Sunday, February 25, 2007

Security Certificates No Longer Secure

It's a damn good thing I'm not a journalist cuz I probably would have been fired before now. Here I've been on about security certificates in the last couple of weeks, and I didn't even know that there was a case before the Supreme Court. (Or maybe I knew, once, but forgot.) Anyway, I didn't hear about this until the day before the decision came down.

(Interesting, that phrase "came down" as in "coming from on high" as in "someone above us" as in "Supreme" as in "highest court in the land" and the decision tumbles down to us lower humans willy nilly...which is another interesting expression originally rendered, I think, as "will he, nill he"....but enough digression...)

This was no minor decision. It made the top of NY Times headlines. In large measure, the court agrees with what I think...(and a good thing too! otherwise, the court woulda been wrong...) Quoting from the Times (cuz I forgot to bookmark a Canajun page):
“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.
Well, duh! You wouldn't think it would take the Supreme Court to figure that out.

I must remind people, however, as I had to be reminded, that these cases centre around non-citizens who were actually ordered deported. So, for Canajuns, the question is: how did these people get into the country in the first place, and why were they not simply deported when the appeals process was done? It seems to me that any country has the right to decide who gets to stay and who doesn't, and they don't even really have to give a reason. "Entry Refused" stamped on the passport. Done.

There should not be any circumstance, really, like the one these men have been in...confinement, secret hearings, secret evidence, no right to defend oneself. I'm still baffled as to why they were/are being held. The whole matter should have been expedited.

But then, I'm not CSIS. I'm not the RCMP. I'm not the Minister. I'm not the Supreme Court.

At least now the guvment has some direction and a clear statement that the way it's been going about things is not kosher. (Again, I say, we should not need the Supreme Court to tell us this.)

According to the Times, this is quite a departure from the Murrican headspace:
The decision reflected striking differences from the current legal climate in the United States. In the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Congress stripped the federal courts of authority to hear challenges, through petitions for writs of habeas corpus, to the open-ended confinement of foreign terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the constitutionality of that law this week, dismissing 13 cases brought on behalf of 63 Guantánamo detainees.
And a good thing we're not following that lead, sez this Canajun. I would think the poor Murrican eagle, symbol of liberty, is suffering a severe case of whiplash from the way its civil rights neck has been twisted in the last five years. Leave it to Canajun beavers to gnaw away at the worry lines on the eagle's brow.

Not everyone agrees with me, tho. I read comments on the Hawgtown Grope & Flail report about the court's decision. A lot of people cursing Pierre Elliott Trudeau for saddling us with the Charter of Rights. (No mention that the first Charter was actually introduced by Diefenbaker...) A lot of people hysterically predicting terrorist doom. As far as I'm concerned, a lot of people being downright ignorant and abusive on both sides. Which is why I don't spend a lot of time reading the comments on public sites like that. (Unlike here, of course, where the discourse is highly civilised and unfailingly thoughtful.)

So, there we go again, wandering off from the Murrican way. In some ways, tho, we're not straying too far. Parliament has a year to get its act together, ie. its new Security Certificate Act. Security Certificates will not disappear. But at least these issues will be dealt with in a more open, fairer, and much more timely fashion.

Digg! diigo it

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