Slacker Friday: Alison Bodine Update; More Evidence That Canada Is No Longer ‘Cool’

by matttbastard

Various items of interest guaranteed to kick off the weekend propa!

From the Alison Bodine Defence Committee:

In the first week of the “Drop All Charges Against Alison Bodine!” petition campaign, the ABDC beat the goal of collecting 1,000 signatures on the petition. The committee has set a new goal to exceed 2,000 signatures on the petition to the CBSA by Tuesday October 9th. The campaign has received support letters from MPs Libby Davies and Bill Siksay, the Hospital Employees Union of BC, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators, MLA David Chudnovsky and the US-based Pastors for Peace/Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization in a strong show of support for this case of democratic and human rights.

Last Friday [September 28th] Alison won important victories in her case at her scheduled Admissibility hearing when her lawyer Gabriel Chand was finally granted the full disclosure of the case against her. This was an important step forward, as the CBSA prosecuting lawyer tried to argue with Chand’s request, but ultimately failed to prevent the right to access this evidence. Due to the introduction of new evidence, the hearing was then adjourned until October 11, 2007 at 11am. For the Alison Bodine Defence Committee, the campaign will continue with mobilization and education in defence of the democratic and human rights of immigrants, refugees, non-residents and social-justice activists.

WE NEED YOUR HELP. It was clear from the beginning that this case was not so simple – that Alison has been singled out for harassment,arrest, detention and this extended period of uncertainty and legal limbo for purely political reasons. Now this battle is entering its third week of fighting for the democratic and human rights of all activists and organizers. The ABDC is repeating the call for all peace-loving and humanist people, all allies of oppressed people fighting for their rights to get involved and support this important campaign. The ABDC is continuing collecting letters of support and petition signatures from grassroots organizations, labour and student unions, politicians, professors and academics and people from all walks of life to unite in defense of civil liberties.

Send your letter of support to the Canada Border Services Agency and defendalisonbodine@hotmail.com or free_alison_bodine@yahoo.ca

Contact us to get involved!
778.891.1470 | 778.882.5223 | 604.339.7103 | 604.780.4029

Upcoming West Coast events also via the ABDC (all times PDT):

SATURDAY OCTOBER 6
“Why I Have Been Targeted – Canada Border Services Agency Violates Civil Liberties”
Free Public Forum
5:30pm
SFU Harbour Center (515 W Hastings St – downtown Vancouver)
———————-
TUESDAY OCTOBER 9
Petition Drive!
10am-4pm
University of Victoria
———————-
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 10
Defence Rally! & Press Conference
12:00pm
Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) Building
(300 W. Georgia St – corner of Georgia & Hamilton, downtown Vancouver)
———————-
THURSDAY OCTOBER 11
**ADMISSIBILITY HEARING PRESS CONFERENCE & DEFENCE RALLY**
10:30am
Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) Building
(300 W. Georgia St – corner of Georgia & Hamilton, downtown Vancouver)

(Background here.)

Elsewhere: Also file under ‘creeping Canadian fascism’ – CODEPINK and Global Exchange cofounder Medea Benjamin and retired Colonel and diplomat Ann Wright held a press conference yesterday after the pair of prominent US peace activists “were stopped at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday [October 3rd] and detained for almost three hours because they had been flagged in an FBI-run international database normally used to track violent fugitives, sex offenders and terrorists.” According to the Toronto Star, Benjamin and Wright decided to cross into Canada by foot to “test whether the Canadian government has a policy of denying entry to peaceful activists.”

Benjamin and Wright were scheduled to stop in Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition.

More:

“In my case, the border guard pulled up a file showing that I had been arrested at the US Mission to the UN where, on International Women’s Day, a group of us had tried to deliver a peace petition signed by 152,000 women around the world,” says Benjamin. “For this, the Canadians labeled me a criminal and refused to allow me in the country.”

“The FBI’s placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies,” says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. “The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country.”

