1. Abdoul Abdi
Halifax Examiner contributor El Jones has long raised the issue of people brought to Canada as children who then become wards of the state. Bounced between foster homes and group homes, they are not raised in a stable, supportive environment, and so some become involved in the criminal justice system.
Then they turn 18, and their world is ripped from them. Because they are not citizens, a criminal conviction can get them deported “back” to a country they don’t or only hazily remember, where there may be no family or friends, or where an entirely foreign language is spoken.
Take the case of Abdoul Abdi, who was one of the potential deportees Jones discussed in her pre-holiday essay, “Home for Christmas“:
Abdoul Abdi fled with his aunt and sister to Canada at age six. In Canada, he was taken into permanent care by the state. He was bounced from home to home. His longest stay was three years, in an abusive home. By the time he was a teenager he was homeless and living on the streets, a victim of trauma after trauma, much of it inflicted on him in Canada.
Canada was responsible for Abdoul, but the people in change of protecting him did not get him the citizenship that would have protected him from the worst danger. It is well-documented that children in the foster care system are at a high risk for future criminalization. As a Black child, Abdoul’s risk of incarceration was even higher. What he needed protection from the most was the state.
Working on cases like Abdoul’s reminds me of the privilege of growing up in a well-resourced, loving family. This privilege gave me resilience and opportunities that have shaped my life.
Abdoul, by contrast, was apprehended by children’s services at age 8 and then warehoused in 31 different placements by the time he was 19. This experience in “care” shaped his life, not always in positive ways. Because he was a child in care, Abdoul was denied citizenship — he was denied the right to have rights.
Abdoul’s case also shows the troubling disregard that government officials have for the humanity of long-term permanent residents who came to Canada as young children and for various reasons did not become Canadian citizens. It highlights the discord between our often trumpeted “Canadian values” and our actual respect for international human rights obligations.
— Benjamin Perryman, Abdoul Abdi’s lawyer.
Nobody is defending or minimizing Abdoul’s violent crime [he was convicted of aggravated assault and assaulting a police officer], but because the people who were supposed to be caring for him did not seek the citizenship he is eligible for, he is now being punished twice. Unlike other Canadians, after Abdoul serves his prison sentence, he will be punished again — taken into detention after his time expires, and deported to Somalia. He has a young daughter. If he is deported, she will grow up without a father.
We’re not supposed to deport to Somalia because of the danger. Our own Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, was himself an asylum seeker from Somalia. It’s too dangerous for him to be sent there, but we can send Abdoul.
Abdoul finishes his sentence in early January. Canadian Border Services wants to strip his permanent residency and detain him.
Jones went on to give a glimpse of Abdi’s personality, which you say is typically Canadian:
I learned about Abdoul’s case from a young man doing time with him. Despite his own problems, he was moved by Abdoul’s distress, and by what he saw as an injustice. He asked me if I could help Abdoul, if there was anything anyone could do to stop him from being deported. When I spoke with Abdoul, I said, I can’t promise anything, all I can do is try for you. I was going to a conference where the Minister of Immigration was speaking: I promised to bring his case to his attention, to try to advocate.
We only spoke briefly. Abdoul asked me, “why do you help people? What do you get out of it?” And I said something about how when something isn’t right, you have to do your best to change that. And he asked me if it ever works, if you ever win. I told him that sometimes there are small victories. And he comforted me, told me to be positive, to believe in myself. He is facing deportation, maybe death, certainly exile from everything and everyone he knows and he took the time to lift me up. He spoke about wanting to be a father to his child, and about how terrified he is about being sent to Somalia.
On the broader issue of children who were in the care of the state growing into young adults who will be deported by the same state, “there is an easy solution,” says Jones:
Canada could grant citizenship to children in the care of the state. This is in accordance with our international human rights obligation to provide “special protection” for non-citizen children in care. When the state assumes responsibility for a child, it also has a duty to keep that child safe. Through the inaction of children’s services and Canada, these children have been denied the most fundamental right. The state is not held responsible for this neglect. It is the abused children who pay once they become adults experiencing the foster care to prison pipeline.
