In her role as Secretary of State, does Helena Guergis really care about the fate of Canadian Brenda Martin, who has been rotting away for over two years without a trial in a Mexican prison for a crime she insists she did not commit?
Or is Ms. Guergis mainly interested in covering up her government’s lack of real effort to help Ms. Martin.
It is hard to know whom to believe. On the one hand, Ms. Guergis did recently fly to Mexico to pressure Mexican officials to act on Ms. Martin’s behalf and she states that her predecessor, Peter McKay, had also raised the case to them in the past. But many would say that Guergis’trip came about only as a result of criticism from a Liberal MP in the House of Commons. Ms. Guergis also claims that Canadian consular officials based in Mexico have been in contact with Ms. Martin over 75 times either in person or by telephone.
However, in a phone interview with T.V.’s W5 hostess Paula Todd, Brenda Martin was shocked at Guergis’ claim about help from Canadian consular officials in Mexico. “ I just can’t believe that Helena Guergis has the gall to say what she’s said in that letter,” stated Martin. Guergis repeatedly declined W5’s request for an interview on the whole matter.
Martin’s Toronto lawyer, Guillermo Cruz Rico, said that a review of the legal file showed that consulate officials were notified of Martin’s incarceration on Feb. 18, 2006, but it was not until Dec. 14, 2007, that a representative made official inquiries to the Mexican court about her legal status.
Deb Tieleman is Martin’s best friend and is trying hard to get her out of prison. She and Cruz met with Helena Guergis in Ottawa early this month to discuss what can be done to help her friend. Although Guergis assured them that the federal government had done everything it could for Martin, Tieleman was very disappointed. Despite “constant” calls from Martin to Tieleman’s cellphone during the meeting , Guergis refused to talk to the woman in the Mexico prison. Tieleman described Guergis’ nature during the meeting as “arrogant” and said she left after only half an hour. Documents which Cruz Rico had forwarded to the office three weeks prior to the meeting had not yet been read by the minister; apparently they were still being translated into English.
Tieleman can also not understand why Ms. Guergis did not visit with Brenda Martin when she was in Mexico recently. “It would have helped Brenda if she heard from the minister’s own mouth what she is doing for her,” said Tieleman.
Guergis recently wrote a letter to a news website in Puerto Vallarta, where Martin is being held. In it, she cautions “those who are playing politics with Ms. Martin’s regrettable situation as they are not helping to advance her case or get her home any faster.”
So, whom do we believe? Has the government really done all it should have from the start for Brenda Martin, or is Helena Guergis trying to cover up government ineptitude with claims of good works having been done and with warnings not to criticize what we perceive as a poor job?