Both Wright and Benjamin plan to request their files from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and demand that arrests for peaceful, non-violent actions be expunged from international records. ”

It’s outrageous that Canada is turning away peacemakers protesting a war that does not have the support of either US or Canadian citizens,” says Benjamin. “In the past, Canada has always welcomed peace activists with open arms. This new policy, obviously a creature of the Bush administration, is shocking and we in the US and Canada must insist that it be overturned.

For its part, the Canadian Border Services Agency tried to justify the controversial detentions by claiming that “visitors with criminal convictions are inadmissible” to the country.

But Benjamin and Wilson remain skeptical:

“Canada is the first country, to our knowledge, that is using this beefed-up database of the FBI as its criteria for judging who enter, which is why we consider this so outrageous and dangerous,” said Benjamin.

“If Canada starts to do this and keeps out people like us, maybe other countries will do it as well. We think it’s important to stop this right away.”

Using Canada’s criteria, even civil rights leader Martin Luther King wouldn’t have made it into the country, she said.

“We think this is absurd. It’s outrageous. It must be reversed.”

An embassy official said Canada has been stopping Americans who’ve been convicted of crimes for years, regardless of whether they’re felonies or misdemeanours.

Many who’ve been caught driving under the influence, for instance, are surprised when they’re turned back, he said.

Keep that in mind the next time George W. Bush or Dick Cheney attempt to hit the Great White North. (h/t Alison@ Creekside)

Quick Hits:

Bring forth the weekend!

Bonus:

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PSA: Solidarity With Alison Bodine! (UPDATE 09.25 – Welcome Newshoggers!)

by matttbastard

Via Feminist Peace Network – so much for the apparently antiquated notion that Canada is a ‘free society’ (which is, like, so September 10th):

Subject: URGENT Appeal for Support: US Anti-war Activist Arrested at Canadian Border!

Sent: 24 Sep ‘07 13:53

The Alison Bodine Defense Committee is appealing to all progressive groups and organizations who fight for a better world to support the campaign to defend Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is being targeted by Canadian Border Services Agency for being an anti-war and social justice activist.

Originally from Broomfield, Colorado, Alison is a central organizer with Vancouver, Canada antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation
(MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI), a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center, is a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba and the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada and the US.

Near midnight on Thursday September 13, 2007, Alison was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when she attempted to legally cross the border at Peace Arch border crossing, travelling from Canada into the United States. Three days prior, Alison was harassed by CBSA officials while traveling from the US into Canada. The ordeal began after border officials searched her vehicle and identified her as a political organizer after they found various political materials and progressive newspapers in her car.

As an international student at the University of British Columbia who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in June 2007, Alison has traveled between the US and Canada on dozens of occasions, and had never been denied entrance to Canada or asked to return to the US. As she was returning to the US on Thursday September 13th, Alison returned to claim items confiscated earlier by the CBSA. Upon presenting her receipt to claim her materials, she was handcuffed and told she was under arrest, and that a warrant for her arrest had been issued across Canada. She was then taken into detention. This unjust and illegal imprisonment was met with a huge protest and organizing drive by the newly-formed Committee to Free Alison Bodine. Friday afternoon, on only 5 hours notice, 80 people came together at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Offices in Vancouver, demanding the immediate release of Alison Bodine. Media was also quick to pick up this important case, which was covered locally and nationally by newspapers, TV and radio.
Following all of this, Alison’s status took a major turn. Officials constantly reminded her all day that there was no way she would be released from detention before Monday. However, at 8:00pm on Friday, Alison was given notice by immigration officials that she would be released from custody immediately until her Admissibility Hearing on Monday Sept 17th – a major victory in the campaign for her freedom. However Alison’s ordeal is not yet over. In the early afternoon of September 17th, Alison learned from a CBC reporter that the CBSA had cancelled her Admissibility Hearing scheduled for 2pm that day. Alison herself was never officially notified by CBSA.

