Dr.Dawg

Conservative death throes

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An animal is most dangerous when it’s wounded, they say, and the Conservative Party of Canada has been metaphorically bearing that out for months. Sinking steadily in the polls, it has sought to further impose its brand of sado-politics upon our long-suffering country, even against its own best interests.

In its last days it has been showing its teeth, snapping and snarling: jamming the union-busting Bill C-377 through the Senate, tearing at the fabric of free collective bargaining with omnibus Bill C-59, spiking a transgender rights Bill, and tabling legislation to forbid Muslim women from taking the oath of citizenship in traditional niqab dress.

It passed Bill C-24, formally establishing two classes of citizenship. It introduced an act to condemn some criminals to life without parole. It cribbed American voter suppression legislation to make it more difficult for First Nations, students and the poor to exercise their franchise. And of course there was the infamous Bill C-51, establishing a largely unaccountable political police with the power to override the Charter of Rights.

The Supreme Court is unlikely to allow any of these profoundly unconstitutional measures to last: Harper has already racked up a string of losses before them. But the rule of law, as we have seen during a seemingly endless series of scandals (which began, in fact, even before the 2006 election) and legislative jiggery-pokery, seems to be just a minor annoyance for the Conservatives when they’re on a tear.

Like Parliament itself, in fact: since 2011, the Conservatives have shut down debate more than 100 times. Harper earlier distinguished himself as the only Prime Minister in Canadian history to be found guilty of contempt of Parliament.

Through all this, the Conservatives have been spending scads of taxpayers’ cash on nakedly partisan advertising, activities and personal self-aggrandizement. Harper has surrounded himself with criminals and lowlifes to further his agenda. It all smacks of political racketeering. There ought to be a law.

But now the flailing of this dying regime has begun in earnest. A symptom: rejecting Ches Crosbie’s candidacy in the Newfoundland Labrador riding of Avalon, leaving themselves with no candidate at all (the deadline for nominees was June 25). The province has no Conservative MPs at present. This isn’t likely to improve the odds.

Then there’s the Mother Canada monument, approaching Hallmark levels of kitsch, tearing a hole in a pristine national park; and the planned memorial to the victims of Communism, promising to similarly deface the nation’s capital. If those monstrosities are actually built, it will cost the taxpayers millions.

And the attack ads. The Conservatives may even have broken their own law with the latest one, and things weren’t made any better with senior Conservative spokesman Kory Teneyke’s odd performance on national television.

There is no point trying to apply the rational-actor model to any of this. It defies rational explanation. But this sort of thing is not unknown in nature. We’ve seen this self-destructive behaviour before—dealing blow after blow to veterans, who, we might think, should be a solid part of the Conservative base, or alienating senior citizens by raising the retirement age—but these latest spasms are simply bizarre.

The wounded beast is dying, vomiting venom as life slowly drains away. We can put it out of its misery on October 19. Surely at this point it’s the only humane thing to do.

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Dr.Dawg

Precrime, Canadian style

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driver.jpgI’ve been asleep at the switch on this one, but I wonder if I’m alone: since 1983, Canada has had a provision in the Criminal Code (Section 810) to curtail the freedom of citizens who have committed no crime. Failure to sign a “peace bond” and accept conditions as imposed by a judge is punishable by imprisonment.

Perhaps because this was initially added to the Code to restrain violent spouses and/or vicious sex offenders, few brows were wrinkled at the time. (In fact, various forms of this arrangement have existed in the Criminal Code since 1898, originally to protect property.) But in the natural course of events, the law was broadened in 1997 to include members of “criminal organizations,” and then, in 2001, while the memory of 9/11 was still fresh, to further include those who might commit a “terrorism offence.”

And so we stood, until Bill C-51 became law. Just passed by the Conservatives with unanimous Liberal support, this sort of thing becomes child’s play: even a suspicion that a citizen may commit a terrorism offence that now includes “advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general” can get you detained.

But previous to the passage of C-51, there was already enough on the books to constrain and confine someone who might commit a terrorist act. It just didn’t get invoked much.

Which brings us to the case of Aaron Driver.

Legislative overreach is inevitably followed by lower-court judicial overreach. In this case a young imbecile has been publicly supporting ISIS, the most bestial so far of the Islamist death-cults that have arisen in the slaughterhouse that is today’s Middle East.

