The distressing tale of Brenda Martin, a 51-year-old Canadian who has been languishing in a Mexican prison, finally has garnered the long-overdue attention of the Canadian government.
After two years of blissful ignorance and the recent bungling of the case that saw the removal of Minister Guergis from it, the public outrage over Ms. Martin’s fate has forced the government to finally act.
Jason Kenney, the minister responsible for multiculturalism, was in Mexico for two days last week to meet with the attorney general’s office to discuss the case.
Ms. Martin has been detained for 25 months without trial on allegations of money laundering and participating in a criminal conspiracy in connection with an investment scam involving her former boss, Alyn Waage.
Mr. Waage has sworn an affidavit claiming she knew nothing of the scam.
In his role as critic for consular affairs, my Liberal colleague, Dan McTeague, has been pressuring the Harper government on Ms. Martin’s case for many months.
Mr. McTeague has been calling for the government to do more to gain the release of Ms. Martin. A recent poll by Ipsos Reid shows 71 percent of Canadians agree the government must do more to help resolve this travesty.
The case of Ms. Martin shines the spotlight on the Harper government’s “fend for yourself” style of governing. Two Thunder Bay women know all too well about the Conservative government’s lack of action in foreign affairs.
Kimberley Kim and Dr. Cheryl Everall still are listed as persons of interest by the Mexican authorities in the murders of Domenic and Nancy Ianiero in February, 2006 despite repeated requests for assistance in clearing their names.
My specific inquiries on their behalf have been met with little more than excuses from the minister of foreign affairs.
The confidence of Canadians in the Foreign Affairs Department has been significantly damaged by these and other recent incidents. The Ipsos Reid poll indicates only 20 percent of Canadians express confidence that the department would come to their “assistance” if they were jailed in a foreign country.
Just over half responded “no” when asked if they thought diplomats would come to their aid.
Prime Minister Harper must take action to renew the confidence of Canadians in our consular services—the release of Ms. Martin must become top priority.
If Mexico does not act to free Ms. Martin, Prime Minister Harper should follow up on his phone call to President Calderon and order a formal diplomatic note of protest be delivered to Mexico.
He also should give serious thought to recalling our ambassador—the ultimate diplomatic protest.
Ms. Martin can’t wait any longer for the serious help that is needed and Canadians demand it.