Why did Chrystia Freeland have to insert herself into the story?
The Trudeau government did the right thing by helping Rahaf al-Qunun come to Canada.
Rahaf was fleeing the ruthless Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia, and her life was in danger because the Saudis see renouncing Islam – which Rahaf did – as a ‘crime.’
However, the Trudeau government couldn’t just stop at doing the right thing.
They had to try to benefit from it politically, exploiting the situation by making sure to get a photo-op.
Instead of having Rahaf come to Canada quietly and under the radar (which would be far safer), Chrystia Freeland went to the airport, and walked out with Rahaf, making sure all the cameras were watching.
It’s such a crass moment that even some from CBC criticized it:
“This comes off as… smarmy. ‘Let’s use this traumatized refugee for a photo-op right when she steps off the plane. No, no questions, please, she’s tired.'”
This comes off as… smarmy. 'Let's use this traumatized refugee for a photo-op right when she steps off the plane. No, no questions, please, she's tired.' https://t.co/UJ91qlpjr0
— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) January 12, 2019
Amazingly, even Catherine McKenna’s husband Scott Gilmore slammed it:
“There’s something very grubby about using an asylum seeker, recently traumatized by her own murderous family, as a photo op prop.”
There's something very grubby about using an asylum seeker, recently traumatized by her own murderous family, as a photo op prop.
— Scott Gilmore (@Scott_Gilmore) January 12, 2019
And more than just being crass, the Trudeau government’s obsession with a photo-op could be dangerous for al-Qunun.
In an interview, Canada’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia says the government shouldn’t be “milking it.”
“So in that term of how we might be “milking” this, what are you watching for?”
“There will be obviously … media attention when she arrives, and the question is how much we politically associate with this, how much of a political football she becomes — if we have the prime minister greeting her and the minister greeting her and press conferences and all of that.”
And there’s still risk here in Canada:
“The network of support women who have been helping her say that they’re not only worried about her because her father is around and followed her over to Thailand and he’s a high-ranking government official trying to make contact with her, but they also mentioned that she renounced Islam, which is a crime punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. How can she be protected?”
“That’s right, and we’ll have offended a number of very sort of extremist elements, if you will, that are even here in Canada.
So she’s in a risky situation, particularly because of that profile, which is why I think it’s even doubly important that we not try and use her as a poster child, try not to politically exploit her as government or as Canadian organizations.”
And, as many have pointed out, why hasn’t Asia Bibi – facing severe danger for being a Christian in Pakistan – been granted asylum in Canada?
The Trudeau government should have passed on the photo-op. But that’s not who they are. They can’t pass up any chance to score some political points, even when it could be harmful or exploitative of others.
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