Driver has been released after eight days in detention, under a peace bond that imposes 25 conditions, including wearing an monitoring ankle bracelet at all times; no ownership of computers or tablets; no access to social media; no possession of anything with the logos or the many names of ISIS; RCMP oversight of his cellphone; an overnight curfew; and accepting “religious counselling.”

He has never been charged with a crime.

Now we have his own words on tape. His motivation for supporting ISIS is a debased form of “root cause” theory: Western governments, involving themselves in far-off local conflicts, have killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims, so we should hardly be surprised, he argues, when the chickens come home to roost. ISIS is just fighting back. Many might agree, at least, that ISIS did not spring spontaneously from the desert sands like a malodorous mutant flower: it is a hellish symptom of global geopolitics gone badly awry.

Even to make that observation may now, under C-51, be illegal. Yet it is part of the on-going debate about what many of us regard as the folly of Western intervention in countries that they do not understand, where an infrastructure of lies inevitably replaces any notion of superior morality and governance, and whose long-suffering civilian populations have been decimated as a result.

Be all that as it may, a Canadian has now had his liberties severely curtailed, even to the point of forced religious instruction, which we normally associate with the very Islamists that Driver has been supporting.

We don’t know what facts as yet unrevealed might have motivated the RCMP, well before the passage of C-51, or the judge in this case, to take such extraordinary measures against a citizen of Canada. As in the film Minority Report, precrime is now a fact of life in this country. And, while we can all imagine hypothetical cases in which we might find ourselves supporting such measures, we need to keep in mind that they will now be less likely than ever to be confined in their application.

Support the Palestinian cause? Cheer on Ukrainian irregulars blowing up Russian ammunition dumps? Defend an armed uprising against the Chinese occupation of Tibet? Best think again before saying any of that out loud. When, after all, does lawful advocacy become the promotion of terrorism “in general?” You tell me.

Laying criminal charges is, however, still a chancy business. Peace bonds allow the police to evade the trial process, and for that reason they’re likely to become far more common in the C-51 era. Any of us who question the current order of things could be charged with a precrime, not by “precogs” in a bubble, but by your friendly neighbourhood Constable Plod. Aaron Driver’s case is a harbinger of far worse to come. Strap in tight, fellow activists: it’s going to be a rough ride.

UPDATE: And…Aaron Driver is back in custody. Still not charged with anything—as though it mattered.

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Balbulican

Geeks to Greeks: iOwnya

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Greek Apple1.jpgIn a surprise announcement, Apple Inc. announced today that the world’s most valuable corporation would be acquiring Greece. Speaking from the Spanakopita Palace in Cupertino, Tim Cook (CEO) said:

“I’m pleased to confirm that Apple Inc. has completed the acquisition of Greece, a large European enterprise with a strong history of innovation and content development. We will be moving forward immediately to facilitate their financial restructuring and undertaking critical rebranding initiatives. These will include the launch of a new Mac, the Edonia.”

Alexis Sipras, CEO of the new Apple subsidiary i-Thaca, could not be reached for comment.

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Dr.Dawg

This Justin

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The emperor has no clothes. Only the most Liberal-intoxicated refuse to acknowledge it. Son chien est mort. Like the famous parrot, he’s no more. He has ceased to be.

Emerging after weeks of absence, Justin Trudeau could do no better than to defend his pitiful support of Bill C-51. A flailing performance, it reinforced (if such were necessary) the man’s utter lack of principle, not to mention his unbearable lightness of being. He might have made, he said, a “strategic error,” given the backlash his support, and that of his Liberal trained seals, attracted. “I didn’t think that people would be so divisive and so aggressive as to somehow make it seem like the Liberal party doesn’t care about the Charter,” he complained.

In fact, he went where he thought Canadian voters would go, but didn’t count on the ability of Canadians, immediately supportive of C-51 when it was introduced, to read, and think, and change their minds. He took us all for rubes, in other words, and now he’s been left holding the bag—one empty of principles or scruples. It was a spectacular display of unvarnished opportunism gone wrong.

That’s cost him. Liberal voters are switching to the NDP in droves. He’s just lost a candidate over it, a former Canadian Forces member, no less. “The whole idea of serving in the military was to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians,” said David MacLeod, “When they come up with a law like C-51, I couldn’t live with it….The Act is a very disturbing piece of legislation that undermines Canadian democracy and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Like grumpy Diogenes with his lantern, I’ve finally found an ethical Liberal. “My resignation is a principled, not political, decision,” said MacLeod, and I have no reason to disbelieve him. Kudos.

