Quebec woman says she's on hunger strike, wants justice minister to halt extradition

A Quebec woman in jail facing extradition to the U.S. to face charges of violating a custody order says she will not eat until Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould reviews her case.

Woman known as M wanted in Georgia for interstate interference with a custody order

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

A Quebec woman in jail facing extradition to the U.S. says she will not eat until Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould reviews her case. 

The woman, a Canadian citizen referred to in court documents as M, lost her appeal on Friday in a 4-3 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

She is wanted in the state of Georgia, accused of bringing her three children to Canada despite the fact that their father had sole custody.

The children, then aged 14, 10 and 9, told Quebec child protection officials they ran away because their father was abusive. 

A Quebec court later granted M full custody of her children, but she worries they could be put in foster care if she is extradited.

The Supreme Court majority ruled that extraditing M was "not unreasonable," but the three dissenting judges argued the best interests of the children had not been properly considered.

 'I'm sick about this'

"I cannot eat. I'm sick about this," said M, speaking by phone from a detention centre. "To leave my children here in Canada is a horrific thing."

The dissenting judges also agreed with M's argument that she would not be afforded the same legal defences in Georgia as she would in Canada. 

Under Canadian law, protecting children from "imminent harm" is an accepted defence to kidnapping charges. In Georgia, it is not.

"I could never see my children again if I'm prosecuted under a very aggressive judicial system in the States," said M. 

However, the court majority concluded M had not shown Georgia's legal system was substantively different from Canada's.

The woman said she stopped eating at 12:00 a.m. Saturday and would not consume food until Wilson-Raybould reviews her file.

Petition to minister

The woman's lawyer, Julius Grey, and supporters have petitioned the minister to use her discretion to stop the extradition. 

No one at the minister's office could be reached for comment.

"The problem is that Canada's extradition laws favour the requesting state over the rights of the individual who is being sought," said Matthew Behrens, spokesman for Women who Choose to Live, a justice group that has been supporting M.

"Any parent, and I'm a parent myself, would have done the exact same thing," said Behrens.

"When your kids come to you saying, 'I'm being abused by someone,' you take them under your care and make sure they're no longer going to be abused."