Please read this email in its entirety. I relate to your latest column, "When did you get so smug, Canada? Not cool, man," but probably in a completely different way than you would expect.
Let me begin with your statement, "So you think, why should I bother calling my old friends back? Why should I drive this beat-up car? I'm a star. Don't you hear me? A star!"
You're right, Canadians do think of themselves as being better, particularly when they compare themselves to the Americans. You're next statement, "And now it's official, you're smug." Yes, Canada is, especially when it comes to their perception of human rights.
You go on to say, "Smugness, after all, breeds a false sense of security. It makes politicians ignore the needs of voters." Absolutely correct, and the best way to keep politicians honest is with an educated, informed electorate. You only get that with a free press that's always willing to challenge those politicians.
You went on to say, "All things considered, Canada, you were nicer in the early nineties, when there was barely a Conservative Party to speak of... You were a mess, but at least you were honest." The dishonesty coming out of the Harper government is appalling. I have the proof.
You concluded with these three sentences, "The real danger of smugness is the way that it imbues people and nations and, in your case, an increasingly arrogant Prime Minister's Office with a sense of superiority – one that makes them believe they're exempt from the rules. This is, after all, what the smuggies in Ottawa are counting on. Don't let them win."
Once again you are right on- this government does believe they are exempt from the rules. The problem is, the media in Canada - very much including The Globe & Mail - is allowing Mr. Harper to be arrogant and govern outside the rule of law by ignoring what I am about to say. By the way, I can prove everything. I'll begin with,
"The most advanced justice system in the world is a failure if it does not provide justice to the people it is meant to serve." - The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Canada.
Canada is currently disregarding the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights of 1948, as well as being in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, The 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
Wow, that's quite an achievement, especially when Canada wants to be known for human rights! And what's so amazing is that the Conservatives are getting away with it- the media is not holding the Harper government accountable.
I'm talking about citizenship, women's rights, justice, veteran's rights, and human rights.
Here are some examples, starting with an excerpt of Senate QP last March:
Now some links to news stories explaining the gender discrimination (the little baby girl featured in the first story was officially turned down by Jason Kenney's department on Christmas Eve of just a few weeks ago):
Here's another link from the Senate in October:
Here's a link for my web page, click on the link for CBC's The National, where they talk about the gender discrimination:
And if that were not enough, many Canadians are just discovering that their old-age pensions are at risk:
Stateless children? What kind of Conservative family values are these?
This Canadian-born, Canadian WWII veteran went to his grave disenfranchised from his own country. Jason Kenney refused to grant him citizenship!
The only reason government exists is either to protect citizens, or to make life better for its citizens. Stephen Harper has clearly failed- in fact he's actively turning his back against his own people. The reason the media exists is to educate and inform the public. Were you, Ms. McLaren, aware that this sort of discrimination goes on in Canada? Most Canadians don't have a clue. Why? Because the media hasn't been all over this story. In fact, the last time If the Globe and Mail did something on the Lost Canadians was almost three years ago, and the facts as reported were basically wrong. I asked for a correction but nothing was ever done. One month ago I sent an email to your Editor-in-Chief asking him to cover the Lost Canadians, and once again there was nothing but silence.
Here's a copy of that letter:
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I recently attended an event at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, whereby they honoured Brian Williams of NBC News as the recipient of this year's prestigious award.
In his speech, Mr. Williams related this story about his idea of journalism:
"I like to quote a great thinker that I used to hear on the radio growing up in the New York area when my dad would drive me around in the car. His name was Sy Syms. Sy Syms was the patriarch and proprietor, he was a haberdasher of the men’s clothing chain Simms. Sy insisted on doing his own radio ads, and he used to end each commercial: “At Syms, an educated consumer is our best customer.” And I drove along with my dad and grew up in later years to enter this business, and in the years since I’ve thought back – old Sy Syms really had something. That’s brilliant. He was right; he was right probably about men’s clothes, I don’t know, but he was certainly right about our line of work and so many others. An educated consumer is our best customer."
Now let me quote Mr. Cronkite, " Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened." He also stated, "In seeking truth you have to get both sides of the story."
Now back to how all this applies to you. This past year a law was passed that changed rights for all Canadians. Today they have less rights than they did a year ago. This law retroactively gave back to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people their citizenship. It also helped define the meaning of what it means to be Canadian, prompting the government to bring about a new booklet called The Launch of Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. Here's the link:
This Bill gave women equality of rights in legislation for the first time in Canadian history. The Famous Persons case in 1929 recognized women as being people, but it wasn't for another 80 years could they pass citizenship onto their children on the same level that men had enjoyed for over half a century.
For reference, here are several links verifying what I'm saying:
Wall Street Journal:
Public Television - Seattle:
While this issue garnered media attention all over the world, the one newspaper which describes itself as Canada's Leading National Newspaper was noticeably absent. From The Globe and Mail's own web pages, here is how they describe themselves:
* The Globe and Mail has consistently delivered Canada's best and deepest coverage of national, international and business news.