But back to the Hair Apparent. Not content with supporting legislation that gives unchecked power to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, he endorsed a star Liberal candidate in Toronto, one Bill Blair—head cop during the G20 fiasco in 2010, who oversaw the illegal detention of more than a thousand innocent citizens, the kettling and beating of peaceful protesters and bystanders, and other truly vile acts of police aggression.

“I’m not going to Monday morning quarterback decisions made five years ago by the chief of police,” said he.

If folks have been paying attention, Trudeau has been playing Stan Laurel to Harper’s Oliver Hardy almost from the beginning. Best re-think that coalition idea, I’d suggest, or we just might get one we don’t like. I wouldn’t put it past him for a moment.

Take no notice whatsoever of his “32-point plan” and other policy posturings inserted into his mouth by his backroom handlers. Recall that his father fought the 1974 election against wage and price controls, and instituted them when he was elected. Remember if you can the Liberal Red Book, torched when they came to power in 1993. Remember NAFTA? The Liberals campaigned against it, then signed the agreement almost immediately after the 1993 election.

Liberals cannot be trusted. They stand for nothing other than power. The record is there to back me up to the hilt.

At last Canadians appear to have a choice at the polls: the red and blue wings of the Librocon Party, or the NDP. I’m not convinced that it’s much of a choice, to be frank—Mulcair is the Canadian Tony Blair, minus the warmongery—but it offers a kind of hope to an electorate that (judging by turnout rates) has become mired in apathy and perpetual disillusionment. And one positive outcome of that would be the overdue burial of a dead parrot.

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Dr.Dawg

Rachel Dolezal

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I’m not late to this party: I’ve been slowly digesting the news of a white woman passing for Black and reflecting upon it and the copious commentary that followed.

The story has been short-circuited, as it turns out, with the news that Dolezal once sued her university for discriminating against her in favour of African Americans. In fact, that underlies my feelings from the start that her actions have amounted to the most profound expression of white privilege I have ever seen. She not only tipped her hand in that lawsuit, in a common-or-garden act of white supremacy, but has since, in effect, managed to occupy the Black social body.

Indeed, I’ve been idly wondering if she hasn’t been engaging all along in an on-going satirical commentary on identity politics. She’s touched every base, after all, including a too-obvious parallel with the recent Caitlin Jenner controversy. As the engaging intellectual Stuart Parker provocatively asked on Facebook, as he drew the two strands together, why is gender a social construct whereas race still seems to be grounded in the body, judging from the outrage among progressives?

The answer, of course, is that both are social constructs. Gender and race are imposed by society upon the body. As we have seen in the case of Jenner, gender can paradoxically defy and transcend the body, generated by the social dialectic of gender binarism. But I would argue that race, while popularly expressed in binary fashion (black vs. white, recalling Governor George Wallace reference to Blacks as “the opposite race”), has had a different social trajectory. Even one drop of blood could mark a person as “Black”: there is no obvious gender equivalent to this doctrine of contamination. “Effeminate” looks and manners may single out men for misogynist ridicule, but they clearly don’t define them socially as women.

“Passing for white” was and may still be a matter of survival, or at least of dignity and a fighting chance, for Blacks in America. But passing for Black? A careful look at motives is required: while I cannot rule out the possibility that a few individuals may indeed feel themselves to be Blacks trapped in white bodies, such is clearly not the case for Dolezal.

As one who has long been suspicious of those who claim to “identify with” or even “love” another race or ethnic group—that’s just racism or ethnocentrism in the mirror—I cannot view this episode as benign. It further muddies the already turbulent waters of social relations that turn on the oppression of one defined group by another. We are told that Dolezal did good work in the NAACP. But playing Lady Bountiful is not the way to go about it. She has undermined her work by pretending that racial identity is a matter of choice, a claim that most if not all racialized people would reject out of hand.

Live and let live. But not if one’s actions intensify the very oppression that one is allegedly fighting. Dolezal’s grotesque intrusion stands as perhaps the limit case of how not to be an ally in the struggle against racism and racialization.

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Dr.Dawg

The stench of power

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Why do I connect the firing of Evan Solomon to the passage last night of Bill C-51? The link seems obvious. As Canada sinks ever more deeply into the mire of political and moral corruption, a lot of people are getting muddy.

