On Saturday, July 14, 17-year-old Bashir Mohamed interrupted a speech given by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in Edmonton, highlighting the growing opposition to the cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) imposed by the Conservative government as of June 30.
As Mohamed describes in an interview for rabble.ca, he was forcibly removed from the event, preventing him from fully delivering his message to Minister Kenney. Here, then, is the full statement that Bashir Mohamed intended to deliver to Jason Kenney.
Minister Kenney, I came all the way here as a refugee born in Kenya to tell you my story. I came to Canada in 1997, as part of the constant stream of newcomers Canada generously accepted. However, your government is removing that generosity.
Your cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program are ridiculous. You are separating Canadians by saying that we should help "our own" before we help "them", referring to the people that you seem to generalize as "smuggled, or bogus asylum claimants."
When you say that, I am insulted. My dad was an engineer in Somalia and his education was removed when he entered Canada. He worked up north, and at Home Depot while going to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to re-earn the title that he lost.
When he passed away, my life was changed. I needed to do something. So I spent five years in the cadets building my discipline and self-confidence so I could excel in school and do things like this. I am now going to university this fall, and I plan to go into politics to remove your party out of the majority.
I was under this very program and it saved my family from taking crucial money out of the income to afford the care we needed. So why cut it?
The ideas you keep putting out against this program are false. A refugee in Canada who is not government sponsored will lose ALL access to basic health care unless they are at risk to public health. I don't know what your definition of basic health care is, but right here it says that the only hands-on care they will receive is for a disease that puts public health at risk.
Also, your rhetoric of saying that refugees get better health care than seniors is also based in nothing. A refugee under the current program gets the same care as someone on social assistance. And if your government thinks that senior health care is low then why don't you raise it. Don't make it a race to the bottom?
Minister, you are not God. You do not have the power to declare a nation "safe" or "not safe." If you want that power then I suggest you see a refugee camp and live in the conditions they live in.
Minister, you are not a doctor. You cannot say what care an individual can and cannot receive. Show me 10 doctors or medical professionals who agree with you. I have thousands, as well as the province of Quebec.
Minister, you are what I feared Canada would become. Stop staying silent and have open dialogue with us.
The cost to keep the program running is 59 cents for every Canadian. Here's 60: keep the coin, I want the real change.
And on one last note: the real way to test a country is not by how it treats the rich, but instead, how it treats the poor.