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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They Call Him MISTER…

by matttbastard

I haven’t given him much link love lately, but Sinister Greg (one of the first Canadian bloggers I began to read on a regular basis) has really been on fire recently. Today the Sinister One points to this eloquent, pragmatic post from conservative pundit and MMP supporter Andrew Coyne (also published in today’s National Post), who ably explains why the long-term benefits of electoral reform should quell anxious partisan concerns of wary conservatives (small and capital ‘C’):

Living on a knife-edge does strange things to people. On the one hand, it leaves the parties in a perpetual fever of anticipation, convinced they have only to gain a few points in the polls to destroy their opponents. That is one reason the two federal conservative parties, Progressive Conservative and Reform, were so reluctant to merge. It is also the reason why minority governments tend, under our system, to be so unstable.

On the other hand, the consequences of losing a few points makes them excessively, almost neurotically cautious, unwilling to take the slightest risk or advocate the mildest change, but each hugging as close as it can to the median voter, the status quo and each other. Hence the dominance of the two brokerage parties, indistinguishable in philosophy — alike, that is, in the lack of it.

Put the two together, and you have much of Canadian politics — viciously partisan, yet unspeakably trivial; much ado about nothing much. McGuintoryism, in short.
So the case for electoral reform, it seems to me, is one that conservatives, if not Conservatives, should find appealing. It is a cause that has tended, historically, to be identified with the left, not least in the current referendum debate; many conservatives have accordingly rejected it. Yet it is not the left that has suffered most under the current system. It’s the right.

By whatever combination of historical circumstances, the left has a party that will advance its ideas, free of the brokerage parties’ grip: the NDP. Though not often in government, outside of the West, it has succeeded in dragging the entire political spectrum to the left, its policies adopted by Liberal and Conservative governments alikes. Nothing like it exists on the right, federally or provincially, nor has since Reform’s demise. Nor is one likely to emerge, so long as “first past the post” remains the rule.

The same is true of parties less easily categorized, like the Green party. Though it is the party of choice for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, it has yet to win a seat, unable to concentrate its support geographically in the way that FPTP requires. How many more votes might it win if potential supporters were not disheartened at the prospect of “wasting” their votes, or worse, “splitting” the vote, as they are forever warned against doing?

But what if there were a system in which no votes were wasted, where vote-splitting ceased to be an issue? There is such a system, and it’s called proportional representation, of which the proposal before Ontarians is a variant. Not only the Greens, but other parties — libertarian, social-conservative, or other — might then have a fighting chance. The spectrum of acceptable ideas for debate would noticeably broaden.

Related: “Rock-ribbed conservative” Greg Staples (another early Canuckosphere fav of mine) dittos Coyne, and supplements with more pragmatism (the theme of the week, methinks):

I’ve already stated that I think the right-wing would split under proportional representation. In Ontario you would see a Tory party, a libertarian/conservative party and possibly a social conservative party. Nationally you could add a Bleu party. The (red) Tory party could become a natural home for the dissaffected centre-right Liberal and we would not be locked into the perpetual NDP wagging the Liberal dog.
All this and we would have actual policy debate. That why I’m signed up.

Vote for MMP

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