Solomon is just the latest CBC national figure to get caught. There was Jian Ghomeshi, and there was Amanda Lang. Ghomeshi had been up to his dirty tricks for a long, long time, until he rubbed the CBC brass’ collective nose in it, ensuring his swift exit. Lang remains on the job despite everything, and it took a Toronto Star investigation to stick it to Solomon. Internal accountability mechanisms? Non-operational. Since when have we seen three CBC rock stars caught out in a matter of months?

In this cautionary tale of a public corporation gone south, we can see in microcosm the effects of a poisoned political culture. A fish rots, as they say, from the head: and here we should look beyond the Harper-appointed CBC Board, to Harper himself. In a culture of near-impunity, those with power will naturally begin to believe they can get away with anything. Think Mike Duffy, with his blank pre-approved expense accounts. Think Bruce Carson, an ex-con granted access to the inner sanctum of the PMO. Think, in fact, of the veritable parade of cheap and not-so-cheap crooks and malfeasors who have taken long, shuddering sucks from the Conservative trough.

The Harper government, in fact, has an almost pathological aversion to accountability. Witness the fate of various parliamentary watchdogs under its reign. And this year, the Conservatives introduced legislation to apply a political filter to their staff.

When it comes to oversight of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in particular, Harper dissolved the office of the Inspector General of CSIS in 2012. The remaining “oversight” remains with the weak Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), run at one point by a Conservative political hack now on the run for fraud. SIRC does not actually oversee CSIS, but reviews after the fact. Even so, CSIS has been notoriously uncooperative and less than candid with SIRC. And that was before the passage of C-51.

The Bill passed the House of Commons with the support of the Liberals who got on board when it looked as though most Canadians supported it. But a chorus of reputable voices spoke out strongly against this dangerous piece of legislation, and over several months that support eroded precipitously, leaving the Liberals with a position justified neither by principle nor by their usual crass opportunism.

The Liberals in the Senate, as it turns out, were of a different breed, but the law passed anyway, and now we have a secret police with the power to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and a populace any one of whom could be branded a “terrorist” for a whole range of activities. These might include civil disobedience (“changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means,” or “interference with critical infrastructure”), involvement in the BDS or Free Tibet movements, or support for the anti-Assad forces in Syria (“an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state”), or even speaking up for freedom fighters wherever they are laying down their lives to take down a repressive government (“communicating statements knowingly advocating or promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general”).

“Terrorism offences” are set out in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. They include an act or omission committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” with “the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security,” and which causes a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public. [emphases added]

We’re meant to be reassured by a clause in 83.01 about disrupting essential services that supposedly exempts “advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work,” but these are trumped by the “serious risk to the health or safety of the public” clause. (The language of C-51, oddly enough, leaves out “stoppage of work,” restricting itself to “advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.”)

Assembling the pieces here, a perfectly lawful public service strike could be deemed “terrorist,” not to mention wildcat strikes in any of a number of industrial and service sectors, public and private. After all, who decides if the health or safety of the public or a segment thereof is indeed threatened? When does “advocacy” become “promoting the commission of terrorism offences in general”? And when is “protest” (think pipelines or Idle No More) transformed into “intimidating…a sector of the public”?

There are too many examples of Harper’s incessant abuses of power to be enumerated here, but C-51 is a special case. The appalling reach of the Bill summoned forth an opposition that consists, not only of the usual suspects on the Left, but of sober centrists and a gaggle of right-wingers as well. Our collective efforts, I think it is fair to say, brought the Canadian public around.

Assuming no further deformation of the electoral process—I’m looking at you, Skippy, and the inner-circle Conservative pranksters who steered voters away from their polling stations in 2011—the opinion polls tell us we have a shot at putting an end to the Harperium this Fall. But it’s not going to be slam-dunk easy—these folks aren’t going down without a fight, and that fight will be filthy dirty. In the meantime, the stain of corruption continues to spread. Expect more lurid tales of malfeasance over the next few months, as the antinomian values of this government further permeate our public institutions.

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Dr.Dawg

Apologies

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bad dog.jpg…for the super-long hiatus. A nascent novel, family stresses and a vacation in Europe have made it difficult to keep up.

For those who like my travel pieces, be assured that my adventures in Spain and Italy will be the topic of upcoming posts. Not to mention the accelerating handbasket in which Canada now finds itself. As the NDP rises in the polls, the evil from the current government is a spreading stain on my country. I hardly know where to begin. But begin I shall.

