PMOs office vetting refugees – not a good idea.

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(The following is a guest post by my husband, James. –Christy)

When I first heard this morning about the PMOs office “vetting” refugee claimants from Syria, I was struck by how much of their information was being passed around the bureaucracy, as indicated by the Globe and Mail story.

“The Prime Minister’s Office asked Citizenship and Immigration for the files of some Syrian refugees so they could be vetted by the PMO – potentially placing political staff with little training in refugee matters in the middle of an already complex process.

PMO staff could have also had access to files that are considered protected, because they contain personal information, including a refugee’s health history and narrative of escape, raising questions about the privacy and security of that information and the basis on which it was being reviewed.”

It made me think of a story in the book Kill the Messengers by Ottawa journalist Mark Bourrie, who outlined how the personal information of a First Nations activist Cindy Blackstock was collected by two government departments, Justice and Aboriginal affairs. The story is also told in an article in the Star.

“Senior officials in Justice and Aboriginal Affairs, she learned, had cast a broad surveillance net over her professional and personal life, including her Facebook and Twitter accounts. Moreover, in notes and emails to one another, they trashed her in terms that were arrogant, demeaning and sexist.”

Going beyond the appalling fact that we have a PMO’s office with so much arrogance and power that they felt it necessary to question UN experts, stop a process that could help save lives and not inform us about it, they also exposed the private lives of refugees to a circle of people who would stoop to mock and diminish a woman fighting for the rights of First Nations children to be treated as equals by their own government.

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