis that he would have access to them and that the boys would be allowed to visit the U.K. However, as often happens in such disputes, negotiations failed to resolve all outstanding issues, and an extradition request (which would not result in the return of the boys, ironically, but which would certainly punish the mother, KT) was initiated from the UK by the abusive ex-spouse.
            Canada’s Justice Minister, Judy Wilson-Raybould, signed off on the request, and the issue of whether the extradition for alleged child abduction could proceed was sent to the courts. Among the pieces of “evidence” in the British ROC – “Record of the Case,” which is always presumed to be reliable by Canadian authorities, no matter what is in it – were such hearsay pieces as the following:

         “a next door neighbour in the U.K. heard ‘a lot of movement’ outside K.T.’s home on the night of October 17-18, 2015, and witnessed a number of vehicles coming and going;  that neighbour also saw a moving van arrive on October 19 and remove six to eight large packing boxes labelled, ‘[T.] Calgary’.”

            But the BC Supreme Court refused to allow KT to adduce any evidence to prevent the extradition. For example, the history of the abuse she suffered was deemed not relevant. The Court also refused to consider affidavits from the children that “depose that they do not wish to live in England ever again.  They depose that they have asked [the father] several times if they could visit him in the U.K. during school holidays, the eldest once even offering to pay for his own flight.  However, [the father] declined each time, saying more than once that he wants to see the results of the extradition proceedings.”
            In other words, extradition was clearly, as KT explained, being used by her abusive ex-husband as a bludgeon. The BC Supreme Court even refused to consider evidence from a social worker who “details the boys’ affection for and commitment to their mother, and their guarded attitude toward their father.  He reports that despite more interviews with social workers and others in England than the boys could keep track of, they felt that the professional community there did not listen to them.  [He] reports that the boys have expressed clear and unequivocal views that they wished to remain in Canada with their mother or, if not with her, with their aunt.  The boys ‘believe their future is here and there is little for them in England’, and they question the apparent attempt of the legal system to trump their views and their voiced opinions.”
            In her reasons for upholding the surrender of KT to the UK, Wilson-Raybould said  that she could only turn down the extradition if the conscience of Canadians would be shocked or that it would be contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. However, no evidence is provided that she has tested whether Canadians would have their conscience shocked by the details of this case. Apart from the failure to apply a gender-based impact analysis to this case, how did the extradition even get off the ground when it was clear that the alleged facts which underpin the allegations show there was no violation of the law? Indeed, the alleged at of “child abduction” was not in fact an abduction because the kids were overseas within the terms of the custody order, the father was able to communicate with the boys, and the mother attempted to have the boys communicate with the father even after he had threatened to have them arrested.
            In a world where spiteful men will do anything to punish the women survivors who have escaped them, such cases as MM and KT send a very clear and dangerous message to abusers:  Canada’s “feminist” government will open the door to another round of judicially-sanctioned battering under the guise of respecting extradition treaties.

Overhauling Extradition Act
            As MM and KT await their fates, efforts continue to force the Trudeau government to overhaul the Extradition Act and halt further proceedings until the process is brought into line with concepts like human rights law, fundamental justice, and procedural fairness. Unfortunately, Wilson-Raybould and a battery of Justice Department lawyers – some of whom are implicated in clearly unsavoury practices in the Hassan Diab case – seem unmoved by the countless examples of abuses carried out under the umbrella of the Extradition Act. 
Meanwhile, although the federal government spouts disingenuous language about rule of law and independent judiciaries in the high-profile Wanzhou U.S. extradition case, foreign governments rest easy in knowing that Canada will almost always refuse to uphold the rights of any citizen, refugee, or foreign national sought under extradition. Over the past decade, Canada has surrendered individuals in 90% of the cases. Whether MM and KT get added to those statistics will ultimately depend on whether public pressure can force a government that says its respects and honours women to put its rhetoric into action.

