Friday, September 29, 2006

The Wrong Man

Canadians laugh at that old MGM icon, Nelson Eddy, serenading Jeanette MacDonald in the frozen wastes of the Yukon. They know that, in the depths of a Canadian Winter, no one chooses the Barren Lands as a suitable place to pledge their eternal devotion. It strikes us as frigidly incongruent.

But we do take some pride in the old chestnut about the Mounties always getting their man. However, we note that there is nothing in the chestnut about getting the right man.

Many winters have taught us about human frailty and human vulnerability in the face of forces more powerful than ourselves. Recognizing those forces, however, does not mean surrendering to them. As the Inuit and Eskimos learned long ago,we have the natural resources at our disposal to survive the harshest of winters.

This is certainly the winter of American discontent. But it has not been made glorious by this son of Bush. Once again, he is stoking the fires of paranoia, while boldly admitting the existence of secret prisons, all in the name of safety. Safety for whom and from whom?

The Maher Arar case provides a window on how Kafkaesque the present administration has become, and how easy it has been for Americans -- and more disturbingly -- Canadians to be caught up in the tide of fear which these folks are clearly using for their own convenience.

As Justice O'Connor's report makes clear, there was no evidence -- only misplaced suspicion -- for deporting Arar to Syria, where he was imprisioned and tortured.

Now more than ever, it is time for Canadians to insist on the rule of law and on the primacy of incontrovertible evidence when acting on terrorist threats. We are morally culpable if we pass hearsay evidence on to incompetents. The evidence has to be solid and the people who receive it must also be committed to the rule of law. In the Arar case, neither of these thresholds was met. Fighting barbarism by surrendering to it is ultimately self defeating. What is worse, it makes a mockery of everything that Canada stands for -- and until recently -- what the United States has stood for.

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