But meanwhile, Abdoul Abdi faces deportation. He is being held on orders of the Canada Border Services Agency at the Madawaska Regional Correctional Centre in St-Hiliare, New Brunswick, where he is in segregation — i.e., solitary confinement.
From a press release from Abdi’s lawyer Benjamin Perryman:
After hearing from Mr. Abdi, who begged the Immigration Division to “look past my past and at the human sitting in front of you,” the Division concluded that Mr. Abdi was a danger to the public and unlikely to appear for an admissibility hearing.
The Immigration Division held it was not required to follow the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) decision to release Mr. Abdi because the CSC takes rehabilitation and other factors into consideration whereas the Immigration Division does not. The Immigration Division also reasoned that Mr. Abdi lacks a strong system of community supports to ensure his compliance with release conditions, circumstances that are directly the result of Mr. Abdi growing up in the child welfare system.
Abdi has another hearing next
Monday month, which could very well result in his deportation to Somalia. Last year, Abdi’s sister Fatouma Alyaan told the Chronicle Herald what that would mean:
Alyaan vividly remembers the horrors of her home country, where several members of her own family were murdered.
“I remember back home seeing people right in front of us getting their heads cut off, getting their hands cut off. I remember that like it happened today,” she said.
“I don’t think they realize as soon as he gets off that plane my brother is going to die.”
When Alyaan and her brother fled to Canada with her two aunts as children, they were almost immediately put into provincial care by Nova Scotia Community Services, where they would bounce between group homes and foster care for their entire childhood. In provincial care, Alyaan said, she and her brother were swiftly stripped of their culture, and were punished for speaking their native language.
Not once, she said, did they receive therapy for their traumatic childhood or the abuse they later suffered at the hands of their foster family. No one ever applied for citizenship on their behalf, which is why Abdi, as a permanent citizen, is facing deportation despite spending practically his entire life in Canada.
“They ripped us from what we knew and just threw us in a new culture without nothing; we never had the right supports.
“They took full custody of us and they failed us in every way you could possibly think.”
Today at 5:30pm, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears at a town hall meeting at Sackville High School, and so Jones has helped organize a demonstration to bring Abdi’s case to Trudeau’s attention. “Trudeau tells the world that refugees are welcome in Canada, while Canada deports people who came to Canada as child refugees,” reads the event page for the demonstration. “Abdoul Abdi was made in Canada, failed by Canada, and denied his rights. Let’s show up for Abdoul and let Trudeau know this is inhumane and unjust.”
2. Pearl Kelly v NSLC enters its tenth year
Pearl Kelly filed her human rights complaint against the NSLC in 2009. An adjudicator ruled in her favour in 2015, finding Kelly had been discriminated against because of her gender. In 2016, Kelly agreed to a $550,000 settlement package. But now she says that’s not enough.
Click here to read “Pearl Kelly’s battle against the NSLC enters its tenth year,” by freelance reporter Michael Lightstone.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall. Click here to subscribe.
3. Film workers
“The head of a union representing hundreds of the province’s film workers says the industry is booming everywhere but Nova Scotia, where new numbers show a steep decline,” reports Zane Woodford for Metro:
During its first term, Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government cut the Film Tax Credit, which covered up to 65 per cent of the cost of a production, replacing it with a capped incentive program that covered only 25 per cent.
IATSE Local 849 represents about 300 Nova Scotia motion picture technicians – behind-the-scenes crafts like hair and make-up artists, drivers, and lighting and grip technicians.
The union compiled numbers of annual hours worked from 2014 to 2017.
Those numbers show that the union’s members worked 55 per cent fewer hours in 2017 than they did in 2016. Compared to 2014, the year the Film Tax Credit was cut, the members worked less than a third as much in 2017.
4. Me and Dr. Paul
A police release from yesterday:
Investigators in the Financial Crime Unit of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division have charged a man in relation to a fraud that occurred in Bedford in 2016.
On December 14, 2016 a customer of the Royal Bank located at 1597 Bedford Highway deposited a cheque for over $90,000.00 into his bank account. The cheque was later determined to be fraudulent.
