Tag Archives: terrorism

Our home and dangerous land


We are, dear Canadians, beset from all sides of the political playing field by the proposition that our lives are no longer our own, that our freedoms are transitory, that our faith in this peaceful, prosperous land is illusory.

We get the message from the federal government, whose Bill C-51 seeks to enact, in its own wordy, doctrinaire manner, “the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which authorizes Government of Canada institutions to disclose information to Government of Canada institutions that have jurisdiction or responsibilities in respect of activities that undermine the security of Canada; (and) the Secure Air Travel Act in order to provide a new legislative framework for identifying and responding to persons who may engage in an act that poses a threat to transportation security or who may travel by air for the purpose of committing a terrorism offence.”

At the same time, Part III of the bill “amends the Criminal Code to, with respect to recognizances to keep the peace relating to a terrorist activity or a terrorism offence, extend their duration, provide for new thresholds, authorize a judge to impose sureties and require a judge to consider whether it is desirable to include in a recognizance conditions regarding passports and specified geographic areas.”

But we also get the same message – though inverted – from the Liberal opposition in Ottawa.

As far as Justin Trudeau is concerned, “Conservatives pretend to talk a good game about freedom, but look at what they have done with it. They have fallen a long way from the era of Sir John A. Macdonald to the ‘why do you hate freedom?’ taunts of the recently departed Sun News Network. . .Our social contract sometimes requires us to moderate our freedoms. . .The ongoing question for democracies is how we strike the right balance.”

So, on the one hand, international terrorism is the single, biggest threat to our democratic rights and freedoms; on the other, official reaction to international terrorism is the single, biggest threat to our rights and freedoms.

Then, of course, there is the trusty third hand that is the Fourth Estate, which is always ready to further bewilder a benighted public on matters regarding bodily harm and spiritual peril.

In this respect, Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente (that fine newspaper company’s “agent provocateur en chef”) does not disappoint.

In her regular screed on Tuesday, she opined: “Some people are allergic to the T-word. After a lone gunman stormed Parliament Hill last fall, killing a soldier at the National War Memorial, they said it was not possible to conclude that this was terrorism. . .It’s easy to see why certain people want to play down the T-word.”

She also wrote: “The terror threat is a potent weapon in Stephen Harper’s arsenal. . .It’s true that Mr. Harper is overplaying the threat of terrorism. It’s also true that plenty of people are underplaying it. . .And it’s disturbingly clear that an increasing number of young Canadians are being caught up in a radical millenarian death cult.”

Overplaying versus underplaying; business-as-usual threats to the social fabric of this country versus radical millenarian death cults; a government that wants to put us all to sleep with bedtime stories about imminent catastrophe versus a political opposition that’s simply willing to put us all to sleep; a mainstream media that’s more than willing to oblige both ends of the ideological spectrum, oftentimes in the same column newspaper  space affords.

We do, indeed, live in dangerous times – but the greatest threat is to our right to think critically and soberly about the world around us.

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Canada the war-friender?

Death in Dhaka...600 and counting

Death by unregulated guns…500-million triggers and counting


To the bemusement of many career diplomats and most human rights groups, standing apart – alone and aloof – has become the Canadian government’s preferred modus operandi to the United Nations.

In fact, one of the few truly substantial differences between the Tories in power and their Grit predecessors has been their unconcealed animus towards most things UN-related. The organization, they seem to believe, is broken, inefficient, hypocritical, duplicitous and needlessly bureaucratic. Worse, this cradle for the international community allows far too much license to rogue nations, and not enough to democratic, peaceful ones.

They have a point. But the federal Conservative regime would not be the first government in the world to question the value of its country’s membership. The organization is as flawed, or virtuous, as are its fellow states. Canada’s role and opportunity has always been to engage by setting a moral example – something which, until recently, it has been demonstrably willing to do.

The Harper government’s decision to delay signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to regulate international shipments of conventional weapons worth as much as $70 billion a year, is lamentably ironic. While it laudably pledges $3-billion pledge to improve the welfare of mothers and children around the world, the unfettered arms trade decimates the very people the Department of Foreign Affairs would otherwise help.

Even the United States, with its lock-and-load gun culture, has signed on to the Treaty, making it the 91st country to do so. “We are talking about the kind of export controls that for decades have not diminished one iota our ability in the United States as Americans to exercise our rights under the constitution,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said of his nation’s decision last week. “This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom. . . .Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our constitution.”

Ottawa’s position suggests it is not as certain about the safeguards protecting this country’s gun owners. According to the Globe and Mail last week, “Rick Roth, a spokesman for (Foreign Affairs Minister John) Baird, said Ottawa is still studying whether joining the accord would have consequences for Canadians. “It is important that such a treaty not affect lawful and responsible firearms owners nor discourage the transfer of firearms for recreational uses such as sport shooting and hunting.”

That’s fair as far as it goes. But while the federal government waits, the arms trade continues its vile business in some of the world’s poorest nations.

In his book, Public Corruption; The Dark Side of Social Evolution, Robert Neild of Cambridge University observes, “It has been estimated that there are now about 500 million small arms and light weapons in circulation in the world, one for every twelve people. Gone long ago is the time when we Europeans could subdue other continents because we had firearms and the local peoples had not. In 1999 it was reported that an AK-47 assault rifle could be bought in Uganda for the price of a chicken.”

Amnesty International states on its website, “War crimes, unlawful killings, torture and other serious human rights abuses have been committed around the world using a wide range of weapons, munitions and military and security equipment. These are often provided to perpetrators in almost unlimited supply, encouraging and prolonging unlawful violence. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes as a result.”

Appallingly, says the organization, “Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children under 18. . .are recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil militia and a variety of other armed groups.  Often they are abducted at school, on the streets or at home. Others enlist ‘voluntarily’, usually because they see few alternatives.”

Like it or not, the UN is the proper deliberative body through which to combat such turpitude.

Notwithstanding its distaste for the organization, Ottawa should set an example and ratify the Treaty.

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