Let us turn to the saga of Kabba Williams, a human rights campaigner who was invited to speak at Alberta's Festival of Ideas. Unfortunately, when he applied for his visa to attend the festival:
In a letter [a Canadian visa officer] told Mr Williams: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that, during the civil war in Sierra Leone while you were a member of the RUF from 1991-1992, you committed a war crime, genocide or a crime against humanity.”
War criminal! Thank goodness Canada's New Government is protecting our great nation from... oh.
Mr Williams was six years old in 1991. He was abducted by the Revolutionary United Front, drugged and forced to fight along with thousands of other children.
Surely a mere oversight. So we can just take this to the immigration minister, who is no doubt smart enough to... oh.
[The festival director] said a member of parliament, whom he had promised not to name, made sure Mr Williams’s file reached the desk of Diane Finley, the immigration minister at the time.
Well, okay, Finley is a total fucking idiot. And sure, she was willing to defy Parliament itself as a minister. But there are plenty of Human Rights Conventions and treaties that Canada signed onto that clearly say the guy isn't a war criminal, so even Diane Finley wouldn't be so catastrophically stupid as to... oh.
Ms Finley reviewed the case and apparently supported the decision to refuse Mr Williams a visa on the grounds that he possibly committed war crimes.
Luckily for Mr Williams, a cabinet shuffle just before the conference ousted Finley and inserted the risk-averse Jason Kenney in her stead. Fearing bad press -- and other than the terrists, that's all Harper's government fears -- and Kenney granted him a visa. Kind of.
The political solution was not to issue Mr Williams a regular visitor’s visa. He received a special permit which can be granted “in exceptional circumstances to persons otherwise inadmissible to Canada”, according to Ms Norris of CIC.In other words Canada still considers Mr Williams a possible war criminal.
This total lack of understanding on the issue of child soldiers is shocking -- well, not shocking in Finley's case, but it's still wrong. Jason Kenney has already been publicly shamed on the child soldier issue, and it's a good bet that this isn't the last incident we'll see of this kind.
As a country, we've got to be better than this. But while the Stephen Harper Clown Parade is passing through, that's just not going to happen.