* No other Canadian paper is more relied on, quoted or courted for its news coverage.
* The Globe is on the ground when stories break, able to report faster and more accurately than newspapers that rely heavily on wire services.
* The Globe offers balanced perspectives and competing points of view so that readers can make the smartest, most-informed decisions about issues.
I believe that the only story the Globe and Mail published about the Lost Canadians was on March 1, 2007 - almost three years ago - and the facts as reported were basically wrong. I asked for a correction but it was never printed.
There is just no way that Walter Cronkite or Brian Williams would have been sitting on the sidelines if such sweeping changes to Citizenship rights and laws were being debated in the U.S. Congress or Senate. For that matter can you really imagine anyone in the U.S. media remaining silent when the rights of citizenship were being changed?
This leads me to ask, why did you and why are you continuing to ignore such a huge subject that really does affect every Canadian? Is it not your duty as a journalist to report the news impartially and without censure? How can your readers make smart, informed decisions when they are never informed?
Right now as I type this letter, the government of Canada is violating two Supreme Court decisions, along with a multitude of international human rights conventions. Canada has created stateless children. A Canadian-born, Canadian WWII veteran recently died without citizenship, all because of gender discrimination. (And Canada prides itself on equality of rights!) Four other people have wrongly been denied citizenship for over 62 years. (Two of them are retired from the Canadian military!) Another Canadian citizen, in order to stay in Canada, was forced to become a refugee in his own country! Last summer a 10th-generation born Canadian citizen from Quebec was denied her passport when she applied for it in Geneva. And why was she in Geneva? Several years ago the government would only recognize her citizenship if she first signed a gag-order, promising never to tell anyone what the government had done to her. She refused to sign and was forced to move out of Canada. (We have a copy of the gag-order.) If that were not enough, thousands of other Canadian citizens currently have no rights in Canada- they can't work, they can't get passports, they literally have no rights whatsoever. Let me repeat- these people are Canadian citizens.
Doesn't this tweak your journalistic curiosity? As a Canadian, doesn't this disregard of citizens' rights by your government anger you? Here is a recent link:
CBC The National:
Going further, we're about to launch a lawsuit that has huge ramifications. The last time we did this the government stated in the House of Commons during QP that our challenge was going to cost Canadian taxpayers into the "tens of billions of dollars." (That's almost $600 for every man, woman, and child in Canada.) Isn't it the right of every Canadian to know just what the government's disregard for the law will cost them? Isn't it the duty of your paper to inform them of this?
I must ask, why has your newspaper remained silent? You are the Editor-in-Chief, does this silence represent your personal values and views as a journalist? I would hope not. Also, isn't it the duty of all journalists to report the news regardless of their own opinions? Your actions and the direction you give to your reporters going forward will define who you are and your values as a journalist.
Once again it's worth repeating NBC news anchorman Brian Williams, "old Sy Syms really had something. That’s brilliant. He was right; he was right probably about men’s clothes, I don’t know, but he was certainly right about our line of work and so many others. An educated consumer is our best customer."
It's time to educate the Canadian public on the Lost Canadians. Besides, every time there is any sort of media coverage I get more Lost Canadians their status. The government seems to be motivated only when there is public awareness and outcry. Walter Cronkite is also worth repeating, "Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened."
That's exactly what your newspaper should be doing right now.
I hope to hear from you.
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Like a broken record, there's been nothing but complete silence from Mr. Stackhouse and the Globe & Mail. Frankly, it's scary when the media refuses to report the news, and thus allows the government to become "smug." Let me quote you, "The real danger of smugness is the way that it imbues people and nations and, in your case, an increasingly arrogant Prime Minister's Office with a sense of superiority – one that makes them believe they're exempt from the rules. This is, after all, what the smuggies in Ottawa are counting on. Don't let them win."
I couldn't agree more. Let me now quote the late Canadian journalist, author, and social activist June Callwood, "Once you know about the abuse you become a part of it."
Ms. McLaren, you now know about the Lost Canadians, you are a journalist, and you work for a national newspaper. In my letter to John Stackhouse I quoted Brian Williams and Walter Cronkite. I'm certain that as journalists they would have told this story if it happened in the United States. In essence, the gauntlet is now in your hands. If our story is not told the Canadian public will remain uninformed, the Harper government will continue their smugness, and the human rights abuses against your fellow Canadians will go on.
Please, please do an in-depth story about the Lost Canadians. All that I'm asking is that you hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened. To use your own words regarding the Canadian government, "Don't let them win."
Thank you for your time,
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January 12, 2009
Thanks for the email. I’m going to do some more research and see what we can do as an organization to support your work.
Thanks again for bringing this to our attention, these stories are very troubling indeed.
Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Federation of University Women
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(Attached to this letter to Leah McLaren were two personal stories which we have removed for privacy reasons)