I’m just back. Be patient for another day or so, while I find my bearings. In the meantime, my fellow co-bloggers…¿Dónde están?

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Dr.Dawg

#FHRITP: Name and shame

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dudebros.jpg

This should have been tougher for me, an old union hand, than it proved to be. Meet Ryan Hart, on the left, who works for Cognex Corporation. On the right is Shawn Simoes, who worked for Hydro One and made over $100,000 a year—until yesterday.

The fellow with the goatee on the left of this photo:

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who actually shouted the phrase “Fuck her right in the pussy,” is as yet unidentified. Shouldn’t take much longer to rectify that. Nor to identify his two chortling companions.

Enough, already. Normally I am averse to employers regulating out-of-office conduct by employees. It has a faint odour of totalitarianism to it. Bosses don’t own their employees, they rent their time.

But.

There is merit in the notion that testosterone-drunk misogynist punks of this kind, who have interfered with and intimidated countless women reporters just trying to do their jobs, should be punished. What employers in their right minds would want employees like this? Are women in their workplaces safe from the sexual harassment that comes so very easily, so damned casually, to these jockholes?

Nope. Not a dilemma for me at all, as it turns out. Name them. Fire them. Ban them. And I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

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Dr.Dawg

Boycott Israel!

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Israeli Apartheid.jpgMy title is about to become illegal. So is the illustration. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Remember the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism and their silly one-sided Final Report? The other shoe is now about to drop.

I’ve long been a soft supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, but with some emphasis on the word “soft.” Noam Chomsky offers some solid criticism of the movement which, although I don’t agree with all of it, should encourage us to reflect on strategy. Norman Finkelstein, whose criticisms of Israel actually led to his being hounded out of DePaul University, is even more critical of BDS.

It behooves us to pay attention, and also to put all of our cards on the table. If we want a one-state solution, we should say so. If a two-state one, let’s be upfront about it.

Ah, if life were so simple. While I lean to a two-state solution based upon the Abdullah Proposal, the notion of ethnic rather than civic states does not sit well with me. Of course I would favour the latter kind of arrangement. But that’s a bit like being anti-Zionist, isn’t it? A principled position that has absolutely no relevance to the real world.

One can see that I’m arguing with myself. And I do so every time the Middle East comes up.

Where am I in sympathy with BDS? Well, I think boycotting products made in the illegal West Bank colonies makes sense. I think universities in Canada—like my own alma mater, Carleton—should disinvest in companies that shore up Israel’s military oppression of the Palestinian people. I’m not opposed to cultural exchanges, but frown upon giving a stage to one-sided Israeli propaganda that erases Palestinian history and perspectives. And I’m going to stay loudly critical of ethnic cleansing in the South Negev, second-class citizenship for Palestinian Israeli citizens and all of the other racist nastiness that we can expect in any state that defines itself by its majority ethnicity.

(Don’t like the word “apartheid?” Come up with a better one. I’ll use it.)

We need this debate. It’s very, very far from over. One could even argue that it’s hardly begun.

The Harper government, however, wants to use the law as a blunt instrument to shut down criticism of Israel, which, rather than being held to a “different standard” as its uncritical supporters claim we are doing, will now be held to none at all. The BDS movement will be banned. And so long, Israeli Apartheid Week. You don’t have a friend in the Commons, on either side of the House. Harper and his shrieky extremist friends are calling the shots, and judging from past experience the Opposition will either support this move or maintain a craven silence.

But a lot of us won’t. So, Mr. Harper—just bring it on.

UPDATE: Some of the Usual Suspects are claiming that the CBC story is untrue. The embarrassment has proven too much, perhaps. Yet an email exchange between CBC journalist Neil Macdonald and a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety really speaks for itself.

The hate speech laws were changed last year to include “national origin.” Some believed at the time that this would help to criminalize the BDS movement. I thought that was overreaching—now I’m not sure.

Did Stephen Blaney talk about “zero tolerance” or not? The would-be debunkers of Macdonald’s story do not address that issue. Instead they attack the CBC. Rather telling, I think.

If this was a trial balloon, as one commenter suggests, it may have fallen with a thud. Or perhaps action on this matter is to be deferred until after the October election. How would that action take shape? Blaney has signalled that complaints against BDS and IAW will be prosecuted. Cue B’nai Brith. Provincial Attorneys General, whose permission is needed to proceed under the hate speech provisions of the Criminal Code, will doubtless fall into line.

