Dr. Dawg

Precrime, Canadian style

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driver.jpgSince 1983, there has been a provision in the Canadian 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 without trial.

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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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on June 24, 2015 12:34 PM.

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