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The Brenda Martin File

From September 14, 2008

Canadian Brenda Martin, of Trenton, Ontario, was arrested in Mexico in February 2006. According to a Mexican justice official, she was arrested illegally and could have been released within 72 hours if her case was handled properly by the Canadian consulate. This was not done. And after the failure of the Canadian consulate followed the failure of the Conservative government to act.

In the end Martin would spend more than two years imprisoned in Mexico without trial. According to her lawyer, the government's inaction on the file had led to her depression and the administration of sedatives.

Eventually, after the story broke, public pressure insisted that Harper's government do something. But their decision-making was related more to public relations than seeking justice for a Canadian citizen.

Rather than working behind the scenes to obtain Martin's extradition, the Conservatives made certain that all of their courageous attempts would be front an center in newspapers and news programs. So, when Con MPs Kenney and Norlock finally arrived at Puente Grande to meet with Brenda Martin, they brought a camera and had their photograph taken with her. Said Martin afterwards, "They got their photo but I'm still here."

News reports also proclaimed that Stephen Harper had called Mexican President Felipe Calderon to discuss the release of Martin, when actually President Calderon had called Harper.

On May 1, 2008, Brenda Martin was released to Canadian custody, after being held for 804 days in the Mexican prison. She is happy to be home, but she would have been much sooner if not for the inaction of the Harper government.