Straight Talk
MICHAEL PLATT - Ordered deported, released -- now he's charged with murder

Murder victim Jenna Cartwright

Credits: QMI AGENCY

MICHAEL PLATT | QMI AGENCY

CALGARY -- His rights, as a convicted drug trafficker ordered deported to Somalia, were deemed more important than the guaranteed safety of Canadian citizens.

And so, despite warnings that Bashir Gaashaan was a flight risk who posed a danger to the public, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board let him go -- a freedom that lasted exactly one year and eight months.

On June 15, 2011, RCMP in Alberta announced they had arrested Gaashaan, charging him with first-degree murder, unlawful confinement, offering an indignity to human remains, sexual assault and trafficking in cocaine.

The body of Jenna Cartwright, 21, a young mom from Red Deer, AB had been discovered in a ditch near Olds, AB -- and police believe the man ordered out of Canada two years earlier killed her.

"I'm so angry, even more angry than before -- the whole thing is sickening," says Marissa Cartwright, Jenna's twin sister.

For the first time, she's having a look at documents obtained by QMI Agency detailing Gaashaan's release by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

"I am still in such shock about this," says Cartwright, who started an online petition demanding stricter deportation rules.

"I cannot believe this has happened, I honestly feel betrayed by our government -- we should be able to rely on our government and know they are keeping us safe."

But public safety, apparently, doesn't trump the comfort of a convicted drug dealer -- even one already deemed unfit for Canada.

Given Gaashaan's upcoming February 2014 trial for murder, the hearing in which the deportee was released from custody now seems infuriatingly naive -- especially when the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wanted the Somali-born drug pusher to stay behind bars until sent home.

"I have no doubt, sir, that you can hold down a steady job and that you can avoid crime. It's just that if you fall back into alcohol and drug use, then the likelihood that you'll become involved in crime increases considerably."

So reads a transcript of the Immigration Board decision in Oct. 2009, in which a board member is speaking to Gaashaan about his taste for drugs, alcohol and dangerous police chases, for which he'd just finished a year-long stint in prison.

The board decided to let Gaashaan out on a $7,500 bond, despite the CBSA calling him a danger and a flight risk -- essentially, one federal department fought to protect the public, and another refused to listen.

Why the deported drug dealer was still In Canada at all is another case of government red tape clogging the creaking wheels of justice.

Because Gaashaan arrived from Somalia as a refugee in 1993, the CBSA couldn't deport him without a "danger opinion."

That's an order issued by the minister of immigration, stating the danger to Canada outweighs the risk to an individual being sent back to a potentially unsafe country.

Being federal paperwork with legal status, danger opinions are very slow in being completed -- and time waiting in jail would have been unfair to poor Gaashaan.

"So if he's detained, detention is likely to be lengthy. I know that it's difficult to remove to Somalia at the best of times. Taking all of that into account, I think that the appropriate thing is to release him on terms and conditions," states the ruling.

And so Gaashaan was released -- and then, according to RCMP, he fell back into the same lifestyle, before allegedly murdering Jenna Cartwright and dumping her body in a ditch.

Before he was ordered deported, Gaashaan had asked to stay in Canada, because Somali sounded too dangerous.

"To be quite honest with you, I am not familiar with Somalia at all. From what I hear on the news and that, and Somalia being in a state of emergency, I just want to make an appeal for my case to be heard and to be able to stay in Canada."

If guilty of murder, Gaashaan faces years in a Canadian jail -- meaning he'll get his wish.

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