Sunday, April 01, 2007

As If To Underscore My Point

Sometimes, one has to wonder if government's don't go out of their way to make a point for us. Last week, I commented on a proposal to curtail freedom of speech in this country.

At the time, I raised the very worrisome prospect that terms like "terrorism" or "terrorist" were extremely difficult to define in legal terms, and any law which attempted to do so would either be overly broad, or hamstrung by its own definitions.

This week, we find the Canadian Armed Forces have a training manual which tries to enumerate "potential" sources of "threats", and manages to enumerate Canadian aboriginal peoples among groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

To some extent, one may brush this off a little - the draft in question was written a couple of years ago, and under a different political leadership. Further, our armed forces are supposed to be cautious and responsive to possible threats, so an internal document that enumerates potential sources of armed threat shouldn't really surprise us.

However, what it does do is underscore the worrisome point - one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. Consider the incident at Ipperwash a few years ago. One could certainly see how the natives would have seen themselves as "fighting for freedom" of some sort, and equally how the OPP would have seen the natives as "terrorists" or "insurgents". I do not choose to make any judgement about those events here - rather I want them to be seen as illustrative of the very problems I raised earlier.

We are not talking about a government action to protect the rights of any identifiable group of Canadians, nor are talking about the government taking action to limit the activities of any identifiable groups. Instead, we are talking about the government acting to limit the rights of all Canadians in the face of an unknown, and unknowable "threat".

The Harper government has already shown that it wishes to overturn the notion of presumed innocence, and now we see the first signs of authoritarianism coming forth.

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