Renounce Your Heritage

Since June of 2011, Nigerian born Ubaka Ogbogu has been an Assistant professor at University of Alberta in Edmonton. Cross-appointed to the Faculties of Law and Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. A member of the Faculty’s Health Law Institute, his interests center on science and health policy, bioethics and bio-medicine, health law, public health law, legal history of public health and health care in Canada and the law of medical malpractice and health care torts. Currently he’s researching the history of smallpox vaccination policy in nineteenth century Canada. Below – a link to his professional and academic credentials.

Ubaka Ogbogu strikes me as a man we’re fortunate to have. Thoughtful, intelligent, engaged, ethical and forward thinking. Heck, he even has a poetry blog. A family man with two Canadian born children, Ogbogu clearly enriches our nation.

Ponder the knock on his front door a few days ago. Face to face with James Cumming (Conservative candidate in Ogbogu’s riding) a perfect opportunity to question Cumming on Conservative support for Bill C-24. Officially the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, C-24 would allow government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual-citizens convicted of crimes such as terrorism. Cumming began by “reiterating speaking points”, Ogbogu tossed back a hypothetical “what if I was implicated in a serious crime, would my Canadian born daughters be sent back to Nigeria”. Allegedly, Cumming responded with candid advice,  Ogbogu should “renounce his heritage”.

“Just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, I asked him … and he repeated himself,” Ogbogu said. “It was a moment of real honesty.”

“He then said to me if the law was a concern to me, I should renounce my heritage and I’ll be OK,” he said. “Those were his exact words.

“I was dumbfounded”

Ogbogu said he asked Cumming how long his ancestors had been in Canada. On learning Cumming was a second generation Canadian from Britain, Ogbogu replied, “how are we different?”.

Interviewed by Huffington Post on Wednesday, Cumming denied saying any such thing, issuing the following statement –

“The statements attributed to me are completely false.

I merely explained to the individual that Bill C-24 only allows for revocation of citizenship from individuals convicted of the most serious acts of disloyalty to Canada (terrorism, treason, spying, or taking up arms against Canada), and that unless he was planning on committing those acts, he had absolutely nothing to worry about.”

Now what? Do we take the word of a door knocking Conservative, the politician whose leader banks on “old stock Canadians”, or the immigrant law professor? Which one is most likely to misinterpret context? What chance is there Cumming knew he was speaking to a Law Professor? Why would Ogbogu ask Cumming to repeat his comment? Did Ogbogu seize an opportunity to falsify facts for personal gain, or did Cumming carelessly spill  back-room party sentiment?

Many questions, only one answer – stop Harper and his army of Conservative dingbats before it’s too late.





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