“We will not actively pursue bringing back to Canada murderers who have been tried in a democratic country that supports the rule of law… .
“It would send a wrong message. We want to preserve public safety here in Canada.”
– Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, announcing on Thursday that the Canadian government would no longer seek clemency for Ronald Allen Smith or any other Canadians facing the death penalty abroad
“People should be held responsible for their crimes in other democratic jurisdictions and we will not interfere with their process when there has been a fair trial.“
– slimy Conservative toady Peter Van Loan in Parliament on Friday, once again nimbly attempting to defend the indefensible via rote repetition of empty Tory talking points
“We have no desire to open the debate on capital punishment here in Canada and likewise we have no desire to participate in the debate on capital punishment in the United States… .
“Were we to intervene, it would very quickly become a question of whether we are prepared to repatriate a double-murderer to Canada… . In light of this government’s strong initiatives on tackling violent crime, I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian population.”
– PM Stephen Harper, once again showing where his principles reside (apparently somewhere south of Stalin)
“Foreign policy is always a mirror of our domestic values.”
– Liberal MP Dan McTeague, pointing at the elephant standing on the Tory platform
Let’s not mince words: Uncle Steve, Stockboy [insert now-requisite Gord Weston quote here, paraphrased thusly: “Why is Stockwell Day still in charge of anything?”] and the rest of the Stephen Harper Party have, in essence, callously reopened the death penalty question by proxy (possibly unsealing a diplomatic can of worms in the process). As Mark Warren of Amnesty International-Canada observes, the abrupt decision “puts Canada in the unenviable position of being the only country in the world that’s abolished the death penalty that now refuses to seek clemency on behalf of its death-sentenced citizens abroad.” Yep, the Tories are willing to throw away “decades of Canadian foreign policy,” simply to gain a little pre-election partisan traction (yeah, yeah, tough on crime, yada yada — we fucking get it, already).
In light of the less-than-stellar record of the US as of late with regards to the whole ‘liberal democracy’ racket, pogge wonders “how bad would it actually have to get before Canada resumed its previous opposition to the death penalty when the country in question is the United States?” Considering what little effort thus far the Tories have put into assisting squicky Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, I don’t think we’re even close to kissing the line.
Related: JJ throws down the gauntlet and sez ‘put up or shut up’ to purportedly ‘pro-life’ Papists:
[I]t’s not unreasonable to expect Canadian Catholics to ask the big cheeses at the Vatican to make the same threats of excommunication, denial of communion etc. [to Catholic CPoC MPs who support the new death penalty policy] that they’ve been making against pro-choice and pro-gay marriage politicians.
And via both pogge and JJ, Chet Scoville drops mad science on tha nail-meets-head tip:
Can we please pull the plug on this government now? The most basic function of any government is securing its citizens’ rights, at home and abroad. Citizenship is supposed to mean something. When a government abdicates that responsibility, it has no business being in power any longer.
[Update: Chet hones his point further:
This has nothing to do with politics in any usual sense. This is not about tax policy, or about any of the other matters upon which Canadian parties have disagreed and will disagree. This is a basic principle that has been upheld by all parties and by Canada as a whole for decades. It’s what government is for. This is about right and wrong, and is not relative to the situation or to expedience. This new decision introduces relativism into an area where it has no place.
That’s why this matters.
Read. Whole. Damn. Thing.]
Elsewhere: Rachel looks at the recent attempt by aid workers representing a European NGO to take 103 purportedly orphaned children from Chad and bring them to France, where it is assumed that the poor, pitiful wittle darlings would have all been placed with nice (most likely white/middle class) families. One burdensome problem with this narrative: “virtually all” of these children are not orphans. The aid workers now stand accused of child trafficking and violating international laws:
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) called the attempt to separate the more than 100 young Chadian children from their parents and then take them to France for adoption an “illegal and totally irresponsible move.” The UN said the children had family in the country.
“They are not orphans and they were not sitting alone in the desert in Chad, they were living with their families in communities,” Annette Rehrl of U.N. refugee agency UNHCR told Reuters in Abeche.
UNICEF spokesperson Veronique Taveau told journalists in Geneva that what happened had violated international rules, such as The Hague Convention on international adoption and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“My parents had gone to work in the fields. As we were playing some Chadians came and said here are some sweets, why don’t you follow us to Adre and then we’ll take you home. We were taken to the hospital in Adre,” said a young boy who gave his name as Osman. Adre is a town on the Chad-Sudan border.
“We spent seven days in Adre and I’ve been here in Abeche for more than one month. We were well fed by the whites, there was always food. I would like to go back to find my parents,” he told reporters at the Abeche orphanage where the children are being cared for by local and international aid workers.
As Rachel aptly notes, “[i]ncidents like this contribute to the destruction [of] black families, and I suspect these aid workers felt no need to respect the rights of poor black African families.” Hey, if Madge can get away with it…
Finally: via Donna Darko, an important PSA:
November 30th 2007
We are calling for people to organise in their own towns and cities to take action on this day. This means whatever it means to you – maybe organising in your school, occupying an office or a court or a police station, holding a rally, making a publication, talking to people, or anything you can think of.
The government has used sexual assault to justify the military invasion, removal of land permits, and denial of Indigenous autonomy in the Northern Territory. But this is not a way of dealing with sexual assault – fear, intimidation, and military and police presence as a “solution” shows no understanding of sexual assault or ways of dealing with it. The police and military have been perpetrators of sexual assault in communities around Australia, in Iraq, around the world. Some communities have themselves called for police involvement in dealing with sexual abuse, but not all. What is most important is that communities themselves direct the way they want to deal with sexual violence.
The Northern Territory intervention is a racist intervention. It is ridiculous that our white government thinks that Indigenous communities are unable to respond to sexual assault themselves, with their own processes and understandings, especially when we look at the way sexual assault is dealt with across the rest of Australia, by relying on an alienating, adversary and difficult to access legal system.
Almost no sexual assaults are reported to police, and most reported cases result in no conviction. This is not because they are “false claims” but because the legal system forces someone who has been assaulted to try to “prove” their claim, doubting them, disbelieving, pressuring them to relive their assault and undergo invasive medical examinations. Most assault happens in private – it makes it the survivor’s word against the perpetrator’s. The court system is designed so that survivors of sexual assault are attacked and broken by defence lawyers who only want to win their case. In the rare case that a perpetrator is convicted, prison does nothing to confront and challenge the behaviour and underlying assumptions and understandings that foster a culture of sexual assault.
We want a day of action calling for community – not military, not legal – responses to sexual assault. Our government shows no interest in trying to engage with the real issues of sexual assault and how to confront it, so we need to do it ourselves. We are calling for support for survivors of sexual assault, and a process of community response that prioritises their needs and safety. We are calling for processes that try to change the underlying myths and power dynamics that lead to assault, before it happens. We want processes that deal with perpetrators in a way that challenges their beliefs and behaviours, and gets them to take responsibility for their actions and trying to change.
For more information, or to add your own:
Other links for info on community response, the Northern Territory intervention, etc:
Wow. Cynical death penalty politicking in Canada, mass child kidnapping in Africa, and sexual-assault-as-casus-belli-for-racist-military-intervention in northern Australia.