Terry Glavin: Apparently blind spots extend to supporters of Syrian mass murderers

Full credit to Terry for having provided Syrian Canadians with a voice that forced government to reverse its decision:

Well, that’s done then.

That creepy fella who’s been driving around the streets of Montreal in a gigantic bright red Humvee with a 1Syria custom licence plate and a portrait of Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad on a side window has finally fallen out of favour with the Liberal Party of Canada.

Waseem Ramli is now expunged from the party’s digital fundraising rolodexes. Banned from further photo opportunities with the dashing Justin Trudeau, and struck from the first-class invitation lists maintained by the embarrassed staffers who toil for Marc Miller, Liberal MP for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs.

And thanks to the exasperated last-minute interventions of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — who is ordinarily smart enough not to get caught up in this kind of thing — the Baathist fanboy proprietor of the Cocktail Hawaii restaurant over on Rue Maisonneuve will not be entrusted, after all, with the delicate and confidential consular affairs of tens of thousands of Syrian immigrants and refugees who have fled Assad’s bloody nightmare state and ended up refugees, something like 60,000 of them, in Canada.

Waseem Ramli is now expunged from the party’s digital fundraising rolodexes

Blindsided badly by the Office of Protocol in her own Global Affairs bureaucracy, Freeland was furious with the revelation (yes that was me, I confess) in Maclean’s magazine on Monday that the colourful Mr. Ramli, Montreal’s notorious advocate of the world’s most thoroughly blood-soaked pariah state, had been greenlighted, duly authorized and credentialed by her own department to serve as honorary consul of the Syrian Arab Republic in Montreal.

Might it have been the poster-style photograph of Ramli and Trudeau that had been making the rounds after first appearing on Ramli’s Facebook page a few weeks ago? Was it the photograph of Ramli with Marc Miller from that same June 17 Liberal party “armchair conversation” fundraising event in Montreal? Is it not just possible that the Global Affairs’ authorization of Ramli was the result of a certain poor schmuck in the Office of Protocol who thought, “hey, he must be a good guy, a made guy, right?” Or maybe, “hey, I better just stamp this guy’s papers, because if I don’t, I’ll have the Prime Minister’s Office breathing down my neck, right?”

Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes. Sometimes I file so late past my deadline I wonder why my editors still put up with me. I’ve never put on a woolly black wig and painted my face and hands and arms and legs black and jumped around with my tongue wagging out of my head, mind you. But to be fair to Trudeau, there is one explanation he’s offered for the serial blackface and brownface spectacle he’s made of himself over the years, which we are only now learning about, that makes some sense, in this particular context.

It’s this one: “I have always acknowledged that I come from a place of privilege, but I now need to acknowledge that comes with a massive blind spot,” he said.

Maybe he’s got some sort of blind spot, which similarly afflicts his old friend and fellow Montrealer Marc Miller, when it comes to people whose faces are vaguely brown. Maybe that would explain why Miller has had several friendly encounters with the generous Waseem Ramli over the years and yet somehow remained blissfully unaware of the eccentric restaurateur’s unseemly affiliations and the dread he instilled in Montreal’s Syrian refugee community.

Ramli tells me he’s not a Liberal party member. He was content to shell out several hundred dollars to attend that June 17 fundraiser and photo session with Trudeau, and he declined to tell me how much he’s contributed to the Liberal party, or to Miller’s war chest, over the years. As is his perfect right. And maybe it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with money. Marc Miller is not a bad man. He’s a genuinely decent guy. Maybe it’s just about votes, and the blind spot here is the thing some politicians imagine about votes coming in distinct colours. There certainly is a pattern, anyway. Sometimes it’s like déjà vu.

In the lead-up to the past federal election, some strange sort of blind spot afflicting the soft-palmed and the posh, or people with “privilege” as they now classify themselves, may well have been at work in the way nobody in the Liberal party noticed anything untoward about the affiliations of the party’s own national director of outreach, who went on to become a greenlighted contender for the Liberal candidacy in Nepean.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland… has overturned the approval of Montreal businessman Waseem Ramli, a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as Syria’s honorary consul in Montreal. Sebastien St.-Jean/AFP/Getty Images

Nour El Kadri, it turned out, was so intimately associated with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party that the SSNP’s cadre and literature had consistently and invariably described Kadri as one of the SSNP’s central leaders in Canada. And the SSNP, it fell to me to point out back then, was at the time a component of Bashar Assad’s ruling coalition, and its death squads were terrorizing the city of Homs and the suburbs of Damascus. You’d think a party with its own stylized swastika and an anthem sung to the tune of Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles might have been a giveaway.

But there’s that blind spot again.

And so those poor, banished children of Eve, the Syrians trudging the roads of the world in their millions, among whom some paltry few thousand have been permitted to settle in Canada, and it is their place to tell us how lovely we are for allowing them in, and this is the sort of thing they see. A Humvee, of exactly the kind that the Shabiha drive around Damascus, at night, and the horror stories of kids who never made it through their checkpoints, and now here in Canada a bright red one, with a portrait of Bashar on the side, in the streets of Montreal. And it becomes unbearable, and they make a telephone call to some journalist they know. And they ask whether something might be done about their dread, and they fear they would be seen as insufficiently appreciative of the handsome and dashing prime minister who built his reputation on being so kind to them, the man who so generously allowed them to come, if they complained too loudly. And they ask, please, don’t use my name, because they are afraid of the man in the Humvee.

Hell of a blind spot to fail to see the shame and the disgrace in that.

Source: Terry Glavin: Apparently blind spots extend to supporters of Syrian mass murderers

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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