At 1:30pm Monday September 17th, more than 50 supporters rallied outside the downtown Citizenship & Immigration Canada offices, especially because of the cancelled hearing, to demand that all charges against Alison be dropped immediately. The CBSA postponement of Alison’s hearing is a maneuver to delay because they know they won’t be able to prove the charges they have made up so far. It also shows they have decided to escalate this case to a more political level by finding some different charges to bring because they know right now their case cannot win in a hearing. Being without status in Canada, Alison’s situation is always uncertain, and she can still be arrested at anytime. All progressive, humanity loving people must unite around this case. We must understand that this is not just an attack on Alison, this is an attack on
all of us. This is an attack on the basic democratic and human rights of all people, especially social justice activists, immigrants, refugees and all non-status people and non-residents in Canada. The illegal and unjust arrest and detention of Alison Bodine means the Government of Canada and its agencies want to continue and escalate the silencing of free speech and political expression and continue their terrorizing of people who oppose their policies at home and abroad and the new era of war and occupation. They are also testing and evaluating our response to defend ourselves against their attacks against us. The degree, seriousness, effectiveness and consistency of our defence impact their decision on how to further their repressive measures.

For this reason, we are appealing to you to join us in this struggle by endorsing this emergency campaign and by writing a letter of support demanding that the CBSA drop all charges against Alison. Please send this appeal to your email lists and friends. We must show the Government of Canada and their agency, the CBSA, that they cannot get away with trying to intimidate activists. We have attached a template support letter, as an example. Letters of support should be sent to:

defendalisonbodine@hotmail.com

The CBSA might think that by delaying the Admissibility hearing this campaign will lose steam and the pressure against them will lessen. On the contrary, this campaign is only just beginning. People all across Canada and the world know about this case of political harassment and this will only gain momentum from here. This is a political case; Alison has done nothing wrong or illegal. Alison, along with supporters in Vancouver and across the country will keep up the demand that the CBSA must drop all charges against her and restore her full rights to travel between the US and Canada. For now, they have re-scheduled her Admissibility hearing for Friday, September 28th at 9am. In the time between now and then we will not back down, we will not slow down and we will continue fighting!

Our fight is not over. Your support is essential to get all charges against Alison dropped!

WE WILL WIN!
Alison Bodine Defense Committee (ABDC)

Sample support letter:

To: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Alison Bodine is a US citizen, is a central organizer with Vancouver antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI) and is a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center. She is also a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba, and is a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada in the US.

Near midnight, Thursday September 13, 2007 Alison Bodine was unjustly arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency and detained by the RCMP when she went voluntarily to the US-Canada border to pick up her belongings. Alison has not done anything illegal, and has crossed the border many times with no incident. It was not until her belonging were searched and antiwar literature found that the charges were laid.

Alison’s arrest and all charges against her are an attack on the democratic rights of individuals to organize and express their political views. This is an attack on the right to free speech, and an attack on immigrants, refugees, people without status and non-residents of Canada. This is clearly a politically motivated case against Alison Bodine.

I am demanding that the Canada Border Services Agency drop any and all charges against Alison Bodine, return to her any and all items seized by the CBSA, and reinstate her right to freely travel between the US and Canada.

Sincerely,

(signature)

(name)

(Affiliations, for identification purposes)

Again, send your letters of support to: defendalisonbodine@hotmail.com. Selected support letters can be read/downloaded here. Also, download and print out this petition (PDF) calling for all charges against Alison Bodine to be dropped. Signed petitions can be faxed to: 604-322-1763

Related: Round-up of mainstream media coverage courtesy MAWO; Verbena-19 links to a Co-Op Radio interview with Ms Bodin.

Update 09.25: thanks to 5th Estate @ The Newshoggers (shout outs to Cernig as well, an early supporter of bastard.logic) for featuring this post in an InstaHoglets round-up.  Welcome once again, Newshoggers – your letters of support and participation are greatly appreciated.

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