Investigators have charged 49-year-old Paul Edward Beasant of Halifax with one count each of fraud over $5000.00 and uttering a forged document. Beasant is scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court to face the charges on January 23, 2018.
Paul Beasant is none other than Dr. Paul, of Late Night with Dr. Paul, Zane Woodford of Metro tells me:
Angie Zinck, spokesperson for the PC party, confirmed Monday that the man charged is the same Paul Beasant who ran for the party in the Fairview-Clayton Park riding last year.
Beasant finished third in that race, losing to Liberal Patricia Arab and New Democrat Joanne Hussey.
Zinck said Beasant is no longer involved with the party, which she said was unaware of any alleged illegal activity before he ran.
Beasant also hosted a show on Eastlink Television called Late Night with Dr Paul, on which he’s interviewed Mayor Mike Savage, and then-meteorologist, now-councillor Richard Zurawski while drinking fake martinis.
Au contraire, Zane Woodford of Metro! (That’s French for “on the contrary.”) I’ve been on the Late Night with Dr. Paul show — twice! — and I can assure you that the martinis were as real as they come.
Beasant emailed me out of the blue, I think back in 2014, and said (I’m paraphrasing, but only lightly), “hey man, I had a guest ditch on me, can you fill in?” I had no idea who Beasant or what Late Night with Dr. Paul was, but he said he was going to put me on TV and give me free drinks, so I readily agreed. That night the show was filmed at It’s All Greek To Me on Quinpool Road, and the other interviewee was Labi Kousoulis, but Kousoulis was running late, so Beasant and I had a second martini while waiting around for the politician. I remember the bewildered server wondering what the hell was going on with these guys drinking martinis after hours, but she made a wonderful martini, so I dropped her a tip even though (or especially though) I wasn’t paying.
The second time I was on the show was in March of last year, during a snowstorm. It was recorded at The Wedding Venue and Café on the Bedford Highway, which had recently been opened by Marie MacMullin. The other guest on that night’s show was Tom Puthiakunnel, owner of United Travel, and while Dr. Paul was interviewing Puthiakunnel, MacMullin poured me a glass of wine and took me upstairs to show me her collection of wedding dresses. MacMullin was delightful, I feigned interest in the dresses, and after 20 minutes or so, it was my turn with the Dr., and a martini. After, I walked out into the snow and took the #80 home, which took an eternity.
Anyway, I didn’t understand anything that was going on either time, but I liked Dr. Paul. He had a deadpan humour, a twinkle in the eye, and, like I said, gave me free drinks. I don’t have Eastlink TV, so I have no idea if the show was interesting or not.
Beasant hasn’t been convicted of anything, and who knows if the charges against him will stand or if this is some big frame-up. Even if true, there are worse things than defrauding a bank. I mean, it’s not advisable, but it’s not, say, fixing the price of bread. I’d go on his show again.
Speaking of fixing the price of bread… the bread price-fixing story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.
We don’t know the whole story, which is part of the problem, but here’s the story that broke just before Christmas (the timing itself seems like a PR move to minimize attention):
Grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd. has admitted to participating in a scheme to increase packaged bread prices for more than 14 years, saying it will co-operate with a Competition Bureau investigation into the industry.
The parent of Loblaw, George Weston Ltd., which owns bread-maker Weston Bakeries, also admitted to participating in the price-fixing — and said another major bread producer and other big grocery chains were also involved. Loblaw said it would provide more details on gift-card eligibility in January.
Loblaw’s revelations come amid a bureau criminal probe into bread price-fixing and the acknowledgment this fall by major supermarket retailers, as well as Canada Bread Co. Ltd., this country’s other major bread producer along with Weston Bakeries, that they were co-operating in the bureau’s inquiry.
There was a criminal probe that presumably was about to result in charges filed, so Loblaw got ahead of the charges by admitting its involvement, and then the company attempted to repair its image by issuing a $25 gift card redeemable only at Loblaw-affiliated stores.
Think about this: the use of food banks has been soaring over the past 14 years, in part because the increase in the price of food is outstripping the increase in wages and social assistance payouts, and now we learn that grocery chains have been conspiring to increase the price of food even further. In other times and places, there have been revolutions over such matters. People have lost their heads. But Loblaw is going to make it all go away with a $25 gift card.
