Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mini Bush gets a slap

"Canadian Court Limits Detention in Terror Cases" was the lead story in the online version of the NY Times Saturday. Americans are looking to this decision for this reason, buried at the end of the article:
Dalia Hashad, the United States program director for Amnesty International, said the Canadian decision should serve as “a wake-up call that reminds us that civilized people follow a simple and basic rule of law, that indefinite detention is under no circumstances acceptable.”
Yeah, that's right folks. A much needed wake-up call indeed. And make no mistake about it, this decision is a significant blow to a nascent political argument Harper's Conservatives have begun to sling. That the Liberals are "soft on terror." If the Conservatives want to continue with their brilliant Republican strategy, they're going to have to go after the Supreme Court of Canada as well, since they've unanimously struck down part of the terror law. The Supreme Court decision has in effect slapped back the Conservative efforts to de-legitimize political debate over provisions of the terror law.

The crux of the decision, once more, with gusto:
Canada’s highest court on Friday unanimously struck down a law that allows the Canadian government to detain foreign-born terrorism suspects indefinitely using secret evidence and without charges while their deportations are being reviewed.

The detention measure, the security certificate system, has been described by government lawyers as an important tool for combating international terrorism and maintaining Canada’s domestic security. Six men are now under threat of deportation without an open hearing under the certificates.

“The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the ruling.
What a concept! Thankfully it's alive and well in our country. By contrast, the U.S. under Bush has done away with such rights. If you're a Canadian travelling in the U.S. and are deemed a terrorism suspect, they can lock you up and throw away the key. No hearing to find out why. Good night and good luck. Unless the Democratic congress rolls back the Military Commissions Act - and with a razor thin majority in the Senate and the political climate in the U.S., it's questionable - it's likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

And by the way, that's Chief Justice McLachlin, appointed by a Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, a breed that's done and gone. Now we've got Conservatives in Canada who exhibit daily how they are no longer "Progressive" and who are no doubt just itching to publicly criticize these Supreme Court judges as liberal and therefore their foes. Yet thankfully, in the wake of a 9-0 decision, they had the sense to accept the ruling and not play politics with it. It's almost a shock that they haven't (yet) given the petty streak they've been on. After all, we should expect it when we have a Prime Minister who will go so far as to characterize the Liberals' position in opposing the renewal of certain of the terror provisions as cover for their need to protect an MP's family member. We are becoming conditioned to expect petty partisan politics when we have a Prime Minister who uses Air India families as political props with which to bludgeon the Liberals on the same issue.

How low we've sunk with the Harper crew that one actually feels it is an out of the ordinary occurrence to hear them actually mouth respect for a court ruling that strikes down a provision of the terror law that this very week they sought to politicize. How low we've sunk when we have the feeling that Harper and his crew, privately, likely harbour real resentment at this decision. After all, it comes on the heels of a week where they tried to mount a significant political argument against their political foes by painting them as "soft on terror," just as their Republican heroes to the south have tried to do with their political opponents. A high profile 9-0 Supreme Court decision striking down one of the provisions of that very act you sought to wield against your political foes has got to put a real crimp in their "soft on terror" extravaganza! And with the international community, here the U.S., virtually cheering on the decision, you just know Harper and the gang are in a slow, seething burn this weekend.

Sorry, Harper boys, maybe next week you can get back on the low road of mudslinging and rabid partisanship. We know you can't wait and that this is but a temporary detour.