Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peter Worthington misses the point on Suaad Hagi Mohamud

Oh, why do I read Sun columnists? Today Peter Worthington argues that it's "easy to sympathize" with Suaad Hagi Mohamud, who was detained in Kenya and separated from her son because officials doubted the veracity of her passport. It's easy to sympathize, but he not so subtly implies we really shouldn't, using her decision to sue the government for her ordeal to imply she's out for money, not for justice.

What Peter either ignores or overlooks is this is how our legal system works. A person is wronged, and the usual civil legal remedy is a lawsuit and a cash judgment. It's not just about a pay day for the plaintiff. It's about teaching an expensive lesson to the defendant, one a cash judgment makes more likely to stick. And in this came the defendant, the federal government, sorely needs to be taught a lesson.

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Gordie_Canuk said...

I read the Sun almost every day, and Peter Worthington is one of my favorite columnists. Not because I typically agree with his opinions, often I do not...but he'll often give those of us more inclined to liberal mindedness pause for thought.

I think his point is well made. If the lawsuit is not about money, then why not sue for a greatly reduced amount?

Things aren't always black and white, right and wrong. Often there are two conflicting points of view, with both sides believing they're acting in the interests of truth and justice.

Obviously what happened to Mohamud was wrong. But should the mistakes made equate to a lottery win?

A BCer in Toronto said...

First, we can quibble on the amount, but I think we could agree she is due some amount of compensation here.

Second, there need to be some punitive action against the government here, to underline to them that their actions are wrong, cannot be repeated, and that changes must be made. In the civil system, that means monatery damages.

Third, as for lotteries, she's suing for $2.5M. I don't bother playing the 649 until its at least $10M. :)

Scott Tribe said...

Using that logic Gord, Maher Arar shouldn't have been awarded 11 million $ by the Canadian government for his ordeal either.


Gordie_Canuk said...

Yes we can agree on the need for some compensation for Ms. Mohamud, emphasis on sum. How about enough to buy a brand new decently upscale car, around $50K? Or enough for an average priced home, about $300K? While many people wait for the 6/49 to hit $10M or more...who among us would say no to a cool $2.5 million?

Worthington though touches on a deeper issue, that of the abuses which occur in our immigration system. Most aren't so naive as to suggest that there aren't in fact individuals who seek to skirt the system in order to gain entry into Canada.

Obviously that wasn't the issue with Mohamud, but the officials who so badly mishandled her file were obviously over zealous...over zealous no doubt because our system is so rife with abuses.

Yes, compensate the victim for the hardship she faced...yes discipline those responsible for her being put in this situation, yes review procedures in an effort to see something this heinous doesn't happen again.

But $2.5 million??? That's over the top.

Dr.Dawg said...

I didn't see any of this chorus of denunciation when Connie Black was suing everyone in sight when his feelings were hurt.

Once again, it's not the lawsuit, it's the sue-er. If a white person sued (rightfully) after being treated by government malevolence to prison and exile, no one would break a sweat. We'd be cheering from the sidelines.

But in this case, I've even seen comments to the effect that Mohamud should be grateful--to the very government that put her in a jam.

You go, Suaad.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Well Gordie, the court will decide what the proper amount is. She's asking for $2.5. She could get nothing, she could get less.

But to me, the issue isn't how much she gets. Its what the government has to pay, if you get the distinction I'm trying to make.

Barcs said...

"what the government has to pay"

The government doesn't pay,.... it manages money. You and I pay as the employer of the government and its employees.