“We have to tax our people, it is our right,” Semere O. Micael, the Eritrean consul in Toronto, said after the National Post reported that Ottawa had sent a diplomatic note to his government making it clear he would be sent home if he continued to run the tax scheme.
Asked to respond to the consul’s comments, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s press secretary Rick Roth said: “We have made our position on this matter to the Eritreans clear, and we expect that to be respected. The government of Eritrea should not test our resolve on this matter.”
My My My This is becoming awfully interesting. I have to wonder for a whole bunch of reasons whether the US State Department is really thrilled with Canada’s actions including for reasons that have nothing to with the US’ own taxation policies. For one thing Canada is picking a fight with a country that is not exactly in the most stable part of the world over an issue notwithstanding Susan Rice’s US Security Council Resolution the US has not appeared to be nearly as willing to go to that mat over. Canada is essentially in some form promoting a customary international law position against citizenship based taxation something at some point the US State Department will have to notice. Canada does have a history of taking “principled” position in this part of the world over international affairs. When the movie Argo comes out in October everyone will be reminded of Canada’s role in the Iran Hostage Crisis. There is also of course Canada’s longstanding ties to Ethiopia which Eritrea was once part of before 1991. Some of you might be remember the Ethiopian Famine and the relief effort started by Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, and Stephen Lewis and Joe Clark’s famous 1984 visit to Ethopia breaking the western blockade of the then Ethiopian Marxist government. However it is not clear in the present the Ethiopian Canadian relations are much better John Baird for example made a highly publicized but unsucessful visit to Addis Abbaba to win the release of a Canadian citizen being held in a Ethiopian jail. There is also the more recent expulsion of Iranian Diplomats from Ottawa.
Another paragraph in the article should also be observed:
David Matas, an international human rights lawyer who has been assisting Eritrean refugees in Winnipeg, said the consulate was not complying with the substance of Canada’s request.
“To me, that’s making light of the government request. It’s not treating it seriously. It’s trying to play fast and loose. It’s basically trying to pull a fast one on the government of Canada,” he said.
David Matas is not just any old international human rights lawyer he has BIG TIME connections to the Conservative Party of Canada, Jason Kenney, John Baird, and the Harper PMO. My message to the Eritrean government is David Matas is not someone you want to mess around with in Canada. Read any of Paul Wells pieces in Maclean’s magazine about the Rights and Democracy NGO and Aurel Braun.