Monday, February 13, 2012

Why are the Shafias still allowed to call Canada home?

For the Prince Arthur Herald

The gruesome details of life in the Shafia household, eventually leading to the murder of four innocent women, are now a matter of public record: three young women – Geeti, Sahar, and Zainab – and their “aunt” Rona (actually their father’s first wife who was unable to conceive) were brutally murdered for living like average Canadians.  They wore makeup and styled their hair. They had boyfriends. They were constantly texting.  And they refused to be oppressed by their father and brother, Mohammad and Hamed, and their “sick notion of honour.”

For this they were plunged into their watery grave at the Kingston Locks.  Mohammad, Hamed, Mohammad’s second wife Tooba, and three unnamed children went on living life without remorse, like nothing ever happened, occasionally giving a sob-story for the cameras.

These are the details which are now accepted as facts in the murder trial.  Several media agencies have followed the case from start to finish and provided exceptional coverage, such as Michael Friscolanti in Maclean’s Magazine (February 13, 2012 edition).

Yet the question remains: why are these convicted murderers, who were not Canadians citizens, allowed to enjoy the privilege of calling Canada home?

Mohammad, born in Afghanistan, was not an educated man, but he had a knack for sales and entrepreneurialism.  After becoming a successful entrepreneur in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates, Mohammad applied and was accepted to move to Quebec under their “immigrant investor program.”  The program provided visas to wealthy immigrants seeking to move to Canada in exchange for a $400,000 investment in the provincial government.

He brought his second wife and children.  His first wife, committing fraud, told the Canadian government she was Mohammad’s cousin and live-in nanny, and was accepted to Canada on a temporary visa a few months later.

We know what tragically happened next.  The Shafia daughters embraced the Canadian way of life and desperately wanted out of their father’s and brother’s savage grasp.  Their behaviour marked them as “whores” according to Mohammad, Hamed, and Tooba, and the stage was thus set for the family’s “honour” to be restored by killing the rebellious girls and the infertile first wife.

The Shafia trial spanned over 90 days, easily costing Canadians $1.8 million (considering a cost of $20,000 per day, the Canadian average for civil cases.  Criminal trials can be cheaper or more expensive, depending on lawyer fees and the depth of the investigation and testimony given.  The cost could also be astronomically higher if we knew the costs of calling specific witnesses, police investigations, or jury costs).

That’s not all.  The trio, convicted of first degree murder, will serve their time in prison for at least 25 years without the possibility of parole.  For the two men, their combined 50 years behind bars will cost us $2,983,050 ($59,661 per year).

For Tooba, that will cost us $2,840,250 ($113,610 per year – female prisoners are more expensive to house than men).

The total cost to Canadians: easily a whopping $7.62 million, for a bunch of criminal thugs who fraudulently came to Canada, embraced our country only for their selfish gain, and murdered four women for wanting to be Canadians.  And this is not even considering the time spent in pre-trial custody; the time detectives spent traveling to and from Montreal; or the resources spent interviewing the family when they were supposedly innocent.

Remember, visas allow people to come to Canada on a temporary basis, and they are allowed to stay only by meeting certain conditions.  They are not Canadian citizens entitled to residency for life, and can be deported at any time for reasons including “serious criminality,” where the maximum sentence can be 10 years, and “misrepresentation,” where a person purposely provides false information to an immigration officer.  Check and check. Get them out.

Geeti, Sahar, Zainab, and Rona embraced Canadian life and longed to escape Mohammad’s and Hamed’s oppression.  They should forever be remembered as Canadians who paid the ultimate sacrifice to cherish Canada’s values, customs, and traditions.  Let’s not tarnish their memory by allowing their disgraced family members the enjoyment of Canadian prisons and laws.