U.S. Sovereignty……..

……in Canada

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has sounded the alarm over the provisions in Bill C-23, which is now in the Senate. The BCCLA has a point.

The 1974 Preclearance Act makes travel easier when U.S. Customs is cleared at Canadian airports before departure. There’s no question that passengers going through the process are still on Canadian soil, in Canadian territory, and retain all the associated rights and benefits.

Bill 23 will expand preclearance areas and broaden the powers of U.S. border agents within those areas.

Right now, a person can exit a preclearance area at any time, but Bill 23 would authorize U.S. border guards to detain and question people who make that choice. Further, U.S. agents would be able to strip search a traveler if Canadian guards are not available, or if Canadian guards refuse to conduct a strip search.

What’s more, there appears to be no measure in the new legislation to hold U.S. guards accountable for their decisions.

The BCCLA made a submission to Parliament on this bill back in June and some changes were made, but the three concerns around detention, strip searches, and a lack of accountability are still in place. The association wants Canadians to contact Ottawa to express displeasure. But, most Canadians have no idea these changes are in the works, and there’s not likely to be any outpouring of outrage.

The federal government may have acquiesced to American demands for greater border security, and it isn’t hiding the thrust of this bill. It’s just not running it up the flagpole for a broad scrutiny.

Too bad for us.

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Gotta minute? (21)

The path to justice is strewn with the wreckage of abandoned lawsuits.

…… from observing the experiences of complainants who are so beaten down by the aggression of a tax-dollar funded opposing bureaucracy that walking away from a just cause becomes a painful option, reluctantly taken.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the confederation of the Canadian colonies, how about our governments own up and do what is right, without prodding?

Omar Khadr

…..no explanation needed.

July 7, 2017

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Office of the Prime Minister,
80 Wellington Street,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Re: Thank you

Dear Prime Minister:

If I’m prone to be quick to criticize, a common characteristic, I should also promptly applaud when credit is due.

Thank you and your government for settling the claim Omar Khadr made against Canada. Yes, it can be argued the courts would have awarded him a more substantial compensation, but you did the right thing, nonetheless.

It’s only a shame your Conservative opposition can’t shake their medievalist mindset.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

…….and further…..

July 7, 2017

Andrew Sheer,
House of Commons,
Parliament Building,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Omar Khadr

Mr. Sheer:

Just how poorly informed do you want to make yourself out to be?

You know very well how shamefully Canada treated Omar Khadr. You know very well there wasn’t a court in this country that would support the position you and the other troglodytes in the last government held on the question. You know very well you’re now simply playing politics to arouse the worst among us, when you should be contrite and remorseful. And, you know very well Canada can pay Mr. Khadr $10million now or a lot more at trial.

But, then I suppose we should expect nothing better from the intransigent medievalist thinking of the conservative mind.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen.

The same letter went to Tony Clement, Peter Kent, and Jason Kenny.

Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial governments routinely ignore their own policies and procedures, and violate both the law and Charter rights. Yes, sometimes it’s done clandestinely, sometimes with a rationalized good purpose, but most often unintentionally…. innocent mistakes.

No matter the cause, a government must accept responsibility and exact a punitive consequence. We need to ensure that happens.

On Trump…….a word……or two.

There are better things to do than comment on Donald Trump. There are a lot better things deserving of comment than Donald Trump. Unfortunately, it seems de rigueur today for anyone who has something to say about anything to pause long enough to take a position. And so, yielding to convention, and interrupting important work, here are a few words on the subject.

Our youthful and energetic prime minister congratulated Mr. Trump on his election victory, on his inauguration, and then invited him to Ottawa. It’s become a recent tradition for newly elected American presidents to make Ottawa their first foreign trip, and Mr. Trudeau was simply following a familiar precedent, as if all was right in the world of politics.

All is not right, and Canadians cannot be complacent and silent. A short letter to the PM offered a blunt perspective rooted in this unfortunate reality:-

January 23, 2017

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Donald Trump

Dear Prime Minister:

I am a Liberal Party supporter and a Justin Trudeau booster.

The position you have taken on the result of the U.S. presidential election, and the interaction with Mr. Trump to this point is understandable and politic. That you can hold your nose with one hand and extend the other in welcome makes you a martyr.

The rest of us, however, do not have to follow suit. Donald Trump is a parasitic fascist, a sorry excuse for a human being, a pathological liar, and an emotional basket case. One can hope you would prefer a trip to Washington to meet with him, and save the rest of us travel to Ottawa to make him feel unwelcome, should he come to this country.

In the end, I wish you the very best of good fortune with this uncertain venture.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

On a personal note, I was a part of the Niagara District High School’s United Nations Club a way back in the mid-1950s. It was a large, lively group where each participant was assigned the role of representing a United Nations member state.

I took on the USSR, and to ensure authenticity, the Soviet Union’s Ottawa embassy put me on its mailing list. Each week a package arrived with the latest English translations of news of the accomplishments and successes of the revolution, and the leaders’ speeches celebrating the merits of the communist movement toward world domination.

Outlandish, outrageous, and offensive as it was, the Soviet propaganda…..that’s what it’s called….of the 1950s cannot hold a candle to what the world has heard and seen from Donald Trump in the last eighteen months. Why waste resources to protest his assault on intelligent life; a short note to the man’s comments on the size of the inauguration crowds is all this writer can justify:-

January 23, 2017

Mr. Donald Trump,
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC,
20500

Mr. Trump:

The live feed of the pictures around the U.S. Capitol on January 20 are clear.

If you take issue with what is obvious to even the casual observer, then I suggest you release your own photographic records.

Mr. Trump, it’s a matter of put up or shut up.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

With this, we hope not to feel the need to bring up the topic again. There is a plentitude who recognize the danger and can rally for right.