One way or another, it really is too much for chagrined pro-Israel zealots to try to wish this story away. A change of headline is not a retraction.

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Dr.Dawg

Omar

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Welcome to the fresh air and sunshine, Omar Khadr. I hope you enjoyed your lamb dinner at the Edneys’ last night. I can’t begin to imagine the pleasure you must have taken in the evening ritual of a family meal.

Freedom. Delivered at last from the deep pits and squalid cages built by the system to hide away the inconvenient and the lost. The masquerade of official “freedom” is to be maintained at all costs: the ugly truths of power and rule must be kept out of the light, by any means necessary.

And so a kid was thrown down a hole. And all the Sovereign’s minions laboured to roll a rock over the opening, to bury him alive.

Scott Gilmore writes a perceptive column about the deeper cultural meanings of his selection for sacrifice. Like Hassan Diab, a Canadian citizen extradited to France for a crime of which he is certainly innocent, Omar Khadr is a classical pharmakos, one of us and yet separated from the majority by name and appearance.

These age-old memes are there to be enlisted by the powers and authorities—a vital part of their armamentarium. The cultural undertow drowns the ability to think, to see, to empathize.

But through all, Omar Khadr finally prevailed. There is still the rule of law and a Charter of Rights in Canada, if both are somewhat bruised at present. The saddening thing is how long it has taken to put matters right. The saga of Omar Khadr is one of flagrant injustice, gross abuse of process, and vicious political persecution. And it’s been there in plain view for all to see.

A child soldier aged 15 was taken to Afghanistan by his fanatical Islamist family to take part in military operations. He had been well-prepped beforehand with the usual Abrahamic slogans, smiting enemies and whatnot, and found himself in an al-Qaeda compound when American forces decided to take it out. In the ensuing firefight, it is agreed that young Khadr threw a grenade. It is also agreed that a US Sergeant (not a medic, by the way) died from an exploding grenade. But whether there were two grenades or one is still a matter of dispute.

The child, badly wounded after being shot in the back by a member of the US team, and with one eye full of shrapnel, was hustled off to Guantanamo, a zone of exception where human rights simply ceased to exist. He was tortured for many months—waterboarded, hung by his arms for long periods of time, deprived of sleep, and then illegally interrogated by CSIS agents.

He never stood a chance before the kangaroo court known as a Military Commission. When the presiding officer made too many concessions to the defence, he was promptly replaced by another, who suppressed evidence that would have helped to exonerate Khadr, while permitting doctored evidence to be introduced by the prosecution. A prison psychiatrist testified that Khadr was an unrepentant terrorist, founding his evaluation upon the dubious work of an Islamophobic Danish kook.

The outcome was a plea bargain, made under obvious duress: facing decades in prison after a fake trial run by unconstrained military hard men, Khadr pleaded guilty to five charges in order to get out of Gitmo and home to Canada. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Throughout all of this maltreatment of a Canadian citizen born in Toronto, Stephen Harper and his sado-political buddies in Cabinet, notably Vic Toews and more recently Stephen Blaney, did everything in their power to thwart justice and continue the persecution. A sexed-up dossier prepared by a Department of Public Safety policy munchkin was used to justify harsh conditions on his return. Khadr was grudgingly repatriated, then held incommunicado in various maximum security prisons. The Harper government fought his attempts to obtain bail every step of the way, losing fight after fight, until Khadr was finally released this week.

Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney told the plain unvarnished truth when he stated that Harper is an anti-Muslim bigot. Given the travails of other Canadians of beige hue with funny names at the hands of his government, one would have thought this screamingly obvious by now. The double standards in evidence when it comes to Canadian citizens have been up in lights for some time.

We should not imagine that the Harper government has no more cards to play. It is at least arguable that the recently passed citizenship bill C-24 could be used to attempt to have him deported to Egypt, despite being born in Canada. Nothing at this point should surprise us: the Conservative government has a long record of single-minded vindictiveness. Much will hang on Khadr’s appeal in the US courts against his Guantanamo conviction—which some believe has an excellent chance of success.

But in the meantime, the soft-spoken, personable young man who stood before the cameras last evening before sitting down to a family dinner has rejoined our community at last. “I will prove to [Canadians] I am more than what they thought of me,” he said. “I will prove to them I’m a good person….I’m excited to start my life.”

About time. For God’s sake let him get on with it.

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