Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This Can't Be Healthy

As deeply suspicious and cynical as I am about institutions, it is probably not surprising that I view with a jaundiced eye the events surrounding the arrest of two terror suspects accused of a plot to blow up a Via Rail train. Many have asked questions about the sudden urgency of Harper's rearranging the parliamentary agenda so that his terror bill could begin to be debated on Monday, coinciding with the RCMP announcement of the arrests.

Coincidences happen, but I am always suspicious when they do. And given the well-known politicization that the RCMP has undergone in recent years, any person with a modicum of critical-thinking skills is bound to wonder if this is not yet another example of our national police force allowing itself to be used by its political masters, something undoubtedly unhealthy both for democracy and general trust in government.

In his column today, The Star's Tim Harper implies an element of manipulation:

Governments have long used fear to their advantage.

The former George W. Bush government in the U.S. used to change the colour of its “terror threat” if it was marching into headwinds on other matters. In this case, by abruptly changing gears last Friday and deciding to move on its long-neglected anti-terrorist legislation, Conservatives immediately faced charges of using the Boston Marathon bombings for political expediency.

Security expert Wesley Wark believes there was a degree of opportunism in the Conservative move to bring the anti-terror debate to the Commons floor Monday...

But no one Tuesday wanted to try to connect the other dots. It had become too perilous with two terror suspects in custody.

The Star's Heather Mallick is less opaque in her accusations, stating bluntly about the RCMP,

I do not trust them, just as I no longer trust Toronto police after the G20 debacle and do not trust a Harper majority government. Its calling card is to warn us non-stop of “Muslim terrorists,” which might not offend were this government neutral on religion.

Mallick reminds us of the terrible erosion of civil liberty the Conservative's anti-terror bill entails:

... “preventative detention” would mean that any Canadian could be arrested and held for three days on suspicion of terrorist involvement with no charge being laid.

“An investigative hearing” means that someone suspected of knowing about a terrorist plot could be imprisoned for up to a year if they refused to answer questions.

She points out that another provision of the bill is that it makes it a crime to leave Canada to commit an act of terrorism, and raises the specter of a false arrest abroad:

Do you trust Stephen Harper and the Conservative government and the RCMP to do the ethical, informed, reasonable thing in your case? Or do you expect them to follow a hard-right ideology, to overreact as the Americans do?

The answer for many of us to that question is sadly negative. And such a complete loss of faith and trust in one's government can't be healthy, either for individuals or for our democracy.


  1. It might be coincidence that these suspects appeared as the terrorism debate heated up, Lorne. But given the history of the Harper government -- the robocalls, for example -- I wouldn't bet on it.

    1. With Harper at the helm, Owen, I feel like I have adopted the motto from the X-Files- "Trust No One."

  2. The transformation of the RCMP into the Praetorian Guard of the PMO has be going on for several years. From the pepperspray assaults on protestors during the Chretien years, various economic summits under Martin that again had protestor's rights trampled by the Kanadische Geheimstaatspolizei, the numerous unforgivable crimes against Canadians at the Toronto G20, up to and including the Brampton 18 and the current contrived bullshit it's clear that the RCMP no longer has any interest whatsoever in serving or protecting Canadians. They are merely a scarlet tunicked storefront mannequin promoting the faux-1950's dreamscape that Harper and his fellow xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-science, "Roll-up-Yonge-Street-on-the-Sabbath" John Bircher's-of-the-North have wet dreams about. Add to that their "don't give-a-fuck" attitude towards real crimes that don't have anything to do with anything other than showboating a few kilos of heroin nabbed from some poor schmuck's rowboat (eg. the Ian Bush Case, Robert Djiekanski, the Robert Pickton scandal, The Highway of Tears, the G20) and it becomes very, VERY difficult indeed to give these bastards so much as the time of day let alone any trust or confidence in their independence, respect for the law and our rights, or competence...

  3. Many thanks for your heart-felt comments, Neil; I think they reflect the sentiments of many Canadians.