Moreover, I have to wonder what the profit margin is on $25 worth of bread at Superstore. No one buys bread alone. You need your bologna, your PB and J, your milk. In the end, Loblaw is probably making money on this $25 gift card, just like with the coupons in that garbage bag Mark Lever throws on my porch every week.
But that’s not all. “Qualifying for a $25 gift card from Loblaw Cos. Ltd. issued as a goodwill gesture to help offset 14 years of price-fixing has turned out to be more complicated than shoppers were originally led to believe, and has already led to a court challenge,” reports Francine Kopun for the Toronto Star:
Lawyers in a proposed class action lawsuit against Loblaw Cos. and other grocers were in Ontario Superior Court on Monday arguing that restrictions Loblaw has attached to claiming the $25 card should be struck down.
When it was announced in December, the $25 was described by Loblaw as a gift card. But the form to claim the card, released Monday, requires consumers to waive their rights to the first $25 of any future financial settlement that may arise.
By offering the $25 coupon in exchange for a reduction in liability, Loblaw is attempting to dictate the terms of a future settlement, [lawyer Jay] Strosberg added.
“Maybe the consumer would rather have $25 in cash to pay for gasoline or maybe the consumer would rather have $25 to pay for utilities.”
Loblaw also stands to profit from issuing the coupons, as they can be used only in stores in the Loblaw family of companies.
The company is also collecting names, addresses and birth dates from customers who want to qualify for a coupon — which in itself is valuable information, Strosberg pointed out.
“All of it is structured to benefit the Loblaw group of companies. It’s not structured to benefit anyone other than them.”
We need details of the price-fixing. The Competition Bureau should make its entire investigative file public, so we know who did what, and what the actual effects were on people. We’re talking about parents trying to feed their kids, people on already over-stretched budgets, people facing malnourishment.
It strikes me that a hungry person caught lifting 25 bucks worth of ground chuck at the Loblaw meat counter will feel the full weight of the justice system, including at least a weekend in jail, onerous fines and penalties, and even potential deportation, but Loblaw itself can steal millions of dollars from hungry people and face no real repercussions whatsoever.
Shit is fucked up and bullshit.
No public meetings.
Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — council begins debating next year’s budget.
Halifax Explosion Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, Room B239, NSCC Leed Street Campus) — the committee will evaluate its grant program, just in case we have another Explosion and those people 100 years later wonder if we got it right.
Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Space, Alderney Landing) — just an organizational meeting.
Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — Lynn Hartwell, deputy minister at Community Services, will be asked about children in care. Probably that court case in #1 above will be discussed.
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — the committee will discuss funding for Ocean Innovation Centre: COVE (Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship). I might even show up for this.
Introduction to Double Categories (Tuesday, 2:30pm, Room 319, Chase Building) — Bob Paré will speak, explaining that “I will define double categories and their morphisms and give some examples. I will speculate on why I think they may be useful.”
Newfangled Rounds: GreyLit (Wednesday, 8am, Weather Watch Room, Dickson Building, VG) — Cora Cole and Lori Wozney, from the IWK Centre for Research in Family Health, will speak on “GreyLit – The Missing Piece in your Decision Making.” To register: [email protected]
Metropolis (Wednesday, 7pm, Alumni Hall) — a screening of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film with live musical accompaniment by the Upstream Music Association, featuring Amy Brandon on guitar and electronics, Steven Naylor on keyboard and electronics, Lukas Pearse on bass and electronics, and Brandon Auger on synthesizer.
In the harbour
0:30am: YM Essence, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Bremerhaven, Germany
5am: Budapest Bridge, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Fos Sur Mer, France
6:45am: Thorco Logos, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
7am: Algoscotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Quebec
10am: Damia Desgagnes, asphalt tanker, arrives at Pier 31 from Sainte Victoire-de-Sore, Quebec
10:30am: Viking Conquest, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
11:30am: Damia Desgagnes, asphalt tanker, moves from Pier 31 to MacAsphalt
11pm: Viking Conquest, car carrier, sails from Autoport for sea
When 2 degrees feels warm.