Saturday, 25 October 2014

Before Canadians hurt themselves patting each other on the back ...

A few things about the attacks in Canada this week underscored positive features or trends about Canadian society.  (i) Canada's CBC deserved commendation forits careful, balanced news coverage (link), (ii) Some news media attempted to deviate from the typical US news media's obsession with identifying and discussing personal details of the killer (link, Rex Murphy on youtube) and (iii) evidence of unwillingness to mistreat Muslims as a result of the attacks (links):

That said, there are important respects in which Canada's response has not only failed to exceed the standard set by the US but has been worse.  In particular, it seems significant free speech limitations are envisioned (link):

 “Sources suggest the government is likely to bring in new hate speech legislation that would make it illegal to claim terrorist acts are justified online.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons on Thursday that Canada’s law and policing powers need to be strengthened in the areas of surveillance, detention and arrest. “

Amazing, we're going to make it illegal to voice an opinion (in addtion to increasing surveillance, detention and arrest?)?  Aside from this being just an obvious violations of the most basic forms of free speech protection that any democracy should embrace, there's a deeper problem. The whole notion of 'terrorism' is one that is often used to simply stifle debate or pave over any nuanced discussion of what may have motivated it. (see a recent article by Tomas Kapitan on this: link.). Furthermore, its sense isn't entirely clear. What should count as terrorism? In many instances it ends up being most anything done against one's own country while being defined in such a way so that the action of US (or Canadian) combatants cannot be terrorism, no matter on whom it is practiced.  Finally, the last thing to consider before praising ourselves for being so much more enlightened than Americans in responding to a perceived terrorist attack, note this particularly ominous quotation from Peter Mackay this week (link): 

"We're looking ... to see if there is a way in fact to improve or build on those elements of the criminal code that allow for pre-emptive actions. ...." [emphasis added]

Hey, Canada is going all Minority Report.  Remember the Precrime department? 

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