Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Fly Lists and The Right To Speak Out

The Cons screamed blue murder when Bill C-250 was passed, claiming that it created a class of "thought crime".

But, let us look for a minute at Canada's recently implemented "no fly list", and the potential abuses it is subject to for a moment.

First, the no-fly list has been implemented as a matter of policy, not law. In other words, it exists by fiat of Conservative policy being implemented by bureaucrats, not as a result of any kind of debate in the legislative houses.

Perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that both the list itself, as well as the process by which a name is added to it, is a secret process. The citizens of Canada have absolutely no visibility into the processes involved, and no right whatsoever to appeal the determinations of those processes.

Sit back and consider this for a moment. We have no idea what the rules are upon which this list is being maintained, and people whose names are put on this list have no ability whatsoever to appeal the punishment being levied as a result.

This means that if the politicians in power decide they don't like you, it becomes quite easy to make your life very awkward indeed. Write a letter to your MP, and he or she decides that they dislike you, and presto, you are on the list at their whim, with no traceability, no accountability and no appeal.

You may be looking at this and saying to yourself "nah, your reaching". But, I ask you to consider the legislative agenda of the Cons. It has been blatantly hostile to civil liberties and rights - breaching fundamentals such as the presumption of innocence; Harper and his bandits have lied to Canadians on just about everything from accountability to cabinet appointments and Afghanistan. What assurance do I have that this list will not be used for political reasons?

The long and short of this is that unlike Bill C-250 that put something out in the open, where it can be seen and contested, the Harper Cons have created a 'frankenpolicy' which can be used by the government to arbitrarily curtail individual rights and freedoms, while the politicos hide behind the veil that bureaucracy creates in the first place.

In doing so, the Cons have sent out an implicit, thuggish message: "Don't dissent, or we'll curtail your freedom to travel". (and, as a citizen who has tried to deal with ReformACon MPs many times in the past, it is quite clear that they don't take contrary positions "well".

So...are the Cons protecting us, or creating a tool of oppression? What is more open and accountable - a law on the books that can be challenged in court if abused, or a secret process created at the whim of Harper's Cons?

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