             

Monday, November 21, 2016

Trudeau’s Feminist Words Ring Hollow on the MM Extradition Case

Trudeau’s Feminist Words Ring Hollow on the MM Extradition Case

By Matthew Behrens

The October release of the Chief Public Health Officer’s report on the “staggering” extent of violence against women and children in Canada served as a timely preamble to the annual Shine the Light campaign of Woman Abuse Prevention Month. Among many educational and public activities, Parliament Hill’s Peace Tower lit up November 15 with the campaign’s purple colour.

            Campaign supporters include self-identified feminist Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who declared in a video statement that “it takes tremendous courage and resilience to break free from abuse. I stand in solidarity with victims, with survivors, and with families and loved ones.”

            But there’s at least one abuse survivor who hasn't received Trudeau’s support. MM – her name subject to a publication ban – is a Canadian citizen fighting extradition to the United States, where she faces multiple charges for having rescued her kids from an abusive father. In 2010, MM’s three young children, aged 9, 11 and 14, escaped from their father – who at the time had a sole custody order that prevented MM having contact with the children – and sought refuge in an abandoned house, sleeping on a concrete garage floor. Fearful of going to jail if she took the kids in, MM originally rejected their pleas for shelter. But recognizing the children’s increasingly desperate circumstances, MM’s adult daughter from a previous marriage packed her and the kids in a car and drove them to Canada.

            MM was arrested two days shy of Christmas in a Quebec women’s shelter, where the RCMP had tracked her down by tracing the children’s internet log-in passwords. At the time of the arrest, a Mountie acknowledged that the children "expressed their fear of the father.”

            Since then, MM’s legal journey has traveled the often oblique world of extradition law. After winning in Quebec Superior Court in 2011 – Madame Justice Carol Cohen dismissed the evidence as "so defective and unreliable that it is not worthy of consideration” – the Harper government appealed on jurisdictional grounds. Last December, the Supreme Court, in a bitterly divided 4-3 decision, upheld the extradition, with the dissenting justices calling the majority’s reasoning “Kafkaesque.”

            Writing for the minority, Justice Rosalie Abella pointed out that “the defence of rescuing children to protect them from imminent harm does not exist in Georgia [and] the mother will not be able to raise the defence she would have been able to raise had she been prosecuted in Canada." This contradiction violates a cornerstone of extradition law, the “double criminality” requirement that the Supreme Court acknowledges is a process that ensures Canada is “not embarrassed by an obligation to extradite a person who would not, according to its own standards, be guilty of acts deserving punishment.”

            A public campaign to convince the newly-elected Liberals to reconsider the case included MM’s two-week jailhouse hunger strike, which ended on December 23 when freshly-minted Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould agreed to examine new information not available to her precedessor.

            But even with the extensive new submissions put before her, including personal appeals from MM’s kids as well as expert U.S. opinion on MM’s inability under Georgia law to mount a proper legal defence, Wilson-Raybould said no. MM received the bad news on the same day that the Minister of Justice announced an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.

            While MM’s lawyers head to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2017 to judicially review the decision, MM and her youngest children continue to live in the limbo of fear and uncertainty all too familiar to survivors of male violence, one that certainly tests the courage and resilience of which Trudeau speaks.

            They also hope that Wilson-Raybould will look at the case once more, and refuse MM’s surrender under Section 44 of the Extradition Act, which allows the Minister to reject any request that is “unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances.”

            Such circumstances were certainly clear enough to Justice Abella and her two Supreme Court colleagues, who concluded:  “At the end of the day, there is little demonstrable harm to the integrity of our extradition process in finding it to be unjust or oppressive to extradite the mother of young children she rescued, at their request, from their abusive father. The harm, on the other hand, of depriving the children of their mother in these circumstances is profound and, with respect, demonstrably unfair.”

A petition calling on Trudeau to stop the extradition is available at https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-stop-illegal-extradition-of-abuse-survivor-and-single-mom-mm