Gotta run. But I’ll be back to flesh this out. I think the post title will get people thinking though.
There are countries that pretty blatantly torture people and there are countries that at least make the effort to say that they do not torture people. And then, of course, there are countries that don’t torture people period.
Canada, thanks to the harpercons, is now in the first of those categories. For legal purposes, the harpercons and their drooling-idiot supporters don’t come right out and admit their complicity in torture. But at the same time, they constructed a prisoner-transfer process that was designed to provide them with plausible deniability as to what we knew about the people we handed over. At the same time they’ve been pretty shameless about blocking access to see what they’ve been doing, what they’ve been saying, what happened and when they knew about it. And, finally, they respond to genuine questions about Canada’s adherence to its obligations under international law by yammering about how our prisoners were all vermin who deserved whatever it is they might have gotten and how people who want to ask questions are all troop-hating traitors.
I’ll repeat: “Plausible deniability” is no excuse. The harpercon’s attempt at being smart has back-fired. It was determined in the Tokyo War Crimes trials that if someone was in a position to know and didn’t know that war crimes were being committed, then it was determined that those officials were guilty for not having made the effort to know what was going on under their watch.
There is nothing to debate here. The harpercons are guilty of war crimes. Our government is guilty of war crimes. We, as Canadians, are guilty of war crimes.
But we have a choice. We can take our country back. We can take it back from the moral deficients, the mental freaks who shriek so loudly on the internet and in our newspapers, about how torture is justified. About how the rule of law has an on/off switch. We can take our country back from these imbeciles by forcing our political-legal system to hold the harpercons to account for their crimes.
And I say we should make this point in time the moment when we made our stand because this is the way for us to get the most bang for our buck. This isn’t something that can be debated ad nauseum. This isn’t something that requires a lot of digging and investigating or anything. Right here, right now, we can send the whole harpercon front bench to PRISON and there is no way out of it for them.
In all honesty, global warming, our abuse of the First Nations people, and the economic crisis are bigger issues than this. But convicting harper on war crimes charges is easier than shutting-down the Tar Sands. Convicting the harpercons is simpler than reversing our policies on First Nations issues. Convicting these scumbags will be simpler than arguing for a sane economic policy. And, furthermore, putting the harpercons behind bars will make working on those other issues immeasurably easier.
Recently, the opposition parties passed a parliamentary resolution calling for a public inquiry into this issue but the govenment is not bound by the will of the representatives of a majority of the people of this country. So be it. One way to get the will of the majority’s representatives imposed is to make them the government. If there is no other way to do this, then let us have the opposition introduce a measure of non-confidence in this government, and if we have to have an election on this issue, let us have it.
Let us make this an election on whether or not Canada is a nation that commits war crimes or not.
If that’s what is necessary to take our country back then let us fight it on this issue. As I said, there are other concerns that Canadians have, but nothing is as clear-cut as this. Nothing is so easy to rectify as this. When it is so simple it is incumbent upon us to do what is necessary. Let this be a contest between the decent people who believe that Canada is supposed to be a decent place, and the freaks who believe that it’s okay to torture as long as it happens to your enemies or you contract it out.
Doesn’t our political system claim “the rule of law” as one of its fundamental values? Even if we believe this claim is a sham, we must admit that at least they agree that this pretence must be upheld if they’re going to claim our respect for their authority. Well, if there is simply no way out of the fact that they committed war crimes, then there is simply no way out for them than to face the consequences. When something as blatant as this happens and they try to fob it off, they are fobbing off the basis of their own legitimacy. If we can have a fight about this, then there is no way that they can avoid defeat. And this isn’t smoking a joint, or speeding on the highway, or taking a bribe even. This is TORTURE. This is INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW. If the rule of law should apply to governments, shouldn’t it at least apply here?
Ah, but what about the Liberals? Sadly, this is the debased state of our political culture. We cannot move against the harpercons unless we agree to allow the Liberals (who violated international law in Haiti, who first got us into the Afghanistan debacle, who oversaw the first violations of human rights after 9-11/2001) to go free. Our political culture is such that we cannot go against both of these criminal gangs because enough Canadian voters support one or the other of them to make it impossible. (I was prepared, when the Liberals had a majority, to propose that the NDP work with the CPC and the BQ to investigate Liberal crimes in Haiti. To my eternal shame, I got so far as briefly circulating a petition before life and work pressures made me think that Haiti’s calvary had to wait. Then, the Liberals fell, the harpercons came to power, and the moment passed.)
But we could argue this: That it is worth it to make this concession if it means destroying the harpercons, who are so toxic for Canada’s political culture, if it means re-asserting that Canada is more the product of its decent citizens than of its morons and psychopaths, if it means that we get to set a precedent for future prime ministers tempted into following the USA into another such abomination, that they might get in over their heads and find themselves responsible for and liable for actions such as war crimes.
[Please note: I’m certain that given the chance the NDP could be just as lazy and callous about human rights as any other party. I’m also pretty sure that Bloq politicians are no angels when it comes to First Nations issues that conflict with Quebecois sovereignity. To their credit, the NDP has the natural intelligence and the courage to have rejected the Afghan “mission” from the get-go. But this non-immunity from corruption is just the point: Our politicians can only go as far as the Canadian people will let them go. If WE decide, as a people, that something like handing over innocent people to suspected torturers is not acceptable, and that there are consequences for doing so, then they will not do it! It’s up to us to change the culture so that Canadian politicians do not debase us like this in the future!]
If there is an election, let us fight it. Afghanistan is worth an election. Torture is worth an election. Let us have an election where the big subject is whether the cynical abuse of “national security” is no big deal. Where selective leaking of documents to discredit a courageous whistle-blower is fine by us. Where dumping people as quickly as we can into the hands of murderers and rapists is what this country is all about. Where making insurgents fight all the harder against the Canadian Forces because defeat and incarceration means being castrated, blinded, crippled, or some other horror, is “supporting the troops.” Where throwing billions of dollars and over one-hundred Canadian lives down a rat-hole is sound foreign policy. Let us debate this evil policy. Let us debate this evil government.
To conclude: If we do not think an election is a realistic possibility, then we MUST come up with some more viable strategy. This is the image of our country at stake here. This is whether or tax-dollars and our silence support the rape of the children of impoverished Afghan peasants at the hands of a brutal, corrupt government defended by our soldiers and our soldiers’ lives.
If we decide that there’s nothing that can be done, then nothing will be done. And we will be signalling that when Canada signs covenants against torture, it’s meaningless. That we concede that the rule of law does not apply to our own governments. [In a case as clear as this, giving the harpercons a pass out of defeatism is stating just that.]