Torture? Yes, we are complicit!

Posted in Montreal

Check back to March 23rd’s “Canada complicit with torture? Really?”

Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin each filed $100-million lawsuits against the Canadian government ten years ago after they were tortured in a Syrian prison (and in the case of Elmaati, in Egypt also), claiming Canada was complicit in their treatment.

Turns out, it seems they were correct.

Lawyers for the three men fought and eventually won a lengthy legal battle with the RCMP and CSIS, gaining access to thousands of heavily redacted files, totaling hundreds of thousands of pages. CBC News obtained access to about 18,000 of those pages which will be used when the civil trials begin early in 2017.

Documented by CBC Investigates, and reported in mid-September on The National, and the fifth estate, “Thousands of pages of secret files obtained by CBC reveal how Canada’s police and intelligence service not only knew three Canadians were being tortured in Syrian jails in a post-Sept. 11 crackdown, but co-operated with Syrian officials in their interrogations.
The files also show a Canadian ambassador helped deliver questions the RCMP and CSIS wanted put to the Canadians imprisoned in Syria, a country with a dismal human rights record.”

Two commissions of inquiry have already concluded that Almalki, Elmaati and Nureddin were wrongly targeted by CSIS and the RCMP.

As we recorded in March, unfortunately, our new “sunny days” Liberal government is taking up the fight against an apology and compensation. They’re even going further than the Harper government to protect CSIS sources, and the Toronto Star noted in the spring that the three men’s lawyers were “stunned” by the Trudeau government’s position.

It should be no surprise that our elected representatives may be repulsed by the evidence, but feel compelled all the same to cover the butts of the civil service bureaucrats who are responsible.

The probable and best outcome for Almalki, Elmaati and Nureddin says Ottawa realizes its vulnerability to adverse public opinion, faces certain defeat in court, and settles. That avoids years of litigation, but does nothing to repair the damage to Canada’s reputation, or prevent similar misadventures in the future. And, the three men don’t get the satisfaction of a public apology.

Hey, maybe they won’t settle. Bottom line: CSIS and the RCMP will cost us.

Just whose back does Ottawa have?

Are you sure you’re in the picture?

Brennan Guigue is a product of the ‘system’…..the child welfare system, the juvenile justice system, the adult penal system. This triad doesn’t prepare anyone for a life in the community free of constraints, ready and able to engage the world in the ways most of us usually take for granted and handle by rote. As one example, coping with money can be a mystery.

Brennan visited his local Royal Bank branch recently during one of his brief respites from prison to take care of some business. His account there was opened in 2008 on another stay in the community when he strode confidently into the branch, announced his intention to a teller, and then spent some time with the manager who was intrigued by an intelligent and articulate ex-con only too willing to share his prison experience with the uninitiated. Here was the consummate bank robber looking to be an upstanding citizen.

There had never been an account balance of more than a few dollars through the years but it was active even while he was incarcerated. On this particular occasion in 2015, he was told he qualified for a Visa card with a $2000 spending limit! What? A man of 45 with no credit history, no assets, a lengthy criminal record and no experience at managing money, qualified for a Visa card? Albeit unknown to the bank, a man saddled too with emotional and mental health issues, but those didn’t matter given that he shouldn’t have been offered the service in the first place. Or should he?

Brennan wanted to do well. Brennan wanted to belong. He eventually accepted the Visa card, promising he would spend only what he could repay each month. The balance reached $1500 in about three weeks. To show the bank he was serious about his responsibilities he paid half of the $1500 using his Ontario Works cheque, leaving almost nothing for the rest of that month. The balance again ballooned to about $1500. This time, a Good Samaritan paid his bill.

By the time the stressors of contending with life outside prison walls overwhelmed him and he once again ran afoul of the law, the Visa card balance was $2100. He accepts the debt; he wants to pay it off; he hopes Visa will bide its time. Truthfully though, it’s a long shot. It’s a hole-in-one on a par five.

But, the $2100 will be repaid. You and I will cover it in the various ways an organization like Visa employs to recoup its losses. And, it does so with our government’s blessing. This is not about Visa. This is not about the Royal Bank of Canada. All banks and all credit vendors are the same. This is about our government allowing these businesses to operate in the ways they do to our detriment.

Here’s one more brief tale of government complicity with big business.

A friend in Toronto is a long-time Bell Canada customer. He has a land line with two phones in his home. His only “feature” is voice mail. He has no need for more, and no need to spend beyond the minimum.

Unusual for him, he called a sister in Oshawa for her birthday. She wasn’t home; he left a short message. When the bill arrived later in the month, he saw an 80 cent charge for the one minute long distance call, but a further $2.95 ‘ld’ charge, both amounts plus tax. Curious, he called Bell. The $2.95, plus tax, was a charge for the use of the long distance (ld) service, since he didn’t have a plan.

Are you kidding us, Bell Canada?

And finally, as an “oh, by the way”, it’s not news that the Toronto Police Service executed raids on dozens of marijuana medical dispensaries in the city a short few weeks ago. Some of these stores apparently would sell to anyone of age. Operators and staff were handcuffed, money and product seized, and many, many charges were laid. Now, not all marijuana businesses were affected, but the dozens that were was a message to all that the illegal trafficking in marijuana would not be tolerated…….until the law was actually changed.

The news conference on the action held by the chief of police was disrupted by noisy protesters. No one doubts most if not all charges will be dropped, dismissed or resolved summarily with minor fines. So why was such a major and expensive effort launched for such a meager return in the end?

Was there a legitimate reason to act in the best interest of the people? Or, did the multi-million dollar corporations expecting to control the billions of dollars in legal marijuana trade prompt the move? How many of these organizations have ex-political figures on their boards?

Food for thought. Maybe Bernie Sanders should spend some time with us?